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What are my chances in future physical science/math with these grades?

  1. May 3, 2012 #1
    Hi folks I know I'm becoming a bit of a frequenter on this board asking for academic advice, so here I go again. I've just finished a turbulent second semester at my university taking 5 courses at first before dropping Biology as I no longer was into it. I've recently been re-evaluating what I want to study and do and I am thinking more along the physical science/math line. However my last semester was extremely rough and though I did pull off an 85% in Calculus I, I had a huge beating in Linear Algebra I mostly due to a beating I took on the first midterm of 18% (Class average hovered in the 20's) and managed to scrape through after working my damnedest on the second midterm and final but only managed to scrape by with a 52% in the course. Other than that my Chemistry was lower than I expected, even though I studied for it the most with only a 70%. I'm not quite sure if I should press on, I'm currently rereading all my notes and studying up on everything to make sure I'm adequately prepared for another round of Calculus/Physics/Chemistry and two other courses (possibly Linear Algebra II and Discrete Mathematics) in the fall. But I don't know if I will be judged for that first bad Linear Algebra I and how much it will affect me for Linear Algebra II even if I study my butt off during the summer. The other problem is I don't really know what I would do if I were to quit, I'm not hugely trade oriented (but I could learn) and arts majors are having trouble finding employment. Should I press on or will my low marks come back to haunt me trying to pick up a job or develop professionally later? Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 3, 2012 #2
    If you manage to pull off good grades in linear algebra II, then I don't think many people will give much importance to your bad grade in linear algebra I.
    However, CAN you pull off good grades in linear algebra II?? Math is very cumulative, the knowledge builds on itself. So if you don't know linear algebra very well, then you will be massacred in linear algebra I.

    So either you retake linear algebra I, or you self-study it and make sure you know it before starting the new course. But even that isn't a guarantee that you'll do well.
  4. May 3, 2012 #3
    Thanks micromass, that's how I feel. If I do well in Linear Algebra II no one will really give a darn about the grade in Linear Algebra I. So I have to build on it over the summer and make sure I understand the subject. Which I believe I can do.
  5. May 3, 2012 #4
    It’s time (or past time) for you to have an informed assessment. Set up a time with each of your professors and discuss your performance in each of their classes. They should be able to tell you honestly where you stand compared to where the rest of the class is and where you should be. e.g. careless mistakes, apparent underachieved on the course prerequisites, etc. On the forum, we can only guess. Do not underestimate the value of a TA, tutor, or study group/mate. As micromass noted, math is a building process, and it could be your basics are weak. It's kind of the "weak link in the chain" thing. If you're weak in basics, IMO, back up fix them first (may taking a lower level course is needed), and then retake the classes you didn't do solidly. IMO, if you didn't come out of a class with a solid knowledge of the material, you set up your next weak link for a future class. It sounds like you have the needed work ethic and maybe just a little help putting it together will be enough.
  6. May 3, 2012 #5
    Hey Think thanks for your response, I don't believe it's lacking prerequisites that has done me in. I did the precalculus course at my university before jumping into the higher level maths such as Calculus I, and I feel I have a solid knowledge of the fundamental mathematics. I think my issue with Linear Algebra I came more down to the fact that I got behind a bit early though did manage to recoup later on after a lot of push-back and late nights. I'm just worried that such a low grade in what is widely considered an "easy" course by many may be used to discriminate against me later on by professors and such. Right now I'm trying to remedy the situation through self-study as I did get about a 60% on the final exam. But there is some touch-ups I'm hoping to do with practice due to the lack of time during the majority of my last semester. I will consider going and chatting with my professors though to see what they think of my ability and performance. Thank you for the advice.
  7. May 3, 2012 #6
    Sorry for the double post but there was one point I didn't address.

    I agree that a tutor may be much appreciated and that also the under-performance in Linear Algebra I may have set me up for failure in Linear Algebra II, thus the self study I am undertaking right now. My university however recommends against taking courses again as it delays my program of study and graduation, thus I'm curious if this is the best route if I feel I gain knowledge of the course material over the summer through self-study and then attempt the II course, perhaps this is a question of my professors, which I will not be able to talk to until the Fall semester after registration.
  8. May 3, 2012 #7


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    Hey MarcZZ and welcome to the forums.

    I think you can do it, but you just have to be honest with yourself about whether you want to or not.

    Depending on the person getting a bad grade can either motivate them to get better grades or it can depress them to keep getting worse grades when they take too much of a hit to their self-confidence and unfortunately self-worth as a human being.

    If I were you, I think a good thing to do would be to do a personal post-mortem: basically think about where you went wrong (or could have gone better) and keep those things in the back of your mind as you do later courses. Remember that mistakes are good, and I gaurantee a lot of people here have made some shockers (I have).

    The important thing is not making mistakes, it's dealing with them. The people that are able to deal with them are the ones that come out on top: not the ones that never make them.
  9. May 3, 2012 #8
    I'm assuming that you are in a US university.

    It's impossible to tell what your situation is with the information that you provided. What's important is the final letter grade. In the US system, the raw scores that you get on tests is irrelevant, and what matters is the final grade. One problem that students have is that the grading system in US colleges is completely different than the one for high schools, and that's something of a culture shock. Students that are used to getting 90+% scores suddenly get 50%'s and start to panic.

    If you are hitting class average, and getting 'B's in your worst classes, then I wouldn't worry about it.
  10. May 3, 2012 #9
    No one will know or care what your test scores are.

    It's not clear to me if that's good or bad. If class average was 90%, then 60% is bad. If class average was 40%, then 60% is outstanding. Something about college tests is that it's common for professors to give tests in which it is impossible for a student to get anything close to a perfect score. The testing philosophy is very different from high school.
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