Lets say you have a B- average right now

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In summary, the conversation discusses the possibility of raising one's GPA to at least a 3.0 in order to get into a physics grad school. The importance of grades, research experience, and recommendations in the admissions process is mentioned, along with the fact that a high GPA does not necessarily indicate a strong understanding of physics. The conversation also touches on the idea of mediocrity and the factors that grad schools consider when admitting students.
  • #1
Benzoate
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so far I've only taken 4 physics classes. I have at least 14 more physics classes to taken. Is it possible to raise my GPA to at least a 3.0 because I really , really want to go to physics grad school and most grad schools require the applicant to have a GPA of around 3.0-3.5 range.
 
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  • #2
Do the math... it should be trivial to figure out what grades you need to get above a 3.0.
Also, if you want to do theoretical physics, forget about it with marks that low, and for experimental often good reference letters and research experience is more important than GPA.
 
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  • #3
do you honestly think that a grad school truly cares about the marks you get your freshman year?

I actually have a friend who is now in grad school for theoretical physics and he got a 2.7 cumulative in undergrad.

The reason why is that for his first three years he didn' do muc homeowrk and eventualy became demotivated, after taking a year off he returned and re-took mechanics, quantum mechanics, E&M (grad), stat mech (grad), and quantum mechanics (grad). the 4 subjects that really give you the preparation to go on to grad school, he got A's in them and good recommendations from the professors, this is enough to prove to a grad school that your capable and willing to get it done. Granted he's not into a great grad school, but in the end it matters far more who your advisor is and what you do in grad school than where you go.However you don't want to do what he did, with only 4 classes down, you could theoretically pull a 3.7 average or so if you got all A'sone more thing, a B average is a 3.0 ;)
 
  • #4
If you get good grades from here on out the B-'s as a freshman will not matter at all. Assuming you work hard and get good grades from now on, you'll have no problem getting your GPA above a 3.0. I know the B-'s look like they affect your GPA a lot now, but remember that you probably don't have many credits overall. Once your total credit count gets above 70, the B-'s won't matter, assuming your grades from here on out are better, of course.
 
  • #5
What if someone DID get a B in all their physics courses?
 
  • #6
then they would be a very mediocre student...
 
  • #7
Shackleford said:
What if someone DID get a B in all their physics courses?

They're physics GPA would be a 3.0 exactly...

Could you explain your question? Are you asking about that someone's grad school chances?
 
  • #8
G01 said:
They're physics GPA would be a 3.0 exactly...

Could you explain your question? Are you asking about that someone's grad school chances?

I was just nonchalantly wondering what the conceptions would be of that student. Would grad school chances be severely diminished if that were the case?
 
  • #9
CaptainQuaser said:
then they would be a very mediocre student...

just because a student doesn't get straight A's doesn't make him a mediocre student. Everybody learns physics differently and will not absorbed physics material at the same rate .
 
  • #10
If you can't absorb undergrad material, you don't stand a chance absorbing grad material in the same amount of time. There really is no reason why anyone would get all B's in their physics class, unless they don't know what's going on.
 
  • #11
Actually, not getting straight A's, aka being average or moderate, is the definition of mediocre.
 
  • #12
CaptainQuaser said:
Actually, not getting straight A's, aka being average or moderate, is the definition of mediocre.

He said B- average, his B- might not be a 3.0 but lower, hence the below 3.0 grade. Some schools assign point value based on +/- next to the letter.
 
  • #13
Don't mean to sound naive here, but are we talking about a 5 point GPA scale or a 4 point one? And if it's 5 point, B- corresponds to 3.0 right?
 
  • #14
CaptainQuaser said:
Actually, not getting straight A's, aka being average or moderate, is the definition of mediocre.

Actually getting only C's would be mediocre. a student who only earns B's and B'+'s and A-'s are what many consider above average student.

I think a lot of graduate students would not be graduate students if the students only got A's. In addition, earning a high GPA is not the only indicator to determine if a student truly understands what they are learning. Don't you think then graduate committees would solely factor in GPA if a student truly understands if she is learning physics well?
 
  • #15
Benzoate said:
Actually getting only C's would be mediocre. a student who only earns B's and B'+'s and A-'s are what many consider above average student.

I think a lot of graduate students would not be graduate students if the students only got A's. In addition, earning a high GPA is not the only indicator to determine if a student truly understands what they are learning. Don't you think then graduate committees would solely factor in GPA if a student truly understands if she is learning physics well?

The grad school, I'm sure, looks at other factors other than GPA, like research experience, and recommendations, as well as GRE scores.
 
  • #16
Shackleford said:
What if someone DID get a B in all their physics courses?

I look at more than grades for admission. Partly it's because of grade inflation- I can't trust letter grades out of context from institutions I am unfamiliar with. But I'm also looking for maturity and the desire to be independent- those characteristics mean a lot in grad school, when we expect students to learn things on their own.

