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January 3, 2013


Replies: 30

Low GPA, halfway through my degree, not sure what to do.

So, my GPA is in the gutter. It's sitting at 2.4, sadly. Based on a few calculations I've made, I can only bump it up to 3.0 if I get all A's in my remaining courses (I have about 14 courses left to take). Which unfortunately, will be quite a leap for me.

I feel like I have severely screwed myself over. It's frustrating because even though I put in a crap ton of effort this semester, I still did a shit job. I used to think I was in the right program but now I'm severely questioning my abilities to do well. I know the smart thing would be to talk to an academic advisor, which I plan on doing next week. I just thought I'd get the opinion of some people in the mean time to prevent myself from going utterly insane.

People who I've mentioned this to have questioned me if I really am in the right program. But the thing is, I just don't want to give up yet. I don't want to go "Oh, after four years I actually think I'm going to bail on everything I did". No. I know I can do well but I feel like maybe I'm lacking in the tools to do so. What I mean by that is, maybe I'm not studying correctly, maybe I need to improve my organizational skills or something, I don't know. Because right now, I feel like working hard is not my problem...maybe it's just the way I go about doing it.

What makes it incredibly frustrating is that I understand the material but I always do horrible on all the exams. The only reason why I've managed to get so far into my degree is the fact that I have a lab component, which I always do well in. So you know, smashing a really good grade and a really shitty grade adds up to a mediocre grade. But you know, I'd really like to graduate with minimum 3.4.

I will obviously have to extend my degree another year, but I'm also thinking of maybe taking a double major? I don't know. I've always done particularly well in the fine arts (sadly enough, the only classes I've been able to whip out a A) so I considered that...but...I don't know what I would do with such a degree. Not to mention, I've become so engrossed with science, I don't know if I have the capacity to write a non-scientific paper.

I do think my problem lies in writing exams and organizing my time. I feel like no matter how smart someone is, if you can't organize your time well, you're going to do bad either way.

Has anyone ever been in this position? What would you do? Did you end up alright? I don't want to take a year off either because I'm on student loans and can't really afford to pay off all of that interest. A part of me does feel like I should maybe take a break...but...I don't know. Sigh.

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Devious Comments

Can't you retake the courses? You can replace your old grades from your older classes, but the older grades will still be recorded in your history.
Yes, I can (and have been). But some courses are prerequisites, so failing them would result in a domino effect. Not to mention, it certainly gets costly...
MayJackson Jan 4, 2013
Double major? Don't make it harder on yourself if you're struggling xD

Why do you need a high GPA? Are you trying to get into a graduate program that requires it? (Most often GPA HONESTLY DOESN'T MATTER after graduation).

Sounds to me like you need to change your study methods too - you've really got to memorize. Lots of people hate that, but it's the way to go - memorize, make flash cards, practice calculations until you have them down. If you understand everything, you've just got to put the memorization time in (That's the only piece you're possibly missing! Or you have really horrible teachers, but if everyone else is doing better than you testing-wise on average then that's probably not it...)
And yes, I need a good GPA because I really would like to get into grad school. Of the ones I've looked at, I need at least 3.3/3.4 (so about a B+).
MayJackson Jan 5, 2013
Ohhh okay... well... in that case, hm. Where I went they wanted your gpa from core classes. I'd look at the pre-reqs for the grad schools you're trying to get into, and maybe even email the admissions office to ask about how they calculate that... You wouldn't want to put a bunch of work into extra classes that didn't end up helping you. It could be that you need to take a class or two over again to get a higher gpa... which sucks...
Anyways. I'm just some stranger online. Whatever ends up looking like it will work for you, do that :)
Yeah, the double major thing seems insane. However, I could technically go for a minor or another degree in science since the at my school, the first two years are very general before you specialize in year 3 and 4. So really, I am technically half way getting another kind of degree as well.

It's mainly because if I've finished all the courses in one degree, taking any other courses in excess would just be, well, in excess. So as a way of increasing my GPA, I could take a few extra courses but still get a degree at the same time. I hope that makes sense.

Yeah, I think I just lack in time management skills...which sucks, unfortunately.
MayJackson Jan 5, 2013
Well... I will give you a FIRM warning that taking too many classes at the same time is a certain path to a lower GPA. So, what you said makes sense - but only if you're planning to take those classes *separately.* In fact, maybe course load is part of your problem? You could try cutting back a few credits. I maintain a fairly good gpa (knock on wood), but I also try not to take more than 19 credits (quarter system), and the less I can get away with the more comfortable I am. Other people in my class routinely take on 23+. Yuck. Just something else to consider!
JessiebelleA Jan 4, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
I finished my first year on Academic Probation, my GPA was 1.9. I'm now chugging along to a solid 3.5 GPA, five years later.
Here's what I can tell you that might help:
1. Three courses a semester is still full time status (check your school and program's rules on this first). Three courses are way, way more manageable than five, I can actually keep up with my readings.
2. Speaking of readings, I used to not do my readings, check your study/test-taking skills. There should be programs to help you run by the school.
3. Speaking of stuff run by the school, consider taking advantage of the therapists your school employs for your use. They can help you with study skills and maybe see if your trouble with tests/coursework is something more than just you sucking at it.
4. Speaking of sucking at stuff, the courses you take don't dissolve magically if you take a year off. Your college credits exist and nothing will take those away from you. You can transfer them, sit on them or get a degree with them.
5. Speaking of degrees, if you're looking to graduate with a specific GPA to get into grad school, you should know that most programs only consider your last 20 courses and there are other ways to get yourself considered. If you want to graduate with a specific GPA because you think it means something, I'm afraid it really doesn't mean much. Did you get the degree? That's all most employers will care about.
Relax, things are way less bad than you think. Lots of people struggle through their first few years of university. It's a very different environment. Your GPA is not the be-all end-all of your academic life, it honestly isn't that important. I know that's radical, but it's true.
You're gonna be fine, better than fine, you're gonna be awesome. You're already awesome.
Hey, I really appreciate your response. If your profile is correct, we also reside in the same country which definitely makes this information a lot more relatable.

