Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

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Helio
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Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby Helio » Tue Apr 08, 2008 6:28 pm

Hi,

So here is the problem... I am currently cruising with a overall GPA of 3.75 and physics course GPA of 3.85, but i am currently taking these classes

1. General Relativity - Special Topics course first time offered outside of a grad class. We are using Hartle's book
2. EM II
3. QM I
4. Lab II

Now EM II and Lab II should have been taken a year from now, but I want the knowledge for the PGRE.

The problem is Lab II. My professor is, to put it extremely mildly, stuck-up. He rants about my report, which are supposed to be publication style papers, like I am a complete idiot. The whole concept for the publication style is stupid as we get monday to friday to write it and do not the option of a review, with a now added no tolerance grammar rule, i.e. 1 mistake = automatic F.

Granted, my english is not the best, because i am international and my high school english teachers varied their requirements like no other (i get a C on year and a A- the next), with the added spice of a complicated writing style. I get comments like "this is worst paragraph in scientific writing i have ever read, it says nothing." He expects us to know things that are not taught in any class. We get pre-lab questions, but we never know if what we did was right or not and only get them back sometimes, so just busy work. I get to hear comments from my friends in class that were doing the experiment after us that "the other people gave bullshit answers." I am right now getting a C+ to B- in the class, but i only know half my grades, since he does not tell us the grades for the presentation.

I talked to other people in the class that have read my papers and they are like: "I do not know what is his problem, i understand it" "the english was fine" "i am going to use your paper instead of the other" (even though the other got a higher grade). There is a weird system as to how he gives out grades, were his grades seem extremely arbitrary to say the least and more based on the english style then anything else.

I am at the point of sheer frustration because I am getting A to A- in the other 3 classes with no big problems (except EM II where the prof doesn't understand that the midterm should be easier then the homework, i.e low curve) and had an A in LAB I (different prof). I am really contemplating withdrawing from the class and saying *** it and taking it when it does not really matter anymore. What is worse a C+ or a W on my transcript at this point?

Thanks in advance.

Cheers,

Helio

admissionprof
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby admissionprof » Tue Apr 08, 2008 6:37 pm

Helio wrote:Hi,


I am at the point of sheer frustration because I am getting A to A- in the other 3 classes with no big problems (except EM II where the prof doesn't understand that the midterm should be easier then the homework, i.e low curve) and had an A in LAB I (different prof). I am really contemplating withdrawing from the class and saying *** it and taking it when it does not really matter anymore. What is worse a C+ or a W on my transcript at this point


No question--a W is better. C+ grades really stand out on a transcript. A single W in a lab class won't really attract notice--people withdraw from classes all the time. If the course has a different instructor next year, then you should retake it. I wouldn't even both trying to explain it in your SOP--it won't be that big a deal.

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Helio
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby Helio » Tue Apr 08, 2008 6:44 pm

Catch he is the only one that teaches it.. sry forgot that to mention... pretty small department only 5 true experimentalists

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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby admissionprof » Tue Apr 08, 2008 6:46 pm

Helio wrote:Catch he is the only one that teaches it.. sry forgot that to mention... pretty small department only 5 true experimentalists


If it isn't required for the major, then you won't need to take it again. If it is required, then withdrawing will just piss him off, and it'll hurt next semester. Of course, if you take it in the spring of your senior year, who cares about a C+ ?

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Helio
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby Helio » Tue Apr 08, 2008 6:51 pm

It is required and that is what i figured. but he does not seem like the kind of guy that will take it lightly. I was hoping up till now that the A in Lab I would raise an eye brow or two when it comes comparing the two semester. I talked to my advisor and he said i should stick with it. he also said that i would not get a grade in the C range. the whole deal of presentation grades not being available really throws me off.