To be sure, "mediocre" grades from a random college are not an encouraging sign, but if a student showed improvement during school, or the mediocre grades were confined to a particular semester, or any number of other factors, I'd be more than willing to overlook poor grades.
 
  • #17
Andy Resnick said:
I look at more than grades for admission. Partly it's because of grade inflation- I can't trust letter grades out of context from institutions I am unfamiliar with. But I'm also looking for maturity and the desire to be independent- those characteristics mean a lot in grad school, when we expect students to learn things on their own.

To be sure, "mediocre" grades from a random college are not an encouraging sign, but if a student showed improvement during school, or the mediocre grades were confined to a particular semester, or any number of other factors, I'd be more than willing to overlook poor grades.

what letter grades do you consider mediocre? Would any grade between a B and an A- be mediocre to you?
 
  • #18
I look for A's and B's, hoping to see mostly A's. Again, I do not have a magic formula.
 
  • #19
Andy Resnick said:
I look for A's and B's, hoping to see mostly A's. Again, I do not have a magic formula.

Same here, man. I've always had an innate interest in physics, so coupled with a bit of perseverance and diligence maybe I'll pull mostly "A"s in my physics courses.
 
  • #20
Benzoate said:
Actually getting only C's would be mediocre. a student who only earns B's and B'+'s and A-'s are what many consider above average student.

I think a lot of graduate students would not be graduate students if the students only got A's. In addition, earning a high GPA is not the only indicator to determine if a student truly understands what they are learning. Don't you think then graduate committees would solely factor in GPA if a student truly understands if she is learning physics well?

I think an average student would be B's, B+'s and A-s. Thats def. not above average by any measure. Above average would be all A's with one or two B's.

If you are not getting As in physics, you are spending too much time on other classes. Get As in physics, if that means getting a B- in other courses. Master what you're in college to learn.

Personally, I think 3.0-3.6 is a mediocre GPA. If you want to stand out, get above a 3.70 GPA, and do an internship.
 
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  • #21
As far as mediocre, I would consider the boundary to be about a B+, anything lower than that would in my mind be mediocre. At my school to graduate with honours you need over a B+.
 
  • #22
Thats the problem with honors, it varies from school to school. Here, to graduate with honors is as follows:

Summa Cum Laude 4.000 – 3.974
Magna Cum Laude 3.973 – 3.934
Cum Laude 3.933 – 3.860

Anything below that is not honors.

But at another school, Magna might be anything above a 3.7. So, you really have to see how the individual school defines the honors to see its 'value'.
 
  • #23
How do "C's" look when not in your chosen field?

I'm pulling a 3.7 now, my Chem classes are A's, but in an effort to get all of my gen eds done this semester, well... a couple are looking like they're going to be in the C to B- range.
 
  • #24
What I hate is the arbitrariness with which GPA corresponds to marks. We have a 4.5 point system. 4.0 is 85-95 and 4.5 is 95+. So there is not a constant scale factor
 
  • #25
yeah it depends on the schools and the professors, for instance it was disclosed a number of years ago that harvard had an A- average, thus a B+ from harvard would mean the student was a bit below average.

In my department the average is a B or a B- and so a B+ average would be pretty decent.

I've heard that princeton or some other ivy league has started to combat this by mandating that the average for all classes must be a C or a C+ hence something in the B range is pretty good.

In reality I don't think there is that much of a difference in the students who go to one college or another in this day and age, and so really the difference is in the professors, and the grades with respect to the rest of the class.
 
  • #26
CaptainQuaser said:
What I hate is the arbitrariness with which GPA corresponds to marks. We have a 4.5 point system. 4.0 is 85-95 and 4.5 is 95+. So there is not a constant scale factor

You would have to convert the numbers I posted so that 4.0 read 4.5 on your scale. I know MIT uses a 5.0 scale. I have no idea why though, I guess they just want to be different. Everyone else should use the standard 4.0 scale.
 
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  • #27
CPL.Luke said:
yeah it depends on the schools and the professors, for instance it was disclosed a number of years ago that harvard had an A- average, thus a B+ from harvard would mean the student was a bit below average.

In my department the average is a B or a B- and so a B+ average would be pretty decent.

I've heard that princeton or some other ivy league has started to combat this by mandating that the average for all classes must be a C or a C+ hence something in the B range is pretty good.

In reality I don't think there is that much of a difference in the students who go to one college or another in this day and age, and so really the difference is in the professors, and the grades with respect to the rest of the class.


I don't know how harvard could have an A- average, but that's not good to hear. It essentially makes saying, "I got an A in harvard" worthless if they are just handing them out. I would expect a C average in harvard, with a C being a B+ at a state univ. and an A being a stellar student who will be going places.
 
  • #28
Cyrus said:
Thats the problem with honors, it varies from school to school. Here, to graduate with honors is as follows:

Summa Cum Laude 4.000 – 3.974
Magna Cum Laude 3.973 – 3.934
Cum Laude 3.933 – 3.860

Anything below that is not honors.

