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Im too dumb for my major

  1. May 16, 2009 #1
    This has been bothering me for a while, i dont think im smart enough to be an electrical engineer.Everyone else in my classes get higher grades and understands the labs and material right away and it takes me forever..im just too slow.You could say that im one of the dumb kids, im shure im in the top 5 dumbest kids in my classes.Its too late to change majors since im already gonna be a junior in the fall, maybe ill be a mediocre engineer and get fired..or worse never even get highered cuz of my pathetic gpa.

    Fall 06
    27725 CHEM 122 General Chemistry II D
    27726 CHEM 122L General Chemistry II Lab C-
    28002 MATH 231 Calculus & Analytic Geom III C
    Spring 07
    36496 EE 101 Intro to Electrical Engr C
    36696 EE 101L Intro to Electrical Engr Lab C
    36664 MATH 254 Intro: Applied Linear Algebra W
    36547 PHYS 122 General Physics II Main C
    38015 PHYS 122L General Physics Lab II C
    Summer 07
    15685 CHEM 122 General Chemistry II B
    15647 MATH 254 Intro: Applied Linear Algebra F
    Fall 07
    20059 CS 111 Intro: Computer Sci & Program W
    20477 CS 111L Intro to Computer Science Lab W
    20068 EE 211 Circuits & Signals I W
    20293 MATH 254 Intro: Applied Linear Algebra B
    20664 MATH 332 Vector Analysis D
    Spring 08
    36494 CS 111 01 Intro: Computer Sci & Program F
    38537 CS 111L 02 Intro to Computer Science Lab F
    38079 HIST 389 01 Military History II F
    36670 MATH 332 01 Vector Analysis C
    37790 MATH 382 02 Probability and Statistics C+
    38223 MATH 382L 01 Probability and Statistics Lab B+
    Fall 08
    21827 CS 111 Intro: Computer Sci & Program B-
    22227 CS 111L Intro CS Lab in C - NON-MAJORS B
    21836 EE 211 Circuits & Signals I C
    21837 EE 231 Digital Electronics B
    21838 EE 231L Digital Electronics Lab B
    Spring 09
    30459 EE 212 Circuits & Signals II C
    30461 EE 212L Circuits & Signals Lab A
    30398 EE 318 Microcontrollers C+
    30400 EE 318L Microcontrollers Lab B+
    31380 EE 334 Semiconductor Theory C

    i currently have a 2.25gpa....ill probably end up sucking at life like i do at school.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 17, 2009 #2
    Grades only determine how good you are at doing the class, not how "dumb" you are. Grades certainly don't measure intelligence.

    I'm not proud of my GPA at all either. I'm probably the only PFer to have gotten an astrophysics research internship with a GPA under 3. That said, I feel a lot of the time like I'm way behind the curve as far as general understanding goes in my class, but I always have to put it in context.

    When I was in middle school, you'd probably think me the last person on earth to major in physics. I nearly failed out of 6th grade completely. In high school I never had the best GPA, but out of my relatively small school, I was the only one in my graduating class to move on to a physics major. I'm in my junior year right now I've worked in my university's planetarium for 2 years, did a lecture series on cutting edge topics in physics and astronomy, reported on the American Physical Society and I'm doing astronomy research as well. This summer I head to one of the top universities in the world to do astrophysics research.

    You probably would've guessed my GPA to be at least a 3 for someone to be capable of all that. If it was, I'd be interning at JPL this summer instead of in London. I'm not disappointed that I didn't get to intern for NASA, but rather very proud of how far I've come in the past 6 or 7 years.

    I won't be heartbroken if I don't graduate cum laude, I won't be mad if I don't get accepted to GIT, UW or MIT because I know that as someone who studies in the world of science, the doors of opportunity are wide open for whatever I want to do.

    I'm not the top student in my electrodynamics class, but I certainly don't "suck at life" given my sucky performance on spherical separation of variables. Just because you fail a class doesn't mean you'll fail out of your major, fail out of the job market and fail at life.

    I don't work for a grad school selection commitee, so I don't know how to look at your grades and determine just how wonderful of a person you are in real life, but I do know that you can get into graduate school with C's on a transcript.

    It was doubtful in middle school that I'd ever go to college. Now I'm heading off to London wondering if I'm going to go to grad school for astrophysics or science journalism. Be positive and you'll get positive results.
  4. May 17, 2009 #3


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    You've got to want this!, and I mean it.

    When I was younger I was one of the failed students. I'd just put enough effort to study for the midterms and final and that's it. I didn't care for this, and anyway I'd go and whine about how bad the teacher was, or the class is too hard, or some other excuse.

