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Do you think college is about grades?

I am quite depressed right now as my lessons are fast-paced. I really do have a very weak foundation on Math and Chemistry (most particularly lab activities).

I need optimism.

  • Jun 8 2013: College is about learning, but while you are there it is also about competition and doing he best you can do. What is the best you can do? Grades are the teachers way of providing a metric that reflects his/her expectations.

    Having a weak foundation in something is frustration. However, hopefully your college experience has taught you how to teach yourself. Re-reading material, redoing problems, looking for other perspectives in references, Schaums, REA problem guides, and similar references is a way to PRACTICE and get better. Turn your weakness into a strength by re-learning the material. Every time I re-look at old notes and textbooks,i learn a bit more.

    Perhaps this will help you out.
    • Jun 8 2013: hmmm. thanks for that thought :) i appreciate that.
      • Jun 8 2013: Your welcome. One more thought.

        Realize that each subject is a big body on knowledge. Your Professor has used his knowledge and wisdom to extract what he believes to be the most important things to share with an average person, at whatever level, in the amount of time allotted to your class. Similarly, the writers of textbooks extract what they think are the most important topics, arrange them in what they believe to be a logical pattern, emphasize what they think to be the most important information. There are often disagreements between experts on what should and should not be emphasized.

        In the case of Math or Chemistry, someone needs to think through creative application of material, keep it at a level that is appropriate for the class (which is harder than you would imagine when the teachers have gone on to learn much more information), stay consistent between classes and between years, and meet the intent of the program.

        It is very easy for a student to get so focused on testable techniques, equations, and facts, that the bigger picture gets lost. Realize that when you get to the real world, no one is there to tell you which equations to use, what is good information and what is bad information, and when to apply what you have learned to a given situation. One of the tricks I used to keep aware of how it was all suppose to fit together was to frequently look at the table of contents in a book, just to see the headings, and how they were organized. This provided perspective on the bigger picture and helped me arrange and assemble things I was learning to the body of knowledge I had already learned. Short term learning will help get you a good grade, but it is long-term learning or meaningful learning that should be both your goal and the goal of your professor.

        It is his job to teach and he is INVOLVED in your learning, but you are responsible for doing the work and being COMMITTED to learning the material.

        Best of Luck!
  • Jun 8 2013: I do not think that grades are important for a person's ability to work in jobs that contributes to the well being of the society. Let me tell you a little of my experience. I got into a university first majoring in business administration. Then I find myself to be really interested in applied mathematics. I was reasonably good in mathematics, I was later admitted to the graduate school majoring in mathematical statistics. I completed all the course work and was awarded a master of arts. But I then felt that I was really interested in applying my quantitative ability to the health field. So I switched again to the medical school working toward a PhD degree in the division of public health. That was not an easy switch, because I had to make up all the necessary course works in microbiology, immunology, anatomy and courses in health administration as well. So, I just took the painful course works and got thru all the requirement with a little difficulty. For instance, I got a barely passing grade of a C in the immunology lab course (that was my only grade below a B in my entire graduate course work). However, I was undeterred and just went on to finish all the requirement and completed my degree. The important point here is that even I was not too crazy about lab courses, I set my goal to complete a degree I chose. I consider the lab course is just to train to carry out a meticulous lab process only to repeat and confirm a chemical reaction that the previous researchers discovered. Frankly I had not been quite interested in doing this in my professional life at all. So I ended up being a professor with expertise in drug testing and clinical laboratory quality control. In other word, I was quite knowledgeable in lab works, but I would rather be a lab quality control and verifier of such works rather than being a lab director type of a professional.
    Don't be depressed, if you are required to finish the chemical lab course, then do all you can to PASS it and carry on!
    • Jun 8 2013: so i really have and need to ace this. i hope it gets well.
      • Jun 8 2013: If I understand your response correctly, I think that you don't have to get an A or B, or even a C if you are an undergraduate. It simply means just to pass it (D or above). Of course it will affect your overall GPA, but it will at least give you a chance, instead of completely given up to what you like to achieve to your intended goal.
        Let me also tell you my experience again. After I got my PhD degree and working in different academic institutions, nobody ever asked for my college transcripts and nobody even knows I got a C in my Immunology course. Believe it or not. This is the first time I have ever told anybody about it. So cheer up, if you eventually succeed, you will chuckle about why you were so emotional about these things. Try to do your best and don't worry about the future.
        • Jun 8 2013: that's exactly my problem: i seize my days and i always worry about the future :/
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    • Jun 8 2013: hmmm. strategies to survive. college really is survival of the fittest.
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        • Jun 8 2013: i'm alright with theories. i just don't know with practicals.
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    Jun 7 2013: College is certainly not about grades. It is about learning.

    Does your college have tutorial resources for those like you who excel in some subjects but struggle in others? Check that and take advantage of them?

    Also, do students work in study groups? When I was in college, students in the early levels of the subjects you mention often worked together so they could help each other. There were also teaching assistants to whom kids went for help.

    Don't be shy about getting help!
    • Jun 8 2013: thank you for your first statement.

      i see college as reaching society's standards.
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    Jun 19 2013: Are you Pre-Med? What is your goal for after you graduate. That does make a difference in what you study.

    Also, if it gets too hard, get help early and often. Get a tutor or help from a friend. Your grades MUST remain high if you want to progress in certain competitive professions like medicine or law or MBA business or graduate studies to the PhD level.
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    Jun 7 2013: College would be about a lot of things, learning, expanding yourself, making friends, discovering what you like to do. I guess grades might matter more to some people, less to others, depending on what their long-term plans are. What are your long-term plans, do you anticipate going to graduate school, do you want to go to a prestigious school, do you want some high-status job? Then grades might matter. But if you have those dreams, and you find you're not getting the grades to support them, maybe you'd have to scale back your ambitions a little. In any case, the most important thing is to do your best.

    I am curious what you want to do with chemistry, Cheyenne, the two questions you've asked so far on TED didn't seem to have a great deal to do with math and chemistry, they fall a little more on the humanities side. Maybe you're secretly interested in the humanities, literature, religion, history, etc. Of course a person can be interested in both.
    • Jun 8 2013: actually, my heart belongs to history, religion and most of the things in the humanities side. i have been raised in a family who debates a lot about what really happened to the early civilizations, the existence of god, current events, etc. my father engages me to think and take stands on certain issues and i have been raised that way.

      i was supposed to take up history, even but i wanted to challenge myself with my other love which is chemistry.
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        Jun 9 2013: well, I understand the desire to challenge yourself, but remember, Cheyenne, you are choosing a course of study that you may do that field the rest of your life, maybe you should choose the field where your heart lies? You can still challenge yourself in the humanities, they demand a lot of thought, too.

        As far as grades go, I would think it depends on how ambitious you are. For example, do you want to be a top research chemist at a top university or company? Then your grades will probably matter more, because you will need to go to graduate school, and how good your grades are will help determine how good of a graduate school you can go to. On the other hand, are you satisfied to be a decent chemist at an okay company? Then your grades won't matter as much, because you are not trying to be the best, or the top. So which is it, where do your ambitions lie?

        Cheyenne, do you think you'll continue to be active on TED? Possibly you should empower the email function on your profile so people can email you.