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Some advice please

  1. Nov 14, 2004 #1
    I was just wondering if one of you guys could give me some advice. I am at the beggining of my freshman year and I am not doing well in physcis. I really want to be a physics major but it seems like no matter how hard I try(I have spent an entire week(weekend included0 studying for my exam and only got a 62. At what point should I call it quits? I mean this is what I really want to do but it seems like my best just inst good enough. Please if you have any advice it would be incredibly helpful.
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  3. Nov 15, 2004 #2


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    Well, from my experiences, the first physics class you take in college is the hardest because it is made to sort-out the weaker students. With that said, if you can pass the intro class with at least a "C" and you enjoy physics a lot, then stick with it.
  4. Dec 9, 2004 #3
    I got a C in intro physics my freshmen year... I'm now a junior who has gotten an A in every upper level physics class I've taken, got a job doing physics research, and will be heading to graduate school for theoretical physics in a little over a year.

    If you really like it, stick with it... if you keep working hard it'll start working for you...
  5. Dec 9, 2004 #4

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    Does your teacher grade on a curve? You might be doing better than you thought! How did the rest of the class do?
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2004
  6. Dec 9, 2004 #5
    I'm actually in a completely opposite situation from you, i got all A's plus one A+ in lower division Physics, but I'm not even sure if i passed all my first 3 physics classes this quarter, which are my first upper division classes i've ever taken. I think i should NOT have listened to my couselor and just took 2 physics classes and an easy one because 3 physics classes, that included 2 labs a week, was too much for me to handle, i had an A up until the midterm and then i just hit the wall after that.

    Has anyone ever did bad in upper division classes but managed to get yourself together afterwards? I think i'll do much better next quarter now that i know what upper div classes expect from me though.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2004
  7. Dec 9, 2004 #6

    From what i've been told, for graduate school its the upper division classes that count. So as long as you pass, jsut stick with it i would say. If you pass the whole first year (C or better) Then keep with it. But also as someone else said, how did the rest of the class do in comparison? Many uni professors grade on a bell curve, where your percentile in the class determines your final letter grade (meant to compensate for the teahcer being too difficult or too easy).
  8. Dec 10, 2004 #7
    It's a tough call, do you know why you are doing poorly?

    There is a big difference between missing a problem because you couldn't recall a particular formula and missing a problem because you couldn't understand the problem.

    Does your professor give partial credit on tests? This makes a huge difference in how tough a class is. In my physics class, you always got half the points just for setting up the problem correctly. From there, you lost one point for each mathematical mistake. Even with that, test scores usually averaged around 65%.

    I wouldn't toss in the towel yet, when I took physics I remember really struggling with some key concepts and then having moments of understanding where it suddenly made sense. Unfortunately, this was usually a chapter or two after we had taken the test on the subject. Normal force and vectors are good examples. They made no sense at all when I was learning them, made no sense at all while doing the homework. I bombed the first 2 tests and then all of a sudden, they just made sense.
  9. Dec 10, 2004 #8


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    My advice would be to take a two-pronged approach.
    1) Don't give up yet. You may just be having a bad experience with one class. Be prepared to work doubly hard, and maybe even try to remediate a bit between semesters by studying on your own the material you haven't grasped.

    2) Start exploring other options. Take more classes outside your major and see if there's something else that catches your interest and that you do well in. In the event it turns out physics just isn't something you're going to have the knack for, you want to have a fall-back plan. If your experience with physics improves, you'll have probably gotten some core requirements out of the way or broadened your knowledge base a bit, so it sure won't hurt. With any path you choose in life, having a fall-back plan is always a good idea, even if it's just temporary.
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