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Here's a doozy for me and my life, just looking to vent at this point. I'm a phd student in my second year of coursework. Due to some crazy life circumstance (including losing my hard drive in the last week of this past spring semester), I had an extension given on a class. Long story short, I didn't finish re-writing my paper by the deadline and asked for a second extension (which is allowed), instead of taking the options of letting me have an extension or just having the grade slide into a "permanent incomplete" which would just leave me with no credit for the course, the professor decided to give me an F. I'm a bit miffed. This is obviously at least half my fault, but seriously, an F after I did all this work (and a ton of extra work for a book project sorta tied with the class)? Where my anger burns the most is that I think he gave me an F, not because of my academics, but because I refused to work on his book project that he wanted me to contribute to. Well, depending on what happens from here, I might be finding a new career... until then, I'm a bit angsty.
So I'm a first year grad student and I'm in a pretty bad situation right now. I'm trying to figure out the best way to proceed and thought this might be a good place to get some advice. (I tried to make it short! but it still ended up a bit long. Sorry! The TL;DR is that I was really unhappy with everything last semester (department, advisor, research, classes), failed a class, got put on probation, switched to a new advisor in a new department, failed a midterm, panicking!) Here are the main points - Got into grad school in geophysics - Realized I hated my department, my advisor, my research and my classes - Sat in on a planetary class in the astronomy department throughout that semester, remembered how much I loved planets - Found a new advisor in the astronomy department--so my office and classes are all in the astro department but /technically/ I'm still in the earth sciences dept. - Ended up failing one of my geophysics classes (mostly because of motivation and depression issues I think) - DGS of earth sciences (also my previous advisor) put me on probation and said that I had to get a B or better in two "real" (non-seminar) courses this semester that are directly related to my research in order to continue receiving funding. - From the start of the semester, I was all pumped, really wanted to do amazingly in my classes so that I could prove to the DGS and my advisor that I deserve to be here. - In terms of department, advisor and classes (for the most part), I'm 100000000x happier than last semester!! This is EXACTLY where I want to be and what I want to be doing and who I want to be working with. Everything was going great!!! For a while... - One of said classes is an undergrad senior level physics class that I'm taking in the physics and engineering department. This class ended up being a /lot/ harder than I anticipated. - I went to a small state school for undergrad, I was top of my class, got all As, etc etc., same story as a lot of people here, and I was treating this class the same way I had treated all of my previous physics classes. But this isn't a small state school and I've come to realize that a lot more is required of students here. - Went to professor once before the midterm for homework help and to express concerns regarding the midterm--she had decided to make the midterm worth what the final was originally going to be worth for reasons I can elaborate on if anyone is curious. - Ended up completely failing the midterm (37.5%) - Took a day to carefully go over each question to try to figure out what happened. I realized that I really just didn't know how to study for it and focused on the wrong things. I also realized that I should have been attending the professor's office hours throughout the entire semester, as soon as I realized I was struggling. - Went to see professor the next day. I told her where I thought I went wrong (everything I said just above) and then I explained my situation to her (about the probation) and basically broke down crying in her office :-/. She definitely seemed sympathetic and told me that she wished she would have known earlier. She said that normally what she'd do is wait to see how the student does on the final and then adjust the weighting. But when I told her I needed a B, she seemed to think that would be enough. She told me she would have to think about it. (I did calculate out my grade, and as of now, I would need around a 140% on the final to get that B :-/) - That was yesterday. Since then, of course I thought of a thousand other things I wished I would have said to her, things that I thought would maybe help my case. - But most significantly, I think I really identified where I went wrong. In retrospect, I think I had been focusing too much on just getting the work done (of which there was a LOT) instead of focusing on making sure I understood the concepts on that deep fundamental level that grad students are expected to achieve. Soooooo here are the two things I'm debating. 1. Should I email the professor about my realization? So that she's convinced that I've identified where I messed up and that I know what corrections to make from here? I just don't want to be too pushy... 2. I was debating telling my advisor about what's going on. I know people always say that your advisor and your department want you to succeed but I'm just having a hard time fully believing that. My advisor is a very hands-off advisor (which I generally like) but that means he's on trips a lot and doesn't always have time to meet with his advisees. I'm fine with this so far as research goes. I like the freedom and I'm fine with just dropping him an email when he's unable to meet with us in person. But it's not ideal for building any kind of relationship with him. He never asks me how my classes are going. Or really anything at all. I generally initiate all of our communication. He's a very busy guy. So. I don't know. If this all goes south, it probably would be good if I talked to him now. Instead of at the end of the semester... But I guess I still feel like I have to prove myself to him since I didn't enter in through his department. I think my primary fear is that he regrets taking me on. Especially since I haven't been able to make a ton of progress with research this semester since I've been so overburdened by this physics class. And if he knows that I'm struggling.... you guys can fill in that blank... So anyways... Any thoughts? Suggestions? Questions?