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Any Professors here

  1. Apr 16, 2007 #1
    Did anyone here make it to professorship despite failing a class?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 16, 2007 #2


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    I'm still a student, but I dont think failing a class is the end of the world. You do not have to let it define you or your future.

    There are some people here who can offer you great advice. Keep a lookout for Mathwonk's posts. After reading many of his posts, I think he may have a lot of wisdom to offer you in this topic.
  4. Apr 16, 2007 #3
    i'm pretty sure mathwonk did (although i'm not sure. try digging through who wants to be a mathematician
  5. Apr 16, 2007 #4
    I have failed a class... a math class nonetheless... and I am a physicist.

    Don't let it get you down. You need to ask yourself why you failed. For me it was a couple of reasons. A professor who had a language barrier, a subject I didn't particularly like, and a complete lack of motivation based on these reasons and a vast amount of laziness were my reasons. I retook it when a different professor taught it and made it a priority to do well in the class.

    Whatever happens, decided if you should retake the class and if you do make a concerted effort to do well in it.

  6. Apr 17, 2007 #5


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    I got a lot of D's and one NC (no credit). And in my dreams and nightmares I have done much worse.

    I eventually learned to go to ALL classes, and do ALL the work in a timely manner, and do extra reading, and study with others, and practice taking exams under exam conditions. if you do all that you tend to do extremely well.
  7. Apr 17, 2007 #6


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    What is the expectation about achievement in Mathematics for a student who GOES to ALL classes, TRIES VERY HARD to do ALL of the homework, but who has very little more time to still do extra reading and study with others and practice performing exams under simulated exam conditions?

    ... let me extend that description somewhat: Also, the student might restudy instructional information from recently studied courses and attempt studying ahead before enrolling in a new course.
  8. Apr 18, 2007 #7
    I took 5 math classes this semester. That was a mistake, I couldn't handle 5. One or two of my classes my fail because of it.
  9. Apr 18, 2007 #8


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    well i am not as wise as i wish i were. my situation is my own. and everyone has to figure out how to deal with their special conditions. it took me 35 years to attain my goal of a phd.

    I was "good" at math. but very spoiled and lazy in high school, and essentially never studied. so for me it was a matter of learning to work hard and to go to class.

    But I eventually got to a level where the math was also hard, in grad school.

    If a student is trying his/her best already in college and struggling, for various reasons, too much outside work, too many social activities, innate difficulty with the ideas, it does not matter.

    all of us have challenges. if we are having a really hard time doing something, we still have options, we can give up some other activities and devote even more time to it, or we can lower our expectations, and accept that it will take longer to achieve our goals, we can change areas to something that works out better.\\or we can be glad we are able to work in the area we enjoy, and give ourselves some slack on the benchmarks.
  10. Apr 18, 2007 #9


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    I didn't fail, but got a D in physical chemistry. It helped me decide to stick with a biology major and not to attempt to finish the double major in chemistry. It's not the end of the world as long as you assess what happened, and your other grades are good. In my case, I retook the class the next time it was offered and got an A the second time around after figuring out where I got lost and fixing that before I took it again (I had forgotten some necessary math between the time I took calculus and the time I took p-chem, so dug out the calc book and notes and cleared out those cobwebs).
  11. Apr 18, 2007 #10


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    what are your goals? and how much are you willing to sacrifice for them?

    In most cases we are wise to go with what is working, but occasionally a very committed and dedicated person can overachieve by very hard work, but it may not be worth it in the long run.

    After all these years, I am not sure if I am an over or under achiever, as I seem to have been very fortunate in what has hapened to me, but some people may think i have not worked as hard as I could have, including I guess me.

    still i feel very fortunate. and i am proud of my few accomplishments. i still hope to do more. it is always prudent to set goals. but do not be disconsolate if one falls

    short of them. optimistic goals are likely to be somewhat out of reach.

    it is a blessing just to be allowed to struggle toward a goal of our choosing.

    enjoy the journey.

    by the way: rhetorical question: have you never had a stupid professor?

    if they can be one, so can all of us!

    so do not set your goals too low. try not to be just a professor. lots of us idiots are professors. aim at being a really good professor!
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2007
  12. Apr 18, 2007 #11
    It can happen that a teacher-student character issue develops. If the teacher is not wise, he/she may end up prejudicing the student unfairly.

    I'm not sure it is always possible to be unbiased, although I wish it were.
  13. Apr 30, 2007 #12
    I am an astronomy/physics faculty member. Although I never failed any physics or math courses, I certainly deserved to, at least by the traditional rules. I took my modern physics course over because I didn't make a good enough non-passing grade the first time around. I came up two letter grades, not that I think that really means anythings.

    A few years ago, Paul Hewitt gave a talk at our state's AAPT meeting. He asked for a show of hands of everyone in the audience (mostly university physics faculty) who had failed a physics course. A scant few hands went up, and everyone mostly gasped and looked around at each other. Hewitt then proceded to admit that he had failed a physics course and the only way to empathize with a student who fails a physics course is to have failed one yourself. That admission deepend my respect for Hewitt.
  14. Apr 30, 2007 #13
    It sounds like a few people are having a tough time. Here is a link that I always liked about studying physics. I will hope the other person who was having difficulty will also see this


    A lot of these are things you probably already do, but it might be helpful. I have just read pieces but I really liked what I read.
  15. Apr 30, 2007 #14


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    you can do really bad for a long time, but at some point you have to start cutting the mustard, but it pretty much does not matter when.
  16. May 21, 2007 #15
  17. May 21, 2007 #16
    I never received an F in any course, but I probably deserved to! Then again, I was and still am my own worst critic. I was pretty much clueless as an undergrad. I sometimes joke to my students that I'm surprised my alma mater let me out. In hindsight, I realize that my performance wasn't all my fault though.

    I retook my modern physics course and went up two letter grades. I had the same prof both times (within a year) and he didn't even remember me the second time, which really exemplifies the "just herd 'em through" mentality. Experiencing incompetent instruction first hand is the best way to break the cycle.

    Paraphrasing Paul Hewitt (of Conceptual Physics fame), faculty who always made nothing but As cannot possibly empathize with a struggling student. The only way you can know how it feels to fail a course is to fail a course, and it makes you think hard about assigning an F to a student. (NOTE: I don't think he intended to go soft and not assign an F when it's warranted, so don't take it that way.)

    Me talking now. If you yourself never had to struggle, then there is no way you will successfully relate to students who struggle when you become the instructor. You will have unrealistic expectations of the vast majority of your students, expectations they will never be able to live up to.
  18. May 21, 2007 #17


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    actually i did fail phys ed freshman year in college. it was graded on attendance. as woody allen says, 90% of life is about showing up.
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