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Taking Junior level E@M as a freshmen?

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My school isn't offering honors freshmen E@M next semester and the regular E@M I find I will be bored with like my current Mechanics class. I did take AP physics C E@M in high school but I didn't do well on the AP test due to senioritis. I know multi and next semster I will take ODE, LA and complex variables all at once. The math class are each half a semester each. Will junior level E@M be to much? If it is I'll just take the regular E@M and self study.
 

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  • #2
Vanadium 50
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Yes, it will be too much.
 
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Alright I won't take it. But I'm curious to know how hard it is. I've heard from many sources that Junior level E@M is harder then QM and Goldstien Mechanics and that the integrals are a nightmare.
 
  • #4
I'm surprised your university might let you skip out of the freshman course to the junior course... did you talk to any advisor?

That said: I concur with Vanadium's assessment. Generally, the introductory calc-based sequence (for scientists and engineers) is pretty simple (and non-calc-based).. but often the EM course steps it up quite a lot (so it isn't necessary to have an honors section -- at a certain point honors students distinguish themselves by merely being top performers in a regular difficult-for-everyone course, and by extending their experience by doing research, studying abroad, etc.).

I took the junior level course concurrently with a PDE course and found them to be quite complementary. You may want to do this if you are interested enough by the first course (and will be likely required to do so if you are a physics major).
 
  • #5
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Prerequisites for the Junior level E@M class at my school is Multivariable calculus and freshmen year E@M plus lab. If I did take this class( I won;t take the class) I would have to do take the lab for the regular freshmen E@M class before I graduate.
 
  • #6
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If you're good with math and are comfortable with introductory E&M, do it.
 
  • #7
radium
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I'm taking it as a sophomore right now. It's tough but definitely manageable and I really love the course. But I took honors electromagnetism (we used Purcell) and physics c last year and I definitely think having just taken honors really helped. The course is very heavy on vector calculus so you should be comfortable with that before taking e&m.
 
  • #8
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If you're good with math and are comfortable with introductory E&M, do it.
Bad advice. (I would also encourage everyone asking for advice to learn a little about the backgrounds of those who give you advice).

Not taking the prerequisites (plural, math and physics) plus a poor score on the AP does not equal preparation for an upper division course.
 
  • #9
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I think you should take the class.
 
  • #10
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Bad advice. (I would also encourage everyone asking for advice to learn a little about the backgrounds of those who give you advice).

Not taking the prerequisites (plural, math and physics) plus a poor score on the AP does not equal preparation for an upper division course.
I agree with this, especially the part about learning the backgrounds of others' advice. A junior level E&M class can be tricky and it shouldn't be taken lightly. Of course, a strong background in vector calculus will help but math is only part of a physics class, you will need strong basics in the physics to be successful.
 
  • #11
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Well, he hasn't even taken a junior level class which is an issue in my eyes. Junior and senior level classes are a LOT harder and have a lot more work associated with them.

Also, AP physics C has one major flaw in it, and that flaw is you don't cover waves. Junior level E&M will expect you to already know basic E&M waves.

But it seems like you've decided to not take the class.

Have fun in your other classes though :D!
 
  • #12
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Bad advice. (I would also encourage everyone asking for advice to learn a little about the backgrounds of those who give you advice).

Not taking the prerequisites (plural, math and physics) plus a poor score on the AP does not equal preparation for an upper division course.
I don't see how. What are the prerequisites of any junior level physics course in general such as E&M, Classical and Quantum? Usually two: Knowing the introductory components of those courses well, and being comfortable with the math (usually Calc 1-3, basic Differential Equations and basic Linear Algebra). So if you have the background what difference does it make whether you're a freshman or a junior?

So to the OP: Before taking the class ask yourself: Do I know and am I comfortable with most of the concepts introduced in introductory E&M? Am I comfortable with Vector Calculus and mathematics in general? If yes, then like I said before, do it. If not, just do the freshman version and learn the math before embarking on it.
 
  • #13
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Well, he hasn't even taken a junior level class which is an issue in my eyes. Junior and senior level classes are a LOT harder and have a lot more work associated with them.
This is probably the most important reason, to me anyway. The upper level classes require a lot of time put into it, and requires a different mode of thought. I had to read and reread every chapter at least a couple of times before it really sunk in (mainly talking about Griffith's QM and Marion & Thornton Mechanics level, but something like Griffith's E&M would be at a similar level).

Right now, I'm a sophomore and I'll be taking the class. This semester I took junior/senior level QM and classical mechanics, and they were both a real shock to me. It took up lots of my time, and I didn't do great in the beginning (though I did get used to it, so it's not all bad). However, in my first year I learned an incredible amount of math and physics through self-study and through interacting with peers, as well as keeping an active interest in learning topics from higher level physics on my own when possible. It really does take some time to develop some mental maturity when dealing with these topics, regardless of how intelligent you may be (or maybe not, but I'm assuming you're not a super-genius). Also, getting used to the math can take some..... getting used to. Of course, for some (me included), the math gets to be obvious once it's taught from the context of physics, but of course I'm saying this having taken multicalc/linear algebra/DE's a semester before upper level physics.

