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Should I keep going? Should I leave? If I stay, what do?

  1. Dec 15, 2010 #1
    Okay, so I just got done with my fall term classes, and my grades aren't the best. I was wondering two things, one, should I continue? Everyone seems to give me the easy "of course you can do it" spiel, while that is good and dandy, it never tells me anything. I don't know if I really can do it, or if everyone around me is blowing smoke up my ***. Before whoever answers this though, I want you (thank you by the way for taking the time to answer this) to understand my circumstance. I was here last year. I took almost the exact same load, the only difference is that last year, I pulled out. I did a lot of soul searching asked myself what was worth what, took Integral calculus again...and passed with a B. I took Organic Chemistry, and passed with a B. I took Newtonian Physics and passed with a B. Everything seemed to be leading me back to Chemical Engineering. So then this year, I took the plunge back into the course work, and, well didn't do good. I failed Physics 212, got a D in my Chemical Engineering class, but passed Vector Calc with a C-, and retook Organic Chemistry I with a B+. I'm wondering, based on Professional Opinions, if it is advisable if I should still go through with this. I need a 2.75 to get into pro school. I'm in my third year in college. I have those constraints to deal with. I'm not sure If I can really do this. I gave a lot of effort this term. I scheduled everything around my schooling. Work outs, social obligations (or the very very few that I had), eating, sleeping...everything I thought of, before the term started I scheduled. I got groups together, designated study times, saw tutors when I could, got most of my assignments in on time(that goes irregardless, kind of a given). More often than not, I got back 1:00 in the am exhausted, and I would then sleep. I also learned this term. I learned that I should actually try to learn from my assignments rather than just treating them like a choir. I also learned girls aren't worth it, take fewer credits, and I need to be more organized, and I have a good work ethic, I just need some direction to channel it.

    My second Question is if I decide to go through with this, how do I do better. I got it though myself that I actually have to learn from my assignments, but what else could I do? I know about going to professors, TA's, tutoring services, but what else? for instance, my Physics teacher is a good lecturer, but the suggested problems he assigns are so piss weak, but his exams are just ridiculous, almost nothing like the suggested problems, or his lectures. What should I do? Also my Engineering class was intense. On the homework, you could spend an easy 4-5 hours a night doing it. They take a while to solve. While I don't mind that, how can I better prepare for the exams? is there a way to minimize this so I can actually do work in other classes?. I guess in essence, how do I "take these classes(Physics, Mathematics, and Engineering Classes)" and pass with average/good grades? I have a good mentality, and work ethic, it's just the grades that trip me up. I'm not about to let this go without overturning every stone. I need this, I want this. I'll be level, I'm doing it partially for the money, but at the same time, I'm doing it to make my parent's proud, and to be able to look at myself in the mirror and say to myself I am proud of that person. I look at Chemical Engineering with a lot of hope. I bumped my head several times along the way, and it's not like I'm lazy, I'm putting in a lot of effort. I just want to know what the hell is wrong with me? Can I be doing things better? or is this not for me? Well, enough bleeding my heart out, I leave this to the members of the Physics Forum.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 15, 2010 #2
    Well from reading that you obviously care a great deal about your grades and there is no doubt that the effort is there. So it really comes down to if you believe you have it in you to continue? I don't want to give you advice that could possibly impact your life when I don't know your situation "personally" and I have never experienced what you are going through ( im only in high school but i know what you are talking about with the work in class is so easy then tests come with stuff you have never seen before). Anyways, this decision is really up to you. Personally I believe you can achieve whatever you set your mind to (really corny but i believe it).

    One piece of advice; try to budget your time even better so your not going to bed at 1 AM. Sometimes you can defeat the hardest tests by getting the best nights sleep. Good luck in whatever path you take.
  4. Dec 15, 2010 #3
    I'm sorry but what do you mean by "getting into pro school" Do you mean graduate school?

    Look there are times where everyone has doubts and thinks about switching, but there is a difference between doubt and feeling like you don't want to do this subject for the rest of your life. For myself I recognized it was the latter, and after ironically getting an A- average in my last semester in Physics, I switched to Comp Sci after my 2nd year and I honestly couldn't be happier.

    Now considering you're in your 3rd year that changes things a bit, you could try to plow through your program but you run the risk of doing poorly and not meeting the necessary Diploma GPA requirement, and even then you could be hindered by a low GPA in the employment field.

    Its honestly late in the game to be changing programs, but if your not passionate about chemical engineering (and staying for pride/parents doesn't count) then maybe you should consider another field where most of your credits will transfer over.

    If you do decide to stick with your program then I'll give you advice from someone who has rebuilt their GPA.

    1)You have to understand why your doing poorly in your classes.

