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Need help making a decision

  1. Mar 5, 2010 #1
    Hey guys,

    I'm a third year undergrad student taking Physics & Math. I'm not sure which of the two I'm going to go to grad school for yet, but both are a possibility. I recently got back some bad test marks for these two classes I'm in that I really dislike (atomic physics, and relativistic electrodynamics). Neither are required for my program, but at this rate I'll probably be getting around a 75 (3.0 GPA) in each (I always do well on problem sets). Maybe 80 (3.7) if I'm really lucky, but I also did much worse on the midterm than I expected so I could very well do horribly on the exam (maybe bring it down to a 70 i.e. 2.7). I'm thinking of dropping one or both of them, which would leave me in only three courses for the semester. My GPA up to this point is about 3.7, constant through the years.

    Now, the question is: is it better to drop one or both of them, and have (I'm guessing) a 3.8 average with 4 full credits for the year, or have 5 full credits and have presumably a 3.5-3.6 for the year. Is it better to have the knowledge under my belt with mediocre marks, or to just do better with fewer courses? Remember, neither are required for my program. Will grad schools care that I took only 3 courses for a semester? This is the point I'm wondering most about. Will they expect me to do better in my three courses for this semester as a result? I have a credit from high school, so having enough credits for a degree is not an issue.

    What should I do? I have to decide soon.

    Thanks for your responses.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 6, 2010 #2
    I have to decide by tomorrow...please, any input would be appreciated greatly.
  4. Mar 6, 2010 #3
    I am no expert, but since you are desperate for some guidance, I will offer *my* opinion. Although GPA is not the only thing that grad schools look at, it *probably* trumps most other criteria. So whatever you can do to keep your GPA as high as possible is probably the best decision.

    A lot of people end up dropping a class for some reason or the other during their college career. I think grad schools realize this. Just my two cents though. Good luck! :smile:
  5. Mar 6, 2010 #4


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    I won't argue the point on marks. They are important. But at the same time, just because you aren't acing a class isn't a good reason to drop it.

    The first thing I would try to figure out is how you stand in relation to the rest of the class. Having a bad test mark isn't all that bad if everyone has a bad test mark. Or do you mean you did poorly in relation to the class average?

    The next thing I would figure out is how relevant these classes are. Just because they aren't required for your degree doesn't mean they're not important. When you elected to pursue these ones rather than something else, you thought they were important. Has that changed? And further along those lines, my own personal experience has been that the more physics I learned, the better, when it came to graduate school.

    On the other hand, I doubt a graduate admissions committee would blink at a single semester with only 3 courses. They admit people who complete undergraduate degrees part time after all.
  6. Mar 7, 2010 #5

    Vanadium 50

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    Considering that the classes you hate will come up again (and again) in grad school, you may want to consider this in your planning.
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