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grae313
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby grae313 » Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:02 pm

For me it depends on whether your advisor is right or not. If you will get at least a B, I would stick with it, but otherwise I would withdraw and take it the last semester of your senior year when all you have to do is pass it. Maybe talk to the professor, tell him what is going on and ask him for an estimate of your current grade in the class. Explain the difficulties you are having, tell him you want to work hard to improve and ask him what you can do. Professors love to hear this, and he might even tell you something useful. At the least, when he grades your papers he will know that you are trying and really want to do well, and that could really make a difference.

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Helio
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby Helio » Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:11 pm

I have already told him that i want to work that i try to get other people to proofread it for me and that my "lab partners" have utterly failed to the most extend. 6 Emails and 3 calls later i still got no response, but the only cared after the 3rd time i told him. when i said that i had midterms surrounding the date, he said "tough luck." i mean it has gotten to the point where i do not want talk to him anymore. it is frustrating cause he obviously does not care that is putting a nuke on my transcript nor that i might be disabled because of my english skills (and additional disabilities that i do not want to disclose to everyone, and university disability services does not help either). it is always the same response.... "talk to your partner." this does not help me much when my partners are either busy themselves (4 midterms plus lab report in a week) for one, complete lack of cooperation of the other and complete lack of motivation in the third case.

on other instances he questions my description of liquid boiling off due to heat. he asks what do you mean by boiling off. then during one presentation he grilled me on a topic and then apologized during the review that he never told us about it. similarly, he marks things in the paper that he found out after we submitted them. i mean sry i do not have a crystal ball. moreover, equipment questions that are answered by him are then questioned when the paper is marked, which just makes me want to go berserk on him.

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grae313
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby grae313 » Tue Apr 08, 2008 8:31 pm

what an ass. That really sucks

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Helio
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby Helio » Tue Apr 08, 2008 8:42 pm

I just email him about the presentation grades and whether i can still get a B. We will see what happens tomorrow.

Just got email back... I have a B-.... Now i get to flip a coin... anybody want to join me?

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twistor
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby twistor » Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:16 pm

I have several W's on my transcript and it did not hurt my application at all. Preserve your GPA.

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Helio
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby Helio » Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:57 pm

This goes out to admissionsprof. Thanks you very much for your help already. My advisor says that one "odd" grade is okay with an admissions committee, however, I got a B+ in CALC II and DIFF EQ, but an A- in Probability theory and PDE math classes. would the B therefore negatively effect me?

EDIT... Since I just talked to my research advisor... he keeps the oddest hours. Can i take the research for credit class as a substitute when I explain everything in my SOP?

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quizivex
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby quizivex » Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:38 am

Helio,

I agree with the consensus that a withdraw probably won't hurt you much and may be the best choice (unless you'll still have to take the class again with the same prof before your last semester, or some other strange circumstance).

There are some reasonable excuses for a withdraw. Every school has some deranged profs who teach that class from hell that nobody should have to tolerate. Also, espeically in phyiscs/math, from improper advising or course scheduling, a student may enter a class that he does'nt have the background to handle. Withdrawing in those cases is legit. So my two cents is that one withdraw is fine... just try by all means not to do it again, since otherwise it'll look like it's you...

I withdrew from an art class junior year. Part of it was because the prof was teaching utter nonsensical art and giving poor subjective grades to all the students (I did like his personality nonetheless), and part of it was that I found after I enrolled that the class would not satisfy the core requirement I expected it to. So I saved myself a lot of BS work, a lot of frustration, a few hundreths of my GPA, and about 5 hours of class time per week for a class that wouldn't count for credit at the expense of a W. I still did well in the admission process.

Think it through and good luck!!!

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fermiboy
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby fermiboy » Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:47 am

Haha quiz I also took a W in an art class, my freshman year. It was so boring I wanted to kill myself. Then I took the course again on the internet and did it all in one weekend. Much better. I don't think the odd W here or there matters.

To the OP, if the course is required then you should just take the C+. Why take the course twice? You've already come this far, one C+ won't kill you. If it wasn't required I would say take the W, especially if staying in the course will take time away and hurt your performance in other courses.