How long were you school in total then? I initially thought I would take only 5 years to finish my degree, but I'm slowly thinking that may turn into 6. I'm not particularly sure about the disadvantages/advantages of taking 6 over 5 years (or if there are any to begin with).

1) Sadly, there have been a few semesters where I've only taken three courses and I still do a shit job. Like I mentioned before, I always do a horrible job on the exams. This semester, I didn't do very well but I definitely learned what I need to do to do I guess that's a plus there.

2/3) Yeah, I actually already booked an appointment with an academic advisor just to see what I can do with myself right now. I started using an agenda more in the past while. Unfortunately I always find myself ditching it half way through the semester, but it certainly does help. I think I will need to do more than this, though.

4) Yeah, I know everything I've done will be on my transcripts. I figured I could take a year off just as a 'breather', realize I miss school, and just go all out. I'll see what happens after this semester, though.

5) I do know that most grad schools only take your last 20. The reason why I was freaking out in the first place was because I got confused by something where I started thinking about how collective GPA = everything. Some places will take your collective GPA...but not all. Any way, in this sense I'm not totally screwed. If I were to magically whip out all A's for the remainder of my degree, I would be at a 3.7...which would be nice, haha.

I think I'm freaking out because I'm past that halfway mark in my degree. I'm just really frustrated with myself because I feel like I haven't really learned anything until if I've just wasted the past 3 or so years in school bumming around. It's unfortunate. I always thought I wouldn't fall victim to all of this, but lo and behold, I have.

I also understand GPA doesn't mean everything. You require things like volunteer hours, experience, good relations with professors, etc. However, having a decent GPA certainly would not hurt, heh =p.

Again, I really do appreciate your response.
JessiebelleA Jan 5, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
It's totally normal to freak out a bit in university. It's supposed to be this gateway to learning and we're taught that it's going to define what we do for the rest of our lives. Which is a hell of a lot of pressure.

I'm currently entering my second semester of my fifth year. I could graduate this spring but I've decided to take a sixth year to both bump up my grades and give me a chance to do some research. That's actually my route to grad school, I'm gonna do research and hopefully publish it. From what my profs have told me, this is actually a way better plan than just getting the best GPA.

I'd suggest seeing a therapist alongside the academic adviser too. I was super-nervous about taking a sixth year until I talked it out with my therapist. I remember we made a pros and cons list and when we got to the con side I was like "Uh....I'd be in school another year?". I was just psyching myself out for no reason.

I highly doubt you've learned nothing in your three years, but if you have, consider taking some courses you've never tried before. Natural science is a big field and I bet you could find a class in something you've never heard about before. You keep talking like you think you've wasted your time in classes and that's simply not true. Even if you haven't learned anything new, you've proven you know this stuff.

Stop worrying about what you could do if you could "magically" get As, As are not the best thing you can get in university. Grades aren't even that critical. More important is going to be the people you meet, the connections you make and eventually getting that fancy paper that says you know shit. If you're worried about your grades, look at what you can do to improve them, but don't expect As out of yourself right off the bat. You'll just be setting yourself up for failure. I used to get Cs and C+s all the time. So when I changed my habits and started getting B-s and Bs, that was a win for me. Last winter I had my first 3.0 semester and I was super-happy. This semester, I got an A-, for the second time ever.

One more thing, you say you suck at tests, if I recall my first year in sciences (I changed faculties in my third year) you're taking a lot of multiple-choice rote memorization stuff with the lab component being the only hands-on stuff where you get to explain stuff and work your thoughts out, is that right? How do you do on essays and long-answer questions? Could you maybe ask a prof if you could do something like that for extra credit? If it's just the fact that it's a test at all, I'd look into test anxiety (also why therapists are useful), if you have it, the school has ways to help you out with it. You don't have to be hyperventilating at the sight of a scantron to have test anxiety.

You haven't wasted these years, trust me. You're gonna do awesome, even if you only get a 2.2 for the rest of your life. Stop worrying about if-I-coulds or shoulds or wasting your time. Enjoy this, university is a wonderful place full of amazing people and opportunities (not just for people with a 4.0). The only way you could "waste" your university experience is if you had never gone. Just by going, getting in and surviving three years you've done well. If you want to do better, you can work on it, but stop acting like you're a failure for not having a stellar GPA. You're awesome.
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