1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Admissions Not passing a GE course

  1. Jul 21, 2016 #1
    So i am currently going into my third year in the fall and this summer i'm taking a few courses and finally got my first opportunity to participate in some research. Problem is there is a good chance I will get a NP (not pass) in a GE class im taking. Im going to a UC so an NP does not impact gpa. How much weight will gtad schools put on this considering im doing some research and likely to do well in all the physics classes im taking. I've had some personal issues over the last year which lead to some slight downswings in GPA as well but nothing worse than straight B's one quarter and ive improved since but this summer some unfortunate things have happened along with a large workload which led to me most likely getting an NP in this course. Again assuming I continue to do well in physics and research will this be a large factor in graduate school's considerations?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 21, 2016 #2
    1) If we say it'll be a large factor, what would you do about it?
    2) If I saw your transcript, I'd say it looks like you're not really interested in working hard if it doesn't really interest you.
  4. Jul 21, 2016 #3
    1) Nothing I can do other than try to pass just wondering
    2) I have done well in other GE courses but also why would a grad school care so much about that if im going there to pursue specific research interests
  5. Jul 21, 2016 #4
    OK, nothing you can do about it. No reason to let it bother you then.

    Again, they don't care about the specifics of your GE course. But they might care that you only do well when you're interested in something. Obviously I have no idea how the grad school would react, but I'm just giving a possible way of seeing it.
  6. Jul 21, 2016 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I don't think it's a show stopper, but it will impact you somewhat. Remember graduate school admissions is usually a competitive process and you'll be competing against other students who did not fail their general education classes. How much weight that will be given depends on the committee members and what other factors are at play. If you're the only student in the pool who has two research publications and your references both state that you wrote those papers yourself, then it's not likely to be a factor. If on the other hand, you're one of three students who all have similar GPA and research experience and they only have one spot, having failed a course could be a decisive factor against you.

    And there are a few reasons why general education courses are seen as important.

    First, you chose to do them. I realize there is often a mandatory element, but remember you chose that particular program in the first place. So if you fail, it draws into question things like you're ability to complete a commitment that you've made. Sometimes there are perfectly acceptable reasons for failing. A large workload is not one of them.

    Secondly, although graduate work focuses on a very specific field and project, you're still being trained to be an academic. Later in your career (or even as a student) you could end up on university committees that involve people from other academic disciplines and you need to be able to interact with them. That can be tough to do if you failed out of their 101 classes.

    Third, once you enter the program, you essentially become an abmassador for the school and the program itself. They'll want to know that you're likely to be successful in all the things you go on to do afterward - not all of a which are going to be in your field.
  7. Jul 21, 2016 #6
    Okay, valid points. So I've heard of the optional essay you may write for grad school discussing weaknesses in your application. Now this may be a bit personal, but basically, the main reason for the weaknesses in my application (i.e. the NP and some other not great grades) is an addiction to drugs, which was spawned by depression, which was spawned by my affiliation with people who had been deceiving/stealing from me and it really just put my mood in a terrible place because these were people I considered very close and they were my only friends at the time excluding one person so it was unfortunate. Anyway, the drug addiction is kind of what led me to be passionate about this stuff because I began to feel so purposeless and question things so much that I turned to physics/the study of the natural world because it was the only thing that seemed to capture the mysteriousness and beauty of life in such a natural way and it did not depend on people. Anyway, it is an odd story, but it took me about a year to really figure this out and then quit my drug addiction, and in fact this summer is when I finally quit cold turkey. I did decently well in school during the time excluding really this NP, but the point is, would grad schools even accept this as a valid reason/excuse for poor grades or would it just be viewed as something I brought upon myself, which it mostly is.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted