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I didn't do well in my first semester.

  1. Jan 10, 2014 #1
    In short, I got a C and have to take a class again. I suppose was a combination of underpreparedness, pride, and just plain bad luck. I also think the class wasn't taught well but I guess I'm wrong since I'm the only person who didn't pass. The worst part is I thought I was doing fine.

    Anyway I saw the professor again today and he invited me to his office to talk about the class.

    Is there any point to this? I feel like it's just going to be him talking down to me and making me admit I'm not a good student or him patronizing me. If he really was concerned, why wouldn't he contact me during the semester when it was clear that I couldn't pass?

    Should I just ignore him? I've had enough embarrassment and self-esteem issues over my academic career and I really don't want to talk about this beyond with my advisors. Is there any way this can actually benefit me? I've already got the "message" that I should work harder and change my style of studying and balancing research.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 10, 2014 #2


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    Turn the question round: is there any way this can not actually benefit you?

    How to deal with "failure" could be the most important thing you actually learn from this.

    I don't think you will fix your problem(s) either by trying to ignore them, or insisting on working them out for yourself without any help.

    On the other hand, if you have really "had enough embarrassment and self-esteem issues" after just one semester of your "academic career", the logical decision is to give up and drop out, not to waste more time on something that isn't working out the way you expected it to. Personally I don't think that's a very sensible decision even if it is logical - but then, I'm not you.
  4. Jan 10, 2014 #3
    I think you're being a bit paranoid... Professors are usually pretty busy people so the fact that he's actually going out of his way to talk to you because of a bad grade is probably a good thing. It means he actually cares that you got a bad grade and he probably genuinely wants to help you out. Of course, good intentions don't always translate into good results, but I think it's still worth talking to him. Why would he go out of his way to give you some of his time if he didn't think it was worthwhile?
  5. Jan 10, 2014 #4


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    If a C is considered a failing grade, I assume that means you're in graduate school. In that case I would absolutely go and talk to him.

    Despite many anecdotes to the contrary, professors usually don't have any interest in seeing student - particularly graduate students fail. Given that there are many others who could have been in your spot a failure is a waste of everyone's time.

    One thing he may want is to get feedback (beyond the bubble sheet questionaires) on the course and his approach to teaching it. Now that I've taught a few courses myself, I know how hard it can be to teach. He may also have some genuinely good advice for you.

    And as a graduate student, if you don't make any visible effort to address the issue (which means talking about it and perhaps yes, even listening to lectures about working harder), you'll have an even harder time during committee evaluations.
  6. Jan 10, 2014 #5
    I really don't understand what he could actually say to help me now. I suppose I'll talk to him but I don't think I can go in expecting to gain anything other than "proving" that I "care" and really I think this is just a stunt for him to also "prove" that he "cares."

    I don't appreciate the snarkiness of this comment, implying that I don't really have an academic career.

    Over the years I have:
    -Had my advisor make a scene walk out of the room during my undergraduate thesis presentation because I made a mistake on a slide.

    -When I took calculus 3 in college the professor was offended because I never took notes. He asked if I wanted to teach instead because I said it was because I already knew the material. I thought this was ridiculous so I just walked out of the class and he reported me for disrupting the class. They ruled against him in the end, but still.
    Edit: Okay in this case I did say something like "I don't know why I even come to this pointless lecture" before I walked out, but it was still unfounded aggression.

    -During an REU closing session have had a guy in the audience take over my talk because he was an expert in the area and decided it's okay to answer a question I didn't know that answer to for me. It was a 20 minute tangent and the moderator decided not to let me finish, and I lost points for not finishing my talk.

    -Asked to work with a professor during a grad school visit and he told me there's no way I could succeed at his school because of my GRE scores. He used the specific words.

    -In a math class I was asked go to the board to explain a homework problem I had gotten wrong. I didn't know it was wrong and the professor did since he had graded it already, but he let me do the whole thing wrong and asked me to stand there while he corrected me. It was a "learning exercise to work through misconceptions step-by-step."

    I always seem to get the jerks and I'm really not interested in doing this again. I'm pretty tired of the kind of situations.
  7. Jan 12, 2014 #6
    Certainly, you should talk to him. Think about it this way. If you really want to fix your performance on this course, then the professor might have some insight on how this may be done. He might point out some mistakes you've made, where you could have don better and so on. And, since you are going to see this professor the next term, it is better to establish good relations now, than ruin them with your missing his appointment.

    If, however, you do not care about the class at all, then yes, there is no point talking to him. Although, I think, you better establish good relations with him anyway: a friendly professor will certainly help you on your scientific way up!

    The more successful you are, the more jerks you will attract (and that is not to praise you, that is simply the truth of society). Either you learn to handle them, or you will never get far in your career.

    Also, your described situations do not seem that much jerkish to me. You want to hear about real jerks? How about 70 y/o professor who told me to "go f!@k myself" when I asked him for a recommendation letter because "everyone leaving Russia to overseas is a f!@king traitor"? Or a postdoc with overgrown ego who told me during my presentation to "stop talking about this bulls!@t"? I've seen my share of jerks as well, and, yet, here I am, applying to 15+ US graduate programs and not caring about others thinking I will never succeed.

    If all it takes for you to cut your relations with a professor who can really help you is a few nasty guys, then you better change your attitude, or you will have a lot of problems in your life, not only in science.
  8. Jan 12, 2014 #7


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    Cyano, why are you asking for a advice if you can't take constructive criticism?

    It seems to me that you have a bad attitude about things and project your failings and shortcomings on everyone or anything but yourself. All your examples of jerks sound like missed learning opportunities because it doesn't sound like you learned anything from it.

    It would be stupid to not talk with the professor about why you did poorly in his class.
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