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How hard it is to achieve 3.7+ GPA?

  1. Jan 9, 2013 #1
    I am contemplating doing this dergee http://studyat.anu.edu.au/programs/4660HPHB;overview.html which is a 3+1 year research-focused science degree. In order to be accepted for honors and postgrad after that I have to maintain a very high GPA. I have never been to university so all I know is that GPA stands for Grade Point Average so I don't know how difficult it is to get 3.7+ GPA
    What kind of jobs can I get with a PhD in science (I am thinking about doing majors in physics and maths or physics and nanotech if available) other than uni lecturer?
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 9, 2013 #2
    I currently hold a 3.7, with 49 credits completed.
    How hard it is in dependent on several factors. First, you have to find an interest in all of your classes. If you're more interested in something, you'll spend more time working on it. Second, you have to aim for an A for every single class. Third, any outside factors will make it harder to achieve the A goal. It's fine if you go to work, but if you work nearly or more than full time, it's tough. Fourth, it will be much easier if you aim for the highest grades in the first semester than it would be in your 5th. Take the oppurtunity that you haven't even started yet wisely, and if you do it right, you can be in that honors program in just next semester (I hope they don't have a credit minimum requirement). Last tip and not least, have good study habits. Just those tips will make getting a 3.7 manageable. Good luck!
  4. Jan 9, 2013 #3
    It depends on the school. Grade inflation is rampant, but in the end its just up to the whims of professors. In my graduating class for a Physics BS nearly everybody got over 3.5 with honors.
  5. Jan 9, 2013 #4
    I that GPA in my undergrad. We had relatively small class sizes (about 12) and my professor did not curve very much. (I was the only one with an A in quite a few of my classes, including lab, optics, and quantum.) My professor expected a lot out of his students, and many students simply didn't give what he wanted out. The average "good" graduate has around a 3.0 and gets into good graduate schools despite the lower GPA - my professor provides good letters of recommendation explaining his grading process and gives details about the "average" student in comparison to the person he recommends.

    I didn't find it too entirely hard to maintain that GPA. I did find it hard, however, to be able to convince my friends and boyfriend that I didn't "hate" them and that I was studying. It all depends on your priorities and how much time and effort YOU want to put into your classes. I gave myself about two hours of free time a day, three if you include working out. I took EVERY assignment seriously - and it didn't matter if it was my horrible Chinese history class or my favorite E&M course. Not taking their generals seriously is where people end up in a trap.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  6. Jan 9, 2013 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    More so in some parts of the world than in others. :wink:
  7. Jan 9, 2013 #6
    Thank you for the replies everyone. I will try my best to get a 4.0 GPA and I will make sure I do extra-curriculars so I hopefully get accepted into MIT or any good overseas university to do masters and PhD. If not, ANU is still pretty good.
    Can someone please explain to me why some universities in Australia use 7.0 GPA?
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  8. Jan 9, 2013 #7
    I think your research matters more than the name of your school. So don't write yourself off if you don't get into one of the top schools.
  9. Jan 9, 2013 #8
    I completely agree Falcon, but if I get a scholarship I will definitely go because I always wanted to live in the USA. There is too much desert in Australia lol
    Since I don't really know whether to do medicine, engineering or science I know for sure that I want to do research in which ever field I end up doing so I think the PhB degree prepares me very well for research and I can always do post grad medicine if I decide that I want to do medicine.
    I read on other threads that it is possible to do undergrad science and then masters in Engineering or PhD in Engineering so how does that work? Is it the same as doing undergrad engineering and then doing masters/PhD in Engineering?
  10. Jan 9, 2013 #9
    Hey. I've been in three completely different colleges so far. First it was a small community college, then it was the #1 party school in the USA, and now I'm at University of Michigan. To be brutally honest, I was more interested in the teachers at the small college than I did at the party university - I wanted to leave. I decided that if Michigan wouldn't accept me in to the next semester, I would still leave for my small community college. Then when I got here, the people here at Michigan think that they're just "blue and maize" and nothing compared to Harvard, when the people at the huge party university told me they'd do anything to get in Michigan when I explained I was transferring.
    Bottom line, be happy wherever you end up. FalconOne's advice is just as good.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  11. Jan 9, 2013 #10
    I read more about this degree and looks like I will also have to maintain a mark of 80% in all exams not only 3.7+ GPA (If I fail to do this I have to drop to normal science degree). If I complete the bachelor successfully (which is 3 years) I can choose to either do honors (1 year) or post grad medicine (4 years) so I am very interested in doing this degree and will most likely be my first preference.
    Will major in physics for sure and do a minor in chemistry or physiology or medical science or neuroscience to keep my options open.
    I have a question: what does it take to be successful in scientific research? High school was all rote-learning (the courses are structured that way) so what can I do to prepare myself for this research-focused degree?
  12. Jan 9, 2013 #11
    Critical thinking is necessary for preparation.
  13. Jan 9, 2013 #12
    Maintaining a high GPA isn't hard if you're dedicated to it.

