First-Year Physics Course Predicament

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PeteyCoco
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First-Year Physics Course Predicament

Postby PeteyCoco » Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:16 pm UTC

Hey guys. I know this is something that I should send to my advisor, but he won't get a chance to email me until next week. Maybe you could help me in the meantime.

My advisor said I need to take intros to Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism, and Waves & Modern Physics before I can even touch the core-program. The issue is that if I want to take all three courses next year, the profs I would get would be awful (I've asked around on top of checking ratemyprof.org. They are really bad) The other option, as I see it, is to only take Mechanics and E&M next year with good profs and then take Waves & Modern Physics some other time, either over the summer (which might not be offered, I might have to go to another school) or while I take Theoretical Physics and Classical Mechanics.

I'm leaning towards the second option, but I have no idea how much I'd be missing going into Theoretical Physics and Classical Mechanics without having taken Waves and Modern Physics. The titles are vague, I know, but could someone offer their opinion?

MORE: I did some more research and it turns out that I am in one of the worst universities for Physics (Concordia). I'm going to apply to McGill for the next year, but if someone has some suggestions of good Canadian universities for sciences I'm all ears.

Chen
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Re: First-Year Physics Course Predicament

Postby Chen » Mon Jul 16, 2012 12:26 pm UTC

Are you from out of province? Those courses sound like the type of courses you'd take at CEGEP otherwise. In any case, those are all fairly basic introductory courses. My experience (albeit at McGill not Concordia) was that if you started making adjustments to the recommended curriculum you could end up with quite a bit of trouble both with regards to courses you need to take conflicting with others or with courses simply not being offered when you need them.

Personally I don't like that kind of hassle and I'd just deal with the bad prof. If the prof only has bad ratings from people in his intro course, I could imagine this has to do with people not being used to university yet too. I know a lot of people who gave some early profs I had extremely negative reviews because they did poorly in his class because they were not used to the workload of an engineering student in university.

PeteyCoco
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Joined: Sat Jul 17, 2010 7:53 pm UTC

Re: First-Year Physics Course Predicament

Postby PeteyCoco » Mon Jul 16, 2012 2:15 pm UTC

Yes, I am from out of province. Before I got in touch with this advisor I was registered in the higher-level courses (Classical Mechanics, Theoretical Physics, etc.) along with Multi-Variable Calc both semesters. He said it would be best if I took those three lower-level courses first, even if they weren't part of the curriculum. I could resolve the issue of bad profs by dropping Multi-Variable Calc since it conflicts with the good physics lectures, but I really don't want to since I like calculus and I'd rather take it sooner than later.

I think you are right that I should just get it over with and not try to mess with the course progression as it would be more trouble than it's worth. From your experience in CEGEP, do those courses use Calculus or are they more of the same junk from highschool that boiled down to plugging values into pre-fab formulas?

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freakish777
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Re: First-Year Physics Course Predicament

Postby freakish777 » Tue Jul 17, 2012 5:05 pm UTC

PeteyCoco wrote:Hey guys. I know this is something that I should send to my advisor, but he won't get a chance to email me until next week. Maybe you could help me in the meantime.

My advisor said I need to take intros to Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism, and Waves & Modern Physics before I can even touch the core-program. The issue is that if I want to take all three courses next year, the profs I would get would be awful (I've asked around on top of checking ratemyprof.org. They are really bad) The other option, as I see it, is to only take Mechanics and E&M next year with good profs and then take Waves & Modern Physics some other time, either over the summer (which might not be offered, I might have to go to another school) or while I take Theoretical Physics and Classical Mechanics.

I'm leaning towards the second option, but I have no idea how much I'd be missing going into Theoretical Physics and Classical Mechanics without having taken Waves and Modern Physics. The titles are vague, I know, but could someone offer their opinion?

MORE: I did some more research and it turns out that I am in one of the worst universities for Physics (Concordia). I'm going to apply to McGill for the next year, but if someone has some suggestions of good Canadian universities for sciences I'm all ears.



How smart/hardworking/studious/etc are you?

Do you actually need the lower level stuff to graduate, or is it possible to replace it with other higher level courses later? As in, can you skip straight to Classical Mechanics/Theoretical Physics, etc (perhaps by testing out of it, you take something equivalent to the final before the semester starts proving you already have the course knowledge and don't need to go through a "basic" class)? And if so, are you hard working enough to make sure there isn't an issue?


I would personally recommend placing out of as many possible basic "required" classes as you can. More room for classes you're actually interested in.

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sam_i_am
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Location: Urbana, Illinois, USA

Re: First-Year Physics Course Predicament

Postby sam_i_am » Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

I tried to go to ratemyprof.org, to see if they provided reviews instead of just ratings, but All I got was this squatter site.

IF there are reviews, however, you can probably learn a lot from reading those reviews, so you know WHY the professor was rated poorly

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Dopefish
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Re: First-Year Physics Course Predicament

Postby Dopefish » Wed Jul 18, 2012 9:51 pm UTC

I'm rather wary of sites along the lines of that, since it tends to favour the negative reviews, as it's the ones who feel particular upset or otherwise mistreated that seek out such sites in order to rant. This isn't necessarily because they actually were mistreated, as sometimes students can be a bit unreasonable in their notions of 'fair'.

Asking folks in the physics lounge (or whatever equivalent) is apt to be vastly more reliable on the quality of teacher, although really what may be terrible for some students may be awesome for you, so I really prefer to have at least one class with the prof before I start actively avoiding classes taught by them.

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Jorpho
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Re: First-Year Physics Course Predicament

Postby Jorpho » Thu Jul 19, 2012 4:46 am UTC

PeteyCoco wrote:I think you are right that I should just get it over with and not try to mess with the course progression as it would be more trouble than it's worth. From your experience in CEGEP, do those courses use Calculus or are they more of the same junk from highschool that boiled down to plugging values into pre-fab formulas?
Most second-year Physics courses are heavy on the calculus, as I recall.

I tried once or twice taking courses that had prerequisites that I hadn't taken, having been told that I might be able to manage without if I was sufficiently studious. It was a terrible, terrible idea.


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