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Pass/Fail Last Semester and Grad School Opinion

  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Hello everyone!

So I've been accepted into a Physics Ph.D for Cosmology at UC Davis and I am waiting to hear back from A&M, Minnesota and 3 others where I am currently waitlisted: Hawaii, Ohio State and Illinois. My university, I believe, will offer its students a choice to either get a letter grade this semester or pass/fail. I currently have a cumulative 4.0 GPA, however, I struggled initially in one of my advanced math classes and will probably end up with a B in it. Considering this, will it be ok if I take this semester pass/fail instead of a letter grade? Is this a question worth asking my prospective grad schools?

Thank you for your time and input!

P.S. I believe I have asked this question before, but how would you rank the Astronomy programs ranked at UC Davis, Hawaii, Ohio State and Illinois? Basing purely on where the Ph.D students have ended up in the past from these programs (considering whether they got prestiguous post doc and then faculty positions or not), it seems that the ranking would be: OSU > Hawaii> UC Davis > Illinois. Is that accurate? All these universities have researches which fascinate me (which is why I applied to them), however, my other consideration is my career and if I get into the one which seems to have better career prospects, I'd decide to go there
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
Vanadium 50
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You should ask them. However, a B is not the end of the world.
 
  • #3
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You should ask them. However, a B is not the end of the world.
Thanks for your response! I did edit the post almost immediately after your reply and would appreciate any opinions you may have on the matter.
 
  • #4
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did edit the post almost immediately after your reply
Well that wasn't very nice!

I believe I have asked this question before
And I believe we have answered it before. :wink:
 
  • #5
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Well that wasn't very nice!
That was by accident, I promise!

And I believe we have answered it before. :wink:
If you're referring to this thread: https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/how-would-you-rate-uc-davis-and-u-h-at-manoas-cosmology-programs.984577/; it seems as though here isn't very specific comparisons between the schools I listed. It mentions that UC Davis and UH is ranked lower than #11, but not specifically where exactly (and US News Survey's website doesn't seem to display programs ranked lower than rank 10 in cosmology). In the link that was posted in the thread (https://physicsgre.com/viewtopic.php?t=1536), it seems as though UIUC is good for only Computational Astrophysics, but I am pretty positive that's not what I want to do. Does that mean I should throw Illinois off my list? It also doesn't include UC Davis...but I do understand that OSU and Hawaii are some of the best programs; Hawaii, especially for observation.
 
  • #6
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Do we really need another thread where we go back and forth telling you that there are more important things than rankings? (I know, I know, "But rankings!")
 
  • #7
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Do we really need another thread where we go back and forth telling you that there are more important things than rankings? (I know, I know, "But rankings!")
Well, this time, I'd argue that it's different in the sense that 4 years ago, I was worried about rankings just for the sake of rankings. This time, I'm not concerned about that. What I am worried about, however, is what would happen post-PhD and I'm not sure if there's any other way of evaluating that than looking at the alumni of that specific program.
 
  • #8
Dr. Courtney
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Hello everyone!

So I've been accepted into a Physics Ph.D for Cosmology at UC Davis and I am waiting to hear back from A&M, Minnesota and 3 others where I am currently waitlisted: Hawaii, Ohio State and Illinois. My university, I believe, will offer its students a choice to either get a letter grade this semester or pass/fail. I currently have a cumulative 4.0 GPA, however, I struggled initially in one of my advanced math classes and will probably end up with a B in it. Considering this, will it be ok if I take this semester pass/fail instead of a letter grade? Is this a question worth asking my prospective grad schools?
If you earn all the needed credits and graduate on time, I find it extremely unlikely that a B in an advanced math course would change admissions decisions. Switching to pass/fail instead seems more suspicious, since P/F indicates one was likely worried about grades lower than B. Stand pat, work hard to earn that A, and if you don't be content with some great accomplishments anyway.

(Note, I earned my first B Fall of my senior year, and my second B in the Spring, both in senior level physics courses. None of this hurt my admissions to physics programs at MIT, Princeton, Stanford, and Stony Brook. I also ended up graduating first in my class.)

On the whole, students should worry less about gaming the system with the issues your questions indicate. Work very hard. Of the programs to which you are admitted, worry less about rankings and more about which one ignites the greatest passion for you on the inside. If no passions are ignited, you may be charting the wrong course.
 
  • #9
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If you earn all the needed credits and graduate on time, I find it extremely unlikely that a B in an advanced math course would change admissions decisions. Switching to pass/fail instead seems more suspicious, since P/F indicates one was likely worried about grades lower than B. Stand pat, work hard to earn that A, and if you don't be content with some great accomplishments anyway.

(Note, I earned my first B Fall of my senior year, and my second B in the Spring, both in senior level physics courses. None of this hurt my admissions to physics programs at MIT, Princeton, Stanford, and Stony Brook. I also ended up graduating first in my class.)

On the whole, students should worry less about gaming the system with the issues your questions indicate. Work very hard. Of the programs to which you are admitted, worry less about rankings and more about which one ignites the greatest passion for you on the inside. If no passions are ignited, you may be charting the wrong course.
Thank you for your response! It gave a new motivation to work harder and really get that A!

Yeah, and I am seeing a lot of great students at places that are not so "top" and some not so great students at "top" universities so it seems like my success really depends on me than the school. Thanks for reminding me of that. :) I'll wait to hear back from other schools and based on which research excites me the most, I'll decide to go there
 
  • #10
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Seems like you can never tell what anyone seeing the transcript will evaluate when they see a P/F.

Will they think " this student wanted to protect his 4.0 graduate grade point average by taking the advanced math course P/F?'

Suppose they think, "this student took the class P/F because he was in trouble and was in danger of getting (far) less than a B, or might be even in danger of failing the course"
 

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