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Potential C: can I minimize the damage to grad admissions?

  1. Oct 3, 2015 #1
    I absolutely bombed my first test so far since I started college (Junior in EE). The test was in a semiconductor devices course (theory of semiconductor devices), so it is a course in my major, and it is an upper division course. I wouldn't be worried if it was in another department, but since it's an electrical engineering course, I'm worried about how it will affect my master's admissions. Some background: my areas of interest (electromagnetics, control, DSP) have virtually nothing to do with semiconductor device physics, so will a C in that class affect me very much (especially compared to if I got a C in a relevant class)?

    And, obviously, yes, I am addressing the issues that led to me bombing the test in the first place, and I'm confident I'll perform well during the rest of the semester.

    Also of note: I'll have had 3.5 years of research experience, an A in all of my other classes (hopefully), probably a graduate course or two (hopefully with A's), and strong letters of recommendation by the time I'm applying for graduate school. I know, however, that people always say grad schools take upper-division major courses into consideration for decisions, so given all of the above, will a C in this class be something that will hold me back or that I should address in a statement of purpose or something?

    Final note: The programs I have in mind range from about ~10 to ~40 in ranking (so I have no plans to shoot for MIT/Stanford or anything, but strong programs nonetheless).
     
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  3. Oct 3, 2015 #2

    Student100

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    Are you positive you're going to earn a C in this class? Did others in the class perform much better? It may be that professor gives purposeful hard exams so that a low score isn't technically a low score after all.

    The entry for most graduate programs stipulate that you have a 3.0 GPA in upper division courses, so in perspective, one C isn't likely to damage your aspirations of graduate school. In addition, most EE master degrees are self funded, so it's also not likely you're going to be barred from paying the school more money because you got one C.
     
  4. Oct 3, 2015 #3
    I'm thinking worst-case scenario. The professor is notorious for curving massive amounts, which is bad because there's a lot of uncertainty in my grade. I don't know how I did in relation to others, so it's a possibility that I do badly, but also possible to do about average.

    I'm aware admissions don't take it as seriously if a low grade is in an unrelated field, but I'm concerned about how unrelated that has to be. This class is electrical engineering, but it's a very different type of electrical engineering compared to what I'd like to study in grad school.
     
  5. Oct 3, 2015 #4

    Student100

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    You're suffering from perfectionist syndrome, one C- no matter how related it is to your field- isn't going to suddenly close the door to obtaining a masters from a good school. As long as it's an isolated event, you shouldn't worry.

    You don't even know how badly you performed, don't dwell on it and just continue to do well.
     
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