Worth doing physics if bad at it (and maths)?

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In summary, although it will be harder, if you are passionate about physics and you are willing to put in the extra work then you will be successful.
  • #1
Hello everybody,

I am having difficulties with mathematics and physics in a way that I am a slow thinker, I very often than not simply do not have the time to grasp the information thaught in class, however I am better at studying outside of the lecture.

What should I do? I am going to attend the university after summer (if I get accepted) but I am not confident in my abilities, for me it is easy to grasp the information, but I am very slow at it because it takes time for me to create those memories.

Bonus question: Will physics be harder if you are bad at combinatorics?

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  • #2
Hi Mulz. I am a Physics university student and I am rather slow at mathematics and physics. It takes me about 5 times the time and explanation to understand something that the other students understand immediately. Often I feel like I can't do it but I really love physics and I want to be a Physicist as this is my dream.

I found that when I am slow at these subjects, when I finally understand, it makes a deeper impression on me because I worked so hard to understand it. I found that after a while I started to speed up in grasping new ideas and concepts, but I still make silly mistakes and am quite slow.

Yes it is harder, but If you love physics and want that to be your future, you can do anything if you work hard outside of class. Your friends and especially the lecturers will be happy to help you understand. The fact that you are good at studying is a good sign. If you really want to achieve something and you work hard, there is no reason why you will not do well.
  • #3
I'm going to second the above comment. I am also very slow, but I've found that there are very few areas where hard work will not make up for a lack of intelligence. On the contrary, all of my letters of recommendation for graduate school read something to the effect of "she isn't the smartest, but works really damn hard!". And of the 12 graduate schools I applied to, all 12 agreed that a student like me is more than capable of being successful. As long as you are willing to put in more work than your peers and don't have a problem with late nights or frustration, you will do just fine.
  • #4
Dishsoap and DarkMatter are correct. Hard work beats any other quality for success in physics or engineering. I had an engineering professor tell me he had a former law student as his best engineering student. He told me many engineering students grasped the concepts sooner. He told me , However, this former law student would come to him for help and would literally not go to bed at night until he solved all the assigned problems.

The other question: Combinatorics will not be necessary until you take at least a Jr level course in Statistical Mechanics, or maybe QM. Weak on combinatorics should not slow you down too much.
  • #5
Hey Mulz.

You should probably post the specific aspects of what is difficult with combinatorics so that those who have developed intuition for these things can communicate it with you.

I would also try and learn what your intuition is and what intuitive language you have.

Lots of learning is finding a way to bridge what is communicated (and the language used) with how you organize information (and what language is involved).

It may be that the language that is intuitive for you is somewhat different to how it's communicated and by finding how to "bridge" those two together you may find that the learning speeds up significantly.

It can also give you an opportunity to ask questions in your language versus the language of the textbook and/or lecturer.

Also realize that a lot of stuff in university when it comes to teaching is really refined and understand that a lot of the context required to really understand something is often stripped out so don't feel bad that it's difficult because sometimes the lecturers and people who had more of a chance to do these things can forget that the context is stripped out. This involves redundancy and what that often means is that you can often write the same thing in many different ways and when you look at all of those things in relation to each other then you see connections and things slowly make sense.

Understanding your intuition and the language that makes sense to you will help you quite a lot in all of your learning.

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