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Helio
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby Helio » Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:14 am

So i have a B- according to my prof, which I do not know if it takes the presentation grade into consideration because the lab report average out to a C+/B-. Now I have been talking to my advisor and my research advisor and these options have crystallized:

1. Continue course and take the hit
2. Take W and do it again in a year, so no harm for grad school apps
3. Take W and take research class over the summer/fall/spring with my research advisor. My research advisor loves me because i stuck with him after the grad student bailed out after 2 years, so there will be nothing less then an A there.

Option 1. hurts my Physics GPA a lot, i recalculated it and comes out to a 3.9 at the moment, and the drop would be at least .18 with a B-
Option 2. he will hate me more then he does now, so i will walk over plasma rather then hot coals my final semester
Option 3. Stabilize the GPA and got to write a nice paragraph in the SOP about it

I am really leaning towards 3. As long as I do not screw up the explanation, it should be fine that way.


Thanks very much guys for the input

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jdhooghe
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby jdhooghe » Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:26 am

Definately 3. It's one thing to expect excellence but to give an F for a small error...Anywho, good luck

admissionprof
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby admissionprof » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:08 am

Helio wrote:So i have a B- according to my prof, which I do not know if it takes the presentation grade into consideration because the lab report average out to a C+/B-. Now I have been talking to my advisor and my research advisor and these options have crystallized:

1. Continue course and take the hit
2. Take W and do it again in a year, so no harm for grad school apps
3. Take W and take research class over the summer/fall/spring with my research advisor. My research advisor loves me because i stuck with him after the grad student bailed out after 2 years, so there will be nothing less then an A there.

Option 1. hurts my Physics GPA a lot, i recalculated it and comes out to a 3.9 at the moment, and the drop would be at least .18 with a B-
Option 2. he will hate me more then he does now, so i will walk over plasma rather then hot coals my final semester
Option 3. Stabilize the GPA and got to write a nice paragraph in the SOP about it

I am really leaning towards 3. As long as I do not screw up the explanation, it should be fine that way.


Thanks very much guys for the input


I would also take #3. But then do you really need to explain anything in your SOP? You have one W on your transcript. Big deal. Mentioning it sounds like the med school applicant who got all A's except for one A-, and then spent a whole paragraph in the personal statement explaining the A-. The med schools didn't want him, because fussing about that seemed so anal-retentive. I wouldn't mention it at all in the SOP. You might ask your best letter-writer to add a sentence about it, saying that it wasn't your fault---then it doesn't sound like you're whining.

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Helio
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby Helio » Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:24 am

admissionprof wrote:
Helio wrote:So i have a B- according to my prof, which I do not know if it takes the presentation grade into consideration because the lab report average out to a C+/B-. Now I have been talking to my advisor and my research advisor and these options have crystallized:

1. Continue course and take the hit
2. Take W and do it again in a year, so no harm for grad school apps
3. Take W and take research class over the summer/fall/spring with my research advisor. My research advisor loves me because i stuck with him after the grad student bailed out after 2 years, so there will be nothing less then an A there.

Option 1. hurts my Physics GPA a lot, i recalculated it and comes out to a 3.9 at the moment, and the drop would be at least .18 with a B-
Option 2. he will hate me more then he does now, so i will walk over plasma rather then hot coals my final semester
Option 3. Stabilize the GPA and got to write a nice paragraph in the SOP about it

I am really leaning towards 3. As long as I do not screw up the explanation, it should be fine that way.


Thanks very much guys for the input


I would also take #3. But then do you really need to explain anything in your SOP? You have one W on your transcript. Big deal. Mentioning it sounds like the med school applicant who got all A's except for one A-, and then spent a whole paragraph in the personal statement explaining the A-. The med schools didn't want him, because fussing about that seemed so anal-retentive. I wouldn't mention it at all in the SOP. You might ask your best letter-writer to add a sentence about it, saying that it wasn't your fault---then it doesn't sound like you're whining.


okay, i am just wondering cause it will not say "lab" on transcript but something like "research." i mean there was a whole slew of problems last summer when I was supposed to take this research class as a general class and be able to substitute it for one the lab classes, but it got cancelled cause they realized it was too few people (read: the dean had a dream and it burst like a bubble). It will be mentioned by my research advisor that i know just have to keep him on the less then 1 paragraph route.... my last letter of rec was i think 3 pages in Latex from him

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twistor
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby twistor » Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:27 am

You should get sealed letters of recommendation and waive your access to them if your writers submit online.

