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GPA or Knowledge

  1. Jun 30, 2008 #1
    I have a tough call to make. I won't go into the details, but it basically goes like this. Plan A - I can take a highly difficult grad math course next year, for no other sake than interest. This would mean my GPA would suffer (because the average is really low and I'd spend insane amounts of time on it - neglecting other work). This has no been confirmed as fact, as the highest mark was a 71... and the median around 53. However, it is something I'd get "over with" and satisfy my curiosity... this is something I REALLY want to learn.

    Or option B, screw my interest and submit to the bureaucracy that is academia. This would mean I would devout more time to my major and come out better on paper... but painfully accept I did not acquire the knowledge I came here to acquire. It may seem the obvious choice is A, which is more reasonable. However, I will point out that I will have absolutely no free time to learn this on my own. None. It would take... hmm 2-3 years before I have enough time for such an endavor. So I'd have to live with myself for that long.

    Please help =(
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 30, 2008 #2
    it depends on your current GPA and your future plans. Are you gunning for a highly ranked grad school? Is this course relevant to your undergraduate curriculum, or could it be taken in grad school?
  4. Jun 30, 2008 #3
    The highest mark is a 71... now, where I went to school, that was a C- in the math department, which is not a passing grade for a graduate class there, which seems problematic. You should probably talk to the professor directly and ask what kind of marks that would really translate too, for example, I was looking at some course websites where I'm going to do my graduate work, and for one of the classes, doing something like 1/4 of the work resulted in a B- (although this is basically a failing mark for a grad class there)
  5. Jun 30, 2008 #4
    Even that aside, I'd lose out on time for my other courses. There is no doubt I'd lower my GPA. The course is not needed for my program, it is purely for interests sake.
  6. Jun 30, 2008 #5
    Can you audit it?
  7. Jun 30, 2008 #6
    Maybe you should think about taking option B, but audit the class. If you sit in on the lectures it could satisfy your interest and wouldnt take up too much time away from your other classes.

    I know some university you can take credit by examination at the end and just get pass/fail grade. Just a thought.
  8. Jun 30, 2008 #7


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    Howers, maybe you miss finding a compromise for reaching that graduate-level course which you so much want to take. Is there either an official OR a recommended prerequisite for that special course? Take the prerequisite and give yourself a possible edge in qualifying for that special course, and take other courses which also contribute toward your major field. When you are more academically experienced as well as more studied, you may do a better job studying in that special grad-level course that you want - even if you spend an extra semester before graduating.
  9. Jun 30, 2008 #8
    I don't think I can audit it. And the course is advanced set theory, so I wouldn't get much by just going to lectures. In any case, I need a credit... so it has to be this or symbolic logic(ugh).

    And yes, some very bright people get low grades in it.

    I suppose a distant option is staying an extra year... but that just sends chills down my spine. Really, I couldn't give a damn about my GPA. But Ill be applying to grad school, and I think thats all that counts. Yet Id love to have the fundamentals of math down! (ie set theory)
  10. Jun 30, 2008 #9
    Well, what's your GPA now, and how much are you willing to risk? How many other classes do you have to take, and can you make a conservative estimate of how well you'll do in those classes if you can't put your usual effort into them?
  11. Jun 30, 2008 #10
    Can you take it pass/fail?
  12. Jun 30, 2008 #11
    My GPA now is a low 3. I've got some hard stuff that year, analysis 2, pde, 4th yr QM, and EM waves so I would definately lose out on time. I'd probably get mid 70s taking set theory, and probably high 70s/low 80s w/o. All in all, Id still have a 3 gpa or maybe a high 2 doing this. I've done some comprehensive timetables to calculate this.

    The risk would be there, but I would feel so damn good knowing set theory. I have wanted to learn it for a very long time. I won't fail, but Ill probably get like 50-60 so it would down my GPA. But as you can tell, doing this is irrational! Yet it is a burning desire of mine to learn the material of this course... I guess Im just that obssessive.
  13. Jul 1, 2008 #12


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    I was in a similar situation during the last quarter of my second year. I was coming off a quarter in which I had taken 6 classes (28 units) and had gotten 5 As and A+. For the quarter in question I had the chance to take a graduate class in Complex Analysis. My first year I fell in love with complex analysis and then took it as my first upper division math class. I really wanted to make it my first graduate class as well. I knew this would be the hardest class I would have taken so far. I actually started out the quarter taking 5 classes and stayed that way for 4 weeks. At the end of those 4 weeks I decided that although I could keep up with the work for all the classes and learn the complex analysis properly but like you I would neglect the other classes (as I had been doing). I decided to drop 3 of the classes in order to save my GPA. After dropping those classes I was spending about 95% of my study time on the complex analysis class. To this day it has been the hardest class I have ever taken (I'm headed to grad school now). Nevertheless, it was worth it and because I dropped the other classes I was able to get 2 A- and an A so that my GPA was safe. Of course to be on track with my plan I now had to take summer classes and I did. I took 4 general education requirements that summer to make up and then some.

    Do you think you could lower the number of classes you will take and then take some classes during summer?
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