What would you do if your school is not rigorous enough?

  • #1
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I'm currently a 2nd year physics student in Asia. My college is quite a good school (By nature index) , the science faculty is supportive and well organized ,my physics department is a cozy ,ever-forgiving and cooperative place.

But I find "something off"

-They don't put their own students on curve with other science majors and engineering counterparts , the real reason is their students have less aptitude than the other majors. One of my professors even said that students who come here to study physics are the one who can't get into the engineering.

-Most courses are really just ridiculously watered down version of what suppose to be taught.

Questions on test look exactly like what professors have taught in the class , so you can getaway by just memorize and plug-in the main formula.you know the course is not challenging enough when everyone can study it just a day before the test and made it to the top.

-No programming course offered , but this isn't a big deal because everyone with enough discipline can study it on his own.

And this is just a tip of an iceberg of the problems.

What I should I do in this situation?

Seriously , I won't let a school system get in the way of my physics learning because I want to get in to grad school and work in academia.

TIL : Never rely solely on your school for your education.
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
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I'm not trying to sound elitist , but life just needs more challenges.

In the next semester ,I will take the hardest courses from the most ever--so-dreaded professors if I'm allowed to.
I won't care if I got a couple of C's from those courses. 😈
 
  • #3
Vanadium 50
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If you don't like your university, transfer.
 
  • #4
symbolipoint
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If you don't like your university, transfer.
TechieDork,

How is the possibility of changing to a different school, or "transfer" as Vanadium 50 says, in your location of the world? Yes. If the program you are attending is so weak, then TRANSFER!
 
  • #5
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If you don't like your university, transfer.

I don't really "dislike" my university ,I think it just needs more regulations.
I can't transfer to the another school because of family-related issues.

My current goal is to make the best out of my situation despite studying in a non-challenging enviroment by gaining knowledge and experience as much as I can and get into the best attainable graduate school.
 
  • #6
symbolipoint
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I don't really "dislike" my university ,I think it just needs more regulations.
I can't transfer to the another school because of family-related issues.

My current goal is to make the best out of my situation despite studying in a non-challenging enviroment by gaining knowledge and experience as much as I can and get into the best attainable graduate school.
Your position is tough. Advice to transfer is the best that you could expect from the members on this forum. You really need a rightly competitive program to do well in if you have any plan for being admitted to some graduate program. The way you describe your current program, getting to graduate school will not happen.
 
  • #7
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Your position is tough. Advice to transfer is the best that you could expect from the members on this forum. You really need a rightly competitive program to do well in if you have any plan for being admitted to some graduate program. The way you describe your current program, getting to graduate school will not happen.

Yes it's damned tough, I have to work extremely hard to keep myself active when everyone is more concerned on partying , drinking and hooking up with cute freshwomen . These poor souls have no clues what kind of horror they're going to face after these 4 years.

There are some senior guys from my major have managed to get into a good grad school (well known for operating a particle accerelator). these guys are well-versed in their specialties with almost perfect GPA and good research.
But they definitely have hard time adjusting themselves to that level of workload needed.


I think I have to engage more with the professors or my friends from more rigorous school ,because they are the one who can help me choosing the right textbooks, topics and courses.

-I will work on these extra problems even they're not going to be graded.

These are what I can really do.

Thanks you.
 
  • #8
dRic2
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Questions on test look exactly like what professors have taught in the class ,
Don't go to classes and self study all the material. This will make it harder. That's what I do when I have to deal with a course I don't like how it is taught. Not the best choice if you care about grades because you may overlook some minor topics, but I don't really care and you seem not to care too much either. It seems a better option than change uni.

Plus I think one will be self studying for the rest of his life (since uni ends at some point) so you might want to get used to it as soon as possible. If you are not good at self studying getting a bad grade will make you realize what you did wrong and it will help you to improve.

PS: I'm still a student with tons of doubts so I can't tell you if this methods is effective. Give it a try if you feel like it.
 
  • #9
atyy
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I'm not trying to sound elitist , but life just needs more challenges. In the next semester ,I will take the hardest courses from the most ever--so-dreaded professors if I'm allowed to. I won't care if I got a couple of C's from those courses. 😈

If you only need to wait one semester to get a couple of C's, there is no need to transfer.
 
  • #10
StatGuy2000
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If you don't like your university, transfer.

Transferring to other universities is not necessarily a possibility in many Asian countries, where admission relies on highly competitive entrance exams.

I'm curious if that is the case in Thailand (where the OP is from, based on earlier posts).
 
  • #11
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Transferring to other universities is not necessarily a possibility in many Asian countries, where admission relies on highly competitive entrance exams.

I'm curious if that is the case in Thailand (where the OP is from, based on earlier posts).

Yup

-Transferring isn't easy in Thailand, only makes things more and more complex.
And I'm almost half the way to the graduation.
 
  • #12
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Don't go to classes and self study all the material. This will make it harder.
I'm not sure this is good advice. Seems like all this will do, is make meeting the low expectations harder.

one will be self studying for the rest of his life (since uni ends at some point)
This, on the other hand, seems like a good thing to consider. If the OP is able to self-motivate enough to far exceed the low expectations then the future problem will be overcoming the lax reputation of the school. That is preferable, in my opinion, to a weak understanding of the material, combined with the lax reputation.
 
  • #13
dRic2
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I'm not sure this is good advice. Seems like all this will do, is make meeting the low expectations harder.
Mhm well yes, and no. I don't usually go to classes and I didn't notice any significant difference (especially during undergrad years). Plus if I do not know anything about the exam I'm more preoccupied to truly understand the subject in order to face different scenarios and so I study a lot more. Fun fact: the classes I really sucked were the only one I attended (with just a few exceptions)... but that's probably because I didn't like them.

