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Other GPA is low, but I love physics, what should I do?

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The title says it all. I am a sophomore with a flailing GPA. It’s currently at 2.2 since I keep getting C’s in literally everything. I have gone to professors, advisors, and other academic officials in the hope they would help. All I got was the same old same old. Study harder, read the book, talk to classmates, get a study group. I’m doing all of this and just keep failing. I must admit that my math skills are weak. I went to khan academy and did what I thought was hurting me most...algebra. While doing this I managed to pass linear algebra with a B, but due to the poorly taught Calc 3 I was in (it was IBL where our professor refused to lecture saying we learn better by doing than listening) I got a C and my physics courses suffered too.

I failed general physics 2 with D freshman year and retook it getting a B. But ever since I have barely passed every course. I have so many C’s it’s depressing. What’s worse is that if I graduate with a GPA lower than 3.5 I have read employers will not hire you and even more frightening is that I won’t get into graduate school.

Let me be clear, I LOVE PHYSICS. I absolutely love it. I get the concepts, the ideas make sense, but when doing problems I can’t do the math. Another issue at hand is money. I need to graduate in 4 years...extending it is not an option due to personal reasons. Along with this I can’t fail courses as that’s money wasted.

This is where I need help. What should I do? I already communicate with all of my professors...I talk to all of my advisors, I have bought supplement materials. I do extra problems. I simply can’t pass a single test though. In Calc 3 I failed every exam and managed to pass due to a curve. That’s disgusting and I hate it. I simply do t know what I need to do to change this and get my GPA back up. I need A’s not C’s.

Thanks to all who reply in advance! It may take me some time to reply as I’ll be working on physics!
 

russ_watters

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Let me be clear, I LOVE PHYSICS...

What should I do?
"I love physics" is an emotion, not a plan. What do you want your love of physics to do for you? That will help to determine what to do about your situation.
 
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"I love physics" is an emotion, not a plan. What do you want your love of physics to do for you? That will help to determine what to do about your situation.
I want to become a researcher...I’m already in a undergraduate research group on detecting cosmic rays for the purposes of studying harmful effects on upper stratosphere space flight. What I want to research is still up for debate, however.
 
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Let me be clear, I LOVE PHYSICS. I absolutely love it. I get the concepts, the ideas make sense, but when doing problems I can’t do the math.
It's great that you love the subject, but if you can't do the math, then you can't really do the physics.

Another issue at hand is money. I need to graduate in 4 years...extending it is not an option due to personal reasons.
From your other posts, it appears that your problems with physics really stem from serious problems with mathematics, going all the way back to algebra and even moreso, trig. Some advice given in one of your other threads was to go back and retake those classes. It sounds like you have not done so. It's really irrelevant that you need to graduate in 4 years if by doing so you end up with mediocre (or worse) grades. From my perspective it appears that you have been attempting to just bull through these courses, and getting whatever grade you get, without being mindful that a low grade in one class will almost always lead to an even lower grade in the follow-on class (e.g., your grades of B and C in calculus 1 and calculus 2, and the resultant struggle in calc 3).

I want to become a researcher
At your current rate, I don't see this as a possibility. To be a researcher you would need a PhD in Physics.

The only solution I see is to abandon the goal of getting a degree in 4 years. It will cost more money, of course, but I don't see any magic bullets
 

Vanadium 50

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You're in a pickle. Your foundation is shaky (at best), and that will make it almost impossible to excel in classes that build on it. But you don't want to spend the time to reinforce it because of your four-year limit. You're going to decide which one you want more "be a researcher" or "finish in four years" because it will be unlikely and difficult to do both.
 
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It's great that you love the subject, but if you can't do the math, then you can't really do the physics.

From your other posts, it appears that your problems with physics really stem from serious problems with mathematics, going all the way back to algebra and even moreso, trig. Some advice given in one of your other threads was to go back and retake those classes. It sounds like you have not done so. It's really irrelevant that you need to graduate in 4 years if by doing so you end up with mediocre (or worse) grades. From my perspective it appears that you have been attempting to just bull through these courses, and getting whatever grade you get, without being mindful that a low grade in one class will almost always lead to an even lower grade in the follow-on class (e.g., your grades of B and C in calculus 1 and calculus 2, and the resultant struggle in calc 3).

At your current rate, I don't see this as a possibility. To be a researcher you would need a PhD in Physics.

The only solution I see is to abandon the goal of getting a degree in 4 years. It will cost more money, of course, but I don't see any magic bullets
Well money is an issue. I can’t get loans anymore and the school doesn’t want to help me. I either get my degree or I work on the math piece is what I’m hearing. I’ll have to think hard about this. Thanks
 

ZapperZ

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Let me be clear, I LOVE PHYSICS. I absolutely love it. I get the concepts, the ideas make sense, but when doing problems I can’t do the math.
Actually, no. You love the romanticized idea of physics, where people only think about handwaving concepts and principles. This is only one aspect of physics. As I've said many times on here, physics just doesn't say what goes up must come down. It must also say when and where it comes down. The mathematical formulation of physics IS physics. The English (or whatever language) that we use are merely our attempt at putting into words those mathematical description! So the mathematical description of physics comes first. The language that we use to describe it comes only after that!

