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Doing Better in Chemical Engineering

  1. Dec 15, 2010 #1
    Okay, so I just got done with my fall term classes, and my grades aren't the best. I was wondering two things, one, should I continue? Everyone seems to give me the easy "of course you can do it" spiel, while that is good and dandy, it never tells me anything. I don't know if I really can do it, or if everyone around me is blowing smoke up my ***. Before whoever answers this though, I want you (thank you by the way for taking the time to answer this) to understand my circumstance. I was here last year. I took almost the exact same load, the only difference is that last year, I pulled out. I did a lot of soul searching asked myself what was worth what, took Integral calculus again...and passed with a B. I took Organic Chemistry, and passed with a B. I took Newtonian Physics and passed with a B. Everything seemed to be leading me back to Chemical Engineering. So then this year, I took the plunge back into the course work, and, well didn't do good. I failed Physics 212, got a D in my Chemical Engineering class, but passed Vector Calc with a C-, and retook Organic Chemistry I with a B+. I'm wondering, based on Professional Opinions, if it is advisable if I should still go through with this. I need a 2.75 to get into pro school. I'm in my third year in college. I have those constraints to deal with. I'm not sure If I can really do this. I gave a lot of effort this term. I scheduled everything around my schooling. Work outs, social obligations (or the very very few that I had), eating, sleeping...everything I thought of, before the term started I scheduled. I got groups together, designated study times, saw tutors when I could, got most of my assignments in on time(that goes irregardless, kind of a given). More often than not, I got back 1:00 in the am exhausted, and I would then sleep. I also learned this term. I learned that I should actually try to learn from my assignments rather than just treating them like a choir. I also learned girls aren't worth it, take fewer credits, and I need to be more organized, and I have a good work ethic, I just need some direction to channel it.

    My second Question is if I decide to go through with this, how do I do better. I got it though myself that I actually have to learn from my assignments, but what else could I do? I know about going to professors, TA's, tutoring services, but what else? for instance, my Physics teacher is a good lecturer, but the suggested problems he assigns are so piss weak, but his exams are just ridiculous, almost nothing like the suggested problems, or his lectures. What should I do? Also my Engineering class was intense. On the homework, you could spend an easy 4-5 hours a night doing it. They take a while to solve. While I don't mind that, how can I better prepare for the exams? is there a way to minimize this so I can actually do work in other classes?. I guess in essence, how do I "take these classes(Physics, Mathematics, and Engineering Classes)" and pass with average/good grades? I have a good mentality, and work ethic, it's just the grades that trip me up. I'm not about to let this go without overturning every stone. I need this, I want this. I'll be level, I'm doing it partially for the money, but at the same time, I'm doing it to make my parent's proud, and to be able to look at myself in the mirror and say to myself I am proud of that person. I look at Chemical Engineering with a lot of hope. I bumped my head several times along the way, and it's not like I'm lazy, I'm putting in a lot of effort. I just want to know what the hell is wrong with me? Can I be doing things better? or is this not for me? Well, enough bleeding my heart out, I leave this to the members of the Physics Forum.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 17, 2010 #2
    really? no one? no one has any suggestions, guidance, or anything here? FML
  4. Dec 17, 2010 #3
    You will probably get more guidance if you post this in the "academic guidance" section...

    First of all, if your work is anything like your post I can see why you aren't doing well. The post was rambling and unfocused. You need to first think about your situation, and decide what question you want to ask. If you do some soul searching, you will probably find that you know the answer to several of the issues you brought up, but there are really one or two essential things that you are struggling with. You're trying to get an answer before even knowing the question.

    Your reasons for doing science are not the right ones. First of all, doing it for money is just plain dumb. Sure, if you are a very strong student you can have a good career in science. But if you're struggling, no one is going to hire you when they could hire someone better. It's better to have good grades in something that you truly enjoy and are good at, rather than poor grades in a "good" field.

    I understand that science gets respect from people, and that might be nice once or twice a year when you talk to your aunt or grandma and get compliments on your choice of studies. But it's not going to help for the 90% of your time when you are struggling in a field you are not suited for, while others around you excel.

    Simply put, it doesn't sound like you even like science and it isn't coming easily to you. Lots of people come on this board saying "I love science but I suck, what do I do?". That's a difficult situation. Yours seems like a no-brainer. If you want to look in the mirror and be proud, then do something you truly enjoy and care about, for its own sake.
  5. Dec 17, 2010 #4
    to johng23:

    your right. I'm sorry. I should have taken the time to label out what my problems actually were. (I posted this under the academic guidance, but I thought I may be able to get some answer from here)To be honest, I'm nervous and scared. I'm in my third year of college and things aren't going well, but that should have been no excuse. I should take the time to be more clear. I like science. Or at least I feel like I like it enough. I like the feeling when I solve math and physics problem sets by myself. I feel accomplished. It just feels as of late like an ordeal. I want to know why I'm doing so poorly.

