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University Choice Help

  1. Aug 24, 2013 #1
    Hi, I'll start off with some background information. I am a student at UIowa, going to be a junior, and I was pursuing a pre-med degree. After taking Phys 1, I discovered a newly found passion for the subject. I decided to pursue a PhD in physics. I had a considerable amount of time to verify this, and I am sure this is what I want to do. Also, the only physics major classes I have completed are Calc 1 and Phys 1.

    I am thinking about transferring to UIUC. Not only is it cheaper for me to attend there, the university has an excellent physics program . The downside of this is I would have to take this fall semester off, which starts very soon, in order to make this a reality. I am leaning toward transferring to UIUC. I am curious on what your opinion is on the matter.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2013 #2
    Before you make such a fast and major decision, I would continue to enroll in more calculus classes and the real physics ( using calculus). Use physics and calculus as your elective and continue the pre-med. You cannot know just by two classes. Hack, took me 4 years to realize Chemistry was not my thing!!! Don't be too hasty about this.

    That said, If you are already enrolling in the UIowa and you can't go to UIUC the very next semester, what is stopping you from enrolling in calculus II and other essential classes for Physics? Look at UIUC's curriculum and take the class in UIowa in the coming semester. That would be very easy to do. If you are already in the 3rd year, you have a lot of calculus to catch up. Also, it is likely you only have the non calculus physics, that's not going to cut it. You have to have the real thing. Just take the core classes of the first two years physics major, that will keep you busy. A lot of them are not easy. I was a biochem major that was for premed. Physics major is quite a bit harder and you need time to catch up even the basic stuff.

    So it's not an issue at all far as I can see.

    Or unless money is an issue. I don't know UIowa and the tuition. But you can get a lot of the classes in Junior college. I know for sure you can get Calculus II and Physics. That would be 8 or 9 units already. Last part of cal II in power series is not easy, you are going to have to spend some time on it.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2013
  4. Aug 24, 2013 #3


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    Could you stay at Iowa for the fall semester and take Phys 2, then transfer to Illinois for spring semester? If cost isn't a major issue, that would at least reduce any mismatches between the two schools' intro physics sequences. Some schools do things differently from others, in terms of distributing topics between Phys 1 and Phys 2. And it would keep you from losing time.
  5. Aug 24, 2013 #4
    UIUC doesn't accept more than 60 transfer credits, which is exactly where I am at. I checked UIUC's major requirements and the only class I could take would be calc 2, and I have all of my gen eds done. I took the calc based phys 1. Also, the physics 2 that I need to take isn't offered until spring at Iowa. I assume it's because physics is not a very popular major there.
  6. Aug 24, 2013 #5
    I really think you should stick it out for one more semester, take the Cal II. I just feel you are making a hasty decision. You are young, I assume you have very high GPA so far, or else you won't be talking about med school. You don't want to give that up until you are more sure and I just don't think two classes are enough for you to throw all these away yet.

    I am speaking as a person that started with pre-med chemistry and end up having a 30 years career as EE and manager of EE. And I am studying physics after I retired as this is my passion. But I still think you should not move this fast. I would be a lot more comfortable if you finish Cal I, II, III, and two more physics classes before you take the drastic move.

    The requirement of Physics major is so different from what you have, I don't think you can graduate in two years unless you are a genus. So whether you can transfer over 60 units is not really that important. You'll be glad if you can get the degree in physics in 3 years even if you start right now. Higher math like ODE and PDE or upper division physics like electrodynamics make physical chemistry a child's play. And believe me, physical chemistry make organic chemistry that you just have a child's play. Been there, done that.
  7. Aug 24, 2013 #6
    Ya, you make a valid point. I don't see myself graduating in two years regardless of my choice. I guess my question to you then is, should I transfer to UIUC after this fall semester, due to its high standing position in the field of physics?

    I know it sounds like I'm making a rather spontaneous decision, supported by my ignorance on the difficulty of upper-level physics classes, but I've given this plenty of thought. As pathetic as this may sound, I spent this past summer teaching myself both calc 2 and phys 2 because I find physics so interesting. I know this is the right choice for me.
  8. Aug 24, 2013 #7
    Ultimately, you follow your heart. It is very important to be in the field that you have passion. I am blessed to find mine and I enjoy every bit of my 30 years career. And I have been studying physics and math since I retired 8 years ago, I know full well what passion is. But I just want you to make sure you have time to digest.

    If you studied calc II and physics II on your own, I am more comfortable that you really like it. I guess if you change your mind in the future, you can always transfer back. Just keep the GPA high so you can return to pre-med if you have to.

    I thought it's too late for you to transfer to the new school!!! Even if you can't and you finish calc II and you think you really can skip it, you can take the calc III.....multi variables, that is what electrodynamics is about. If you can do good in calc III, no one will question you about calc II and they might let you slide. Talk to the school. I studied cal II, III, ODE and PDE on my own, so it's is doable.

    I really don't want to advice whether you should leave UIowa or not, that's an important decision. I can see both ways as you seems to really into physics. Sorry, you need to make this decision on your own.
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