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Didn't do so hot this past semester


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Hello,

A newly-baked grad student here. I previously blogged about my experience as a new grad student: My first semester had been rough because I was overloaded with courses (I signed up for 3 major science courses following the advice of my program director; it turned out that I had no idea how much work a grad course is compared to undergrad's), also having hard times with my rotation. I knew that my grades on majority of the exams/assignment in all of my classes came in right on class average, and this had been causing a lot of stress as the perfectionist in me blaming myself for not performing the best I could.... I feel terrible and dejected sad.gif.

It feels like christmas in the air, and I shouldn't let this bog me down... I don't know, are grades very important in grad school? It seems to me I've done everything wrong, grad school isn't just studying studying and studying all day long...

Edited by Tall Chai Latte
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Hello,

A newly-baked grad student here. I previously blogged about my experience as a new grad student: My first semester had been rough because I was overloaded with courses (I signed up for 3 major science courses following the advice of my program director; it turned out that I had no idea how much work a grad course is compared to undergrad's), also having hard times with my rotation. I knew that my grades on majority of the exams/assignment in all of my classes came in right on class average, and this had been causing a lot of stress as the perfectionist in me blaming myself for not performing the best I could.... I feel terrible and dejected sad.gif.

It feels like christmas in the air, and I shouldn't let this bog me down... I don't know, are grades very important in grad school? It seems to met I've done everything wrong, grad school isn't just studying studying and studying all day long...

I'm not a grad student (yet, hopefully) but from what I've read, your research is much more important than your grades. You'll need to keep up your grades for funding or an assistantship, but I don't think that anyone (at least not in academia, maybe in industry) is going to care if your GPA was 3.3 or 3.9 if you produce great publications from your research.

Edited by newms
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Provided that you meet the minimum grade requirements for your program (provided those exist), grades don't matter(!). It's research that will make the difference success and failure in graduate school.

Don't worry about not hitting the ground running. Grad school is can be a big adjustment. In fact, it sounds to me like you are really doing quite well. What you may need to accept is that you CAN"T do everything perfectly all of the time, and that you really SHOULDN"T be doing so anyway, for sanity's sake. I think it's very important to learn to prioritize, and specifically to learn that it is OK to do no more than mediocre work part of the time, particularly on class projects. Your time and energy should be devoted to getting your own work off the ground, not to solving problem sets perfectly or to having nicely formatted graphs/figures/whatnot.

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Yep, I agree with the other posters. As long as you're above the minimum required (3.0 or 3.25 seem to be the common ones) it doesn't matter what you get. The academic dean at my school said that herself during our orientation.

I also got overwhelmed this semester. I had 4 science/math courses after being out of school for over 10 years. Let's hope we all did well enough!

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You're upset because your grades were average?

Keep in mind that "average" here is the average of the people who were admitted to graduate school. Remember all the worrying and crying we did last year over how everyone else who is applying knows more and is smarter and has better experience than us? Yeah. THOSE are the people among whom you are "only" average. That's a waaaaay different average than the general population, or even general undergraduate population.

Furthermore: you may very well have done your best. "Best" does not mean getting 100% every time. Best means putting in as much effort as you can while still surviving.

But hey ~ you could be me. I had a prof tell me I am the most incompetent student he has ever had. Ever. At that point, average starts to look pretty damn perfect.

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But hey ~ you could be me. I had a prof tell me I am the most incompetent student he has ever had. Ever. At that point, average starts to look pretty damn perfect.

Wow. It sounds like your experience is worse than mine. My rotation PI doesn't care a whole lot about me (since he wants me to work on christmas day, doesn't care if christmas is coming or not etc), at least he didn't call me incompetent...

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Guys, thanks for all the encouragement!

Things could be worse, coming to terms with the reality is important in keeping sanity intact.

yeah, at least you are not me. I almost failed out my first semester because I was late turning in a final and the prof (not in my exact discipline) was upset. My advisor intervened and I did pretty well on the final so I ended up with a B ( one C gets you kicked out here). I had also done poorly on a paper for this class. My advisor is disappointed in me. At least I did well in my other classes.

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As others mentioned, if you're going after PhD, there is the bare minimum you need to fulfill not to flunk out and beyond that it's really only important for scholarships. Another thing to consider is your advisor's expectations. If you're expected to be a star in every class, that may be a problem. If, however, you're expected to meet the bare minimal requirement in classes outside your core area and ace the ones that are in it (hopefully, that won't be that hard). In my experience, the latter is the more common requirement and the students are expected to spend more time on research and not getting all As is ok.

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I understand how you feel. I didn't do well this semester (my first semester in my phd program). It's really getting me down especially since I went to this school for undergrad and somehow I feel like I am letting everyone down. I am trying to be optimistic about next semester's endeavors though.

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I understand how you feel. I didn't do well this semester (my first semester in my phd program). It's really getting me down especially since I went to this school for undergrad and somehow I feel like I am letting everyone down. I am trying to be optimistic about next semester's endeavors though.

You are not alone in feeling down. Even though you stayed at your undergrad for grad school, people will understand that you are going through a transition. Grad school is a big adjustment! When we are optimistic things will hopefully start working out. We'll do great next semester!

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But hey ~ you could be me. I had a prof tell me I am the most incompetent student he has ever had. Ever. At that point, average starts to look pretty damn perfect.

Damn, I thought my professor (who was also my internship mentor and wrote recommendations for me) constantly telling me I'm still an undergrad was rough. I know it's him trying to push me to the next level, but it still stings :/

I know how you feel. I failed my first test in both of my classes and called my mom in tears ready to leave. I basically had crying fits all through this past semester thinking I wasn't doing well enough, but I finished with a 3.1, good enough to keep my abatement and TAship (woot!). I've basically gotten over the "Get the highest GPA1" mindset - now it's "Keep your money so you can start focusing on finding/starting a thesis project." Now I get a semi-break with an easier semester before my oral o_0

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I may be days late to this party but honestly in the biomedical science field, grades don't really matter too much. The only things grades can do is hurt you not help you. Your reputation and what you are judged on is primarily your productivity in the lab, that should be your focal concern. A 4.0 really doesn't help you if you spend a ton of time away from the lab studying and don't get a lot of stuff done. So take the gentleman's B and don't waste too much time studying for an exam. The only exam to buckle down and take the time to study for is your quals or candidacy exam because that matters, everything else is noise. Boring ass noise. So buck the hell up kid and get right back in there.

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