    The best advice I could give would be to kill your classes in your early semesters. I did poorly freshman year, and that has kept my GPA much lower than it would have been if only my sophomore onwards classes counted.

    So start off strong and finish strong.
    And be somewhat dedicated to having much less of a social or work life than you might at some points want.
  14. Jan 9, 2013 #13
    Synchronised, as you said, you will need to keep up a high distinction average to graduate - this means you'll end up with something close to a 4.0, but if you get a 90 in one semester, you can probably get a 70 in the next, and so on. Australian universities grade differently to American ones, and from what I've heard, it's much easier to get an 80 than it is to get an A in the US.
  15. Jan 10, 2013 #14
    OK, thank you.
    Considering that I am going to live at university all I will be doing is studying so hopefully I can maintain 80%+ because if I fail to do that I will have to drop from PhB to normal science or Engineering :(
  16. Jan 10, 2013 #15
    Yeah dont let studyIng be the absolutely only thing that you'll be doIng at the university though. I did that and negative stuff came out. My bf thought I was cheating on him than "studying", hardly went outsIde, Isolated myself from frIends and then I burned myself out. BurnIng yourself Is the worst thIng you can do to your mInd because you won't study very well anymore, the wIllpower Is all gone, and your grades drop.ThIs goes on for several weeks and you cant do anythIng about it because your mInd Is just that frIed. Finding a happy balance is key. We're now happier, I actually do outside activities now and I study regularly everyday.
  17. Jan 13, 2013 #16
    3.8, ~150 credits

    It's all about time-management. I have several friends who are borderline failing or that quite often receive B's and C's, but I would say that they are probably more intelligent than me. I just am more motivated and more capable of managing my time (also no job/girlfriend). Sometimes you will get a really horrible professor who may screw up your perfect 4.0, and sometimes you will run into a subject that just stumps you. This happened to me in Complex Analysis. I was the perfect student; I went to all the office hours, I studied for every test, I attended every class and took notes, but I just simply didn't get it. I ended up barely getting a B after a massive curve. So sometimes crap happens, but just keep pushing on and don't lose hope. Perseverance is key.
  18. Jan 13, 2013 #17
    Complex Analysis is compulsory in PhB :$ I like it in high school though, we prove some pretty cool results in it.
    Thank you for the advice! How do you exactly use time more efficiently?
  19. Jan 14, 2013 #18
    If you don't challenge yourself with difficult professors/classes you can easily get a 3.7+ but if you want a strong undergrad degree then you're going to have to push yourself. There are some freaks out there that can take ridiculously hard classes and still have 4.0's but it's very rare. I was not one of them though but I did challenge myself. I ended up with 6 grad classes, a double major in math and physics and some CS classes in 4 years all while coming into my undergrad without any AP credit. Because of my second year performance I was able to skip some intermediate classes and jump straight into senior level classes with professor recommendations for my 3rd year classes. That's when my GPA started to fall some but I kept up and got all B's in some very difficult graduate classes. I started from ground zero and built up a strong degree for grad school. I also got research experience starting in my 2nd year and that lasted for the rest of my undergrad. Even with a 3.4, I got into all but one of many top grad schools I applied for in both math and physics programs.