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Helio
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby Helio » Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:30 am

He told me how long it was. and i asked other people about it. they will all be sealed or submitted online.. no questions asked there. if i get an unsealed envelope, i will personally tape it shut and make him/her sign it

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Helio
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby Helio » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:48 pm

sry for the double post and to bring this up again... So i have talked to professors and they all switched to saying I should keep the class after they talked to the prof. One said that if i do my "best" on the next two assignments I will get a B. I do not trust these statements because grade-wise the ones i have to get have only been given out once and that instance it was with his favorite student. I am *** confused. The department won't talk to me about approving the research class and the drop day is tomorrow. the chair is out of town. this is all so *** up

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butsurigakusha
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby butsurigakusha » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:56 pm

I wouldn't get too stressed over this. I really don't think that one course is going to affect your chances at grad school noticeably. There are so many other things that could potentially disqualify you, this one grade is hardly worth your attention.

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Helio
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby Helio » Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:12 pm

i know that two of recs will be nothing less then outstanding (if they even attempt to finish one of them... 4+ pages in LaTeX). i know i will get something around A to A- in my GR and QM class and EM is up in the air at the moment cause so many people dropped the class (we are down to 10 from 12 and have three people that are ready to drop) and i got one midterm on average and the other above average (i got the third highest in the class), while i have lost 2 points on the homework so far that is 44% of the grade

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quizivex
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby quizivex » Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:30 pm

helio wrote:i know that two of recs will be nothing less then outstanding (if they even attempt to finish one of them... 4+ pages in LaTeX).


That's nice, but all three need to be outstanding to get any serious consideration.

helio wrote:i know i will get something around A to A- in my GR and QM class


This will only help you if your instructor has a rating on ratemyprofessors.com and is known for being extremely difficult, otherwise the admission committee won't be impressed.

helio wrote:so many people dropped the class (we are down to 10 from 12 and have three people that are ready to drop)


If you can urge the rest to drop too and your recommendations boast how you were the only survivor and still pulled off a B, then that will help.

helio wrote:and i got one midterm on average and the other above average (i got the third highest in the class),


Please explain in as much detail as you can the grade distribution of the class so we can better evaluate this situation.

helio wrote:while i have lost 2 points on the homework so far that is 44% of the grade


How many points was the homework out of?
Less than 10: You're screwed
11-20: It won't help or hurt your case
21+: Get your instructor to write you a letter describing your homework and that'll be your third outstanding recommendation and you'll be set.


Just kidding, nevermind all that. My point is that I think your original question about withdraws has been resolved with the best advice we could come up with from what we know about your situation. We can't help you much more even if we know all of your homework grades and the profiles of all your competing classmates. We wish you the best of luck!

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twistor
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby twistor » Fri Apr 11, 2008 12:36 pm

This will only help you if your instructor has a rating on ratemyprofessors.com and is known for being extremely difficult, otherwise the admission committee won't be impressed.


I doubt that admissions committees put any credence in ratemyprofessors, although I've personally found it useful on numerous occasions.

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grae313
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby grae313 » Fri Apr 11, 2008 1:57 pm

quizivex wrote:Just kidding, nevermind all that. My point is that I think your original question about withdraws has been resolved with the best advice we could come up with from what we know about your situation. We can't help you much more even if we know all of your homework grades and the profiles of all your competing classmates. We wish you the best of luck!


:wink:

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Helio
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Re: Withdraw or not to withdraw that is the question

Postby Helio » Fri Apr 11, 2008 6:46 pm

so i haven't dropped the class.... i was told by the department chair that i would get a B. i can live with that... sort of




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