I had a rough first year. Now what?
I think I'm off to a poor start to my undergraduate career.
Some context: my major is Materials Science and Nanoengineering at the University of California, San Diego. I'm on the BS/MS track for 2020, meaning I will get my BS and MS at the same time. My GPA for my first year is a 3.2, which I think is quite bad in regards to my prospects of getting into a good PhD programme. My research advisor even told me that I need a 3.5 to have any hope at all of getting into a top tier PhD programme for my area of discipline. I need to know how I can make myself as competitive as possible for top PhD programmes in materials science.
In regards to clubs and activities, I'm involved in four places. I do research in the bioengineering department, where I focus on fabricating biosensors to read genetic errors (I currently have my own project, which is set to be completed by this November, at the rate I'm progressing). I'm the lead researcher in a joint project by AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) and NETS (Nano Engineering and Technology Society), for piezoelectric energy generation and storage (this project is my brainchild). And lastly, I am a central member of the UCSD Wushu Team, which I do for physical and mental health (it's done wonders for both my anxiety and depression, as I've been needing to go to counselling less and less frequently).
I will take my first upper division classes this September, where I've that they are both harder to learn the course material and yet easier than lower divs to get good grades (B+ and up). I've gotten to know most of my professors via AIChE and NETS. I tend to stay in touch with every professor I talk to, either personally, or via email/LinkedIn.
Have I put myself in a bad situation? Am I overreacting? Where do I go from here to optimise myself for a strong PhD programme? I need all the advice I can get.