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I Need Some Academic Guidance

  1. May 21, 2015 #1
    I just finished second year physics and I passed everything but not by a lot. My cum GPA is ~1.7 and program GPA is ~1.8. I've done the math and I would need at least a A+ on every single course for the next 2 years to get my GPA up to only a 3. First year didn't treat me too well and and 2nd year was a big wake up call. Only this past semester have I really put in the effort to do well. I had plans to go to grad school, I've wanted to become a physicist since I was 15 but now I feel like I just threw away my future. All of this from dumb mistakes these past two years. I would have to work my ass off to get my GPA up to a mediocre level just to undo the damage from first year. God I hate myself right now. I have no clue what to do. Even if I redo second year I'd still need an A on EVERY SINGLE COURSE which I think is straight up impossible for me to do. I feel like a B.Sc. in physics is useless without a graduate degree. I think I've boxed myself into a corner and screwed myself over. Physics is my passion and I worked so hard this semester but I feel like there's no point anymore.

    Any advice? I'll take anything at this point.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 21, 2015 #2
    I don't think all hope is lost. After all, if a graduate admissions committee saw a terrible first year, but remarkable improvement for the next three years, it's possible that they'd consider you. It's probably in your best interests to retake the courses and pinpoint where you went wrong.

    You need to shift your thinking from "will I be able to make it to graduate school?" To "what will make me a student that graduate schools want?" That primarily comes from making an effort to understand where you went wrong with the material and correcting it above all else.
  4. May 21, 2015 #3
    You are in very dire straits as you already realized.

    If you don't manage a 3.0 GPA, then most grad schools will just throw your application out, and even a 3.0 is quite low for grad school admissions. Not all hope is lost, but there is a bigger problem. You essentially failing your first and second year courses means that you did not understand those courses well. So how are you possibly going to ace the next courses if you don't understand the basics. That is the bigger problem. Think about how you're going to catch up on all the material you missed.

    If I were you, I would start thinking of a plan B. Grad schools are not impossible for you, but the chances you'll get in are low. So try to think of something else. For example, you could focus on programming.
  5. May 21, 2015 #4


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    It sounds to me like it's time for a hard look at WHY you're struggling with the material. What do you mean by "dumb mistakes" for example? Are you struggling with managing your time effectively? Is the problem that you need to re-learn the fundamentals? Are you even truly interested in physics?

    When you say that you've wanted to be a physicist since you were 15, okay, sure, but at 15 did you really know what a physicist actually did? And are you just trying to be true to a romanticised idea?

    To really be successful in physics you have to have an unbridled passion for it, in my experience. You need to move beyond the assigned work and tackle problems or pursue projects of your own interest. You have to read beyond course material.

    If you really do still have a passion for physics, then you have to figure out a plan for correcting the course you are currently on. This could mean taking an extra year to finish, maybe even repeating a few courses. You can still get there if you really want to, but the key will be to stop doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
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