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Failing a Class :(

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Earlier this week I took my first exam (one of two, total) in a class I am taking. Since I didn't even complete enough in the time limit to pass, I am 100% certain I failed. I have never failed an exam before and given the relative importance of this this exam score in my overall course grade, it is at this point not unreasonable to assume that I will fail (or at the very most get a D) in this course. I will probably do terrible on the final as well.

This class is outside of my major course of study (geology) but because my department is very tiny I was encouraged to look outside of the dept. for a three credit course to round out my full-time class load. I decided on a groundwater modeling class that I assumed would be application of the flow and diffusion modeling programs I may use in my professional career. The class, as it turns out, is a theoretical modeling course with emphasis on the derivation of different analytical and numerical solutions to different problems. It has been illuminating and I actually feel like I'm learning something from it; however, since I have had no advanced calculus or differential equations most of the math (including the notation) is TOTALLY new to me and has been well beyond the capabilities of my skill level coming into the course.

So I've been teaching myself the math (or at least trying to get as much as I can in such a short period of time) while taking the class. I spoke with the professor the third week of the class when the equations started covering the board daily and explained that I was not familiar with the many of the operations he was employing, and sent him an additional email explaining that I was worried about failing the course. He replied that he would help me and find a graduate student to work with me. None of this has happened and I didn't want to be obnoxious about it so I've never addressed it. I've also tried to work with my classmates but to be honest they seem to regard me like somebody who doesn't know what's going on and since I have nothing to contribute I'm backing off.

In addition, I've actually felt like I was getting the material. If I have the notes I can follow along now for the most part provided I have the time to wrap my head around the concepts. The exams are closed book/notes so the ability to "get" what's in front of me is no help there.

Before the exam I rewrote all of my notes 3 times in the hopes that I would absorb the material. I studied for weeks. I am taking another course (in my major course and with my advisor) that is quite demanding as well but I am doing well. I am also working on my research and preparing for my upcoming field season and this requires a good deal of time and attention as well. Oh and I'm a single mama of two children so there's that.

I spoke with my advisor about the exam and he didn't say much. I'm not even sure how concerned he is...so my issue then is not a matter of staying in the program. It's what will happen when I need these transcripts later... This class could ruin my academic record. I currently hold a 4.0 and I expect to get A's in my other coursework this semester so my overall GPA won't put me in jeopardy but this F would be a major problem if I decide to apply for another professional degree program or a job that considers academic record. I can't believe that this one class could destroy everything I've worked so hard to achieve!

What should I do?

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What should I do?

My take is, you should either

(1) be a LOT more of a pest to the professor of the class --- FORCE him/her to find a grad student to help you, regardless of how much of a pain-in-the-butt you see yourself to be;


(2) withdraw from the class.

Even a "C" in a graduate class, even if that class is not directly related to your major, is widely regarded as a failure. You may still complete your M.S. degree (assuming this is the only "C" on your transcript), but if you ever want to go for a Ph.D. in the same field, at the very least, you'll probably have some explaining to do.

Also, don't let the other students' insouciant attitude throw you. It's YOUR degree, your career, not theirs.

Edited by DrFaustus666
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I agree with Dr.Faustus666. You definitely have to make yourself a pest (I know, I hate doing this too) to get the help you need from the prof. Failing that, if you don't think you'll be able to pass, it would be worthwhile to withdraw if you still can. Do you have any funding that could be affected by a fail or bad grade? Even if you don't, you definitely don't want a fail or a D on your transcript.

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