    2)Understanding that studying isn't about doing bursts of work when assignments are due, but a steady campaign of practice throughout the semester.

    and most importantly

    3)Building an effective schedule that allows you to be productive and have a good nights rest.
  5. Dec 15, 2010 #4
    Try the studyhacks website. It helped me get through my first semester of college. http://calnewport.com/blog/ Cal Newport has a lot of advice on how to go about assignments, studying, making schedules... Perhaps some of it will work for you.
  6. Dec 16, 2010 #5
    I think the above posts cover suggestions well. My question is, why did you retake organic chemistry when you had a B the first time?
  7. Dec 16, 2010 #6
    to Morovia:
    Sorry, I should have specified. I got a B in OchemII, Ochem I I got a D+ the first time around.
  8. Dec 16, 2010 #7


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    Sounds to me like you're finding out that you chose the wrong major. It happens. Different people are talented at different things. I enjoy playing music, but I wouldn't have been able to handle a music degree. Switch majors to something you're better at, if that's at all possible. Obviously this will have a down-side, like a 5th year of college, possibly financial consequences, etc. But clearly if you've given it this much effort and aren't succeeding, then being an engineer isn't the best thing to do with the rest of your life.
  9. Dec 28, 2010 #8
    Good suggestions by everyone by the way. I have thought long and hard about this post, and my situation. I am about to go back to my college tomorrow to talk to my academic advisor, a councilor, and various other people about my situation. I have noticed that you are also an academic advisor, according to your profile. I just feel unfulfilled; like I missed something, or I got the raw end of the deal. I also feel depressed, angry, focused, confused, and kind of ready for round 2. I don't know why. I think in some weird way, I'm telling myself to go back. I can't explain it. I feel the previous statements are out of scope; I'm ranting perhaps I don't know. However, these past two weeks in break have taught me a lot. Through research, lurking, and posting I have learned much about how to actually tackle classes. I was never told/taught/shown what I was aiming for in college level science and Engineering classes(obviously a good grade, but I'm talking beyond that). I now realize that what I should seek in these classes, is insight; a deep/deeper understanding of what is going on. For the longest time, I would just do problems, and hope that it would prepare me for the exams. I have found that this approach is somewhat correct, but also wrong. I also learned that I should be taking fewer classes. This allows me to concentrate better on fewer classes, and hopefully get better grades. This is a small portion of what I've learned. Those things are huge conclusions that I have come to. I ask you, even though this question may be considered stupid by most people here on the forum, but I must ask someone. Based on my feelings, and what I've learned from this past term, and these two weeks, is should I keep going? Thank you for your time, and response, but I also ask that you be honest. It's probably silly to ask, but I don't think I have anyone willing to give me an honest opinion. My advisors are content with pushing me along with the rest of the herd, and my friends and family continue to say to me "keep at it" or "just do it." While it's a good morale boost, I think they are partially blowing smoke up my ***, but yet it gives me hope to some extent, and given what I've learned this term, I think maybe I can just pull it off. I fear however, that this next term might turn out like last one, pushing me farther and farther behind scholastically, financially, and emotionally. If you have read this far, I thank you. I really appreciate it. I'm kind of in a dark place right now, and I would like to put this matter to rest as fast as possible so I can get on with my life. Remember, be honest please.
  10. Dec 28, 2010 #9


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    Obelisk, you're the only one who can answer whether you should keep going. I will say this, I've never known anyone who finished college and regretted it later. I've known lots and lots of people who dropped out and later regretted it, though.

    But look at what I bolded in your post: perhaps you already know the answer?
  11. Dec 28, 2010 #10
    I say keep going. Give it at least one more semester. Take fewer hours. Talk with students who are seniors or something, or grad students, and see which ones are the hardest classes. If you have to take a hard class, consider not pairing up another hard class on top of it. Understand that ever-increasing study time is not always a benefit. There is a point where a student studies too much and ends up actually weakening him or herself. I believe this is evidenced by your bedtime. 1:00 am? Seriously?

    Also consider whether you're a morning person. You're a college student. You have the power to schedule your semester in such a way as to fit your body clock. I cannot stand morning classes, so I try to schedule my classes after 10:00 am. I don't know if this is your problem, but it may very well be.

    One final note. What do they call someone who got C's in every med school course? Doctor. Don't be afraid of being average. You don't have to excel. It's just really, really good if you do. Engineering is definitely one of those fields where you can get by with just a Bachelors. Concentrate on that. As long as you keep your GPA above 2.0, you're on track for your degree.
  12. Dec 28, 2010 #11
    That is sound. I just don't know/ hope I can get my GPA at 2.7 ish. That's where I start to crumble. It's doing well on tests that gets me. If I got reasonably good grades, I wouldn't be having 70% of the problems I'm having now. This is why I'm doubting myself. I question whether or not I can get good enough grades to get into pro school. I have ideas of how to get better grades, and what I can do better, but I've never tried them out, and I'm at a point where I really need to be "in something" and say I get through my classes, is my GPA good enough to be accepted? Can I pull it off? I don't know. I came in with the best intentions this year, and I got shredded. I gave it my best effort. I ended up by the eighth week getting an average of 5 hours a sleep at night struggling to keep up with classes, and assignments. I made so many sacrifices on top of the ones I made I feel like that on the one hand I could satify myself, and go on, but on the other, I could fail and be back at square 1, or I could inch my way through the material only to be not accepted into pro school.
  13. Dec 28, 2010 #12
    I'm sorry If I'm being such a bother. It's just that this is my life. Sorry.
  14. Dec 28, 2010 #13


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    Ah, big breakthrough here...you really need more sleep! Seriously, you can't creatively solve problems or learn new material if you're sleep deprived. It's just a fact.

