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I got a B+ and I am freaking out.

  1. Jun 15, 2011 #1
    I usually hate it when people make posts like these, because there's an obvious and sensible response: "Calm down, one B isn't a big deal." I am terrified though, because I would really like to get into a top school, and I was counting on my high GPA to help me out. If it were a B+ in Post-Marxist Basket Weaving or something, I wouldn't sweat it, but this was in a high-level math class. I don't even feel like I did that badly in class. I had a 98% before the final, and I thought I did well on the final. I don't know what to do. This is the kind of thing I have nightmares about and then wake up and go "Phew, glad that wasn't real."
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 15, 2011 #2
    Tough luck. Looks like your application to top schools, like 90+% of them, is going to be refused.
  4. Jun 15, 2011 #3
    Haha, stop this. Listen: Do not worry about grades except inasmuch as they show you a lack in your ability.

    If you get a B+, that almost surely means you did not master the material as well as you could have. Getting a B+ just means you now need to take the time to try to learn what you don't know so well like the back of your hand.

    Don't let it stop you from taking advanced courses. Grad schools really don't care about your GPA as much as they care about your grades in individual classes. If you really learn the material well after the semester is over for this one class, and really learn the material well for your future classes, you're going to do alright.

    Your problem is you focused too much on grades. You thought, "Oh, I have a 98. That means I know the material well enough." But you can't rely on grades like that. That's your downfall. You have to keep working, and getting better and better at what you do - being a mathematician.

    I got 2 B's this semester (out of taking 6 courses). I'm still aiming to compete for top grad schools. I'm not going to let a letter discourage me. But you also have to be realistic. I am spending some of my time this summer making sure I improve my understanding in these subjects, rather than worrying about what impact my grades will have.

    You will see that graduate students do NOT worry about grades in their courses. Do you want to know why? Because they are preparing to eventually do research on their own. They recognize that even if they get an "A", they still have a lot more work to do in order to not cheat themselves.

    If you want to get accepted to top graduate schools, you should start having the maturity of a graduate student as soon as possible, and start doing things for your own understanding, rather than for a grade. As soon as you do this, I swear to god you won't worry about grades so much, and you'll start worrying about what really matters - math.
  5. Jun 15, 2011 #4
    You need to get used to not being perfect. The people that tend not to make it in physics are the people that expect to be perfect and burn out when it's obvious that they aren't.

    If you struggle through your undergraduate and then struggle through graduate school and then struggle with your career, doing the best you can, and not freaking out when things don't go your way, then you'll get somewhere. If you freak out every time you "fail", then you'll burn out.

    You may get B's. You may not get into your top school. You may not get your dream job. Figure out what what you want and keep working toward that.

    Get used to failure. If you are getting all A's in your classes, that means that you aren't being challenged enough, and you should take some harder classes where you get the occasional B.

    You really need to change your mode of thinking because if you insist on being perfect, you aren't going to make to through.
  6. Jun 15, 2011 #5
    Am I missing something here, isn't B+ considered a good grade?
  7. Jun 15, 2011 #6
    I understand what you're saying, klackity, but I don't think it's a matter of not knowing the material. I tend to err on the side of me being a dumbass and overprepare rather than slacking off. I really enjoy studying and learning outside of class, so it tends to work out all right. I don't want to sound like I'm making excuses (the number one thing people making excuses say, right?), but the class was not difficult. I took a graduate physics math methods class last quarter that covered the same material as this 10 week course in about two weeks, and I got an A in that class. I haven't seen my exam grade yet, and of course it's entirely reasonable that I made some major mistakes in writing out my solutions and bombed it (although what I think is more likely is that the professor took points off for attendance), but even if I did bomb it, I know the material backwards and forwards (partly because the quizzes and exams are exact copies of problems the professor did in class 5 or 6 times, but also because I've studied the same material in other classes and in an independent project I did during the same quarter).

    twofish, I know I'm not perfect. If I were, why would I even bother doing anything? Please trust me when I say I am doing my damnedest to get people to give me the hardest classes they can. I wouldn't mind getting Bs because I wasn't smart enough or I didn't work hard enough or because the class was just really darn difficult. I feel sick to my stomach getting this grade because I feel like it doesn't in any way represent my ability in the subject.
  8. Jun 15, 2011 #7


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    If you demand excellence out of yourself and want nothing that isn't a challenge, you have to expect to fail here and there. It's only when people have no goals do they avoid failure all-together.

    Are you sure you aren't falling into the trap of thinking college is like high school where anything but an A is a sign of being a total slacker? Or possibly the problem some science students seem to have where, due to how science is presented as success after success, they feel that their failure indicates that they aren't cut out? For every success in science, there's a thousand failures. The failures never make it to the textbooks, however.
  9. Jun 15, 2011 #8
    I feel a little sympathetic to this. When I took a topology course during last fall, I thought I was doing everything right; I did all the homework problems as well as most of the extra credit problems, did well on the midterm, and I thought I had a pretty good grasp on the material until I bombed the final exam, which brought my grade down to a solid B. When I found out about this grade, that was the time I was applying for grad schools (i.e. the time to get sensitive about grades), and that made me think maybe I was not cut out for doing math.

