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Sophmore in College needing advice for Physics!

  1. Apr 30, 2010 #1

    Ozz

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    Hi, my name is Greg and I recently decided I wanted to choose a science for a major rather than business or the like. When choosing a science it helped that I took a philosophy class to discover that I like theory and working with what is unseen. I also like the creative aspect I can incorporate into my work. That being said, I hope to major in physics. However, I never took a physics class in high school, but I did take Chem and Bio along with AP anatomy. My main concern is my math level, I am in good math standing at my junior college but I would have to take at least 3 semesters to get into calculus. Do I absolutely have to have taken calculus to transfer to a university as a physics major or can I do my math requirements at my new school? I hope my lack of mathematical skill doesn't interfere with my major. If anyone can recommend a science other than Physics that might meet my standards (theory, creative side and will benefit society some way) please let me know so I can research it! Any input would be great for me, thank you!!

    PS: I go to the largest jc on the west coast so getting counseling appointments is pretty tough. That's why I have come here for questions regarding transferring. Thank you!
     
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  3. Apr 30, 2010 #2

    The requirements for universities will vary. I went to a community college as well for 2 years, then decided I wanted to go for physics. At the university I applied too(NC State University), you need to have completed at least General Physics 1, and calculus 2 before you can transfer into physics. Its pretty much has the same requirements as transferring into engineering.

    For even the standard freshmen level physics major courses, you need calculus. Summer is coming up, you could always pack in a math class or two then. Physics is quite heavy with math.

    The requirements for biology or the other life sciences in terms of math/physics is far less than the physical science/engineering majors. Are you interested in biology, microbiology, biochemistry, agriculture?

    I myself will "technically" be a senior next year, but really it will be my first year taking physics major courses. I was a late bloomer myself. Find out what your really interested in, and look at the requirements for the university your interested in. good luck.
     
  4. Apr 30, 2010 #3

    Ozz

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    Ah, thank you for the input! It's not that I doubt myself that I cannot do the math. I am a former cancer patient as well so I am determined to do what I want. I just have a hard time relating to Bio. I am not far off from taking my first calculus class actually, I just looked into my class catalog for summer coming up. I did like biotechnology from the summary I read, I just can't find any information directly relating to what the job outlook is and what type of classes/requirements I am looking at.
     
  5. Apr 30, 2010 #4
    I'm curious as to why you think you like physics so much if you've never done physics, nor math at at least calculus-level? Not to say that you're delusional or anything similar but be careful about falling in love with the IDEA of physics rather than the actual subject. Physics is very creative, yes, but not all creativity is equal. Writing a poem and solving a mathematical proof are both creative but they appeal to very different sorts of people.

    If you're sure you want to try to making physics your calling, then you must be willing to wait and put in the work. I don't see any point in transferring to a university and waiting 3 semesters while your math catches up so you can actually start real physics. At best, you'd have some time to kill before your degree actually 'starts' (no physics class worth it's salt would not have at least Calc I as a prereq). At worst, you'd blow 20k or more on classes that you could've taken for much cheaper, and with little quality difference, at a community college. My advice? Stay where you are until you're ready to start calculus at the very least and find out more about what physics actually is. You may find that the reality is quite different from the picture in your head. Good luck!
     
  6. Apr 30, 2010 #5

    Ozz

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    I understand what you're saying and you are right. There is actually a physics class I can take that is my math level but it is not intended for physics majors so maybe that will give me an idea. Thanks
     
  7. Apr 30, 2010 #6
    With all due respect, a non-calculus physics class will give you no clue what real physics is like at all. Your time is better spent learning something useful, like programming, instead of dumbed-down and over-simplified 'physics' that you're going to end up tossing anyways in a semester.
     
  8. Apr 30, 2010 #7

    Ozz

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    Alrighty then.
     
  9. Apr 30, 2010 #8

    jtbell

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    Staff: Mentor

    Doesn't it offer a calculus-based intro physics course that can transfer into another university's major program? Generally, they're set up so you can take Physics I and Calculus I together, and Physics II and Calculus II together, although if you can get a head start on the calculus it will probably help. These intro physics courses usually don't actually use that much calculus, though; just for simplifying certain derivations and for conceptual purposes.
     
  10. Apr 30, 2010 #9

    Ozz

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    The first physics class available asks for math 71 (college algebra) and from there it gets to physics for a major. I didn't mean to sound rude from my last post, it's just frustrating wanting to try something but you can't cause of math qualifications. Either way though I will have to get into calculus math for any science major/engineer major. I know it's a lot of math and it's true I don't know for sure I'll enjoy it. the only solid information I have is from here, other internet sources and a good friend of mine that has a Ph.D in nuclear physics.
     
  11. May 1, 2010 #10

    Don't get discouraged by some of these posts. Although what these guy's are saying is true, it shouldn't keep you from at least trying something you'd like too.

    I'd recommend doing what I did, and take the algebra based physics and work your way up to calculus. This might give you a good idea whether or not you want to still continue with more advanced stuff. The students in my college physics 2 class I just took, while very basic, said that the course was harder than calculus 1 or 2. I also spoke with an astrophysicist at my university, and he said that physics was arguably the hardest major at the school. Just putting that into perspective for you, even the easy stuff is "hard" compared to most other classes.

    Edit: I would just like to add, the algebra based physics courses are usually science electives for other majors, and calculus is necessary for any science major, so even if you decided to go to another field in science, you wouldn't have completely wasted your time.
     
  12. May 1, 2010 #11

    Ozz

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    I intend to try it like you said. I can't wrap my mind around doing anything but a science field at the moment so Calculus is something I will have to get down no matter what field I pick.
     
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