1. Not finding help here? Sign up for a free 30min tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Concerned about grad school

  1. Apr 29, 2015 #1
    Alright so I know that I am thinking far into the future here but I think it is necessary. I am a freshman in college and I am a physics major but my grades are poor. My first semester I got 2 C's(physics and math) because I did not study a lot. This semester I'm doing better, I'll get an A in calc but I am still going to get a C in physics and maybe in computer programming also. My gpa is pretty bad, it's a 2.2 but will go up a little after this semester. Is there still a possibility that I could get into a top 30 grad school if I start doing a lot better or should I switch my major? I am actively looking for research opportunities also.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 29, 2015 #2

    micromass

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2016 Award

    You're concerned about the wrong things. You're going to get a C in physics, which indicates that you do not have an adequate understanding of your physics course. Your question should be how to change this.
     
  4. Apr 29, 2015 #3

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Micromass is right - you need to be thinking about bringing today's grades up, not years down the road.
     
  5. Apr 29, 2015 #4
    I understand what you guys are saying, but I took my finals and although my grades are not finalized, I estimated them to be 2 C's and an A, I know that I need to ask questions in class and change how I study. But I am curious, if I can change these and pull my grades up to A's and B's, do I have a good chance of getting into grad school?
     
  6. Apr 29, 2015 #5

    Choppy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Getting a C in first year physics is not going to keep you out of graduate school if you do well in the courses that follow. A GPA of 2.2 will keep you out of graduate school though. Minimum cutoff is usually around a 3.0, just to be considered. Most schools won't look much lower than the 3.3-3.4 bin in my experience.
     
  7. Apr 29, 2015 #6

    StatGuy2000

    User Avatar
    Education Advisor

    To the OP:

    Since you are only a freshman, you still have another 3 years to significantly pull up your GPA so that you can have the option of pursuing graduate studies (if that is what you decide you would want). That being said, I agree with the others that you do need to spend time assessing why you are getting a C in physics, as well as taking time to assess your study habits.
     
  8. Apr 29, 2015 #7
    With a 2.2 GPA you are not likely to get into a top graduate school. I'm sure there are exceptions if you publish a few papers as an undergraduate and score really well on GRE.(it be very unlikely a student doing this would have a low GPA)

    That said you are a freshman its normal to take some time to adjust to the rigor of college compared to high school. This is why some top schools like MIT don't even count your freshman GPA.

    You have several years to bring up your gpa to over 3.0(recommended over 3.5 for top schools) so study smarter and harder. There are lots of threads on improving your study habits.
     
  9. Apr 29, 2015 #8

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Very, very doubtful. It doesn't matter how good your research is if you can't pass your qualifying exam or the university boots you because of grades. The admissions committee is not going to pick a student who looks like they aren't going to finish the program.
     
  10. Apr 29, 2015 #9
    I appreciate the input, I'm not looking to get into a top grad school per say, I would just like to get into a good one. I understand that I need to change my study habits.
     
  11. Apr 29, 2015 #10

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    It's "per se". It's Latin for "through itself", but usually translated as "in [or by] itself".

    A 2.2 won't get you in any graduate school. You need to fix that before worrying about the next step in your education.
     
  12. Apr 29, 2015 #11
    Haha thank you for correcting that. I understand that I need to change my gpa, what I meant is that I need to change my study habits so that I can improve the way I learn which would immensely improve my education and gpa.
     
  13. May 1, 2015 #12

    QuantumCurt

    User Avatar
    Education Advisor

    Your upper level physics classes will have a much greater role in determining whether or not you'll get into grad school for physics. If you get a C in freshman mechanics, but an A in both semesters of upper level mechanics, then it's clear that you have worked through your struggles in freshman mechanics. Likewise for E&M and other topics.

    That being said, it will be much harder to do well in the upper level classes if you haven't done well in the lower level classes. The material gets harder and goes into much more depth as you move through it. As others have said, you're asking the wrong question here. A freshman physics major that's getting C's in physics and calculus and has a 2.2 GPA should be asking how to do better in their courses. With a 2.2 GPA, you wouldn't be likely to get into any grad school for physics. The good news is that you still have ~3 more years to improve it!

    I'd suggest taking some time to identify the things that you're struggling with most in your physics and math classes. Take some time over the summer to review this material and make sure that you know it. Getting a C in freshman physics won't keep you out of grad school, but getting a C in your later classes likely will. Your later classes will assume that you know the material from your current classes. The most important thing at this point is to make sure that you'll be able to meet this expectation.
     
  14. May 4, 2015 #13
    If you can, a good option is taking summer classes to "cushion" your GPA or lessen the workload during the regular academic year. If you can't, I suggest you use the time to thoroughly go over the topics, do problems, and think a lot about it.

    As others have mentioned, getting good grades in the core physics curriculum (classical mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum, and statistical physics) will be the most important. Getting A in the upper division classical mechanics will overshadow your C in lower division mechanics.
     
  15. May 4, 2015 #14
    Speaking as someone who really let the situation degenerate, it is far from too late, but you need to turn it around *now*. Plenty of people goof up when they are 18 and it has no bearing on your capability to be a successful physicist. It is what you do in response to your failure that counts, however-if you let that failure build, that could prevent it from ever happening. If you can get As in upper level classes, no one is going to care what you did freshman year, but you need to realize that habits build over the years and get ever harder to displace later on, especially if you already face challenges.

    Don't be afraid to go for help if your university offers it. Be active, not passive. And you can and will turn it around.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2015
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Concerned about grad school
  1. Grad School Concerns (Replies: 3)

Loading...