Is repeating a year a bad idea?

In summary: CS is where I absolutely shine.In summary, the physics freshman in Europe is having a very hard time during the first year of his/her MS. The freshman has to make very difficult decisions and experiences clinical anxiety and clinical depression. The freshman is also good at programming and some basic computer science. The freshman is considering options for the first year, including taking a year off, trying to catch up and get excellent grades, focusing on real analysis and classical mechanics until the end of the year, switching to a math major, or switching to a computer science major.
  • #1
Andraz Cepic
31
3
I am a physics freshman in Europe where we have 3 year undergrad programmes. I am just over the first year of Multiple Sclerosis and just when the school started in october last year, things went very very bad. I was super ready for UNI and I started off very well with awesome routines, but I had to make very very difficult decisions in the upcoming months and it included arguing with parents almost every day. I developed clinical anxiety and almost clinical depression, I was totally ruined. For info, I am also good at programming and some basic computer science.

The doctor said that I should have taken a year off from the start as the disease is a big burden and we have to digest it over the first year. Well I am about to decide whether or not to repeat the first year. I really need a solid plan to follow, so that I have a clear picture of what I want to do in present to follow some visible path that I can believe is not a disaster.

So here are several ideas and plans and I REALLY need as much information from as many reliable sources as possible(I will talk to professors and assistants too).

1. Work Really REALLY hard right now to catch up for this semester and try to get excellent grades for this semester important classes(linear algebra and some multivariable real analysis for math; and thermodynamics, basic EM and optics). I do not plan to work hard or at all for optional classes(computer tools in physics, astronomical observations). I would then take vacation, work for a programming company/physics government lab(they take even freshemn into teach them scientific research process). In vacation I would focus on working through interesting projects or self studying(some simulations, learn basic complex analysis, study classical mechanics more rigorously, etc.). Then I would repeat the year and in the next year ace the first semester(baby rudin real analysis in 1 dimensional real space, classical mechanics and fluid dynamics and finally chemistry). Then the second semester I would start with either rigorous classical mechanics and rigorous EM/stat mech. That is pretty far off but the basic Idea would be to progress as much as possible.

2. Put the classes on the side for now and REALLY focus on real analysis and classical mechanics until the end of the year to really master them. This would be much more fun than 1. because it is extremely difficult to catch up and getting excellent grades would be optimistic. Then I would do pretty much the same, except that I would in first semester do the chemistry and 2nd year EM/stat mech and in the second I would work through lectures for linear algebra and sth like conplex analysis or rigorous classical mechanics.

3. Take the year off until october and have lots of fun and get a job and slowly self study real analysis and classical mechanics. Then retake the year and do it all through curriculum.

4. Push it HARD right now and push it HARD through vacation and do everything until the second year with amazing grades and almost no vacation. It is duable(I did it before), but it has a big probability of making me feel miserable in the start of the first year and it might not succeed with grades. This is something that would almost be my last resort. If people will say that repeating a year for medical reasons can ruin my resume for top universities(Ivy is what I am aiming at for grad school), then I will do this and push through and do it, as I have to try and I can always repeat the year for medical reasons later as well if things go bad.

5. Switch to pure math major. I LOVE mathematics just as much as physics. I really enjoy doing real analysis problems, I find it extremely beautiful and I want to get as much knowledge in math as possible in my career. So this could be an option.

6. Switch to CS major. I am pretty good at programming for a freshman. I programmed some games and I did some hard core game engine programming(multithreaded design, specific data structure models for game engines, etc.). I also LOVE the math behind CS, so I would go into AI/Machine Learning academically. I also did some basic algorithms and some more advanced graph search algorithms like Jump Point Search, Block*, D*-Lite(had to work through scientific papers for these three haha, I very much lack the discrete math skills and knowledge in graph theory in particular). I would thrive there, in high school I was basically CS prodogy for professors but I MUCH preffer physics and pure math. Ypu see, I HATE social media and how software engineers work hard and get paid for making people lazier and imo ruining our society. So yeah this would be my last resort if all else fails. I.e. if I had to repeat a year twice.

