Advice from former Honors Physics students

One of the handouts that comes in the binders that I give to students is some advice from past students. These bits of wisdom come from the course evaluations over the past few years. It’s really fascinating to see what they say (and for me to see how what they advise changes as my class evolves). Of course I choose the best pieces of advice (this is a one page document, after all) to pass on, but it is all straight from students.

Here are some of the tidbits being passed down this year.

Listen in class and definitely get extra help when needed.

Common sense no longer exists.  Find one of us for help.

Everyone feels clueless [at times] so don’t worry.

Keep very organized because we get a lot of handouts.

Be ready for a challenge.  Get help outside of class from your teacher.

Make sure you know what’s happening and don’t just find patterns in equations.

Seek help.  Don’t give up.  Be optimistic.  Ask questions.

Stay motivated from the very beginning of the year.  Your work ethic in the beginning will [affect] you until the end.

Best way to study is to do problems left over from in class activities.

Don’t freak out because it is not as difficult as it at first seems.

Don’t come in with preconceived notions about what you will learn.

Be prepared to be challenged and tackle tough problems on your own.  You will not be hand fed the answers!  Also, go to the teacher for help if you are confused because he/she is incredibly helpful. Do the homework (at least try it) every night or you will fall behind.

Use fundamental principles.

Always try your hardest on the hw.  Don’t read to study — actually do problems.  ALWAYS go in for extra help– even if you feel like you do it too much.

Go to your teacher for help!  They don’t want you to do poorly.


Think about the problem in real life and draw a diagram.

“Ha ha ha ha ha ha!  You’re taking Honors Physics?  Just kidding, you’ll be fine.  Take advantage of everything this class and this school has to offer.”

One of my favorites is the former student telling future anonymous Honors kids to find them for help. Adorable and great. It is also interesting how many students mention that it is okay to get help outside of class (“even if you feel like you do it too much”!!). For many Honors students, getting help in math or science is a new concept for them. For the many many students who come in with a fixed mindset, the idea of needing to put in extra effort or to ask for help translates as not being “good enough” for the class and can be devastating. I am hoping that reading The Talent Code this summer helps them shift toward a growth mindset and start to value effort as “smart” more quickly. Want to get good at physics? Better get busy!

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