    You need to step up, and make sure you are putting a lot of hours into this (You want this right?), and not just put hours doing mindless reading without learning anything. You need to be SMART about how you put hours into it. You see, not every method of learning works for everyone, but you got to figure out what works for you!.

    For me, I have to read the book chapter before or after the professor lecture. The next day after the lecture, I discuss with myself the ideas and try to understand what's going on in the chapter. I'd start all my projects and homeworks VERY EARLY. This allowed me a lot of flexibility, each day I'd work on each project, and improve it. This method also allowed me to see if there was any doubts I could discuss with the TA or the professor. Sometimes, I'd discuss other methods I though about solving the homework problems or tackling a project in another perspective (Future Research section).

    In the end, if you want this, you need to put A LOT of time into it, and be SMART about your time put in.

    Btw, when I mean time... I mean if it takes you the whole semester to focus solely on your courses to get at least a B in all of them... Well, I guess that's what it takes for you. I remember the first semesters it was like that for me, but later I was able to get As without that much time put in.
  5. May 17, 2009 #4
    I don't know you, so I can't confirm whether or not you are one of the dumb kids. But think a little before jumping into that conclusion. Your grades are sh1t, but that can be for several reasons. You say your classmates know the material walking in... do they do the reading before hand and come prepared to class? Or do you have difficulty paying attention? If this is so I can offer some suggestions if you PM me. This is university, half of your class is studying ahead of time and trying to get the best grade possible.

    If you are indeed studying full time and this is all you can do, yeah, you're not cut out for engineering. Only you can assess that though. Why are you bad at school? Not enough effort is the most likely reason. I'd like to know, how many hours a week do you study?
  6. May 17, 2009 #5
    In graduate school, I studied a lot of econ/stats, both of which required a lot of math. It wasn't until grad school that I realized the most important variable input in success was work.

    Only a small fraction of people can actually listen/read material once and apply it. For the rest of us, it requires hard work. Hard work that is intelligently performed. Those star performers in your classes are doing something you aren't. You need to find out what that is, either by asking them directly or by studying with them.

    You are smart enough for EE. I think in this case, however, you are simply ignorant. You are simply being confronted with a problem that many social science majors don't experience until graduate school, but one that engineers encounter by their sophomore year. Study habits matter A LOT.

    You may need to evaluate EE as a career. If you cant envision yourself as an elec engineer, than pursuing this study is futile, even if you had a 4.0. If you still see yourself in EE, reevaluate the way you conduct your studying.

    It really is cliche, but almost anybody can do anything if they put the effort in. You may not be on your way to graduate study in MIT, but with the proper effort and correct habits you can perform well. This may mean you take a semester/quarter to clear up those F's and D's. Taking another year doesnt matter, because once you graduate no one will give damn. If you have to work 10 hours a week more than everyone else, then you simply need to do it.
  7. May 17, 2009 #6
    I don't think you need to worry about potential employers not hiring cuz you got a D or W or F in some class. In fact, I have never in my experience come across an employer who even knew or cared what my grades were in college.

    It's never too late to change majors. If you don't like what you are doing then you should probably consider another possibility.
  8. May 17, 2009 #7


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    GunClub, maybe you have taken too many units per term. At least, some of the courses you repeated, you earned better grades when you repeated. Still, consider changing your major field, but include at least some engineering courses.

    Be careful about this, what daveyinaz wrote:
    Many interviewing employers within about 1 or 2 years after you graduate will look at your transcripts and will ask questions about some of your courses including some in which you received low grades(or even ones which you dropped).
  9. May 18, 2009 #8
    I don't know you either, but I think what others are saying may be correct. Maybe you've just taken too many classes per term. The F in history I don't think comes from being dumb, rather probably from lack of effort. Courses like that usually reflect how much effort you're putting into work rather than your level of intelligence. Whether or not its too late is really up to you, I guess. I think a lot of people can succeed as long as they just put in the effort, but also being rational, some people just can't cut it. Usually not from lack of intelligence or study, but from lack of studying skills. Just something to think about.
  10. May 18, 2009 #9
    You need drive and passion for what you are doing. F's are inexcusable IMO. Typically most of the class grade is directed toward exams (usually 60-70%), while you have a decent amount for areas where you can always MAXIMIZE your score. What is wrong with the homework section? Do you go to study centers and ask for help? Teaching assistants? The professor him/herself? You need to find ways to maximize your score outside of the exams, and even if the exam does not go as well as you plan you should be able to pull yourself out of many of the grades I see in that report.

    I don't consider myself to be an enthusiastic test-taker. I like taking my time solving problems, but I love to solve them. I think if you just find the drive for what it is you want to do you will do well. Perhaps engineering is not the field for you, or perhaps you just haven't found out what kind of engineer you really want to be, which is why you haven't been driven to do well.
  11. May 18, 2009 #10


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    Wow, things really are different across the pond! Do you not have anyone you can talk to about module choice, specifically how many modules you should be taking and when?

