Academics Question

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dc1
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Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2009 1:48 pm

Academics Question

Postby dc1 » Sat Mar 14, 2009 5:03 pm

Hi everyone:

I'm currently a triple major in physics, comp sci, and math. I have A's in all my courses taken so far. However, I'm having a ton of difficulty with my abstract math courses (algebra and analysis.) I can do the work, but in order to get an A in these courses, it's clear I'm going to have to spend 15-20 hours a week on them, which I just can't do for my sanity and I'm also doing research and taking a number of physics courses this semester.

My concern is how graduate schools would see a couple of high C's and/or low B's in these two courses -- that's the grades I'm looking at if I stay in them. Unfortunately I can't put them off until next year, so if I want to take them it has to be now. Or I could drop the math major, and there would be no record that I was ever in these courses. I'm hoping to go to grad school for experimental AMO physics.

Any feedback?

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Kaiser_Sose
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Re: Academics Question

Postby Kaiser_Sose » Sat Mar 14, 2009 5:20 pm

It's my understanding that those classes become fairly valuable in grad school, though being an undergrad I have yet to see it happen.

Honestly if you were a double major in CS and Physics, I'd say your sanity was already in question. So if its all or nothing I would say drop it unless you think you can pull B's in them.

My experience has been that if you try to tackle that one other tough course, it hurts your grades in your other classes too. Not to mention your health. I had the worst semester of my life last fall. I got the flu hardcore and put on about 12 pounds because of lack of sleep and poor diet.

So I guess my final advice is to air on the side of caution.

KS

cato88
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Re: Academics Question

Postby cato88 » Sat Mar 14, 2009 6:28 pm

Kaiser_Sose wrote:Honestly if you were a double major in CS and Physics, I'd say your sanity was already in question. So if its all or nothing I would say drop it unless you think you can pull B's in them.


I would say even if he could pull B's in these courses he should still drop them because
a) relative to grad school applicants he is pulling his GPA down and being less competitive despite
the possibility of the courses being useful for graduate school. Take them spring senior year if you feel
they are that important for graduate school or better yet take them summer before graduate
school Im curious if anyone thinks they are that important
b) There is no telling what effect the extra time commitment is having on his research and other courses.

shouravv
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Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 1:20 pm

Re: Academics Question

Postby shouravv » Sat Mar 14, 2009 6:49 pm

dc1 wrote:I'm currently a triple major in physics, comp sci, and math. ... Any feedback?
As for those courses, check if you can take them as P/F and still make them count towards your majors. Otherwise, I'd err on the side of lesser courses than lower grades.

Now about the majors. Although this is dependent on individual choice, and will ultimately become a function of what you want to do in the future, you probably would be better off cutting your number of majors at least by one.

First, it is better to have lots of good grades and one major, rather than damping your GPA and getting lots of majors. GPA ultimately becomes a function of your undergrad school's reputation as well, which is to say that (generic examples) 3.5 at UPenn may carry more weight than 3.9 at Penn State.

Second, many, if not most or all, top grad schools prefer their students to come in with strong research background. I can't fathom how you'd find any time, lets forget enough time, to do research while doing a triple major.

Third, will you actually be really good in any of those 3 unless you can dig deep enough? I mean, yeah, it'd help you in Computational Physics or Astrophysics or Cosmological simulations if you have Math and CS expertise, but you don't really need to be a specialist. You'll be a better CS grad student (or IT guy in the industry) if you have additional Math background, but may be you can pick that up on the go. (And so on ...)

Of course, if you think that you have stomach for the triple major workload and non-superb grades will fit what you want to do in life, go for it by all means. But first, give it a good thought in terms of how it will serve you in the future.

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grae313
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Re: Academics Question

Postby grae313 » Sat Mar 14, 2009 8:12 pm

Kaiser_Sose wrote:It's my understanding that those classes become fairly valuable in grad school, though being an undergrad I have yet to see it happen.

Honestly if you were a double major in CS and Physics, I'd say your sanity was already in question. So if its all or nothing I would say drop it unless you think you can pull B's in them.

My experience has been that if you try to tackle that one other tough course, it hurts your grades in your other classes too. Not to mention your health. I had the worst semester of my life last fall. I got the flu hardcore and put on about 12 pounds because of lack of sleep and poor diet.

So I guess my final advice is to air on the side of caution.

KS


I absolutely agree with this. Even if you could pull B's, this sort of thing drags you down everywhere and exhausts you. I like the suggestion of seeing if you can take them pass/fail credit/no credit, otherwise I'd drop.

mhazelm
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Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 3:33 pm

Re: Academics Question

Postby mhazelm » Sat Mar 14, 2009 8:18 pm

Abstract algebra and analysis are good classes, but I'm not sure how helpful they'll be in experimental physics. I'd say they're more important for those who want to be theorists. I'd probably drop them. Especially if it's causing huge stress, because you can't afford to get burned out at this stage of the game. Just my 2 cents.

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grae313
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Re: Academics Question

Postby grae313 » Sat Mar 14, 2009 8:21 pm

mhazelm wrote:Abstract algebra and analysis are good classes, but I'm not sure how helpful they'll be in experimental physics. I'd say they're more important for those who want to be theorists. I'd probably drop them. Especially if it's causing huge stress, because you can't afford to get burned out at this stage of the game. Just my 2 cents.


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nathan12343
Posts: 249
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 9:34 am

Re: Academics Question

Postby nathan12343 » Sat Mar 14, 2009 9:50 pm

dc1 wrote:Hi everyone:

I'm currently a triple major in physics, comp sci, and math. I have A's in all my courses taken so far. However, I'm having a ton of difficulty with my abstract math courses (algebra and analysis.) I can do the work, but in order to get an A in these courses, it's clear I'm going to have to spend 15-20 hours a week on them, which I just can't do for my sanity and I'm also doing research and taking a number of physics courses this semester.

My concern is how graduate schools would see a couple of high C's and/or low B's in these two courses -- that's the grades I'm looking at if I stay in them. Unfortunately I can't put them off until next year, so if I want to take them it has to be now. Or I could drop the math major, and there would be no record that I was ever in these courses. I'm hoping to go to grad school for experimental AMO physics.

Any feedback?


Does your department have 'applied' math classes or is there a seperate applied math department? It's my experience that applied math is generally more relevant to physics and CS problems than upper level pure math classes. Unless of course you want to go into, say, high energy theory, then by all means focus on those abstract math classes.

dc1
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Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2009 1:48 pm

Re: Academics Question

Postby dc1 » Sun Mar 15, 2009 12:42 am

Thanks for the replies, everyone.

I'm not allowed to take the course as pass/fail since it would be fulfilling requirements for a major, and I can't get out of it as they are required courses for the major. I'd love to take numerical methods and statistics courses to replace them, as I feel those would be more useful.

Also, my school doesn't have an applied math department. (I go to a smallish liberal arts school.) I wish they did, otherwise I'd seriously look into that as that's more applicable as I want to go into experiment, not theory. I've already explored the option of substituting these courses -- unfortunately, I can't. I've already taken the full applied math sequence which fills some of my upper level math requirements and is required of physics majors anyway.

I'm leaning towards dropping them as well. It hurts though, as those are the only two math courses I'd need to be a math major, but in the end it's the physics (and my quality of life!) that matter more than that.

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WontonBurritoMeals
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Re: Academics Question

Postby WontonBurritoMeals » Sun Mar 15, 2009 3:16 pm

Places don't don't really care what your college's arbitrary major requirements are. They look at your transcript as a whole.

If you're two courses away from a math major, big whoop.

May the wind be always at your back,
-WontonBurritoMeals€




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