One C in Classical Mechanics: Damnation?

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  • #1
JSR108
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Hello, all. These are not the circumstances under which I would have preferred to have made my first post, but unfortunately, as the question suggests, this semester (second semester of freshman year), I earned a C in my calculus-based Intro to Classical Mechanics course. Not really for lack of ability (I don't think; I have a pretty strong intuition for much of mechanics, and performed well with the same material in high school, the difference here being the complexity of the questions of course), and as a bright-eyed young prospective physics major, certainly not for lack of interest,.

However, by way of some astoundingly poor prioritization skills in tandem with a few extracurricular struggles, I ended up performing far below personal par on some exams. This extended to all of my classwork this semester, and my overall GPA at current is about a 3.25.

So, my question: Is it now impossible to get into a top-tier graduate institution (MIT, Berkeley, Harvard, etc.)? Sorry if this is something of a silly/ignorant question; I really know next to nothing when it comes to these matters. It's just all a little ambiguous, given that this is mechanics, which I assumed (perhaps wrongly) grad schools would attribute a good deal of importance to. I do attend a "top 20" school, often ranked among the top 5 or 6 for physics, and just as often noted for its nigh-infamous grade deflation (some of you may know now which school it is lol), if that means anything. I know research experience is also heavily considered, some have said more so than GPA.

I've been going through a lot of the material now that the semester has ended and I have nothing but free time until I begin working, to make sure I do have what I need for the future conceptually. I'm also preparing ahead of time for E&M + Thermo + Optics next semester.

Thanks so much in advance.
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
14,072
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It is still possible, but you must improve your skills, do really well on the GRE as that is the first hurdle that they look at and sows signs of being a serious graduate student capable of self learning things.

Since this is an Intro to CM, what is the book you are using? Initially I'm thinking you are a freshman taking college level physics that uses Calculus and not a CM course using Goldstein or some similar book (usually for Junior/Senior level physics).
 
  • #3
JSR108
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It is still possible, but you must improve your skills, do really well on the GRE as that is the first hurdle that they look at and sows signs of being a serious graduate student capable of self learning things.

Since this is an Intro to CM, what is the book you are using? Initially I'm thinking you are a freshman taking college level physics that uses Calculus and not a CM course using Goldstein or some similar book (usually for Junior/Senior level physics).

We used Kleppner and Kolenkow.
 
  • #4
14,072
8,027
Okay, so this is a first/second year book. From reviews its better than Halliday and Resnick but not at the Goldstein level.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0521198119/?tag=pfamazon01-20

This is good, its first year stuff and that means that you really have to work hard to get your grades up. The courses you take from here on out will depend on earlier courses and at the same get tougher meaning you will have to spend more time to understand what is taught. Don't slack off, get help early and stay the course and you will succeed.

Having said that, you will find the physics you learn much more mind opening as you use Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics. My suggestion is to dig into what you have especially the areas where you aren't doing well. I would recommend talking to your prof to get a reading from him as to what you should do to improve your grades. You could also look into the more advanced courses to prepare yourself or at the least make sure you have a solid math understanding of what they will use.

Grad schools will look more to your GRE and your advanced physics courses than to the introductory courses to determine how you will fare in grad school so I think you still have a chance to make to a top notch school but the competition will be tough and you must find ways to make yourself stand out.
 
  • #5
rwm4768
30
6
If you get an A in a more advanced Mechanics class, I doubt they'll care about the C. Generally, grad schools are more concerned with how you perform in advanced coursework.
 

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