Dropping a class - can I still get into grad school?

I dropped my Calc II class today. Part of me feels bad about that; I may not have given it much of a chance. Part of me feels relieved; I went to three lectures and much of it was going over my head.

I took Calc I last spring and got an A-. It wasn’t nearly as hard as I had thought it would be. I studied for it, but not with as much effort as I have put into other classes. I thought I was good at calculus because I generally did very well on quizzes and exams without too much effort.

I just wasn’t grasping this Calc II stuff - inverse, exponential, logrithmic functions? :smack: That’s what we covered so far, and I sat through the lectures, I read the relavent chapters in the book, I reviewed my Calc I notes, I even read parts of my Calculus for Dummies book over the weekend, and today in class I was still going WTF? is this prof talking about! This afternoon was the breaking point. I had struggled over the assigned homework problems and went to the library to look at the student solutions manual (we don’t turn in homework, so this is OK). The manual has the problems worked out and I still couldn’t grasp how they were solved. :frowning:

Calc II isn’t required for me, a geology major to graduate; I took it because I thought it would look good or even be required when I apply for grad school. Does anyone know how this might affect my application? I know not all schools will require a whole year of calculus, but I don’t have a lot of knowledge about that.

Short answer: No. And a “Drop” looks a helluva lot better to grad schools than an “F.”

Long answer: Need a little more info. What sort of graduate school are you interested in?

I’m a geology major with at least 2 more years of undergrad left. Grad school to get my master’s in geology, concentrating on I-don’t-know-what yet.

I may decide to take Calc II at a later date, but I feel if I don’t get it now, waiting a year isn’t going tojhelp matters any.

The prof I took Calc I from had a much different teaching style than my Calc II prof - he set up reviews sheets and made his on problems, this prof is doing everything from the book. I am not a person who hesitates to ask questions in class, but with this Calc II stuff I didn’t even know how to formulate my questions to ask them! How discouraging.

I had a succession of bad Calc II teachers: the Lisping Fairy, the Unintelligible
Foreign Grad Student, etc. Finally got one who knew precisely how to explain the
concepts, and it all clicked. If they have tutoring at your school use it. And you WILL
have to do some serious HW (this coming from me who typically never met any
homework he ever felt bothered to do).

As said above, whether it will have any effect at all depends on what kind of graduate program you want to apply to. That very same calculus class slaughtered me, too–I hung in there and barely scratched a C (after getting a 13% on the midterm!) I got into grad school in linguistics–not science but not at all a soft program either–with no problem. Then again, we linguists don’t have to do much calculus.

At my university, a drop doesn’t show unless you drop on or before the midpoint of the semester. It is like the enrollment never happened. After that, there are a couple of more weeks when you can get a Withdraw Failing or a Withdraw Passing; the WP is no setback at all, as far as I know.

If you have a problem with the instructor, you might see who teaches the course next semester or next year, maybe your preferred instructor or someone else who would teach in a style you can learn from will teach it. (or maybe you could take Calc II in summer school from somewhere else).

That said, I don’t know whether you * should* worry about taking it at all. But, do talk to someone who knows about grad school life in geology-- if you can’t do Calc II, and grad school in geology is as math heavy as Chemical Engineering grad shool was (probably unlikely, but you never know and I know I can’t do graduate level
chemical Engineering math) you might be happier reconsidering the whole grad school thing.

Or find a tutor. That’s another option, especially for somthing like Calc II that a lot of people who aren’t great mathematicians but dream of a career in the sciences or something have to take.

Calculus was the only course I ever failed in college. I got an F the first semester of my freshman year. I took an easier version the second semester and got an A- . Then I go overconfident, took a second semester, and got a D. Since I had very good grades otherwise, I don’t think it had any effect on my getting in to grad school.

If Calc II is not required for a Geology major, and you have any problems with it, then FORGET ABOUT IT. I’m a biologist, and while some biologists need Calc, I never needed it in grad school or any other time. I would guess that Geology is similar, in that some sub-fields require Calc, but many others do not. If the major doesn’t require it, then it probably isn’t necessary for grad school except in particular fields. If those aren’t the fields that are most interesting to you, then don’t sweat it.

As an undergrad I dropped a graduate course in Money & Banking that I was taking, which is in the econ department, because I thought I wasn’t going to do well and I was planning on going into grad school in psychology. In the end, I went to grad school in economics.

I don’t think dropped classes are that big of a deal, depending on lots of various variables, of course; however, not being a stubborn stupid-head is probably a good sign for any potential graduate student. Although grad school is a bloody riot and I absolutely loved it and I would do it again if I had the chance, it’s still a place where you get to enjoy some serious humility.

Integral calculus is tough, IMHO, much tougher than derivative calculus, and I’m not surprised you would have had trouble even after doing well in Calc I. Calc is good for stats, btw, so don’t be afraid to give it another go. Before you do, see if you can browse through Problem Solvers [calculus], a book designed to do what textbooks don’t do, which is show you how to solve problems in the given subject.

Good luck!!

Thanks everyone. I feel a little better now that I know some really smart folks here struggled with it too. I know if I was having trouble understanding the first few days’ lessons, it wasn’t going to get much easier for me.

I do tend to be a little impulsive (I once ripped up a 20 point chem. lab in frustration - I re-did in on plain paper and my prof took it, but I felt like a dolt explaining what happened) and may have dropped it prematurely, but when I have problems with something, it really brings me down. I am really into getting good grades and feel I need a lot more prep for Calc II. I can possible work it in next semester. I will try again.

Thanks for that site js_africanus, I’ll be looking for stuff like that. The textbook I was using (Stewart’s Calculus 5th ed.) was very hard for me to follow.

I know for a fact that having a dropped class on your transcript won’t keep you from getting into a good grad school in astronomy. I had some dropped classes on my transcript, and I still got accepted at a number of very good grad schools.

One of my friends had told me earlier that, if you have a dropped class on your transcript, you won’t get into a good grad school. After I started getting acceptances back, I cornered him and gave him the choice of either saying that he was wrong or that Caltech is not a good grad school in astronomy. He admitted that he was wrong :smiley: