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Transferring junior needs some guidance from PF.

  1. Jul 11, 2012 #1

    I thought I would post here since I'm trying to prepare for my upcoming semester. I am transferring from a community college to a top 50 university to major in physics. However there is a bit of a snag and I could use some advice..

    I have taken diff eq, linear algebra, calc I - III at my current college, but I have only taken up through physics 2 (e&m) since this is all they had to offer.

    The university I am transferring to has their physics 3(waves, etc) listed as a pre-req for half of their junior classes, but they only offer physics 3 in the spring..

    I do not want to fall behind, but at the same time I don't want to get in over my head. There are only two recommended classes I know for sure that I can take which are Classical Mechanics I and Fourier Analysis.

    Mechanics description
    (Mathematical introduction; review of elementary mechanics; central force problems; conservation theorems and applications; Fourier and Green's functions; variational calculus and Lagrangian multipliers; Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulation of mechanics is introduced and applied; oscillations; normal mode theory; rigid body dynamics. The course is designed to satisfy part of the upper-level writing requirement.)

    Fourier description
    (Fourier series and convergence theorems. Orthogonal polynomials. Applications to some partial differential equations. Fourier transforms. )

    What I wonder is what should I do to fill out the rest of my schedule? I have contemplated signing up for another upper level mathematics class, but I worry that this might be too much for my feeble brain to handle :)...I have also contacted the undergraduate advisor for some guidance but he has yet to get back to me.

    Also the other two recommended junior classes (which have phys 3 as a pre-req) are E&M 1 (advanced electromagnetism) and

    Introduction to the milky way:
    Introduction to the internal physics and astronomy of galaxies using the Milky Way as a primary example. The course will focus on the dynamics of stars and gas inside galaxies and how gravity works therein to produce the observed stellar motions and internal structures. The course will discuss both the observations and the theory of galactic structure. Homework problems and two in class exams.

    Any advice will truly be greatly appreciated..
    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 11, 2012 #2


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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Is there a community college near the university you'll be attending? Perhaps they offer the physics class you need.
  4. Jul 11, 2012 #3
    Checked the only cc in the city and the answer would be no unfortunately
  5. Jul 12, 2012 #4
    Is your problem that you don't know if you should take them without the physics 3 class, or that you can't and aren't sure what to do instead?

    Well, the other Junior class is E&M, which you've already had the intro to, so if you were to take that without the physics 3 pre-req, I don't think you'd have a problem (assuming you're allowed to take it without the pre-req).

    The milky way class also doesn't sound like it would really require a lot of the physics 3 material, you'd probably be fine if you could take it.

    But hey...more math is always my own personal suggestion :) haha.
  6. Jul 12, 2012 #5
    I would ask an adviser from the physics department if they can override the pre-req of physics 3 and try to take some junior classes. If they cannot, take advantage of this opportunity to take more math classes (pde's, complex analysis, etc). Knowing the mathematical language ahead of time will only help.
  7. Jul 12, 2012 #6


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    Staff: Mentor

    I would talk to the instructors for the courses that have the prerequisite. Find out from them what material from Physics 3 they actually use in those courses, whether they can override the prerequisite for you, and whether they are wiling to do so. At my school, instructors can tell the registrar to override a prerequisite for individual cases.
  8. Jul 12, 2012 #7
    Edit: I was also wondering how hard it would be to take perhaps two upper level math classes in the same semester. I took diff eq & linear algebra last semester and got through that, but what if i were to try undergraduate level real analysis & differential geometry in the same semester.

    Ok thanks guys. I will try to contact these instructors at some point over the summer to find out if the physics 3 material is necessary, and perhaps learn the key points which would come into play.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2012
  9. Jul 12, 2012 #8
    As for the math classes, that really depends on your "mathematical maturity," so to speak, and how interested you are in learning the material, or willingness/ability to put the effort in if necessary. I wouldn't worry about your maturity, since you seem to have taken enough math already. Generally, the pre-reqs for a class tell you whether or not you have it.

    You did DEs and Linear together, I think you'd be fine for undergrad level Differential Geometry and Real Analysis. Unless by "got through that" you mean that you struggled all the way through and barely passed, then I'd suggest only doing one for now. I will say that an intro Real Analysis class (assuming it goes from limits up to around integration) isn't terribly difficult, and could be paired with another class (I took it alongside Linear, did great in both classes with ODEs being my only prior upper division math class). I can't personally speak to the difficulty of a Diff. Geometry class though.
  10. Jul 13, 2012 #9
    For diff. geo it depends at what level they decide to teach it. A class out of do Carmo would probably be tougher for somebody coming from (mostly) physics, it was for me. However it was extremely interesting and well worth the hard work. Intro to real analysis and diff geo are not in the same style but I think they would be good next steps for you given your background.
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