    Despite that, however, I still managed to get into a good graduate program in mathematics, and I am very happy that I did not quit. I think what's really important is that whether you enjoy your subject or not. A grade is not a perfect indicator of your performance, because a lot of this depends on your professor, the time you had to prepare for exams, and etc, so there is a plenty of chance to get not-so-perfect grade. And as someone else said, I think we all just have to deal with it, and spend more time worrying about other important things.

    In case you are worried about this hurting your chance of getting into a grad school, I would advice you to not worry too much about it. Grade is just one of the many things that admission committee would look into, among with many other things like letters of recommendation, GRE Math Subject score, research experience, statement of purpose, and etc.

    Good luck!
  10. Jun 15, 2011 #9
    You have to get used to this. You work your hardest, you are smart, the class was easy, you get a B+. If this bothers you, then you are going to have serious, serious problems latter in life when that happens and you fail. College classes tend to be graded on a curve, so someone has to get a B. This time it was you.

    It gets worse. A *lot* worse.

    It gets worse. A *lot* worse. If you find yourself obsessing over a B+, then you are not going to survive.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011
  11. Jun 15, 2011 #10
    In most of my math classes, B+ usually means "You did well for the most part, but you still have some room for improvement." This is not a bad grade, but it does suggest that you have a weakness. Some people think learning math is kind of like being a "tough guy", and you are not supposed to show your weakness around other tough guys; getting a B+ in a math class is about as bad as crying in a public after watching a sad movie (a "C" is like crying after watching a Disney movie!).

    IMO, however, the real tough guys are the ones who can accept and overcome their weaknesses, but maybe that's just me.
  12. Jun 15, 2011 #11
    And it may turn out that your GPA is less than stellar and you don't make it into your choice of graduate school. And even if that happens, you get into post-doc heck. Then junior faculty heck. Then senior faculty heck. You should *assume* that you will not make it into your top choice of grad school.

    Sooner or later, you will run into a situation where you try your damnest, and you not only make a B+, you *FAIL*. If you can't deal with total failure, you aren't going to survive. If you want not burn out, you must expect imperfection and you must expect *failure*. The faster you do that, they better off you will be.

    The reason I'm mentioning this is that if a B+ bothers you, you just are not going to make it, because it ***will*** get worse, and you will fail in ways that even more gut wrenching. The people that make it through the process are the people that end up accepting imperfection both in themselves and in the system, and deal with it.

    A B+ will not kill your chances of a career in physics. Obsessing over a B+ will.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011
  13. Jun 16, 2011 #12


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    Absolutely. It's easy to go through situations of great comfort and ease, but a true persons character is shown when they deal and respond to situations with discomfort, unease and pain.
  14. Jun 16, 2011 #13
    Strange I would be pretty content with a B+ especially if the class was challenging. I'm not in college yet but I heard grades that are considered good in high school may not be considered good in college. Like Bs in H.S well at least to me is acceptable but not desirable while a B+ would be a good job, but I should try harder next time.
  15. Jun 16, 2011 #14
    Yo OP, talk to your prof or get your actual final before jumping to conclusions? Also do some more analysis.
  16. Jun 16, 2011 #15
    ^ Yeah, talk to your professor. I once got an unexpected B in a class I thought I was doing well in, so I asked and it turned out that my grade had been entered incorrectly.
  17. Jun 16, 2011 #16

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    If you think getting a B+ is bad, think about your reaction to a proposal for grant money or telescope time or whatever that gets rejected. In science, it's often the case that an excellent proposal - one where the PI does everything right - still gets turned down. This is part of life and it's part of the job. If you can't handle this - and can't handle it happening over and over - a career in science will make you miserable.
  18. Jun 16, 2011 #17
    capandbells, I don't mean to be insensitive, but what is the purpose of this topic? Do you want us to swarm in here and tell you that everything is going to be okay? It seems a little juvenile doesn't it? Look, I'm inclined to say that this B+ is going to matter very little in the grand scheme of things, including getting into a grad school that is good for you. But your post here suggests that you're simply looking for people to tell you what you've been telling yourself ever since you got that B+ (that everything is going to be okay). Knowing how this B+ is going to effect your future matters very little. Say the grade is actually going to effect your admissions. What are you going to do about it? Are you just going to sit down and give up? Regardless of how your future is going to turn out, you should try your hardest and see how things go from there. I don't think you should be stressing out over the future. If, when looking in retrospect in a few years, you find that you didn't get into the schools you wanted to get into even after giving it your all, then maybe you can stress out. But now is not the time to be doing that.
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