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Struggling in PDE Class

  1. Feb 17, 2015 #1
    I'm a 2nd-semester freshman taking my first upper-level class (partial diff eq) and I'm really struggling. People always ask me what I'm doing in that class as a freshman and I answer by telling them I'm an idiot and a masochist, which is true. I've spent most of my time and energy on that class and have neglected my other classes, which I didn't even realize until getting a 67 on my physics test last week (but I'm in a study group for that now and I already feel like I'm making a speedy recovery). Anyway, I had my test for the tough class a few days ago and ended up finishing about a third of the exam. I'm going to talk to my professor tomorrow, but honestly, I don't know what to do.

    I took ODE last semester and ended up getting an A easily. Sometimes I felt like the class was annoyingly easy, and I confidently answered most of the questions my professor asked during class. But this semester, even though I can absorb the lectures, I'm afraid of saying a single word, even when the answer in my head is correct. I'm scared of my professor for no reason, even though everyone says he's really nice. I'm intimidated by all my classmates and feel like I should keep my mouth shut to avoid making a fool of myself in front of all those intelligent minds. Even the classroom has a sinister feel to it. I think my problem is that I'm shaky on multivar.

    This is not the first time I've bitten off more than I could chew. That being said, I think I might have actually gotten myself into big trouble this time. I don't know how I'll get myself out of THIS mess. Did any of you struggle with your first "advanced" class? Any advice/success stories for a ditzy little fool like me?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 18, 2015 #2


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    Sure. After getting 100 on first year calculus at regular level, I switched into the "advanced and enriched" version in second year. Problem was, the classes were at 7:30AM, and I didn't really boot up till about 9:30. Unpleasantness followed. Eventually I switched back to the regular level and got back into A territory.

    Talk to your prof and ask if there is any way you can change your approach to make things go smoother.

    Talk to your guidance department at your school and find out if the drop date has passed. Ask them if there is any choice available for you?

    Consider a study-buddy to give you some pointers. If you can afford it, maybe get a tutor. Many grad students will be keen to tutor you if you have some cash.

    And if all else fails, damage control. Figure out which class combination you can get the best overall mark on, and concentrate your study efforts accordingly. If, for example, this class moves to "barely pass" and the other classes move up a lot, that might be the best available option. But consider carefully. A wrong choice here could be pretty bad.
  4. Feb 18, 2015 #3
    It's too late to turn back now, so I have to get through this somehow. I talked to my professor and he said I should put in more effort. Easier said than done; there's only a certain amount of work and frustration I can take before getting burned out and needing a break, but I guess I'll see what I can do. He also told me to ask him for help if I get stuck on homework (I don't come to his office hours because I have class then, but I'll try to be more proactive). Finally, he said this was the hardest course I could take and everyone felt intimidated by it (way to freak me out even more, LOL!). I guess I need to set aside times to do homework for SPECIFIC classes and not just work in general.

    As for study buddies, I vaguely know one kid because he's an another class with me, and once or twice, I asked him for help. Being shy, this was hard for me, but he was helpful. My RA's friend also said she's willing to help, but I never see her out of class. Everyone seems to have already found their own little groups, unfortunately. There are very few grad students here, so tutoring is not an option.

    I really don't want to think about damage control, but I guess it might come down to it (it will definitely be a last resort though). Maybe I can pull through if I could somehow figure out how to manage my time (I have class a all afternoon MWF and just one class and a few extracurricular things TR, so I end up with a ton of work to do on Tuesdays and Thursday's, so I end up having to do some work the morning my homework is due, which makes me look and feel lazy, even though I feel as though I spend most of my time being productive).

    TLDR: I don't know how to work through hard problems without getting burned out and frustrated after a while, or how to deal with the unequal distribution of work I have on different weekdays.
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