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Starting my third year physics courses, and Im worried

  1. May 11, 2013 #1
    Next fall I will be taking EM, Mechanics, Quantum mechanics and a 2000 level mechanics lab that is its own course. I will also be doing research for credit, however the professor is very lenient on when we meet and how much work is done. My concern is one, that i think my EM knowledge is sub-par. Secondly, I am worried that it is just too much work and that I wont be able to truly understand all of my courses because it is simply too much new information. So my question is, how can I properly prepare this summer for the coursework? I read on ZapperZ's should I become a physicist thread that Math methods for the physical sciences is a great book, so I think I should try and go through that. Also, for my lab in mechanics I was told by a friend the professor recommends reading/using error analysis by taylor. Is there any other insight you guys can provide? I dont want to be overwhelmed out of physics, but I also dont want to fall behind. Thanks a lot, I really appreciate the help you guys provide. Also, I have taken calc 1-3 and differential equations if that factors into your advice!
  2. jcsd
  3. May 11, 2013 #2
    Have you taken modern physics yet? I think it is also a junior level course.
  4. May 12, 2013 #3
    Modern physics was a sophomore level course for me.
  5. May 12, 2013 #4
    Right, its a sophomore course. I took that this semester. Very broad. I just found out I got an A! :)
  6. May 12, 2013 #5
    Same :biggrin:

    I also am beginning my third year in the fall, and having similar doubts. I'm taking one 400-level math course (advanced calc) and two 400-level physics (e & m and theoretical mechanics). I already got all my books for my classes and plan to spend a great deal of this summer studying and getting a decent head-start.
  7. May 12, 2013 #6
    Awesome! I just finished freshmen year so this is real scary. Today was my first day of summer and Im almost done with the first chapter of Griffith's QM; its really interesting! I figure the more I know before fall the better (sounds like you are the same)
  8. May 12, 2013 #7
    That's the same book I'm using for my class next semester. If you continue at this rate, you'll be well-prepared by the time the semester starts.
  9. May 12, 2013 #8
    Get a room, you guys. ;)
  10. May 12, 2013 #9
    I don't doubt that, i just have to make sure I do continue at that rate haha. Not doing much else this summer!
    And admit it, you're just jealous carlgrace. ;)
  11. May 12, 2013 #10
    Haha, maybe. I never studied during the summer, but for a few classes (QM and Solid-State, especially) it would have been really helpful!
  12. May 12, 2013 #11
    Ah okay. It's a Junior course at my university.
  13. May 12, 2013 #12
    I just finished my junior year. I had pretty much the same schedule as you. 2 semesters of e&m, 2 semesters of mechanics, one advanced lab, and one semester of quantum (they offer quantum 1 in the spring and quantum 2 in the fall, which I will take) along with research and a couple 300-400 level math courses. I got A+'s in all of the theoretical physics courses, an A in the lab, and a paper/talk from my research so I guess I did alright despite the occasional information overloads you mention.

    Here is some advice. If you WORK(!!!!!!), and I mean that in all caps, then you will be fine. However, you will probably have to work harder than you ever had in your life. Some weeks are harder than others, but I'd say some weeks I'd say I spent 60 hours a week (or maybe more I never count) on my academics. Most weeks I'd work everyday, taking time off every Friday after my last class and Saturday evenings after working half days. I'd usually work most of the day Sunday, my most productive day. Sometimes this lifestyle can really suck socially. I can't tell you how many times I responded with texts like "Thirsty thursdays, man!" and "Want to go to the bar for the game?" with "Got a date with my quantum book tonight, sorry!" and "Test tomorrow, but how about Friday?". It seamed to work for me, because I had a close group of friends who always liked to relax with me on Fridays and Saturdays.

    Looking back, I would say that it was worth it to take all of the core upper level physics classes at once. Now, my senior year is going to feel extremely light and I can focus on applying to grad school. Also it helps that grad schools and employers can see that I can handle a heavy load.
  14. May 12, 2013 #13
    Wow! That sounds rough. I have a solid work ethic but that may even be too stressful for me. I just really don't know what the alternative would be :/ thanks a lot for the insight though, it sounds like I can expect a very similar experience.
  15. May 12, 2013 #14
    Well I'm a little crazy. You don't HAVE to work that hard. I knew many classmates who don't spend nearly as much time as I do and they do fine as B+/A- students. Since these are required courses for all physics majors, all of the professors want to see the students do well and the grade distributions and curves seem to be favorable. I'd say if you are a good student now, you will still do fine with the heavy course load.
  16. May 12, 2013 #15
    Yeah, my main goal is to go to grad school so grades are important to me and ideally I'd like all As like you had. I think if I dropped the lab it would be a better workload. The lab involves a great deal of writing
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