I also have two projects that I want to do by the start of the next year. I.e. basic gas cloud collapse simulation and best trajectory search in our solar system. I talked about this with my assistant and he told me that this is a good idea to do as I would start learning numerical analysis which is important for theoretical physics and the projects are just TOO COOL so I really want to do them too. I am mentioning this as it is obviously also something that would take a lot of time.

So what should I do is the obvious question here.

I hope you guys now have enough information to help me out here, otherwise just ask. I will be grateful for any answers. I came here for help during the hardest times before being desperate and all, now it is totally different, I came here to make a smart decision so that I don't mate myself in my own game.
 
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  • #2
Your doctor almost certainly knows best and has a lot of experience. Pushing really hard is not a good idea for anyone when it would be beneficial to take a step back and understand the basics more thoroughly. Although I have no experience with your situation and have "no horse in this race", I recommend that you give your health top priority, study and review school subjects for your own enjoyment. Don't worry about repeating a year; no one cares how long it took, only how much you know when you graduate.
 
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  • #3
I think you should not worry about what graduate schools will think when they look at your first year - you will have the chance to explain any poor grades on your graduate school application, and if a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis isn't a valid reason I don't know what is. Your can-do attitude makes me think very highly of you, that's for sure.

What you do need to consider when thinking about repeating your first year is how well you understand the material. The material learned in first year is the foundation to the rest of your career. Even if you are able to get straight As this semester, if you don't fully grasp the material, it will have done you no good. But also, do not push yourself. You need to put the advice of your doctor above the advice of your academic advisors, professors, etc., in my opinion.

It seems like options 5 and 6 won't really solve your problem in the long term - they will require the same amount of work.

Pushing yourself for the rest of the semester not only won't pay off, but sounds like it will be detrimental to your health.

Perhaps the best option is just to recuperate for the rest of this year while studying the first-year material on your own time and then retaking your first year again, but I look forward to hearing other peoples' opinions on this.
 
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  • #4
Thank you very much! I do fully agree on the importance of the foundations of oneself's knowledge. I do have a lot of experience in programming so I do know how important this is. That's why I think option 2 will be the best. I will work through books(I LOVEEE Spivak's Calculus, it made me fall for math and I love Rudin as well as it is so clean and brutally rigorous xd, and I also have Kleppner for Intro Classical Mechanics, and finally I have Nearing's Mathematical Tools for Physics and I will gladly learn about ODE's, vector calc, numerical analysis, probabiltiy and more out of this slowly and strongly until the second year of UNI). I will also work on the projects I mentioned as they are not too hard but are challangeing and should be a lot of fun!

I will gladly wait for more replys and go to several office hours more to get as much info from my UNI as well, but I am really thankful for your replies, you wouldn't believe how hard it is to get yourself out of a harsh situation where you aim at the top and just how much it means and helps when people give you that gentle push into a direction just a bit to really get you started from that unstable equilibrium(sorry, I had to :D ).
 

Related to Is repeating a year a bad idea?

1. Is repeating a year in school detrimental to a student's academic progress?

There is no easy answer to this question as it depends on various factors such as the individual student's learning style, the reason for repeating the year, and the support and resources available. However, studies have shown that students who repeat a year tend to have lower academic achievement compared to their peers who did not repeat a year.

2. Can repeating a year have negative effects on a student's social and emotional well-being?

Repeating a year can potentially have negative effects on a student's social and emotional well-being, especially if they feel embarrassed or stigmatized by the experience. It is important for schools to provide support and resources to help students cope with any social or emotional challenges they may face.

3. Are there any potential benefits to repeating a year?

In some cases, repeating a year can provide students with the opportunity to strengthen their foundational skills and knowledge, which can lead to improved academic performance in the long run. Repeating a year can also give students more time to mature and develop important life skills.

4. What are some alternatives to repeating a year?

There are various alternatives to repeating a year, such as enrolling in summer school or taking additional courses during the school year to catch up on missed credits. Some schools also offer credit recovery programs or individualized learning plans to help struggling students.

5. How should parents and educators decide if repeating a year is the best option for a student?

Deciding whether or not to repeat a year requires careful consideration and should involve input from both parents and educators. It is important to assess the student's academic progress, learning style, and overall well-being before making a decision. It is also helpful to consult with the student's teachers and school counselors for their professional insight and recommendations.

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