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The_Inquisitor's avatar

Do I need to take physics in high school? Is it really that important?

Asked by The_Inquisitor (3158points) August 16th, 2008

I was told that i should take physics by my friend, but i’m not sure if i should, my sister said it was even hard for her, and she’s good at math. Am I limiting my career options by not taking physics? I’m not very good with math at all, and don’t want to fail. What should i do? (sigh)

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22 Answers

Phillyzero's avatar

Physics does not open very many door ways…obviously take a look at possible career paths, but unless you plan on going somewhere like engineering or other places math intensive, you don’t need to.

For example, if you went into sciences later on, physics itself is almost guaranteed not to be mandatory, and if it is, it will be a minimal course at best.

MacBean's avatar

I skipped physics and took other sciences to meet the science requirement for my high school diploma. I’ve never regretted it.

flyawayxxballoon's avatar

Depending on what you want to do, you probably won’t directly limit your career options by opting out of physics. However, many of the better colleges require you to take a minimum of four courses in most subjects to get into the college, and even in that case, more than four is always better. Depending on what college(s) you want to go to, physics might be that extra course that you need.

gailcalled's avatar

You can perhaps fill your HS science requirement with biology. That is what my sister did; I took both HS physics and chem. and loved them both.

There will surely be some science requirements at college or university. I remember a geology course called “Rocks for Jocks,” and astronomy known as “Darkness at Noon.” My daughter, who is a verbal genius and a math nincompoop, took the elem. geology pass/fail at an Ivy League U.

Mtl_zack's avatar

physics is very hard to understand because its different than how we percieve reality. however, i did take physics and sometimes (only sometimes) i apply it.

personnaly, i would take bio, but its a lot of memorization.

The_Inquisitor's avatar

Thing is, i’m not sure what i want to do for a career yet either.
I’m taking Bio and Chem.. just not the third science…—> physics.

lefteh's avatar

I’m not going to be taking Physics, and I don’t foresee it hurting me. Especially since I am going into politics.

gailcalled's avatar

Physics with a creative and imaginative teacher can be wonderful (and the math is not that tough). Mtl_zack is right, however. The course will change your perceptions (perceive), particularly when you try to get into a canoe moored next to a floating dock.

Les's avatar

I have to stand up for the physicists out there, as I am considering being a high school physics teacher. Physics in High School is hard, because you don’t have all the necessary math under your belt yet to understand it. But at my high school, it wasn’t optional. And @philly: I beg to differ that in the “sciences” in college, physics will not be mandatory. Physics is the basis for pretty much everything that occurs on this earth, and universe, for that matter. And in my case, I have used physics far more than chemistry or biology (but that is due to my career path).
@curiouscat: If you are not sure about you future career, you probably won’t decide to become a physicist or thermodynamicist in the next four years. Those aren’t really the types of careers you just wake up one morning wanting to do. However, physics can be really cool, as gailcalled said, if you have a wonderful teacher. If it is an option for you, don’t take it, but maybe consider taking something like Environmental Science instead. I think the sciences in general are really important things to learn about, even if you want to be an English teacher or an artist.

xxporkxsodaxx's avatar

Depends on what class you are too, I don’t know if it is the same for where you live but last year’s freshman are now required to have 26 credits instead of the regular 24. That means you have to take 4 years of science and 4 years of math if you are in the class of 2011.

The_Inquisitor's avatar

I think where i am, the requirement is still 24 credits, and i actually am in the graduating class of 2011.

marinelife's avatar

You can manage without it if you have desire to understand how the world works.

arnbev959's avatar

I took Biology as a freshman, Chemistry as a sophomore, and Physics as a junior. This year (my senior year) I’m not going to be taking any science classes.

I personally found chemistry to be much harder than physics. I managed to get a decent grade in chemistry, but toward the end of the year I had no idea what the teacher was talking about. I struggled with physics, but managed to get a decent grade again, this time with more understanding of the concepts behind the math. The math isn’t really that difficult, no harder than converting moles to whatever it is you convert moles to. If you did alright in chemistry physics shouldn’t be too difficult.

