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Will I have any options if I graduate Physics with a 2.6 gpa?

  1. Jul 11, 2013 #1
    I was a Music major for three years and have been Physics for the last 2. I have two more years and while I love learning(trying to) about Physics I have had an extremely difficult time. I rushed through the lower div courses and did not do well. I was not prepared for my first year of upper div. This is how it went. I worked a measly 10 hours a week throughout if that matters. I was heartbroken by E&M in Spring because I blew off everything else and focused almost completely on that class. I would feel ok walking into a test and walkout feeling like I had no idea what I was doing and like I hadn't studied most of the week for it. I am now trying to figure out whether to retake Mechanics/Pull up future grades to try for Masters program or just keep going and try for industry job. I am also terrified about job prospects as I have read some horror stories online from people with good grades who can't find a job. I am also curious about the fields of Engineering and BioPhysics and a little in Finance. I feel like I have dedicated the last 2 years of my life to this and have a transcript that looks like I was just goofing off. I find this very discouraging and typically fall asleep trying to figure out what is wrong with me. I am interested in a summer internship to help with my record but all the physics one seem very competitive as well. It feels like Physics is this thing that I'm looking at from the outside.

    Fall 2012 (worked about 20 hours/week first half of this semester)

    Analytical Mechanics C
    Modern Physics B-
    Theoretical Physics C
    Modern Lab C-
    Diff EQ/Lin Alg D+

    Spring 2013

    E&M 1 C+
    CProgramming C+
    Diff EQ/Lin Alg A-
    GE Class B+
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 12, 2013 #2
    I imagine you would have a hard time finding a job with those grades, especially if the trend continues through your more advanced courses.

    You need to figure out why you're having such a hard time. Is it because your job is taking up too much time? It may require that you quit, take out a loan, and accept the fact that your education will cost you a little bit more. Are you talking to your professors and peers when you don't understand something? Are you involved in projects and activities that make use of the coursework? I find that this is a very effective way of learning. If you're taking C programming and Linear algebra, write a program to model planetary motion for example (or something else that interests you).

    You don't need to lose hope, but you obviously need to make a change if you want things to turn around.
  4. Jul 12, 2013 #3


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    Education Advisor

    You don't have a transcript demonstrating you've been goofing off, you have one that shows you lack understanding. Honestly, I don't see it getting better, unless you go back to all the courses you struggled in and find out why you did so terrible.

    Physics is extremely difficult, but I often find people who have the toughest time with it are the late bloomers. People who had to sure up their math skills and then (or at the same time) take the physics. Math and science take a very interactive ability to read and study. You have to go in there and make mistakes to fully comprehend it. By simply reading the text book and redoing problems, you're hurting yourself. So ask yourself these questions:

    1)By the time of the test, can you solve most of the problems given to you for homework (and perhaps a few not given) without referencing an answer or looking it up?
    2)When you study, do you reread chapters, make note, and essentially become interactive with the material?
    3)Do you spend time with your professor trying to understanding the underlying concept or is must of your time spend there figuring out just one problem?
    4)Do you reference multiple books on the subject and form study groups?
  5. Jul 12, 2013 #4
    I would consider myself a late bloomer. I'm just wondering if I should retake Mechanics this Fall or take EM 2. I was also thinking of just reviewing lower div mechanics/em/optics this summer. I have split up my senior year into two years so even though I have two years left I only have to take two classes per semester. I know that my Math skills are not as sharp as they need to be but I'm not sure what I really need to work on in that department. I don't know what kind of math is needed for EM 2 vs EM 1.

    Also, writing a program that models an EM problem sounds fun so I will explore that.
  6. Jul 14, 2013 #5
    Should I retake Mechanics or take EM 2? What can I work on this summer to prepare for the math in EM 2?
  7. Jul 15, 2013 #6
    I don't know what EM 2 consists of. If it involve vector calculus, I'd review that. Break out your multivariable calc notes/book and review. Think about reviewing a book like:


    If the course is based on Griffiths, possibly think about buying the book ahead of time and starting to read through it.

    With respect to redoing mechanics, that might be a good idea, or it might not. As mentioned above, it's probably more important to figure out what is preventing you from doing better and fix that. Easier said than done, I know. It's also quite possible that you and physics just aren't a good match. Have you had a good conversation with your academic advisor about this?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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