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Skipping a class (temporarily) a bad idea?

  1. Mar 29, 2009 #1
    I want to take a statistical physics class next semester which requires that I take ODE first, and recommends that I have taken linear algebra as well.

    Since I will not be able to take ODE until 2 semesters from now, due to the physics-major version only being offered in the spring (i realize now I should have taken it THIS semester, but its a bit late!) would it be inadvisable to try to learn ODE over the summer and take this statistical mechanics class next semester? I would just wait until next year (3 semesters) to take this, but because I am a math/physics double major, I have many classes that I need to take then as well, and it would make my schedule work out much more nicely.
    I am, however, taking linear algebra next semester.
    The other alternative is to take intro Algebra next semester instead.

    Your feedback is appreciated!
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 29, 2009 #2
    Are there any other classes you'll need to take eventually anyway that you already meet the prereqs for? If the alternative is a gaping hole in your schedule, it might be worth taking the risk. Otherwise, if you have other classes you can plug in, I'd do it that way.
  4. Mar 29, 2009 #3
    I also did a dual major in math/physics and I had to make many choices like the one you are describing. In my case I had to take upper division electromagnetism before taking ODE, and it worked out fine. I learned all the ODE methods I needed from my E&M textbook, combined with a good knowledge of calculus. The only physics class that I wouldn't recommend skipping any prerequisites for is quantum mechanics, since that class needs all the math background it can get!
  5. Mar 29, 2009 #4
    I'm a late comer to math and physics with a previous degree in an unrelated field. Because I'm really only taking the major/minor specific courses, it seems I'm forever in the position of taking courses I don't have every pre-requisite for.
    It hasn't been a fatal situation yet, but it is harder to get an understanding of what is going on when you don't have the proper background to make mental analogies of the topics.
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