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Withdrawing from a class

  1. Aug 31, 2005 #1
    I am mathematics major and I am considering withdrawing from 1 course this semester. My concern is how does having a Withdrawal on my transcripts look to graduate schools? I plan to go to graduate school for mathematics when I am done with my degree.

    I could stay in the course but I would probably end up with a B instead of an A. So what's better, a B in the course, or a W and then taking the course later and getting an A.

    I have already spoken to an advisor and she suggests that I take the course at a later time. I guess it just feels like I am quitting by withdrawing from a class since I have never withdrawn before. I currently have a 4.0 and I worry that if I don't withdraw I might not be able to maintain it because my workload is so high this semester. Thanks.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 31, 2005 #2

    Math Is Hard

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    If you were asking whether it would be worse to have a W or a D on your transcript I might have something to say here... but a B????????? What is so disastrous about a B?
  4. Aug 31, 2005 #3
    Nothing is disastrous about it, it just bothers me because I know I can ace the course if I had the time to study for it. I worry that I won't have the time to give it the 100% attention it deserves like I do for every course I take.
  5. Aug 31, 2005 #4

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    I don't think you should drop. I think you should bite the bullet and get through it. What is the rest of your course load like? Are you working and going to school? Is there anything else you could sacrifice that would allow you enough study time to continue?

    If you absolutely feel you have to drop, check your options. Some schools will allow you change credit status rather than withdraw. You may have the option to switch to "Not for Credit", "Pass/Fail" or "Do Not Record". DNR is best because nothing shows on your transcript, but I am pretty sure that it is not an option that is offered at many unis.

    I almost dropped a class last winter because I did horribly on the first exam, but when the curve came out - I actually found out I was in the B range. I'm glad I stuck it out because I ended up with an A.

    I also dropped a chem class once because I was terrified of getting a C. What a fool I was. It was the teacher's first time teaching so she ended up giving a generous curve and the whole class got As and Bs.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2005
  6. Aug 31, 2005 #5
    Thank you for the words of encouragement! I will stick it out until the very last day to withdraw and withdraw only if I feel I am doing bad. We should have a test before the last day to withdraw also so I should know how I am doing.

    This is my courseload.

    Linear Algebra - Introductory Course, not very difficult
    Number Theory - Introductory Course, not very difficult
    Abstract Algebra - introductory course, groups, rings, fields, sylow theorems, difficult but professor is awesome
    Topology - introductory course, topological spaces, connectedness, compactness, metric spaces, very difficult but my professor is amazing
    Advanced Calculus - limits, continuity, differentiation, very difficult

    I was thinking of dropping the Topology course or the Calculus course. The topology prof I have is very good but the calculus prof isn't as good. However the calculus book is very readable and I can learn everything by reading and trying to follow the lectures, it's just very time consuming. The proofs take a very long time to understand. I do find the material interesting, but when I have other classes to work on it is difficult to find the time.

    I will stick it out, at least until the last day to withdraw, and if then I feel I am doing very badly, I will withdraw. This way I really have nothing to lose.

    Thanks again for the words of encouragment.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2005
  7. Aug 31, 2005 #6
    Isn't it possible to take a course over again? That would be ideal, because then if you didn't do well, you could just retake it, and you would ace it because you would already be familiar with the material.
  8. Aug 31, 2005 #7


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    Drop the course. The transcript wont even say anything and if it does, the people won't care. They know courses have to be dropped once in a while for various reasons. Sometimes work hours get in the way, sometimes majors change or requirements are changed, you get into a class you don't need or arent suppose to have, etc. Universities dont care, they know everyone has to drop classes here and there for various reasons and anyone who looks down on it while reviewing applications shouldn't be reviewing them in the first place.

    Hell I just dropped a class because 1) It was useless to my major according to one of my professors and 2) it was a 5th class in my MW's and i was absolutely exausted
  9. Aug 31, 2005 #8
    Retaking a course when you could get a B seems like a waste of time to me.

  10. Sep 1, 2005 #9


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    What a question! I have a been a prof for over 30 years and do not know the answer. Why?? Because I am not used to this goofy "A or nothing" mentality that students have today.

    For years students only withdrew who were getting F's and thus a W always meant "F" to anyone seeing it. When I heard you had a 4.0 I rethought it realizing an F was less likely, but frankly a W looks lots worse than a B.

    I.e. what if they do not realize you are strange enough to be afraid of a B? Theyll think it was much worse. This is like those idiots in communications oversight who bleep out every word they are afraid of. Then the viewers all strain their imaginations to think of the most obscene word that it could possibly have been.

    However you are in special situation

    The points I see are:

    1) you are not kidding anyone but yourself when you get a W. It means you did not get the A, whether you lkeave a record of that fact or not.

    2) On the other hand you are ridiculously overloaded, with wayyy too many hard courses. Hardly anyone could ace that many math courses (i realize this will motivate a few posters to claim they have done it). Hence you really should drop one of them.