    Btw, this advice is coming from someone who learned the hard way! I went way, way too long on less than 5 hours a night, it was awful.

    Others here had good advice: cut back on the number of classes a bit, at least enough to ensure you get sufficient sleep.
  15. Dec 28, 2010 #14
    Then pick yourself up and do it again. You had a hard semester. It happens. I'm almost certain you were overloaded. Can you tell us precisely what you took this last semester, and your subsequent grades?

    Also, for what it's worth, I went into last semester with only three classes (twelve hours total). Chemistry, calculus, and physics. I still got a B in physics. Some classes are just absolute, total hell. Happens to the best of us -- and not to be mean, but neither of us can claim to be the best :)
  16. Dec 28, 2010 #15
    I took Physics 212 (F) Vector Calculus (C-) Organic Chemistry (B) and CBEE 211 (D) I was retaking vector calculus, and organic chemistry.
  17. Dec 28, 2010 #16
    Okay. What's physics 212? Vector calculus... well, if this corresponds to calculus 3, then you likely didn't devote enough time to practicing the problems. Organic chemistry is a notorious and infamous class that requires a lot of time. I don't know what CBEE 211 is. Could you list the descriptions and course names for physics 212 and CBEE 211? If they are notorious and infamous classes as well, then you were likely taking three weedout classes. Small wonder you had so much trouble!
  18. Dec 28, 2010 #17
    Physics 212 is just a random grab bag of physics related stuff. such as rotational kinematics, waves, beats, lenses. stuff like that. doesn't exactly build on each other. CBEE 211 is chemical engineering 211. you go over stuff like volumetric flow rate, mass flow rate, single pass, and multiple pass conversion, fractional conversion, extent of reaction, and atomic species balance. I've heard that CBEE 211 is a "gatekeeper class" The physics courses here at OSU are said to be horrid, but honestly, it's challenging, but I've never been exposed to much else, so I say it's challenging.
  19. Dec 28, 2010 #18


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    I'm sure by now you've got an idea of your strengths and weaknesses.

    You know in some ways you might be better off than other students. Going through failure can actually be a good thing. It can be a sobering experience and if you put it behind you, can make you a stronger person in that you learn to tolerate it to an extent and not let it define you, but push you to do better: Sometimes people that go through their lives without any failure can crumble very easily and it can completely destroy them.

    Also take note that many people who start engineering drop out of engineering. These people that started were probably smart people but I'm sure there are people in this mix that thought that they could coast on their ability. While some can, most can't.

    If I were you I would keep at, but I would get in the habit of getting feedback as soon as possible on what you are doing wrong. Every course coordinator is going to focus on a particular set of outcomes to get high marks and I would do what you can to find out exactly what those are so you can focus most of your energy on those outcomes.

    Also don't be afraid to look stupid. The majority of people aren't geniuses even in university. Remember that the teachers and lecturers have PhD's and probably even have some industry experience: sometimes when people teach they forget how hard it was when they started learning and don't put enough context out there for the novice to work out.

    Basically find all the resources you can to figure out what the lecturers/professors are looking for to give you high marks and do the best you can to utilize them.
  20. Dec 28, 2010 #19
    Man, I hated that stuff in my mechanics class. It could've been your instructor. If it's a necessary class, just buckle down and take it with another instructor. I'd probably say this was a difficult class, simply because rotational kinematics and waves are not very intuitive for a lot of people. Don't sweat this. I don't see how it would be extremely relevant to chemical engineering; relevant, yes, but not very.

    Aha. Then you were taking at least two weed classes at the same time. Don't do this. Don't don't don't. You've done your rite of passage. Don't retake organic chemistry again. Your grades are bad, yes. But retake your physics and CBEE classes next semester, and give it your all. If you still have any general education requirements, I recommend doing a couple of them simultaneously just to take it easy on yourself during these two hard classes. Don't give up! Like I said, we all have crappy semesters. I'm likely to have a couple of them myself. Consider this semester an extremely valuable lesson on your limits. It'll come in handy when you start your senior-level coursework.
  21. Dec 28, 2010 #20

    That does ring true. I have to take the whole CBEE series next year though, they don't offer it except in the fall. :( Next term I'm going to take Math 306 (matrix and power series), Statics and Dynamics ENGR 211, and some other class I don't know(maybe retake physics?). If I do decide to go through engineering. I'm still just unsure. a lot is at stake. I also question whether or not I will be an effective Engineer. It's going to take me 5 maybe 6 years for a degree that should have taken me 4. I feel so worthless on so many levels right now.
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