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Grad School acceptance (or supposed lack thereof)

  1. Jun 17, 2014 #1
    Hey guys,

    I'm going into my third year of college and I really want to go to grad school. Unfortunately, I messed up really badly this year, so my GPA is currently a 2.743. Here's my grade breakdown:

    Freshman year (fall):
    General Chemistry I: B+
    English Writing: B+
    Calculus I: C
    Intro to Physics: A-

    Freshman year (spring):
    Anthropology: B
    Honors Colloquium for General Chemistry II: A-
    General Chemistry II: B-
    Comparative Literature: A
    Calculus II: B-
    Physics I: C

    Freshman year (summer):
    U.S. History: A

    Sophomore year (fall):
    Organic Chemistry I: F
    Organic Chemistry I Lab: B+
    Chemistry Undergraduate Seminar: A
    Multivariate Calculus: B+
    Biology of Cancer and AIDS: C+
    Physics II: B

    Sophomore year (spring):
    Intro to Java: D
    Shakespeare: B
    Linear Algebra: C
    Fundamental Concepts of Math: B
    Differential Equations: B-
    Co-Seminar with Fundamental Concepts of Math: B

    Since I failed organic chemistry, I decided to change my major to applied math. I am going to retake my computer science class next semester and I am planning on retaking organic chemistry in the fall of my senior year. Do I still have a shot at grad school, or did I mess this year up too badly for that? Thanks a lot guys.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 17, 2014 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Nobody can predict, but to get in, I think you need to be getting A's from here on out. Those D's and F's have to become A's. Not B's.
  4. Jun 17, 2014 #3
    Ok, thank you Vanadium 50. My main issue, however, was whether grad schools would look favorably on my retaking those courses. If I retook them, would they think that I grew up and did my best to improve, or would they think that I'm trying too hard to salvage some hope?
  5. Jun 17, 2014 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    None of us can read minds. Also, you're solving the wrong problem. Your problem is not a GPA that looks bad. Your problem is a demonstrated inability to get the grades you need. Understand the difference? You need to get your grades up, to learn the material that you didn't the first time around, and to be able to demonstrate it. Only then does it make sense to worry about how it looks.
  6. Jun 17, 2014 #5
    All right, thanks, that was really helpful. I will also definitely try to get some independent studies in this year. And I am resolved to getting As in Intro to Java and Organic Chemistry the second time around. Are the Cs on my transcript anything to worry about?
  7. Jun 17, 2014 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    If I said they were, what would you do about them?

    I don't think you are getting my point. Your problem is not how things look. Your problem is that you are demonstrably not learning what you need to be learning. At this point, you need to be thinking about getting A's in every single course you take from now on.
  8. Jun 18, 2014 #7
    I know there's nothing to be done about the Cs on my transcript. I was just worried that my Cs made my situation even worse. I understand that I need to stop worrying about how things look, but I'm just very scared. I have friends at college who have GPAs of 3.8+, and it makes me realize how much I've been jerking around, and I'm afraid that nothing I do will help me rebound from this.
  9. Jun 18, 2014 #8
    Another question that should probably be asked is, how do you know you want to go to grad school? Grad school in applied math is a lot different from grad school in chemistry/physics (which I'm guessing was your original major). Were you planning to do a PhD or Masters? What makes you think you will enjoy graduate studies if, as you mentioned, you've been "jerking around" for basic undergraduate work? Have you done any research into your proposed fields of graduate study? At this point you should certainly focus on strengthening your foundation in core courses, but at the same time you should also think about whether graduate school is really the right path for you.
  10. Jun 18, 2014 #9
    Myranaira, I was in fact a chemistry major when I entered college, but as I mentioned in the original post, I changed my major to Applied Math because I failed Organic Chemistry. My original plan was to go straight to a Ph.D. program in chemistry and work a well-paying job for a few years to save enough money to start a chemical company. As you can probably see from my grades, I largely focus on doing well in classes that I enjoy and I ignore the classes that I do not enjoy. I've been trying to kick this habit for several years now, but I don't know how to do that. I will be taking two 500-level math classes and one 500-level statistics class next semester (non-graduate classes). I am planning on taking a graduate class in the fall of my senior year. I asked a professor about doing an independent study with him next semester, but he said that those mostly go out to more advanced students, so I will try again for next spring. In the meantime, I am going to try some more computer science courses and get a computer science program in (either a minor or double major) before graduation. I will be meeting the walk-in advisor for mathematics right when school gets back this semester to talk to him about my future plans. Thanks to everybody on this post for their help. I greatly appreciate it.
  11. Jun 18, 2014 #10
    From your transcript, I personally find it hard to believe that you work harder on classes you enjoy. If that were the case you'd be getting A's/B's in your math courses, not B's and C's. Also, depending on your school's requirements, it will probably be difficult to get in a CS major if you want to graduate in time, especially if you have to take intro to Java again.

