Chem 1, Physics 1, Bio 1, Calc 2 TOGETHER

I know these questions can be annoying because it’s really up to the individual, but…

As a sophomore, I’m torn between my Environmental Science major (meaning I need Chem 1 and Bio 1 NOW) and an Astrophysics major (meaning I need Physics 1 and Calc 2 NOW).

So I was thinking about taking all 4 classes together this semester. That’s three science classes with a lab, with calculus 2 on top of that. All three sciences are for science majors (meaning the physics has calculus, etc.) This is at the University of Vermont.

Again, I know it depends, but… is this completely unrealistic? Or doable? I’m fine with having a limited social life this year. I’m here for school. I took many gap years and I’m almost 26 now. I don’t need to screw around anymore. I know I’m quite smart and thrived in high school. My gap years were totally voluntary after beginning at Boston University out of high school.

Plus, I did well with a geology class plus lab last semester. So I’m relatively familiar with college science expectations.

I don’t want to take a fifth year of undergraduate. So I don’t see any way around taking these 4 classes together unless I straight up abandon one of these two majors right now.

My hope is that exposure to both majors this semester will help me choose one by next semester, meaning I discontinue either physics or biology for the next semester.


Lab components of courses can be almost as time consuming as the non-lab components, so expect a higher workload for courses with labs. Having three lab courses can be a rather large amount of work, though doable if you have good time management.

This would be normal at some tech schools and for some STEM majors, so go for it.

Was calc 1 before the gap years? If your math is rusty, calc 2 and physics will be very challenging.

There won’t be any astrophysics in Physics 1, so continue to explore majors by talking to professors and upper level students, meeting advisors, etc. Most upper level classes in any major are a bit of a different experience from the intro level.

It’s not easy or normal, so keep your obligations outside of classes to a minimum if you decide to do it this way.

Thank you for the responses so far, everyone. I’m feeling a bit more confident already.

To AroundHere: Calc 1 was after the 6 gap years and I did well, which I was pretty proud of considering I practiced no math in that time off. But yeah, I think I’m prepared for what Calc 2 and Physics 1 will throw at me because I took Calc 1 earlier this year.

It’s doable, but these courses are the weedout courses at my school. I advise you to be very cautious with how you approach these classes. A good way to study for these courses is by looking for back-exams: tests from past years that professors have on the class website or that other students are selling. By having these, you can get a sense of what the professor is asking for on the exams.

Having these 4 courses is a big time investment, but I’m sure that you’ll do fine. Just be sure to give each course the appropriate amount of time you need to spend on it. After this semester, hopefully you can get a clearer sense of what you want to pursue. By being in Bio and Chem 1, you’re not going to see much of environmental science and by being in physics 1, there’s not going to be much of astrophysics.

My advice for now is to take it one day at a time. If you can’t handle the amount of coursework in a class, you can always drop a class (not withdraw) so that it doesn’t appear on your transcript.

Hope this helps and best of luck!

Thanks for the tips, JMS357. I’m already digging through old Chem 1 exams.

Also, I should mention: I know I won’t see astrophysics in Physics 1 or environmental science in Chem 1 and Bio 1, but I’m simply hoping the types of problems, approaches, concepts, and problem solving (especially in physics) in the intro classes will give me an idea of what I’m “better” at and more interested in on a base level. If that makes sense.

Do you have other obligations (family, job… )?

It seems you only did calc 1 alone though, right? With no hard classes? Having all these 4 weed outs together is incomparable. Is there a way you could make use of summer semester? Lots of students study all year. As above if you are non trad don’t you have a job too? How many hours a week? And while bright trad students might take these as first year eng students, lots of them would have done well in AP and are using them for GPA optimisation.
Are these the calc and physics classes just for eng students?

Also note that geology is NOT a weed out class. A weedout class is a class where there are limited numbers of As and Bs with lots of competitive students all fighting to get the As because they need specific grades for their major or for med school.

…not so sure that Physics 101 is representative of the “types of problems, approaches, concepts, and problem solving” farther down the line.

If you do it, have a back-up plan and don’t be too proud to jettison one (or more) of those classes before the add/drop date if there are early hints that you may struggle. Protect that GPA- you will want it for grad school, which is a do-not-pass-go requirement for a career in astrophysics.

I don’t know how academically rigorous your school is, but your proposed schedule sounds a bit bonkers. One class + lab is one thing. Three classes + 3 labs + Calc? You cannot use the 1 class/1 lab experience and assume that you’ll be fine if you triple the workload. If you had done 2 classes/2 labs and felt that was successful, I’d be more on board. D is going from 2/2 to 3/3 this semester at a very competitive school and is pretty sure she is going to die lol. And that’s knowing what she’ll definitely be declaring at the end of the semester.

Bingo, @MYOS1634 : what about outside obligations? You are on the older side, so maybe you’ve got the distractions of the typical 18-year-old behind you. However, you are truly an adult and may have very adult things that will eat away at your study time.

I get your desire to want to keep your options open while not derailing a 4-year graduation plan, but I think your GPA is going to take a hit, which you can ill afford if you plan to go to graduate school (which, yeah, astrophysics, and probably enviro science, tbh). Sorry if this sounds fatalistic, but if you plan to move forward with this ambitious schedule, it will be painful. I hope you end the semester having a clearer idea of what you want to do.

I’m fortunately able to not work for this whole school year. My parents are helping support me financially because they are happy to see me finally back in college. So my only obligation this semester is school.

I think I might end up dropping physics before the semester begins on Monday. I think the advice I’ve been given to try to keep my GPA up for grad school is a good one. I really don’t want to have to drop it, but I’m worried about overwhelming myself and getting a mediocre GPA.

I suppose I could major in environmental science and do a self-designed geophysics concentration, along with an astronomy minor and maybe a second minor.

Curious, Did you have high scores on ACT Science and Math? or SAT Subject tests if you took them? how were your grades in HS math and science? These things might be predictive of how well you could handle this.

nw2this: I was a great high school student. I always took the highest level offered and got As and Bs in all subjects, including math and science. I got a 660 on the Math 1 and Math 2 SAT subject tests many many years ago, but I think my B+ in Calc 1 last semester (after so many years away from school) is a more accurate representation of where I’m at with math skills.

The kids who do this tend to be the ones with perfect or near perfect scores and grades, so good that you decided to back it down.

Are you at a 4 yr university now?

I would recommend you spread these classes over Fall, Spring, and Summer: For instance, Chem and Physics + Calc 2 in the Fall, Chem2 and Bio1 in the Spring, Bio2 and Physics 2 in the summer.
Typically, taking two of those together would be considered challenging enough (in terms of time commitment and difficulty), perhaps taking a third would be ok since you’re more mature and motivated, but I’m afraid taking 4 would make your life un necessarily impossible.

Sybylla: Yes. Both schools I have attended are 4 year schools.

MYOS1634: Bio1 isn’t offered in the spring, and Bio 2 and Physics 2 aren’t offered in the summer. Trust me, I would have already thought of something like this haha. My school is fussy and tends to do their science-major courses in a fall-spring 1-2 sequence.

Look at other local schools for summer classes. I took calc 3 over the summer at the community college near my hometown and transferred the credits to my university.