I just failed my thermodynamics course

In summary, despite some setbacks, you should still send in your grad school applications. Your GPA and PGRE score are not bad, and you have other courses that are good. You should ask your advisor what they think and try to fix your problems.
  • #1
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The final just happened today, and I pretty much broke down during the test. I'm a senior and was looking to send in my grad school applications over break... Should I even bother? I'm at a top 20 undergrad institution.

GRE: 169 Q/164V
PGRE: 730
GPA: 2.75
 
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  • #2
Welcome to PF!

Send them in, stay the course. These kinds of things always happen and you have keep pushing forward and come up with a plan to overcome any pressing problems. Believe in your self, I was in a similar circumstance once and that was many years ago.

He who hesitates is lost.

With respect to Thermo, I'd also find out why I flunked the course looking at each problem I didn't understand and learning it to learn it. You never know when you may need it in the future. Who knows you might make it to some game show and your deciding question is related to Thermo and you could win thousands or your kids could be suffering through it in the future and your insight helps them through. Also you need to know if its how you study that's the problem as it may relate to other courses in grad school.

With respect to your grad schools, make sure you send in a spread of 3 top schools, 3 you thin you can get into and 3 backup schools. You will go just which one is the question.
 
  • #3
jedishrfu said:
Welcome to PF!

Send them in, stay the course. These kinds of things always happen and you have keep pushing forward and come up with a plan to overcome any pressing problems. Believe in your self, I was in a similar circumstance once and that was many years ago.

He who hesitates is lost.

With respect to Thermo, I'd also find out why I flunked the course looking at each problem I didn't understand and learning it to learn it. You never know when you may need it in the future. Who knows you might make it to some game show and your deciding question is related to Thermo and you could win thousands or your kids could be suffering through it in the future and your insight helps them through. Also you need to know if its how you study that's the problem as it may relate to other courses in grad school.

With respect to your grad schools, make sure you send in a spread of 3 top schools, 3 you thin you can get into and 3 backup schools. You will go just which one is the question.

Thanks for the reply. I feel like my credentials are so terrible though. My GPA is terrible, and now with this flunked course, it's a huge red flag if I were on an admissions committee. In addition to all this my PGRE score is also quite mediocre at 60th percentile. I don't want to accuse you of anything, but I was pretty ready for someone to tell me I have no chance at any school. Do you really think I can get into a grad school?
 
  • #4
what are your grades like in other physics and math courses? is this the only course you've ever flunked?

There is always some grad program you can get into somewhere? It might take some time to find it. You might have to wait a year and take more courses to show you can do the work. You might have to get a job, take time off from your studies or even consider switching majors but I'd still apply that was your plan, why change now because of a setback?

My grades dropped too in my junior and senior year courses are tougher and i got burned out from school and from working 30 hours per week to pay for it. My later fulltime job allowed to take courses which led to a masters and now I'm considering going back after too many years away.

So go ahead and apply, you can't win if you don't play.

But you still need to ask yourself why were my grades slipping and why did I have so much trouble in Thermo? Grad school will be tougher and you must fix these issues.
 
  • #5
I guess you're right. I have some personal reasons for why I've done so badly this semester that I tried my best to explain in my applications. My grades in my math/physics courses have mainly been B's and my worst grade before today was a C.

I just didn't want to apply if I feel like my application will be tossed almost immediately. I feel like before today, my application was already weak enough and this felt like the straw that broke the camel's back.
 
  • #6
Are you doing the spread across grad schools that I mentioned earlier?

Perhaps, you should go see your advisor and see what insight they may have.

We don't have answers here, only suggestions. Ultimately though you must decide on a course of action. Just know that this is not the end of the world, its a wakeup to review how you approach school, what weaknesses you may have in your understanding and your desire to continue onward.
I would counsel that you continue onward but with the caveat that you need to fix what you need to fix.

For me, besides being burned out, I was pushing up against math I couldn't assimilate fast enough. I began to doubt my abilities and needed a break to sort things out. I was in a school where trimesters were the thing ie 10 weeks per course, 3 courses per trimester.

One prof had a course schedule of 1 class on Monday and one of Friday where he would assign homework on Monday due the following Monday and then on Friday assign a few more problems also due on Monday. I just couldn't keep up as I could only spend time on the weekends to do the work. Consequently, it was late. The prof said my work was excellent but since it was always a few days late he had to mark it down. It was upper class Classical Mechanics using the Marion book.
 
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  • #7
jedishrfu said:
There is always some grad program you can get into somewhere

I am not sure I buy this - maybe that's what the question mark was intended to convey. We don't know how many individuals apply to grad school, but we do know how many enter and how many take the GRE, which is about a factor of 2 or so larger. It sounds like there are people who don't get in.
 
  • #8
I know of one grad school in Texas. Texas State where I applied and didn't even need to submit GRE scores to get in. I needed to take a single course in Computational Physics to get enough credits to teach at a local Comm College. They had a Masters in Physics program that didn't require the GRE if your grades were above a certain level:

http://www.gradcollege.txstate.edu/phys.html

I'm sure you're right some students don't get in but the OP won't know if he doesn't apply. I think he needs to review his coursework and his desire to go to school and talk with his physics advisor. I didn't want him to feel sad and not do anything until it was too late to even apply.
 

What is thermodynamics?

Thermodynamics is the branch of physics that deals with the relationships between heat, energy, and work. It studies how energy is converted from one form to another and the effects of these conversions on matter.

Why is thermodynamics important?

Thermodynamics is important because it helps us understand and predict how energy behaves in different systems, from microscopic particles to large-scale systems like the universe. It also has numerous practical applications in fields such as engineering, chemistry, and biology.

What are some common reasons for failing a thermodynamics course?

Some common reasons for failing a thermodynamics course include not fully understanding the concepts and principles, not keeping up with the coursework, and not seeking help when needed. It can also be a challenging subject for some students, and may require extra effort and practice to succeed.

How can I improve my understanding of thermodynamics?

Some ways to improve your understanding of thermodynamics include actively participating in class, seeking help from the professor or a tutor, studying regularly and practicing problems, and reviewing your notes and textbook. It can also be helpful to connect thermodynamics concepts to real-world applications to better understand their relevance.

What are some tips for succeeding in a thermodynamics course?

To succeed in a thermodynamics course, it is important to attend all classes, take thorough notes, and actively engage in class discussions and activities. It can also be beneficial to form study groups with classmates and to seek help from the professor or a tutor when needed. It is also important to stay organized, manage your time effectively, and consistently review and practice the material.

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