Effects of a withdraw from an optional course

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  • Thread starter Jack21222
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  • #1
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What do grad school acceptance committees think about withdraws on a transcript?

I'm taking elementary linear algebra just for fun (not required at all) but I find that my physics coursework has a near monopoly on my time.

I would really like to withdraw and focus on E&M, modern physics 2, and my intermediate lab class, but I fear that a W on the transcript would be a red flag to grad schools.

What do you think?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
G01
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Personally, I wouldn't drop it.

The problem is that Linear algebra is important to physics, so you may have to explain why you dropped it when you apply to grad school. It seems like an unnecessary complication to the application process.

That said, if you drop it, take it again later and get an A, it probably won't be a huge issue.

Do you feel like all your grades will suffer if you don't drop a course?
 
  • #3
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Personally, I wouldn't drop it.

The problem is that Linear algebra is important to physics, so you may have to explain why you dropped it when you apply to grad school. It seems like an unnecessary complication to the application process.

That said, if you drop it, take it again later and get an A, it probably won't be a huge issue.

Do you feel like all your grades will suffer if you don't drop a course?

I feel like either all of my grades will take a minor hit, or my linear algebra grade will take a big hit if I continue. Up until now, I've completely ignored my linear algebra class outside of actual class time, and I've missed several classes, but I still got a 93% on the first exam. My quiz average is 75%. The material has gotten to the point where I don't think I can safely ignore it, but I'm already saturated with homework. I spend between 20 and 30 hours a week just on homework assignments and lab reports (not including reading ahead or studying for tests) without linear algebra, in addition to working 36 hours a week.

Additionally, I'm going to have to miss a linear algebra test due to a mandatory trip to NIST on March 17th, and he doesn't allow make-up tests. If a test is missed with a legitimate excuse, the other tests and quizzes all become more important, which raises the quiz percentage of the course from 25% to 33%, and again, that is something I have a low average in.

I think I'd rather drop the course than get a B in it and lower my GPA.

I won't have the opportunity to take it later and get an A, because I'm applying to grad schools next fall, and some of my applications will be sent out before grades come back for that semester.
 
  • #4
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I don't have any useful advice, but I was curious: What degree are you taking that doesn't require any linear algebra?
 
  • #5
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I don't have any useful advice, but I was curious: What degree are you taking that doesn't require any linear algebra?

Physics.

We learn linear algebra in our "Intro to Mathematical Physics" class, but we only spend about 1/4 of the class on it.
 
  • #6
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A related question... what do grad schools think about changing a course like this to pass/fail? Would that be a good compromise solution to withdrawing?

I've noticed that if I withdraw, I'll only be taking 11 credits this semester which puts me at "part time." I don't know what effects that will have on me.
 
  • #7
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What do grad school acceptance committees think about withdraws on a transcript?

It's better than failing a class.
 
  • #8
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I think I'd rather drop the course than get a B in it and lower my GPA.

I think that's a very bad idea. If you have to withdraw to keep from failing a class, that's fine, but withdrawing from things because you get a B is worse than just getting a B.

One thing that you have to remember is that the types of classes that you take are more important than the grades that you get, so if you withdraw from linear algebra, you aren't going to be able to take classes that have it as a prerequisite, and worse you are going to be rehashing material that you know reasonably well, rather than learning new stuff.
 
  • #9
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A related question... what do grad schools think about changing a course like this to pass/fail? Would that be a good compromise solution to withdrawing?

Quite honestly if you are getting in B in the class, I think you are paying much, much too much attention on what graduate schools think than on learning the material well.

The problem with turning it into pass-fail is that you use up a card which you can use if you get into more serious trouble (i.e. there is a good chance you will get a C) or which you can use to take a weird or extremely difficult class without worrying about grades.
 
  • #10
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I can't use pass/fail on any classes for my major, so I only have about 2 more classes I could conceivably use pass/fail on. Nothing I plan to take uses linear algebra as a prereq.

I think there is a chance I could get a C in this class, and I'd rather not damage my GPA on an optional, just-for-fun class.
 

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