    I really wouldn't worry about your GPA that much but focus on creating a strong undergrad degree and making sure you're are challenging yourself to the max. Getting into hard classes with known professors can get you some very nice recommendations even if you get a B, trust me I know.
  20. Jan 14, 2013 #19
    Sophus, can you mention some of the institutions you got accepted to, since your idea of top maybe different from mine? My GPA is close to yours (3.5 roughly) so I would be very curious.
  21. Jan 16, 2013 #20
    Yeah, but my point was that because I had a rather low GPA I had a good reason for it which was taking the hardest classes I could stomach. If someone is taking the norm classes and ends up with a 3.4 then that's really not that good. I should also say that I am done with all my PhD classes and I ended with all A's and one A- which just happened last semester giving me a 3.98. I also completed 51 credits at my current school which is 21 more credits than the minimum requirements for my PhD and took a chunk of those from the math department even though I'm a physics PhD. My friends think I'm a freak but the truth is I came into this more prepared than them.

    Anyway, I applied to Stanford, Berkeley, UCSB, Colorado, MIT and also Caltech but that doesn't really count. I got into Berkeley and Stanford for math and physics and UCSB, Colorado, Caltech for physics. I got rejected from MIT, but I didn't care because I didn't wanna live on the east coast anyways, lol.
  22. Jan 16, 2013 #21
    Sophus, what was your experience with taking more than the minimum required graduate credits? What I mean is, I have heard that taking more classes than is required is looked down upon because it supposedly means that you are taking away time from your research. Did you experience any opposition by your advisor or other professors telling you that you were wasting your time on classes when you should have been doing research?

    The reason I ask is because I plan on applying to PhD programs, but there are several classes outside of my field that I would want to take which would exceed the requirements.
  23. Jan 16, 2013 #22
    Nah, my GPA is a 3.5 because of low grades in hard classes (I took general topology, abstract algebra, and real analysis freshman year and got a lot of B's). So we're in a similar boat. I'm impressed at that acceptance list, I thought those schools would have an army of 4.0 honors students from top schools with similar courseloads but perhaps I'm wrong.

    Also I'm skeptical about taking extra grad courses, I think at that point you should be able to just teach yourself whatever you need/want, and that's what most advisors have told me.
  24. Jan 18, 2013 #23
    Well, I had to pass my quals within the first 2 years and since my general adviser accepted the transfer of my grad physics classes during my undergrad that was an opportunity for 3 extra classes right there without bogging me down with too much work. Because of some time-scheduling conflicts I had 2.5 years of classes and in my last semester I only had one more class required which meant I could fill my schedule with more extra classes. So instead of starting research that semester with taking 1 class I just took a full load and sought out my research adviser during that time. I never had any "looked down upon" attitudes from my general adviser. The usual grad schedule is the first two years are classes and focusing on passing quals only. I took 2.5 years so no biggie.
  25. Jan 18, 2013 #24
    Well good, you're on the right track in my opinion. I'm sure those schools did have many higher GPA's than mine but I also had a lot of research experience, good (great?) GRE scores, some well-known professors recommendations, and a lot of computational software experience. For the record, I know 4.0's or very high GPA's that did horrible on the GRE (<= 750) which doesn't make any sense to me. I will never believe the "I don't do well on standardized tests" garbage especially when they pride themselves on their high GPA.

    Anyway, like I explained before the extra course loads were more of a scheduling thing than a desire. I learn better from learning stuff on my own but it's also slower. But I will say this, I don't know many people that can learn very advanced math/physics on their own from the start. It seems to me that a class just kinda gives someone a jump start into the subject then they can fill in the details later on, but maybe you're one of those very gifted persons that actually can learn advanced topics on their own. If that's the case then you're smarter than I because I need usually need one class to get going in the right direction.

    Edit: I should note that by self-learning advanced topics I do mean late grad school topics. I did a lot of self-learning in many subjects prior to and even in grad school.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
  26. Jan 18, 2013 #25
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