    The best way to prove to grad schools that you've gotten more serious about your studies is, as Vanadium said, to go over the courses you did poorly in and make sure your fundamentals are more solid than your transcript indicates. Once you have that down, get A's in ALL your future math/CS classes. That will demonstrate that you've gotten better as a student and have gotten yourself up to speed with fundamentals.
  12. Jun 18, 2014 #11
    Will doing this get me into at least a mid-tier Master's program? That's all I really care for as far as getting a Master's degree goes. I plan on going on to a Ph.D. from there. I will be emailing my math professors in the next few weeks to ask them about the classes that I will be taking with them next semester in order to get a better feel for what I'll be getting into. What do you and Vanadium mean by "going over the courses I did poorly in?" Do you mean retaking them? Because I plan to retake them anyway. I also plan on meeting my professors regularly and doing whatever it takes to get straight As from here on out. I have a couple of the textbooks that I will be using next semester, so I will be self-studying rigorously for the rest of the summer. Would it help if I emailed some grad schools explaining my situation to them?
  13. Jun 18, 2014 #12
    It's not just about retaking courses you failed, it's about making sure you understand all the material in the relevant courses you've already taken. For example, I got a B in a class where I did not fully understand the material. Theoretically a B isn't a bad grade, but the point is that I didn't understand what I was learning. Luckily that was the last course I needed to take in that sequence - if I had tried to go on it would probably have been very difficult as I didn't have a solid grasp of fundamentals.

    Therefore, you should ask yourself: are your Bs and Cs in math due to not fully understanding and remembering the material? Because if you don't fully understand and remember what you learned in previous courses, how do you expect to do better in even harder courses?
  14. Jun 18, 2014 #13
    Ok, I understand now. In that case, I am in your situation with my Fundamental Concepts of Math class. But I do believe I gleaned enough material from Multivariable Calculus and Differential Equations in order to survive harder classes. I was also being lazy in my first year calculus classes and in Linear Algebra due to sheer boredom (I had to take the three semesters of calculus even when I was a chemistry major). I think my Bs and Cs were mostly due to laziness, but I will revisit calculus and linear algebra over the coming winter break. But I am still more resolved than ever to doing well this semester, regardless of what it takes.
  15. Jun 20, 2014 #14
    I just thought I would mention: my end goal is to get a Ph.D. from one of the following schools: Columbia, CalTech, Brown, University of Chicago, and MIT (arranged in no particular order). Since it seems as though I will have to go to a Master's program to get into one of the above Ph.D. programs, I am prepared to do so. But is a Master's out of reach for me as well?
  16. Jun 21, 2014 #15

    Vanadium 50

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    Lots of people on PF - particularly those who are in high school or undergrad - argue that a Masters helps get into elite graduate physics programs. If that were true, these schools would have a lot of students with an MS in their entering classes. And they don't.

    But you are losing focus - you need to be thinking about what you need to be doing right now, and not some years down the road.
  17. Jun 21, 2014 #16
    Ok. Right now, I will focus solely on rebuilding my GPA. Of course I don't believe that a Master's will guarantee admission into a top Ph.D. program, but this is my last hope. I will be emailing my next semester's professors within the next few weeks asking them for the syllabi for their classes so that I can use the rest of the summer to prepare myself. Once I retake Intro to Java, I will declare a Computer Science minor, since I will have most of the classes for my major finished by the end of next year. Thanks for the advice, it really helped me to get me back on track.
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