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Admissions Need Help: Calc, GPA, and Grad School.

  1. Dec 1, 2016 #1
    Hello everyone. I'm currently a sophomore working toward a BS in physics (and a minor in astronomy) at a top private engineering school. With the semester finishing up, I'm a little worried about where I am now and where I will be after graduation and I have a few questions.

    A little background: My freshman year was okay. I came out of mechanics with a B+ and most of my other classes were Bs or As. Unfortunately, my second semester required taking Biology, Chemistry and Electricity & Magnetism (and the recitations that go with them) at the same time along with a few other classes. I was pretty overloaded with work and was doing almost nothing except eating, sleeping, and school work. I found it very hard to properly study for all of these classes (especially since almost all exams I had were given during the same week for each class) and I passed E&M with a C+. I also passed my first semester calc class with a C+ and finished freshman year with a Cumulative 3.096 GPA.

    Freshman year was pretty rough, but I do feel that I am improving. At the moment, I have an A in my optics class and my two other physics lab classes, a B+ in my circuits class, an A in one of my humanities elective classes, and a C in my multivariable calc class. I expect to finish with these grades and expect to raise my cumulative GPA to about a 3.15 (3.4 semester GPA). Other than my differential equations class and my intro to calc class (I took this over the summer before freshman year to get ahead), my grades in calc are going to be Cs and Im kind of bummed about it. I understand the material, but I have a history of not being a very good test taker and most of my poor grades go back to running out of time on exams. When it comes to applying the concepts I learned in calc to physics, I don't have a problem and usually end up doing pretty well.

    With all of this, I'm wondering what my chances of getting into average or even good grad schools are, and what I can do to raise those chances. It really bothers me that I can't do anything about my E&M grade and that some of my calc grades are rather poor. How much will admissions pay attention to these classes? Should I kiss the chances of getting into a top-tier school goodbye? Will it make a difference if I manage to do much better in my later physics and math classes and perform well on the GRE? My classes for my minor will provide somewhat of a boost and I'm hoping to raise my general GPA to at least a 3.5 by the end of junior year and have a major GPA of at least a 3.7+. (And a side question: how difficult will it be to get accepted into a summer REU with my grades? I'm getting some good rec letters but I feel like my grades will still be a problem. I'm applying to several programs for the upcoming summer.)

    Thank you
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 1, 2016 #2
    Step 1: get research experience
    Step 2: get research experience
    Step 3: get research experience
  4. Dec 1, 2016 #3
    Did anyone mention you should get research experience?

    And in the process work hard and realize the value of that letter of recommendation.
  5. Dec 2, 2016 #4
    Thanks, I'm applying to a bunch of REUs for the next summer and I will keep that in mind, Dr. Courtney.
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