    For example, you took only have grades from 2 classes in Fall 07, but then have 6 in Spring 08. You've also taken two courses 3 times! Why? Your problem seems to be that you're constantly re-sitting things.

    The only thing I can advise is that you either draw a line under this past trimester, or use the summer to retake some classes so you can start a-fresh in autumn. You say that you're about to be a junior, right, so that means you've got two years left at college. If you put a big effort in for the final 6 terms, then I think you can pull your grades up.

    The most important thing, I would say, is that you go and talk to someone in your college (preferably a personal advisor/tutor, or whatever you call them).
  12. May 18, 2009 #11
    Oh well, this could be me. I'm in Computer Engineering. Do you like what you're doing? I am considering switching majors. There's just too much physics/circuits etc. that I don't get or hate. Computer Science woulda been a better fit.

    About the employer.... They do ask you the first time you apply. Once you move on to another employer, they will just consider your work experience. Somebody can correct me if I'm wrong.

    I know someone who had a GPA of 2.4 and was a teacher. No idea, but government jobs might be easier to get..? Apparently, no one cared about his 2.4.
  13. May 18, 2009 #12


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    Looking at that list of courses and the grades, I really think you should seriously consider changing majors. It's never too late, and why would you waste another two years working toward a major you don't do well in and don't seem to enjoy when you could be using that time toward finding something you DO enjoy and CAN do well in? You'd be two years further ahead than if you wait until you get to your senior year and have to start over when you can't get a job or are miserable being a very poor engineer.

    I see no diversity in the courses you're taking, either, so it's really hard to judge if it's just the major or an overall problem with study skills or abilities. I would suggest taking some survey/intro courses in other majors to see if you can find something you enjoy better and can do better.
  14. May 18, 2009 #13
    How is he supposed to be careful with what I said? He's already got the grades he's going to get in those classes and nothing is going to change that. The point I was trying to make was that there is no use crying over spilled milk as far as that is concerned and that he should not let his bad grades prohibit him from applying with an employer because he thinks they might look at his grades. That mode of thinking could in the future limit his career possibilities and I'm sure won't do any wonders for his self-esteem, attitude, personality, etc.

    Plus using words like "Many employers" is quite a big statement to make and the worse part is you try to pass it off like fact. Unless you are working for the HR department for those "many" companies simultaneously at this moment, which given the number of employers out there, I highly doubt, let's stick to just personal experiences and like I said, nobody has ever mentioned anything about GPA or grades. The farthest question anyone has asked about school was....what was my favorite class and why?
  15. May 18, 2009 #14


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    From symbolipoint:

    Yes, employers asking an interviewee about grades on transcripts IS fact. "Some", or "Many", makes no difference - at least some interviewers, THE TECHNICAL PEOPLE INCLUDED, will ask candidates about courses and grades shown on transcripts. Applicants should expect this within one or two years after graduating. Many companies require a full application package to include all college and university transcripts before they will ask candidates for an in-person interview.
  16. May 19, 2009 #15
    But most don't require "application packages" if you have a few years of experience huh? Then I would think just the diploma or something like that.
  17. May 20, 2009 #16


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    Hey there. I see your having seconds thoughts about what your doing. Basically the only advice I can offer you is to realize that your not a **** person but only think that way and to try and change that opinion of yourself. I'm not saying you have to think your better than anyone or anything but if you are humble yet confident you might see things in a different light.

    This semester for me has been absolutely shocking so far but it has all come down to the work I put in. If I wasn't off in lala land i'd be ok but thats another story. Point is that you can be whatever you wan't to be even if you need help. Don't be ashamed to ask for help when you need it because in life no-one has all the answers: I'm no exception, no-one here is an exception and you're no exception either so don't feel too bad.

    And also being an engineer is not a trivial thing. Its not easy to get through the years of slog and then to do something which can impact a lot of people which can be stressful and comes with its ups and downs (like any profession though really).

    I would also advise that you tell someone who is close to you how you feel that you can confide in. There's tonnes of people who won't put in the effort to do well in their lives for whatever reason I don't know but then what do they get out of their lives?

    You're here to experience life in all that it has to offer. So if you want achievement for the achievement itself, for the status, the money, or anything then go for it. If you want to be smart make that your goal and go for it. If you need support, then get it and make sure its the kind of support that you can rely on (the PF community are really good in this regard but I think people close to you can offer advice that can't be offered here due to the nature of the relationships with yourself).

    If by some chance you don't feel that your experiencing what you wanted to in life then talk it over with someone close or a professional that can help you and don't feel bad if you need to because it can really help you for the better.

    I wish you well for your future endeavours.
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