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My Grades are Plummeting, What is wrong with me?


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I have an option to take a medical withdrawal of a class, which I might do.  I have legitimate reasons to lighten the course load, and the disability office would back it up fully.  I'd rather not drop out of that class, though.  I'd rather take an incomplete and do the final exam and required work once I'm finished with the quals.  It's strange.  It's the undergraduate class that is an easy concept, but very tedious, that is by far the hardest class for me.  My adviser told me that it would be a breeze.  That's great, but I think I have stumbled upon the perfect class that attacks my worst way of learning.  It's a class that forces me to browse through a sea of disparate equations in order to find the right one.  The intense quals-preparation classes that are deep in theory and abstract concepts?  Those are the relatively easy ones for me.  I feel as if I have a much stronger grasp of those classes.

 

*EDIT*  As an aside, while I appreciate that my adviser believes in my abilities and competence, I feel that his confidence in me has resulted in dragging me through a bed of hot coals.  I had wanted to drop this particular course since before the first test, because I was deeply concerned about my emotional health.  Half the time has been seeing doctors and trying to prevent the anxiety attacks from occurring.  His confidence in me and encouragement to keep going resulted in me failing the first test and doing mediocre on the second one.  Every step of the way, I had wanted to drop.  It has been an absolute roller coaster between thinking I've finally "cracked the code" to performing in this class, and getting beaten down by another bad homework or test grade.  Other students (undergraduates) seem to have no issues with this class.  This makes it even worse, because whenever I have doubts and confusions in this class, I get told, over and over, that, because I'm a graduate student, that I should already know the fundamentals for this course.  But, it's so darned tedious!  It's the scattering of hundreds of bits of minutiae that you have to keep track of in each problem that I'm stumbling on.  It's a simple process but the breadth of raw brute force algebra is beating me down.  Other students seem to have mastered this, but this is precisely my biggest weakness.  I have slight animosity towards my adviser for leading me down this path of destruction.  It has been so trying that I've been reduced to screaming at the top of my lungs in my car because I can't take the storm of feelings of inferiority, being inadequate, not living up to expectations, and overall performing the worst I ever have in my life.  This "simple" class is a huge, huge thorn in my side and I want to pluck it out, like I wanted to do from the very beginning.  I feel as if he didn't listen to my concerns.

 

I almost wonder whether my skills are so abstract theory-lopsided that I've no idea how to scrawl out quick-draw algebra.  I can go into great detail over how to minimize a path through configuration space using calculus of variations for a graduate course, or the many uses of green's functions, but keeping track of all the matrix algebra for a non-essential engineering undergraduate course?  Forget it.  I've filled stacks of pages to the brim with practice and I've made no headway in my abilities here.

Edited by GradHooting
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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, I got my grades back, and I have achieved the goal I was looking for.  It's not a great goal, but, basically, I get to keep all of my financial aid!  Now, just to study for the qualifying exams.  Right now I am mathematically precisely at the minimum GPA to keep all my funding.  I do not like where my GPA is at whatsoever, but at least I am still getting funding.  Given the constant emotional turmoil and doctor's visits half the time trying to figure out what was being triggered in my head, I think things turned out alright.  I nailed two out of my last 3 exams, so the treatment seems to be working slowly.  One exam faltered a bit, though, I know what I need to do to fix the problem in the future.

 

I really hope grades don't matter beyond this point (beyond maintaining them and doing research) because I certainly would like to produce some excellent research, or at least get to the point where I am not known for good/bad grades.

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GradHooting, I'm happy to see that things are starting to look up. I am rooting for you. You are dedicated to being a good student. Many other students would have completely given up, but you showed perseverance (and asked for help) and it is starting to pay off. Keep chugging along, and good luck.

Edited by starofdawn
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GradHooting, I'm happy to see that things are starting to look up. I am rooting for you. You are dedicated to being a good student. Many other students would have completely given up, but you showed perseverance (and asked for help) and it is starting to pay off. Keep chugging along, and good luck.

 

Your encouragement made my day, star!  I am especially driven to push through this because I anticipate incoming students might face similar difficulties, and I'd like to be in a place where I can encourage them.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just skimmed through this so my apologies if you've already tried this but...have you considered taking a different AD than lexapro? ADs work differently on people. Also, just because you're "happy" on it doesn't necessarily mean that you're on the right one. They can make you zoned out without even realizing it.

 

Just my $.02.

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  • 4 weeks later...

One simple question - are you double checking your work on tests? Sometimes you catch the small errors if you go back through the answers.

Glad there's good news though!

 

Yep.  Even double checking I would consistently transpose the numbers.  It was the environment which threw off my thinking.

 

Also to GradSecretary, I plan on getting off AD's with time.  They were only meant as a temporary solution.  But, they might indeed be having a negative effect.  It's crossed my mind in the past.

 

Anyway, good news!  I passed the Ph.D. qualifying exams!  So, after all that work and struggle, I am shocked that I managed to pass.  Apparently, "with flying colors" as my advisor said.  I also had to remind him to inform me.  He had completely forgotten to tell me because, to him, it was not surprising news.  This is definitely the best moment I've had in my life for the past 10 years or so.  I am so glad I opted to go for this.  It's taught me so much about myself, and how I need to improve and cope with challenges.  I just hope I can be there for future years of students coming in with their own confusing struggles.  I managed to pull through despite the challenges.

 

I am kind of bummed that a few friends of mine with whom I studied did not pass the exams, but am more surprised at their emotional maturity about it.  They have made peace beforehand in ways that I still need to work to achieve.

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Anyway, good news!  I passed the Ph.D. qualifying exams!  So, after all that work and struggle, I am shocked that I managed to pass.  Apparently, "with flying colors" as my advisor said.  I also had to remind him to inform me.  He had completely forgotten to tell me because, to him, it was not surprising news.  This is definitely the best moment I've had in my life for the past 10 years or so.  I am so glad I opted to go for this.  It's taught me so much about myself, and how I need to improve and cope with challenges.  I just hope I can be there for future years of students coming in with their own confusing struggles.  I managed to pull through despite the challenges.

 

Congrats!! I am very happy to read this! :)

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