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Students No Longer Permitted to Enroll in 8.02 without 8.01

By Frank Dabek
Associate News Editor

Students will be unable to concurrently enroll in Physics I (8.01) and Physics II (8.02) next semester when the Physics Department will begin enforcing the 8.01 prerequisite to 8.02.

This decision may inconvenience up to 20 students who had planned to take both courses next semester as well as students who wished to enroll in 8.02 without having passed 8.01. The prerequisite had not been enforced in previous terms.

Associate Head of thePhysics Department Thomas J. Greytak PhD '62 said that students wishing to enroll in 8.02 must have either passed 8.01 or have submitted a petition to the department signed by their adviser. "Someone has to have a very good reason" to take 8.02 without having first received credit for 8.01, Greytak said. "A prereq is a prereq."

The department decided to enforce the prerequisite in order "to protect students from themselves" Greytak said. The prerequisite had not been enforced in the past "against our better judgement." In the experience of the department, few of those students who took both courses concurrently did well, he said.

The decision was based on physics department statistics as well as input from counseling deans, he said.

Doubling 8's increases failure rate

"If [students] double upalmost invariably they fail" one of the courses, said Bonie J. Walters, associate dean for undergraduate academic affairs.

Walters said that it was important for students to be "well grounded in physics" before moving on to subjects where instructors count on a certain level of familiarity with basic concepts discussed in 8.01. While many students claim that they know the material in 8.01 despite not having passed the course, Walters debunked these claims as "bogus". In 8.01 students "acquire a new way of thinking," she said.

According to Greytak only about eight students had preregistered for both courses, but more could still register after the conclusion of 8.01L. Most of the 15-18 percent of students who fail 8.01 do not attempt to take both courses the next term, he said.

Carolyn M. Dunbar '00, who took both courses during the spring term of 1997 said that she experienced no difficulties in taking the courses concurrently. "Anything I would need (for 8.02) I learned in high school," she said. Dunbar, a Course IX major, said that she took both courses in thespring because "I wanted to get all my math and science done on pass/fail."

Rachael L. Leventhal '01 hoped to take 8.02 in the spring but has not passed 8.01. Walters advised her to take 8.02 in preparation for classes in Course VI and to take 8.01 at a later date.

Leventhal called the decision "very unfair" especially the fact that "they are doing this without any warning." Leventhal had already made arrangements to take a class equivalent to 8.01 at another university.

Julia E. Preston '00, who also took the courses during the spring of 1997, said that the courses could be challenging without a previous mechanics background. She said that the courses were "about 95 percent separate."