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When does this get really difficult?

  1. Aug 8, 2009 #1
    I'm starting my second year as an astronomy/physics double major. Up to this point, I've only had basic foundation courses, most of which I've come across in high school. I know this question is highly subjective, but when do the courses start to become really difficult? I've heard from TAs that the first two years are mostly foundational material and it starts getting "serious" around the junior year, is this true? However, the gpas of the courses in the junior/senior year are higher than the first two years; why is this the case? For example, I work with a first-year graduate student and, although I understand that he has had 3-4 more years of schooling than me, he seems to know a great deal about even the more specific aspects of astronomy. Any insight is much appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 8, 2009 #2


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    That's consistent with my experience. Somewhere between second and third year is when you start to get into the stuff that isn't so much just an extension of high school concepts. A lot depends I think on the order you take the courses in. And for some people, it doesn't get hard until graduate school.

    The only explanation I might have for higher GPAs would be attrition. The students who struggle too much in the first couple years tend to switch majors, removing the lower marks from the grade pool.

    Also, why wouldn't a grad student with 3-4 more years of schooling know more about physics than a student going into the second year of undergrad? You cover a LOT of material over the duration of a physics degree (or at least you should). And if the graduate student is preparing for a comprehensive or candidacy exam, it is likely that he or she is spending a lot of time relating the material in different fields to each other.
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