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I am worried about failing a class, should I change my major?

  1. Feb 15, 2008 #1

    The last post I made included my life story, so this one will be more to the point in hopes that more will respond.

    I am worried I am going to fail the second quarter of mechanics (or at best get another C). I earned a 27/100 on the recent midterm. My homework scores are also below average. The class average was a 55, so the professor offered extra credit, but even with the EC I will only go up to a 60 assuming I get full points on it, which is unlikely, and it puts me in a worse position than I was in last quarter where my lack of understanding merited me a C+. I liked mechanics in lower division, but it just doesn't really sink in for me at the upper division level (and I don't feel like anything could have prepared me for this level of rigor). My other classes are going well.

    I am considering changing my major from Physics to Applied Physics with an emphasis in Physical Electronics. I will have to take a few more upper division electrical engineering electives. The benefits include an excuse to drop this class which is likely to alter my GPA (which is 3.2 for all classes including non-major), take classes which I am more interested in, possibly give me a more competitive job application when I graduate, and allow me to finish up a quarter earlier than expected.

    I am currently a fourth year taking third year classes, so I am ready to finish. What are your thoughts on my plan?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 15, 2008 #2


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    Are you weak in some prerequisite skills or concepts needed for this mechanics course? If not, then do you believe that you could restudy this mechanics course again and learn much better?

    If by chance you believe the course is not taught well, then maybe a different textbook could help; along maybe with a different professor when you take the course again. Since this is only 1 course that you are struggling through and not passing, you probably should not yet change your major field - depending on how you feel about the subject.
  4. Feb 16, 2008 #3
    I have a couple of issues with the course:

    1. The text is not well loved by many. It is Analytical Mechanics by Hand and Finch. I find it far too dense and without enough worked practice problems, so that takes away from my problem solving confidence.

    2. The professor is new and young, which seems to mean he is somewhat out of touch with what the class understands compared with what he understands.

    3. The TA hands back homework assignments with tiny little x's or checks with no explanation when 20/100 points are removed. There are literally no words or helpful comments given.

    As far as life issues go, I just want to finish school since I am a fourth year but taking third year classes. I am feeling really burned out and unmotivated to work hard because of this class, and I am really ready to start my life and get married.

    Changing my major to Applied Physics is virtually the same in terms of core requirement, but this second quarter of mechanics is not required. As far as fundamental misunderstandings go, I am sure they run deep but I am generally a good student and have no trouble with mathematics and did very well in my lower division courses.
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