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3.0s in most math classes and going to grad school for math? bad idea?

  1. Mar 20, 2014 #1
    I'm currently a freshman who is double majoring in Math and Mechanical Engineering. I took a class over the summer, and the instructor got me very interested in math again, which is why I added the second major. In high school, I was an average student (As in Bs) and As in Bs in all of my Math classes, I got a B in the Pre-calc class I took over the summer, and I had a rocky start in college and got a D in Calc, but I'm retaking it now and expecting to get, at least, a 3.2, possibly higher.

    If I keep getting around these grades in all of my Math classes, is it realistically to look into a Math Masters and PhD program or is that honestly an unrealistic goal?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 20, 2014 #2
    Why would you keep getting 'around these grades' in your math classes? What's stopping you from doing better?
  4. Mar 21, 2014 #3
    To be perfectly honest, a math masters is do-able for you if you only do courses. A thesis masters or PhD requires talent...people that do those usually start in multivariable calculus or higher as freshmen.

    But heres the thing, theres nothing stopping you from taking interesting math graduate courses when you move towards your senior year.
  5. Mar 21, 2014 #4
    My school has a combined BS/MS in math, and my friend went to apply for this program and was told he needed straight As in math (no A- grades). He had straight As in math, so it worked out fine, but the expectation for a lot of math graduate schools is that your grades should be near perfect, apparently. I've heard that from two different people, but they're both aiming for top 10 schools, so it might be different if you're not.
  6. Mar 21, 2014 #5


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    A grade of D in Calc I indicates that you will have problems in future math courses, especially differential equations and more advanced calculus courses. That you are a double major in math and MechE will not make your academic career any easier. The standard undergraduate engineering curriculum already gets a pretty hefty dose of mathematics. What made you add a second major in math?
  7. Mar 21, 2014 #6
    This is not at all true. There are enough people starting with Calc I as freshman and who end up getting a PhD.

    Second, hard work and passion is always way more important than talent.
  8. Mar 21, 2014 #7
    There are a lot of stories of people who did badly in calculus, and then managed to become math professor, so it's not completely unrealistic, but it is risky. Personally, I didn't do that well at first in math (but not terribly) and then got a PhD. You have to be interested in teaching, rather than just math, otherwise, a math PhD might not be the most productive thing to do because it is mainly geared towards training math professors (close to 1/3 of math PhDs get jobs in industry, though).

    Just make sure to have a back-up plan. ME is a good one.
  9. Mar 21, 2014 #8
    Where you start doesn't determine where you will finish. I made mainly As in math, had a few Bs, and one C; I also started with pre-Calc and trig. When applied for a PhD in math, I was accepted to Univ of Miami, Colorado School of Mines, University of Vermont, and Florida Atlantic University. So you can get accepted if you put in the effort. I only applied to 10 schools too. If I had the money, I would of applied to more and maybe accepted to more too. So don't let where you started or how you start get you down. It can be done.
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