Though if you're really interested in it, you should really sit in and follow along in the class. That would probably be best, since it'll give you a taste of what's expected of you in 2 years while not putting so much stress on you (as well as keeping you from possibly butchering your GPA).
 
  • #14
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I think its better to be challenged. Even if you are really unprepared I think you should be able to do okay (B- ish).
 
  • #15
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I think its better to be challenged. Even if you are really unprepared I think you should be able to do okay (B- ish).
He'll be challenged when he walks into the class in 2 years with the pre-reqs; he'll be murdered if he walks in there now. E&M is unforgiving under the best of circumstances.
 
  • #16
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I don't see how. What are the prerequisites of any junior level physics course in general such as E&M, Classical and Quantum? Usually two: Knowing the introductory components of those courses well, and being comfortable with the math (usually Calc 1-3, basic Differential Equations and basic Linear Algebra). So if you have the background what difference does it make whether you're a freshman or a junior?

So to the OP: Before taking the class ask yourself: Do I know and am I comfortable with most of the concepts introduced in introductory E&M? Am I comfortable with Vector Calculus and mathematics in general? If yes, then like I said before, do it. If not, just do the freshman version and learn the math before embarking on it.
Even IF he has the prereqs, I would consider this bad advice. He is only a freshman, and he won't be able to handle junior classes even if he is comfortable with the material.

Like others have said, a junior level course is WAY different than a freshman course. While a freshman course is likely to be a bit of plug-and-chug thingies, a junior level course is way different and requires serious thinking. That is: you need "scientific maturity" to get through the class. Very few freshmen have this maturity.
 
  • #17
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Even IF he has the prereqs, I would consider this bad advice. He is only a freshman, and he won't be able to handle junior classes even if he is comfortable with the material.

Like others have said, a junior level course is WAY different than a freshman course. While a freshman course is likely to be a bit of plug-and-chug thingies, a junior level course is way different and requires serious thinking. That is: you need "scientific maturity" to get through the class. Very few freshmen have this maturity.
Well I never said that if he takes it, it's gonna be easy. OP should be aware that if he does go through with taking the class, he's gonna have to work hard, especially because it'll be the first class of this type he'll be taking (long problem sets, difficult concepts, more math). However, you need to make the transition sometime, and it's not like people who take it their junior year will have magically gained some "scientific maturity", since physics classes for the first 2 years in the curriculum are very basic and the math is til ODE's. So if the OP has a similar preparation, what's wrong with him taking it?
 
  • #18
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With all due respect, I don't think a college sophomore is really in the best position to be giving advice about junior-level courses. I think it's doing more harm than good.

Number Nine has it exactly right.
 
  • #19
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God if I came to this forum asking for advice when I was a freshman I'd probably be pushing garbage bins for a living.

Just try the class, see how it works out.
 
  • #20
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There is a reason that classes have prerequisites.

I looked up the class at a good state school. They use Griffiths, which is typical. They require as a prereq Differential Equations and a co-req in junior level mechanics, which in turn has as a prereq a sort of math methods class and freshman-level E&M. So he is missing three prereqs and one co-req.

He is not prepared for this course.
 
  • #21
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Most prereq stuff is usually taught anyway in the classes (especially the math). You really don't need a whole ODE course for EM. Just need to know how to solve a bunch of equations and that's it.

Which is why I say try it first, then decide what to do.
 
  • #22
lisab
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I think its better to be challenged. Even if you are really unprepared I think you should be able to do okay (B- ish).
So you advise the OP to settle with being just mediocre?

I strongly side with the more 'seasoned' PFers on this one. The junior level E&M class is often cited by physics majors as the most challenging class they had to tackle in their undergrad years. It's no place for under-prepared students.
 
  • #23
lisab
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Most prereq stuff is usually taught anyway in the classes (especially the math). You really don't need a whole ODE course for EM. Just need to know how to solve a bunch of equations and that's it.

Which is why I say try it first, then decide what to do.
Not in upper-division physics classes. Students are expected to hit the ground running.
 
  • #24
radium
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I definitely would not take it before sophomore year. The reason I am taking it now (sophomore year) as opposed to junior year is because I took the honors sequence, so my advisor said that would prepare me for upper division classes. I also had a lot f recent exposure to vector calc so that is something fresh in my head and that I was comfortable with. I don't have as much background in pdes but I have been able to understand that part of the course very well. So if you can't take honors e&m I would wait until junior year.
 
  • #25
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With all due respect, I don't think a college sophomore is really in the best position to be giving advice about junior-level courses. I think it's doing more harm than good.

Number Nine has it exactly right.
Well fair enough, I'm no expert but I am in two junior level physics classes right now (classical and quantum), and as someone who just recently made the transition from freshman classes to their intermediate counterparts I can only tell him what I thought, which is if you know your basic components well and you've had a fair amount of exposure to math, then I don't see a problem with taking it. If you've never seen a differential equation before, have no idea about the basics of vector calculus and don't know what Gauss' law means, then you are under-prepared and you shouldn't take it. Since the OP says that he didn't do well on the AP Physics component dealing with E&M, and since that doesn't really use calculus anyway, I feel like he probably doesn't know the basics of E&M all that well, however the OP knows more about what he knows well.

But honestly here's a simple solution: sit in the class for the add/drop period and then decide whether you're up to it.
 

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