Anyway, as I said, this seems to work for me, for now. And PF is a wonderful place! For example, I got A+ in a grad course in reactor physics (that I wasn't attending) with the help of some amazing people in the NucEng sub-forum!!

Long story short: just because you are stuck somewhere you don't like it doesn't mean you are doomed... Just study hard and try to make things as interesting as possible. I mean, science is science everywhere and if you want to study I don't see any problem: pick a book and start. Maybe I'm too optimistic... but let me dream for now! :)
 
  • #14
symbolipoint
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Transferring to other universities is not necessarily a possibility in many Asian countries, where admission relies on highly competitive entrance exams.

I'm curious if that is the case in Thailand (where the OP is from, based on earlier posts).
So, what can he do if instruction is not good? We wants better instruction, deeper instruction, firmer more rigorous understanding, more detailed laboratory experiences, and wants to be competetively knowledgeable and skillful enough to be able to enter graduate school.
 
  • #15
StatGuy2000
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So, what can he do if instruction is not good? We wants better instruction, deeper instruction, firmer more rigorous understanding, more detailed laboratory experiences, and wants to be competetively knowledgeable and skillful enough to be able to enter graduate school.

In the context of the OP, the answer is nothing -- they are out of luck. One reason why many Asian countries (such as Japan, South Korea, China, etc.) experience "examination hell", where students undergo extraordinary stress in trying to score high enough on entrance examinations to enter into the most prestigious universities.

The best the OP can do is find the best possible professors available and go above and beyond what is offered at their university.
 
  • #16
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Mhm well yes, and no. I don't usually go to classes and I didn't notice any significant difference (especially during undergrad years). Plus if I do not know anything about the exam I'm more preoccupied to truly understand the subject in order to face different scenarios and so I study a lot more. Fun fact: the classes I really sucked were the only one I attended (with just a few exceptions)... but that's probably because I didn't like them.
This is just completely foreign to my own undergrad experience. Nearly everything I learned was by listening closely to the lectures. This was admittedly long ago on a planet far far away...

Anyway, as I said, this seems to work for me, for now. And PF is a wonderful place! For example, I got A+ in a grad course in reactor physics (that I wasn't attending) with the help of some amazing people in the NucEng sub-forum!!
This would never have worked for me. But if it works for you, I think that's great. See below.

Long story short: just because you are stuck somewhere you don't like it doesn't mean you are doomed... Just study hard and try to make things as interesting as possible. I mean, science is science everywhere and if you want to study I don't see any problem: pick a book and start. Maybe I'm too optimistic... but let me dream for now! :)
I agree with this. And like you said earlier, if one learns how to self study, you can continue it long after your school days are over. In many ways this should be the goal of the formal education - showing you how to continue learning on your own.
 
  • #17
symbolipoint
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I agree with this. And like you said earlier, if one learns how to self study, you can continue it long after your school days are over. In many ways this should be the goal of the formal education - showing you how to continue learning on your own.
So many details are missing and have to be identified first. One needs good school instruction to be able to learn how to find good resources. Some unauthorized work might be nice; but how does one earn credit for it? Or, evade blame?
 
  • #18
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What I mean is, by the time you have put in four years and have your bachelor degree (any subject), you ought to be able to do much of this on your own: study and learn from a textbook, evaluate arguments and identify their weak and strong points, find relevant material in a library and on line, etc.
 
  • #19
CrysPhys
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OP: Given your constraints, I would recommend approaching the best profs at your university for independent study/undergrad research projects.
 
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  • #20
symbolipoint
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OP: Given your constraints, I would recommend approaching the best profs at your university for independent study/undergrad research projects.
TechieDork, the quote which CrysPhys made is something like what I tried to say. Now I can say differently:

Does some or any professors at your school have resources of materials and equipment and actually use them, so that a student, maybe you, could participate in some of that activity, for obtaining much more full, richer, experience and subject-matter development which you are currently not obtaining?
 
  • #21
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A student I mentored graduated from Kent State and was admitted to Harvard's PhD program. So great things are possible at universities nowhere as rigorous as they should be. My advice:

1. Transfer if you can. Otherwise:
2. Get perfect grades. Straight As every semester.
3. Score nearly perfect on the general and subject GREs.
4. Get into research ASAP. Be your adviser's best undergrad ever.
5. Apply to Summer research opportunities at other institutions.

In short, be the absolute best you can be wherever you are.
 
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  • #22
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TechieDork, the quote which CrysPhys made is something like what I tried to say. Now I can say differently:

Does some or any professors at your school have resources of materials and equipment and actually use them, so that a student, maybe you, could participate in some of that activity, for obtaining much more full, richer, experience and subject-matter development which you are currently not obtaining?

Yes, there are plenty of well versed professors in the department who publish outstanding researches (some have even made it into Physical Review X).

I tried to compensate this by using the office hours , asking insightful questions and borrow them textbooks and the professors are very helpful , they like the passionate and aspiring young one :)
 
  • #23
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A student I mentored graduated from Kent State and was admitted to Harvard's PhD program. So great things are possible at universities nowhere as rigorous as they should be. My advice:

1. Transfer if you can. Otherwise:
2. Get perfect grades. Straight As every semester.
3. Score nearly perfect on the general and subject GREs.
4. Get into research ASAP. Be your adviser's best undergrad ever.
5. Apply to Summer research opportunities at other institutions.

In short, be the absolute best you can be wherever you are.

I will do my best and keep my work ethics high, thank you for the helpful advice.
 
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