But at another school, Magna might be anything above a 3.7. So, you really have to see how the individual school defines the honors to see its 'value'.

I never understood how americans manage to get such good grades. Particularily in engineering classes. Perhaps it is all just more competitive in the states ?
 
  • #29
An evaluater should view course grades carefully and cleverly, and really must do something beyond just viewing a set of course grades to know what each grade really means. One understanding of grade A is that the course was too easy; and of grade C is that the student worked very very hard in order to achieve meaningful learning. The C grade was due to much learning occurring.

Really, has anyone ever tried to repeat a course and achieve the same grade the second time as was earned the first time? Generally, the second grade should be higher. Really too, has anyone ever studied in a class that relied on a pre-designed strict grading scale of 90-80-70-60 for A-B-C-D, instead of the instructor grading "on a curve"?
 
  • #30
symbolipoint said:
An evaluater should view course grades carefully and cleverly, and really must do something beyond just viewing a set of course grades to know what each grade really means. One understanding of grade A is that the course was too easy; and of grade C is that the student worked very very hard in order to achieve meaningful learning. The C grade was due to much learning occurring.

This doesn't really make sense to me, you'll have to explain more on how earning a C means learning more than getting an A. I think that's just an assumption you made.

Really, has anyone ever tried to repeat a course and achieve the same grade the second time as was earned the first time? Generally, the second grade should be higher. Really too, has anyone ever studied in a class that relied on a pre-designed strict grading scale of 90-80-70-60 for A-B-C-D, instead of the instructor grading "on a curve"?

My vibrations class was not graded on a curve. I know graduate controls is not either. People who get below a B simply fail. As for taking the same class over again simply to raise your GPA, that is a waste of time and money. Get the A the first time, its possible.


I have also had a thermo professor who would grave on a huge scale because he made his exams hard on purpose. He said you should be happy if you get above 60%, and don't worry if you run out of time. He was impressed by our class because many people got As without the curve, which was rare.
 
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  • #31
Cyrus said:
You would have to convert the numbers I posted so that 4.0 read 4.5 on your scale. I know MIT uses a 5.0 scale. I have no idea why though, I guess they just want to be different. Everyone else should use the standard 4.0 scale.

My point was there is a 10% gap between all other letters, B-B+, B+-A, but then for A-A+ there is a 5% gap. So it is not a linear conversion from % to GPA and can't just easily be scaled that way.
 
  • #32
Thats odd, why would they do that?
 
  • #33
Cyrus said:
This doesn't really make sense to me, you'll have to explain more on how earning a C means learning more than getting an A. I think that's just an assumption you made.



My vibrations class was not graded on a curve. I know graduate controls is not either. People who get below a B simply fail. As for taking the same class over again simply to raise your GPA, that is a waste of time and money. Get the A the first time, its possible.


I have also had a thermo professor who would grave on a huge scale because he made his exams hard on purpose. He said you should be happy if you get above 60%, and don't worry if you run out of time. He was impressed by our class because many people got As without the curve, which was rare.

Again the forums cut me off after I wrote a lengthy response to Cyrus's comments. Very briefly what I tried to say is that the C earner could be the one who had more to learn while the A learner found the course to be easy, therefore has less trouble learning or did not need to learn as much. I know that is not the amount of detail that you wanted, but that's what I say right now after the forum cutting my message off.
 
  • #34
Cyrus said:
This doesn't really make sense to me, you'll have to explain more on how earning a C means learning more than getting an A. I think that's just an assumption you made.
My vibrations class was not graded on a curve. I know graduate controls is not either. People who get below a B simply fail. As for taking the same class over again simply to raise your GPA, that is a waste of time and money. Get the A the first time, its possible.I have also had a thermo professor who would grave on a huge scale because he made his exams hard on purpose. He said you should be happy if you get above 60%, and don't worry if you run out of time. He was impressed by our class because many people got As without the curve, which was rare.

No offense cyrus but I think that is a silly thing to say. As long as a person eventually gets the material well enough to earn an A average, I think that's all that matters. Its not about who can get the highest grade during the first go round you take a course, its about what works best for you. Its about gaining insight knowledge and understanding of a course subject at your own pace. And besides there are a number of factors as to why a student might retake a course. Such factors may be that the student was sick all the time and could not attend classes everyday or a student maybe adjusting to college and needs to get and the swing of things. Or a student may just have family problems or the teacher sucked.
 
  • #35
symbolipoint said:
Again the forums cut me off after I wrote a lengthy response to Cyrus's comments. Very briefly what I tried to say is that the C earner could be the one who had more to learn while the A learner found the course to be easy, therefore has less trouble learning or did not need to learn as much. I know that is not the amount of detail that you wanted, but that's what I say right now after the forum cutting my message off.

If the C learner learned so much, why did they get a C? You just shot yourself in the foot, and your making a TON of assumptions. What do you mean the A learner found the course to be easy? How do you know this? How do you know the A learner did not work hard for their A?
 

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