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Admissions Grad school emphasis on intro-level grades, computer science

  1. Apr 29, 2016 #1
    I'm sorry if this is a bit of a mundane question but we all do impulsive things when we're anxious. I may get a B+ in General Physics II and Calculus II this semester (2nd semester freshman). I know I am capable of much better, and to be honest, I was very bogged down emotionally/psychologically this semester and I'm hoping the summer will help me recuperate; next semester I am taking Linear Algebra and Modern Physics. I haven't declared yet but I am decidedly a physics major. How much do lower-level classes affect your chances for PhD program in physics? If I am able to get my personal issues under control I know I can get A, but would I be rejected for getting B+ in physics & calculus freshman year? On a related note, could it be useful for me to see a therapist to see if I have any legitimate psychological health issues that could be cited for a less-than-ideal performance? Of course to just feel better too.

    I will say I go to a rigorous liberal arts college that has very high science PhD productivity (large percentage of graduated majors will go on to earn a PhD) but research I did in the past seemed to indicate it is more a matter of having good professor recommendations and research experience rather than the quality of the individual school since physics curricula are so standardized across schools. Both of which are things I do hope to accomplish (partially because a research project with a professor is a requirement for physical science majors here).

    Based on what I read from the " So you want to be a physicist" post computer science is also necessary for me to learn...Is the type of computer science recommended for grad school something I could potentially self-study, or do I really ought to take a class? Computers frustrate me to no end and my interest in computer science is in the deepest void but I'll do it if necessary.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 29, 2016 #2
    First of all, a B+ is not dramatic. Getting a few B+ would definitely not mean you wouldn't be accepted to grad school. Especially if those grades are made in lower-level classes. Grades are only important up to a certain point. If you got a few B's, but excellent research and letters, then you're still a big contender for grad school.

    If you feel bogged down psychologically, then definitely see a psychologist!
  4. Apr 29, 2016 #3


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    No, they will definitely not reject you just because you have a B+ in an intro class, and this includes even the very best schools. I know this from experience. Doing well in more advanced classes, doing great research, and getting outstanding letters can easily make up for B's in intro classes. The PGRE is also somewhat important but not as much as the other three things I mentioned.

    The best thing you can do is to reflect on why you aren't doing as well as you'd like and think about things you can change to do better. What matters is that you are resilient and don't give up because of one set back. However, this doesn't just mean working hard, you also have to take a flexible approach and push yourself to think in new ways and I would also add learn from other people.
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