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Too Late To Make a Turn Around and Get Into Grad School?

  1. Oct 17, 2014 #1
    I'm a physics and likely math major, heading into the second half of the first semester of my sophomore year in college. I started college taking all sophomore classes having placed out of all freshmen courses. I did poorly my first year and this year, thus far I have started off similarly, only now that I'm taking junior courses, things are more difficult. I attribute the main cause of this to poor time management as well as taking 6 math and science courses at once this semester. My GPA after my first year was a 2.8.
    I've recently started doing research in the physics department and it's renewed the fire of interest in physics I had before college. The only question I have is whether it matters at this point. With such a poor start to college, would I ever be able to get into grad school for applied physics and eventually become a researcher if I turned everything around now in my courses? If I could, would the grad school be at all respectable? Would I be at all respectable coming out of grad school? Should I reconsider my plans for my future career?
    I read a post from ZapperZ on grad schools understanding, appreciating, and factoring in grade trends for their decisions, but how low and late is too low and late to make a turn around fruitful, such that one can gain entrance into grad school and go on to lead a respectable career in research?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 17, 2014 #2

    Dr Transport

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    6 math and physics courses seems like a bit much for a semester.
  4. Oct 17, 2014 #3
    It matters, but you still have plenty of time to recover. I think they'll understand you took too heavy of a load. Still, it might not be a bad idea to have a back-up plan.
  5. Oct 18, 2014 #4


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    First of all, didn't you get proper advising by your academic advisor before you went ahead and enrolled in 6 physicis/math courses in one semester? I mean, c'mon! 6 courses in one semester is bad enough, but 6 math/physics courses? Suicide!

    Secondly, you will probably not be able to get into the high-powered, brand-name schools for graduate school. However, assuming that you do very well the rest of the way, you can still get into respectable graduate schools, and your poor grades will probably not stop you from getting such admissions. You just have to set your sights a bit lower.

    But as I've stated elsewhere, because there are many different tiers of physics graduate programs, getting an admission isn't as difficult as surviving through the graduate program, especially in passing the qualifying exams. What you have to be very concerned right now is that you didn't do very well in the basic, fundamental courses in your first two years. The courses you will be taking in your next two years are all built ON TOP of your shaky knowledge that you obtained in those first two years! Doing well in those subsequent courses is far from being guaranteed!

    So if I were you, I would not put the horse before the cart. Stop worrying about whether you'll get admitted into a graduate school or not. Worry about the coming classes that you are about to face. That is your most important and most immediate issues.

  6. Oct 18, 2014 #5

    Vanadium 50

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    This. There is no prize for getting through college quickly, especially if you end up learning less than had you taken it more slowly.
  7. Oct 19, 2014 #6
    My adviser didn't actually advise me at all on my courses and course load.
    Thank you for the advice everyone. I'm not so distraught as I was before, knowing there's at least a sliver of hope, given increased effort and better decisions in the future. Would it then be advantageous to perhaps go back and review courses I didn't do so well in the first year or so to reinforce the foundation that they create?
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