    And almost for the reasons you gave. I.e. the B does not matter, but you need to know this stuff, and you are right, you could ace the course given enough time, and that would be a good thing, since the better you know topology and calculus the better for you.

    And after you ace it, the W will mean exactly what it should: you were overloaded and could not do justice to 5 courses.

    Who advised you to take 5 math courses? That person was out of their mind.

    My advice: next time take some music courses or art, or history, or literature. Someday you may want to decorate your home, or relax, or entertain a significant other, or chat with someone who thinks math is for adding up a checkbook.

    I myself had a 1.2 GPA my first 2 years of college, and that is not a typo. I wasa devastated at the time, but I have less problem with it now. The only use I have for that transcript is to encourage students who are not getting all A's, or worse usually, by showing it to them.

    Taking lots of easy courses is a mistake, one should instead take a few hard courses, unless the easy courses are ones you love. The former is like my behavior as a boy scout, when I was trying to fill up my merit badge sash. I even got some easy badges more than once, hoping no one would notice if they were far apart on my sash.

    My personal record experience for withdrawal craziness was a young woman who withdrew from my honors calc class with a 93 (A-) on the first test, perhaps the highest score in the class. Her exact words: "I don't like the direction this is going".
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2005
  11. Sep 1, 2005 #10
    You should have punched her in the jaw and exclaimed "you are a prophet!"

    Seriously. Since when is a B a bad grade? I HATE all these freakin' overachievers. And it's not like it even MEANS anything.

    I was talking to my advisor once. Him and his friend who also teaches at the school agreed that they would take a B-student to be an engineer over an A student. Why? Because the A student tries to figure out what everybody wants him to do and then does it to please them. The B student isn't afraid of doing something wrong, so he'll try new things.

    It's really silly that you will drop a class over something like that.

    However, if you are taking 5 classes, then your advisor is telling you to drop one so you can actually sleep and eat, instead of doing math all day long. I doubt her motivation for telling you to drop it is the B.

  12. Sep 1, 2005 #11
    I'm with the "what the hell is it with the grades?" group.

    If you just get good enough grades to get into grad school no one will care what your undergrad grades were. If you do a good master's and have good enough grades to get into a ph.d. programme no one cares about your grades in grad school. Loosen up a bit.
  13. Sep 1, 2005 #12
    Thanks for the all replies.

    Poop-Loops - You only get one shot at things in life most of the time. People who do really well usually work really hard. You can't hate someone for working hard and you can't hate someone for doing poorly, it's their choice. Thomas Edison puts it best when he says "Genius is 99 percent perspiration and 1 percent inspiration."

    mathwonk - Yea I will drop one before the withdrawal date most likely. I'm gonna wait it out and see. I still several weeks luckily. I also agree it is too much for one semester. Next semester I will only take 4 because the courses will be alot harder. I know what you mean about taking other non-math classes. I've taken several different courses from biology to art and I found it to be a good experience. Also good point about the W, if I do withdraw and then retake it the W will mean exactly what it is supposed to. And nobody advised me to take 5 math courses. I asked you about it a few months ago, I think I was only planning to take 4 then, and you told me 2 real math courses is enough for most people and I agree. I can also relate to the 1.2 GPA, I never finished highschool. I remember one year I got straight F's in high school.

    inha - What kind of grades are necessary to get into a phd program where they pay for all tuition and living expenses? I know what they pay and it is very little but that is fine.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2005
  14. Sep 1, 2005 #13
    Butting in here, your gpa isn't the key indicator to grad schools. It's more about research experience, letters of recommendation, grades, GRE scores, divine intervention, etc.

    At my school if you dropped a course because you were getting a B in it and you broadcasted it to other students you would get slapped (and I have seen this happen before). Although five math courses is a lot, unless there's a prospect of not doing hot in them (ie C or below) I'd almost say suck it up and tough it out for the semester and learn from the experience.

    I remember the worst semester of my college experience so far was when I took 19 hours (standard recommended hours are about 15), commuted about an hour and a half both ways, was president of a student org that met at 7 PM twice a week, worked a job on the weekends. I had two math classes, three physics classes, and a Russian course, and the only way I managed to keep a 3.5 in the math/physics sections was sacrificing the Russian course to the Gods of Grading. I strongly recommend never doing that, but I got through it and it got me really far ahead in the curriculum so that I could start taking graduate courses early.
  15. Sep 1, 2005 #14
    I can hate you for whatever I want. But that's besides the point.

    The people I'm talking about are the perfectionists who NEED TO get an A. 90% of the time these people are totally CLUELESS about what they are doing, too. I haven't seen much of this in college yet, but it was rampant in high school. Probably the reason I haven't seen it in college is because hard work* alone can only get you so far. You actually need to KNOW what you're doing. As apposed to high school, where you get graded based on your effort.

    * I don't mean hard work as in studying or whatever. That's the only way you can actually learn something. I mean pseudo-hard work. The superficial kind. Colorful posters with flashy images, where everything is neat and organized, but no substance to it.


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