So no wonder you struggle in physics. You are not skilled in using the tools that you need to do physics. The foundation that you currently have is shaky at best, and the discouraging thing here is that it will only get WORSE. The mathematics that you need to be able to do E&M and QM are way more daunting than what you encountered in those general physics classes.

Please take note that there is a difference between learning physics, and learning ABOUT physics. It appears here that you are in love with learning ABOUT physics.

Zz.
 

Choppy

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What’s worse is that if I graduate with a GPA lower than 3.5 I have read employers will not hire you and even more frightening is that I won’t get into graduate school.
The first part here isn't true. While there are handful of employers who like to specify a GPA, in most cases, employers are far more concerned with the skills that you bring to the table than with academic performance. Lots of students who graduate from physics programs with less-than-stellar GPAs get good jobs. The second part is a concern. You can still get into graduate school with a GPA below a 3.5. But as you approach the 3.0 mark the chances of acceptance diminish.

One option you might want to consider if you're really struggling at this point is taking a year or two off. I know there's a big opportunity cost to it, but if you could get a half-decent, full-time job, you would earn an income and could even start saving up some money to pay for the rest of your education. At the same time you could take a night-school class or two to reinforce your mathematical foundation.

I want to become a researcher...I’m already in a undergraduate research group on detecting cosmic rays for the purposes of studying harmful effects on upper stratosphere space flight. What I want to research is still up for debate, however.
Something else to consider is dropping this. I know, it's probably not what you want to hear. But if your GPA is suffering, this research experience is not going to help you get into graduate school, and it's probably cutting into your study time. Once your GPA is above at least a 3.0, then you are in a better position to be looking for research experience. Or you can look to do something over the summer.
 

jrmichler

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All of the above advice is good advice. Your present path is going nowhere, and if you stay on it, you will not get into grad school. You need to accept that, and make your decisions accordingly.

I suggest that you seriously consider taking a couple years off. Get a technical job, such as in a factory or a mechanic or a machinist trainee. Your physics background could well get you a machinist trainee job. Use that time to retake / restudy every math and physics course that you have already taken. Focus on understanding the concepts, not on memorizing the equations. Keep at it until you fully understand the equations, and even are able to derive them. For example, you should be able to figure out why velocity = acceleration X time from a sketch of acceleration vs time and distance = 0.5 X acceleration X time^2 from another sketch.

By then, you should have your loans paid off, plus money in the bank. Then you will be ready to go back to college.
 
I know a guy who was just utterly garbage at school (~2.7 gpa) but happened to be a savant in the lab, and he got a job at a fancy research department at a big company in quantum computers. If you can't figure out what ails you, try seeing if you can get into a lab as an undergrad and work your tail off.
 
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I know a guy who was just utterly garbage at school (~2.7 gpa) but happened to be a savant in the lab, and he got a job at a fancy research department at a big company in quantum computers. If you can't figure out what ails you, try seeing if you can get into a lab as an undergrad and work your tail off.
Well I was thinking about going into Law school...i didnt mention it because it was physics related, but considering my inability to do well in math then maybe I can just get my four year degree and go into Law...something less math and something I enjoy a lot more.
 

Khashishi

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If you enjoy law a lot more, then what are you doing asking about physics? But, you should know that law school is not that easy to get into.
 
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If you enjoy law a lot more, then what are you doing asking about physics? But, you should know that law school is not that easy to get into.
Well currently I am in my universities physics program. I know that law school is competetive, but over the summer I took the LSAT and passed making me feel like I am way more knowledgable in that then I am physics or rather math. Problem is I need a 3.5 GPA at minimum, but higher to be competetive. That is why I asked what I should do. I don't want to screw myself over getting a liberal arts degree when I know for a fact that a physics degree will get me way further. Thanks for you input though.
 

ZapperZ

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I think you should think about why you are suffering from math. Are you bad at calculation? Do you have difficulty in understanding the concepts? Studying hard doesn't help that much if you don't know what your real problem is.
 
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I think you should think about why you are suffering from math. Are you bad at calculation? Do you have difficulty in understanding the concepts? Studying hard doesn't help that much if you don't know what your real problem is.
When I’m high school I was allowed a calculator. In fact, I was allowed the Ti-Nspire Cx CAS version. So algebra was easy. The calculator did it for me. Trig? Calculator knew it. Calculus? My calculator could take complex derivatives and integrals. College came and I wasn’t allowed calculators. I had to actually learn all of this stuff. I knew basic things, but my algebra and more so trig suffered. After 3 semesters of calculus I now know basic trig things, but it definitely needs more work. My algebra is a bit better, but that even needs work. Overall, I’m suffering because of my “cut corners” attitude in high school.

