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Programs PhD from a bachelor of science (not honors)

  1. Nov 17, 2011 #1
    Ok, so I'll start with some background. I went to a very small school which didn't offer IB or AP or Honors classes, and was at the top of my math class (I finished pure math 30 with a 97% and calculus with a 93%). This is my first year university (University of Alberta - Canada) and I am in the honors math program with about 30 other students. The two honors math courses I am taking this semester are Linear Algebra and Calculus. I currently have a 75% on linear algebra. I've been working by butt off, and I'm ok with this mark as I believe I can get it up some more as I adjust to the new style of teaching in university. My calculus mark is a 50% (I got 52% on the first midterm and 43% on the second, but my homework has helped a bit). I am really bummed about this, because, once again, I am working my butt off for this course and it doesn't seem to be paying off. My main problem is time - I just don't have enough time on the midterms to do well, although I will admit that with unlimited time I would probably still only get a 75%. Oh, and I have a 3.8 GPA on my other non-honors courses (Engl is the class dragging it down a bit), so I wouldn't classify myself as dumb.

    I don't think I can continue with the Honor route, so I have switched out of the honors classes for next semester into the regular Calculus II and Linear Algebra II classes. There is no point to continue with the Honors Linear Algebra course, as it will still only contribute towards a regular Bachelor of Science but I can end up with a higher GPA if I take the non-honors alternative. I am now going to (hopefully ... :wink:) graduate with a Bachelor of Science with a double major in Math and Physics.

    Is it still possible for me to go to graduate school and eventually obtain a PhD in Math? I really love math, and I enjoy school, so I would really like to go for a PhD, I am just finding this honors Calculus course too difficult.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 17, 2011 #2
    How are you doing relative to the rest of your class? Was it recommended for you to switch programs? Often times a 60 percent can translate into a 90 at the end of the term, depending on how hard your professor sets his tests, and how well the rest of the class does. Essentially EVERY math course I have been in has had a curve, considering class averages for midterms were ~50%.

    BTW, I am over at the University of Saskatchewan.
  4. Nov 17, 2011 #3
    Both of my math classes are not on a curve and I am in the bottom fifth of the class (in Calculus) in a class of 30. In order to stay in the honors program, I need an average GPA of 3.0 (which I will most likely get), so I am not being forced to switch programs. I haven't had a chance to talk to my professor (he is also the head of the honors math program) but last time I asked him, he said that I should try out the course and if I found it too difficult or began failing, I should then switch programs.
  5. Nov 17, 2011 #4
    I'm not in grad school (I'm an undergrad like you are) but here's how I think you can deal with your problem:
    First, identify what's your problem in those classes. Are they proof based? Are the problems just hard? and if so, in what way? Do they require long, arduous calculations, or is the solution simple once you "get" how to solve it? Are the problems very involved or straight forward? For instance, is it all about "find the derivative of f(x) = ...", or are those "story" problems that involve some physical understanding?
    Did you go see your professor during office hours to get some help?
    Answer those questions and go see your professor before you decide to give up. Only then make the decision to drop the honors path.
    Some beginnings are just rough, but it gets better later on. Sometimes it takes two weeks into the summer or winter break to realize that you actually learned a lot of cool and interesting things in your hard classes. Easier classes might not challenge you enough.

    With that said, I don't think you'd be handicapped by not taking honors classes.
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