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Do grades matter for PhD? How can I study better?

  1. Feb 26, 2016 #1
    I am an undergraduate at UNLV. Before, I was at a community college for a few years before I went to UNLV. I used to be art major for a few semester but I didn't like it very much so I changed it to general education as I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. Last year, I thought of becoming astronomer because I like astronomy but I fear of hard classes such as Linear Algebra and Chemistry.
    I am not doing so well in my classes. I did poorly at the Pre-calculus2 (trigonometry) math exam 1. I tried studying all the time but of course I failed because of that. I have been recently told that studying too much will make me do worse.
    I already know university classes are much harder than community college as I used to be mostly straight-A student at community college but I need help to do better in university.
    I have desires of becoming astronomer but I am doing so badly at UNLV that I have wondered if I should do something else instead. I love learning about math and physics. I don't like how most math classes are and even heard most math teachers don't know how to teach. I only had one math teacher that help me to do better, I even began to love math instead of despising it because of my teacher. I am a physics major but I have been told by my parents that grades really do matter for PhD. I felt very depressed about failing in college. I feel like I should major something else but I don't know what I want to do. My parents were extremely anger about my grades. I feel like I am too dumb for my major. I feel like I am reaching for something that is too high for my level. I feel like I'm a poser because how bad I am doing.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 26, 2016 #2
    Grades will always matter if you want to get into a graduate program. Yes, you will need a good GPA and a good GRE/PGRE score for grad school. How bad are your grades? Are you in study groups? Study groups have been a HUGE asset for me. Do any of your classes have a recitation? At my school the first 2 years of physics classes offer a 1 unit pass/fail once a week "class" that basically review everything being taught in that section. Its part lecture, practice questions, in class group activities. That's been tremendous! Have you tried a tutor? Are you a member of the physics club? I've gotten great advice regarding teachers, classes, assignments, tests etc from other students in the physics club who are a few years ahead of me.

    Take a good look at your study habits too, are you really doing everything you can? I apologize if that sounds like I am saying you are lying, not my intention, but sometimes people feel like they are doing a lot but when they really sit down and look at what they are doing they find there is a lot of room for change.

    What are you currently doing? Give us an example of your current study habits and things you have already tried (tutor, study groups, talking to the teachers etc). If this is what you really want to do I wouldn't give up yet! If this is your passion fight for it!
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016
  4. Feb 26, 2016 #3
    I got a C in exam 1 which is worth 16%. I got D for first exam in another class. I don't know too much about another grades as I am still waiting but I have strong feeling I did terrible :(
    There's tutors but only very few who really did help me, some of the tutors couldn't help me. The tutors were really students who higher math classes like Calculus 2. I want to find a study group but I don't know how. I am not a memeber of physics club but hopefully I will find one and join. Teacher offer a help sessions on Thursdays but the timing is impossible for me to come because of my schedule.
    I would try to study for about 3 hours then take a break then do the same thing again. I try to practice on math problems because I want to remember the formulas but I still cannot get it in my head such as word problems. I tried to read books on same similar problems but I still cannot get it. I been told I need to sleep more because I admitted I wake up at 4:00am then go to bed at 10:00pm because studying. I think I need to exercise more because I sit long periods of time.
  5. Feb 26, 2016 #4


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    It can be quite a culture shock going from a community college to a university. At a community college, you'll tend to get more support because the instructors' primary responsibility is to teach, not do research. While this support can help you succeed, it can also hold you back. You need to wean yourself of it and become more independent because at a university, you're expected to know how to learn. That's not to say the professors don't care if you do well or not, but they don't have the time to give you the kind of attention you may have gotten used to at the community college.

    As you've discovered, effort alone isn't enough. You have to spend your time efficiently. UNLV probably has resources to help students succeed academically. You should go check them out and commit to making some changes.

    As far as finding a study group goes, just talk to your classmates. Some of them might be in the same boat you are. If you're uncomfortable with asking outright about forming a study group, ask a classmate about a homework problem you're struggling with or ask to compare solutions. Don't just ask to see how to do a problem because people might be reluctant if it seems like you just want to copy their work. (Don't be discouraged if a few people won't help. There are usually some competitive, uncooperative weenies in every crowd.)
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