I’m taking the necessary steps to relearn all this stuff online through a self teaching course. I think another issue is I learn a math subject and since I never use it again I forget how to do certain things. Like limits. I know what it is, but I haven’t seen one since calculus 1 and that’s over a year ago. I don’t even remember how to evaluate those. Things like this.
 

ZapperZ

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When I’m high school I was allowed a calculator. In fact, I was allowed the Ti-Nspire Cx CAS version. So algebra was easy. The calculator did it for me. Trig? Calculator knew it. Calculus? My calculator could take complex derivatives and integrals. College came and I wasn’t allowed calculators. I had to actually learn all of this stuff. I knew basic things, but my algebra and more so trig suffered. After 3 semesters of calculus I now know basic trig things, but it definitely needs more work. My algebra is a bit better, but that even needs work. Overall, I’m suffering because of my “cut corners” attitude in high school.

I’m taking the necessary steps to relearn all this stuff online through a self teaching course. I think another issue is I learn a math subject and since I never use it again I forget how to do certain things. Like limits. I know what it is, but I haven’t seen one since calculus 1 and that’s over a year ago. I don’t even remember how to evaluate those. Things like this.
Then I do not understand your question in the first post, where you asked ".... This is where I need help. What should I do?... " It appears that you already know the source of the problem and what you need to do. Were you looking for validation?

At this stage of your undergraduate education and being a physics major, saying "my algebra is a bit better, but that even need work" is very problematic. I mean, this is ALGEBRA, for heaven's sake. I'm surprised you are even getting this far with such poor math foundation. Unless you think that your math skills have improved to tackle the more advanced physics courses (take a look at the texts corresponding to those courses), you may want to consider taking a step back and polish up on those math.

Zz.
 
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Then I do not understand your question in the first post, where you asked ".... This is where I need help. What should I do?... " It appears that you already know the source of the problem and what you need to do. Were you looking for validation?

At this stage of your undergraduate education and being a physics major, saying "my algebra is a bit better, but that even need work" is very problematic. I mean, this is ALGEBRA, for heaven's sake. I'm surprised you are even getting this far with such poor math foundation. Unless you think that your math skills have improved to tackle the more advanced physics courses (take a look at the texts corresponding to those courses), you may want to consider taking a step back and polish up on those math.

Zz.
Less validation and more guidance on what I should do. I stated in my original post that I have been suffering in math. I know that’s what is holding me back. I just didn’t know what I should do to remedy the issue without falling behind in my course work. That’s why I am taking online courses in all basi math as a means to get that foundation back. I was even gonna retake calculus and any other necessary math. Thanks for stating that it’s JUT ALGEBRA. Not very constructive, but whatever. I came from a small school and the teachers were lax and didn’t care. That’s why calculators were allowed.
 

symbolipoint

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The title says it all. I am a sophomore with a flailing GPA. It’s currently at 2.2 since I keep getting C’s in literally everything. I have gone to professors, advisors, and other academic officials in the hope they would help. All I got was the same old same old. Study harder, read the book, talk to classmates, get a study group. I’m doing all of this and just keep failing. I must admit that my math skills are weak. I went to khan academy and did what I thought was hurting me most...algebra. While doing this I managed to pass linear algebra with a B, but due to the poorly taught Calc 3 I was in (it was IBL where our professor refused to lecture saying we learn better by doing than listening) I got a C and my physics courses suffered too.

I failed general physics 2 with D freshman year and retook it getting a B. But ever since I have barely passed every course. I have so many C’s it’s depressing. What’s worse is that if I graduate with a GPA lower than 3.5 I have read employers will not hire you and even more frightening is that I won’t get into graduate school.

Let me be clear, I LOVE PHYSICS. I absolutely love it. I get the concepts, the ideas make sense, but when doing problems I can’t do the math. Another issue at hand is money. I need to graduate in 4 years...extending it is not an option due to personal reasons. Along with this I can’t fail courses as that’s money wasted.

This is where I need help. What should I do? I already communicate with all of my professors...I talk to all of my advisors, I have bought supplement materials. I do extra problems. I simply can’t pass a single test though. In Calc 3 I failed every exam and managed to pass due to a curve. That’s disgusting and I hate it. I simply do t know what I need to do to change this and get my GPA back up. I need A’s not C’s.

Thanks to all who reply in advance! It may take me some time to reply as I’ll be working on physics!
No way around it: You MUST learn Basic Arithmetic, Algebra 1 and 2, Trigonometry, and be GOOD at them. Everything you do or try in Physics will suffer if you are not GOOD in those listed parts. Your goal for that listing of Mathematics courses MUST BE 100% COMPETENCE; although most people will achieve a little less than that. Giving yourself time limits, or being given time limits from your current situation does not help. One way or another, you need to restudy, and even repeat courses to earn the credit.

When one of the members described, "just ALGEBRA...", that really means that "basic algebra" is not all too tough to understand (once you have adequately studied and practiced it); and further that Basic and Intermediate Algebra is as necessary to the sciences as the ability to read and write in the normal language which you use (such as English, if that is the language of your culture and of the instruction).
 

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