    I suppose my problem might lie within my approach. I go to lecture, jot down notes(don't even use them) do problem sets and then take the exam(s) what is wrong with this approach? If this is somehow wrong, how should I go about taking Math, Physics and Engineering courses?
  6. Dec 17, 2010 #5
    Sorry if I came off a bit harsh. Anyway, it's hard for anyone to tell you what is wrong with your approach without seeing your work or knowing how you think. If you have trouble on exams, are you able to understand what you did wrong after the fact once you see the solutions? Can you understand the thought process behind the correct solution? It may not be an easy thing to pinpoint.
  7. Dec 17, 2010 #6
    it's fine. I probably need to be kicked around a bit. I'm thinking it's probably my approach that may be the problem. Whenever I hear that there is an assignment that's due, or an exam around the corner, I go into panic mode. I think of either just getting the assignment done, or covering enough material so that I feel prepared.

    The second issue I think may be that I really don't know how to take technical classes (ie physics, calculus, engineering classes) My approach was to take notes, do problems and hopefully I'm prepared for the exam. Is there a better way to prepare for exams and absorb knowledge, or is this what most people do and I'm just a dumb ***?

    A third issue, which I found was most prevalent in my Engineering classes, is that sometimes I would just hit a wall and would think in loops, or look at a problem and think FML; I wouldn't get anywhere, but if I got in a group, there was often one person who "got it" and things would become honkey dorey, and I got the assignment done. How should one tackle hard problem sets?
  8. Dec 17, 2010 #7
    to johng23:

    is that in any way what you need. Oh yeah, and sometimes on exams, when I get them back, most of the time I can see where I went wrong.
  9. Dec 18, 2010 #8
    Well, personally I have never liked working in groups. I always felt like some people seemed to "get it", like you say, and I would not be ready to move on but everyone would be rushing ahead. I would be sitting there feeling like the stupidest one in the group. But then I would go work on it on my own, and I ended up doing better than the others on the exams. The thing is, everyone thinks differently. Sometimes there are really basic points that you need to sit there and struggle with for a while, and in a group you will feel too pressured to move on. But in my opinion, the seemingly simple points can often be where the physics really lies.

    If I could give any piece of advice about science, it would be not to be tempted to rush. Science is so vast and complex, and if you are sitting there as an undergrad or even a grad student, struggling with some concept that people have understood for 60 or even hundreds of years, it's easy to feel like it should be easy and want to rush to the hard stuff. But the fundamentals really lead to everything else. If you are sitting there confused by a single minus sign in an equation, don't just move on because it's only a minus sign. Try to figure out whatever you don't get and don't worry about how fast other people seem to be getting everything. Lots of people sound smarter than they are.
  10. Dec 18, 2010 #9
    No one can really tell you what you need to do differently, particularly on a forum where we have limited info. You'll have to find a system that works best for you, and is tailored to your strengths and weaknesses. That being said, it's often useful to see how others handle situations and take away the ideas that you think will work for you.

    I like to go to the library an hour or two before class. First, I will briefly review the material that was covered last time to jog my memory, maybe doing one or two of the harder problems. Then, and for the majority of the time there, I'll read through what is going to be covered that day. My goal is to really get a solid grasp of it before class.

    In class, I prefer to be focused on what is being said. Having a basic knowledge going in let's me know ahead of time what parts I wasn't getting before, and I can focus on them more. Also, I can ask more specific questions about what I don't understand. I tend not to copy everything that is said or written in class. Instead, I try to just understand what is going on then and there. Still, I'll copy down a page or so of the more important info. It always seems people around me are copying down everything when it is really unnecessary, since most the info is in the textbook. If there is really that much new information being covered in class I'd rather bring in a recorder and review that later (I've never had to actually do that though). Immediately after class I can go over the material and do the homework problems.

    This is an ideal plan, and it is customized based on my schedule and how difficult the class is. The key idea is that I like to go into the class with a grasp of what will be covered. In addition, I try hard to understand the concepts before new ones are introduced. One of the biggest mistakes I see in other people is when they don't get something and then attempt to learn the next step. In math and science the next step usually depends on a solid understanding of previous steps.

    From what you've wrote here it seems like one problem for you is a sense of panic. One way to reduce panic is confidence that you get from doing many problems ahead of time. Your textbooks should have plenty of problems for you, and if not there is a nearly limitless supply of problems on the internet. Go into your tests knowing that you've done enough problems that there will be no surprises.
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