Is Dropping Out of a GR Course a Smart Move for a Future PhD Applicant?

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In summary: Read moreIn summary, the student is considering dropping the GR course because the instructor is unintelligible and they claim they will be able to publish papers in that area. The student has some questions for the author. The advisor is not a GR specialist and the student would run away if they were the advisor. The student is claiming to know more than the instructor and it is hard to believe. The student wants to attend more classes before dropping without penalty, but the professor's first lecture may not necessarily be one of his best lectures. The student may be able to review their notes after each lecture to provide the organization.
  • #1
Haorong Wu
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Hi. I am currently studying for my master's degree in physics. My credits for graduation are sufficient. But I am quite interested in GR. I have learned it by myself by studying two textbooks. In this new semester, I selected a course for GR. But in the first class, the professor did not give me a good impression. He was mainly teaching the textbook written by Schutz, but he did not organize the content well. Some students and I feel quite confused about what he was talking about.

I am considering quitting this course now. On one hand, I do not think I could learn much more from the professor's lectures and I do not need the credits for my graduation. If I drop out of this course, I could save a lot of time. On the other hand, I am not sure, when I apply for a doctoral program in areas related to GR, will a good score in the GR course be an important factor? I do not have a bachelor's degree in physics, so my undergraduate GPA, which is not very high, will not help me at all. Will my GPA in the master's program, currently 3.85 out of 4, help?

Thanks!
 
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Will getting a good grade in the course increase your GPA by a good margin? i.e suppose you will get the highest mark in the course, how much will it increase your GPA? you should ask yourself is it worth the effort?
I was in the same circumstance in an Intro course in GR; it didn't increase my GPA, and the lecturer was awful.
But if you already finished reading two textbooks you should by now know already the material, don't you?
 
  • #3
It seems questionable to want to get into a GR related program without ever taking a GR class.

If the prof is as bad as you say, pick a chapter out of Schutz and do a representative set of the problems. If you can do them without a lot of difficulty, drop the course. If not, you do not know the material and you should consider staying.
 
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Thanks, @MathematicalPhysicist, and @caz.

@MathematicalPhysicist. Nope, it will not improve my GPA very much. With the best score, it will be improved from 3.85 to 3.87. I have never applied for a doctoral program, so I do not know whether this increase in GPA makes any difference. I am familiar with those materials, but if not read the textbook again, even I could not understand what and why he was talking about.

@caz. I have finished most of the problems in the textbook by Schutz. They are fairly easy and they do not pose many challenges for me. Meanwhile, I find the problem book by Alan P. Lightman is quite difficult. I could not solve about 3 to 5 problems in each chapter, even with the help of the answer. In light of this, I think I should drop the course.

By the way, my current studying area is related to GR. If I succeed in publishing two or three papers, will it be a strong material in my future application than just taking a GR course?
 
  • #5
How are you writing research up for publication without having ever taken a course in the area? I suspect your papers will be rejected since you have no record in that area and as a student, no faculty member is listed as a co-author.
 
  • #6
Hi, @Dr Transport. I have read papers in that area and my subject is high-dimensional quantum entanglement in curved spacetime. To be honest, the analysis methods are quite clear. What I do is just combine these methods with high-dimensional quantum entanglement. My supervisor will be a co-author.
 
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  • #7
Just so I have it straight, you want to drop a GR course because the instructor is unintelligible and you claim that you will be able to publish papers in that area.

I have some questions:

Is your advisor a GR specialist, if he is, then I can see signing on to the papers as a co-author. If he isn't, and I was him/her, I'd run away as fast as I could so that I didn't tarnish my reputation.

By claiming that the class is unintelligible, that is telling m,e that you claim to know more than the instructor, is that true? I kind of find that hard to believe.
 
  • #8
Can you attend more classes before dropping without penalty? The professor's first lecture may not necessarily be one of his best lectures. Is it really a problem of organization? If it is, can you review your notes after each lecture to provide the organization?
It seems from your later posts you have done many problems out of Schutz and have a lot of experience. It is likely many students in the class may not have this extensive background. Remember, the professor is not (or at least should not be) teaching to the top student or two alone. He or she is trying to teach the students with less experience too.
Are the students who are confused a collection of students who are "sharpshooters" who already know the material, and are criticicising the professor because they would be treating the material differently?
If the professor comes with credentials in the GR area, I would tend to stick with him even if the treats the material differently than I would. If, for example, he or she were to say, I will be learning the material along side you, I would run away as fast as possible.
 
  • #9
Dr Transport said:
By claiming that the class is unintelligible, that is telling m,e that you claim to know more than the instructor, is that true? I kind of find that hard to believe.

Experts in a field can be awful teachers.
 
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  • #10
andresB said:
Experts in a field can be awful teachers.
Sure, but I also find it pretty hard to believe that you can be an expert in a field and be totally lost hearing another expert try to teach a class.
 
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  • #11
Is your impression based only on the first class?
 

Related to Is Dropping Out of a GR Course a Smart Move for a Future PhD Applicant?

1. Should I quit the GR course?

This is a personal decision that ultimately depends on your individual circumstances and goals. It is important to consider factors such as your level of interest in the subject, your academic progress, and your future career plans before making a decision to quit the GR course.

2. Will quitting the GR course affect my GPA?

Yes, quitting the GR course will most likely result in a lower GPA, as the course will be counted as an incomplete or withdrawal on your transcript. However, if you are struggling in the course and it is negatively impacting your overall academic performance, it may be worth considering dropping the course to prevent further damage to your GPA.

3. Can I retake the GR course if I quit?

Yes, depending on your school's policies, you may be able to retake the GR course if you quit. However, it is important to check with your academic advisor or department to see if there are any restrictions on retaking a course that you have previously quit.

4. Will quitting the GR course affect my future academic opportunities?

It is possible that quitting the GR course may have some impact on your future academic opportunities, as it may raise questions about your commitment and ability to handle challenging coursework. However, if you have a valid reason for quitting and can explain it in your future applications, it may not have a significant impact.

5. What are the consequences of quitting the GR course?

The consequences of quitting the GR course may include a lower GPA, potential impact on future academic opportunities, and a loss of time and money invested in the course. It is important to carefully consider these consequences before making a decision to quit the course.

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