Colleges probably want to see that you’ve taken at least three years of science, and physics is probably the best to have on your transcript.

mirza's avatar

You dont really need it. I mean i never took it in high school and in college i fullfilled my science requirements with useless science classes.

skfinkel's avatar

I wish I had taken it. It seems relevant to lots of things in life. Don’t be scared. Take it and do well. You may surprise yourself.

aisyna's avatar

im gonna be in my senior year and i have not taking physics, but if u have a choce betwen physics and chem choose physiscs it is WAY easier, but i would definatly take four years of science cuz colleges do look at that

Randy's avatar

it does look good on your record…..

(noted, I only passed because of a good friend.)

mvgolden's avatar

mvgolden gets on soap box

I think you should take it. To me a basic understand of all the sciences are as important as history or English or any other subject you take in high school. We live in an ever more complex world and knowledge of basic science is essential to understanding the world around you.

If you drive a car, understand physics can help you understand how to take a turn more efficiently or why using cruise control or inflating your tires will increase your fuel economy.

Physics is also useful is analyzing our energy sources, such as coil, oil, wind, solar, etc… They all come down to basic physics. For that matter so does global warming.

The mental discipline that comes from studying physics can be very useful when trying to solve other problems or understand today ever advancing technology.

Finally, it is very hard to go back and learn physics on your own if you ever want to. It helps to have had it in class.

mvgolden gets off soap box

Thank you all for indulging me.

If it turns out that you have a bad high school physics teacher you could also look into taking it at a local college for high school credit.

jvgr's avatar

When I was in school Physics wasn’t an option, I didn’t like it, I passed and never took it again.

When daughter #2 was in school, she avoided all math and science related courses that she could which, at the time, seemed ok.

Now in her 3rd year of Microbiology and is performing exceptionally well, she has been in post-secondary education for 4 years. Her 1st year was full time taking the math and science related courses she should have taken in high school.

Had she known of her desire for microbiology when in high school, she might have avoided the extra year. On the other hand, had she done otherwise, she would have missed the arts oriented courses she did take. Even though these courses aren’t the stepping stones she required she’s benefited from taking them. They give her a different perspective.

julia999's avatar

I was in the same dilemma on whether to take Physics in high school or not, thanks for your answers! :D

Jayne's avatar

Physics differs from the other sciences because, with some knowledge of calculus, you can derive everything that you learn from a limited and intuitive set of first principles. You can gain a solid, comfortable understanding of how and why things work in a world governed by Newton’s laws and Maxwell’s equations.

In chemistry, biology, earth sciences, and pretty much every other science, you have to work with extremely complex systems whose behavior is governed by applications of physics that you could not possibly understand at this level, and whose behavior must therefore be memorized and learned rather than predicted or derived. In physics, while you will have to make simplifying assumptions, you are working with the fundamental laws, and therefore you can gain a very fundamental understanding of things. You may not be able to apply this understanding without a much more advanced education to whittle away those simplifying assumptions (engineering what what!), but it is extremely satisfying to have.

You’ll have to actually apply yourself (memorizing equations is no use if you can’t derive them, and you’ll need some calculus for that) but that’s a small price to play; and believe it or not, it’s actually quite fun once you get the hang of it. So…take the damn class, if you haven’t already.

6rant6's avatar

1. Physics might matter to the college you want to get into. But if you don’t want to do the work to get a good grade, it’s going to hurt, not help.
2. It’s an exciting time to read about physics. From nanotechnology, to dark matter, to the Higgs Boson. I wouldn’t trade my limited understanding for anything – and I’m a liberal arts kinda guy. There issues that you care about that require some physics to understand. I mean just to keep people from running over you with their bogus ideas you need to know SOMETHING. Here’s an example: there’s new technology out there being developed that will allow space station type things to capture solar energy in space and send it to the earth. Physics tells me that energy is never destroyed; so once it’s sent to earth it’s eventually heat pollution somewhere. SO if they don’t have a plan to get rid of that energy, it’s going to heat up the earth.
3. Few jobs outside of the lab require physics.
4. If you skip it in high school, you’re going to get a MUCH better course in college if you decide to take it there. Harder, but better.
5. Since our understanding of the universe and stuff is changing, one class – especially a high school class – is just the beginning of what you should know.

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