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Should I be pissed that I'm .01 GPA points off from making Phi Eta Sigma? (3.89)

TwixasdfTwixasdf Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
edited December 2016 in Emory University
Hey all, so my first-semester freshman GPA was a 3.89. At Emory, Phi Eta Sigma requires a 3.9 for first semester-freshman. The only reason I didn't get a 3.9 is because of a stupid mandatory one-credit "It's your health" class in which I got a B+ in. Would have gotten a 3.94 had I gotten an A in it or if Emory didn't make such a RIDICULOUS class based on your GPA. LIKE SERIOUSLY A FORTY-DOLLAR REQUIRED TEXTBOOK FOR A HEALTH CLASS? ALL WE LEARNED WAS STUPID CRAP ABOUT GOALS AND PERSONAL VALUES. Haha, I'm not really that pissed about health but I'm pretty freaking annoyed. Is Phi Eta Sigma a big deal? Really pissed off that a FREAKING HEALTH CLASS is keeping me out of an honor society. Hopefully the Dean's list cutoff is a 3.85 and not a 3.9....

Has the deans list cut-off ever been a 3.9? Also is Phi Eta Sigma a big deal?

Replies to: Should I be pissed that I'm .01 GPA points off from making Phi Eta Sigma? (3.89)

  • BiffBrownBiffBrown Registered User Posts: 452 Member

    Phi Eta Sigma provides opportunities for members from Oxford and Emory College to intermingle, meet professors, carry out a service project and receive a small stipend for books. Certain students get to be officers.

    As for whether it's a big deal, you'd have to ask someone who's applied to grad or professional school or sought employment in finance, tech, etc. to see whether understands the significance of the designation.

    Anyone out there who knows?

    How did you get a B+ in PE/health? Played hooky? At least you Emory College students get curve based grading.

  • bodanglesbodangles Registered User Posts: 9,185 Senior Member
    The only person you should be annoyed at is yourself for whatever caused you to get a B+. The cutoffs are what the cutoffs are -- you can't change them, or your grade, so there's no sense being angry about any of it. Move on.
  • TwixasdfTwixasdf Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    edited December 2016
    idk I just didn't have time to focus on a class that I thought wasn't worth my time, haha. I just thought the whole premise of the class was ridiculous to be honest. I know this isn't an excuse, but I was in freshman organic chem, bio, linear algebra, intermediate macroecon, and CS171 and focused heavily on doing well on them that I didn't care to focus on a class that focused on evaluating my "personal goals" and "spiritual values" lol. I didn't find out the class was graded until halfway into the semester bc i thought that something so stupid would never be graded haha.

    Anyways, y'all are right. The only person to really blame is me, I guess. :(
  • BiffBrownBiffBrown Registered User Posts: 452 Member
    @Twixasdf Who do you recommend for orgo?
  • mommdcmommdc Registered User Posts: 10,880 Senior Member
    Just get a 3.9 next semester and then get in.
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,293 Senior Member
    edited December 2016
    @BiffBrown : They took freshman ochem (maybe they took the Soria option, but I would not be too sure of that as only 7 freshman took that option up). It is much different........and all the teachers teaching sophomore ochem except like one are substantially more difficult than the freshman ochem instructors (especially Liotta. Liotta is almost too nice and often students do not learn the stuff they need to to be any good at the subject, or even the next semester for that matter. Davies, who teaches 222-Z is a bit more challenging, holds students accountable, but is still a farcry from Soria, Weinschenk, and McDonald which focus far more on applied problem solving). You need to ask someone else (someone currently taking it or that has taken it. I of course have my recommendations, but don't know what you want from the course) and figure out what you are looking for. If you only want ease or at least the easiest, there is a track. If you want quality, there are options for that (sadly for those wanting both, with sophomore ochem, the two do not really overlap. As in, you will not find an easy instructor that is of particularly high quality. That type of stuff usually happens much more over in other STEM depts)

    @Twixasdf Phi Eta Sigma should not be a highlight of anyone's college career and will likely have no affect with grad and prof. school admissions. A high GPA is a high GPA. Gaining access to very top programs requires much more exceptionalism than a high GPA and the membership of the honor society you get into as a result (if it was an honor society that selected based upon more than just GPA, then you should be disappointed). Winning major awards, internships, scholarships for ECs and/or research is a much better way to prepare for a successful bid at some of the more elite post-grad. opps.
  • HRSMomHRSMom Registered User Posts: 4,632 Senior Member
    Being upset just takes up energy. Try again next semester now that you know.
  • BiffBrownBiffBrown Registered User Posts: 452 Member
    @HRSMom and @mommdc

    With the Phi Eta Sigma honor, there's no "next time." It's based strictly (at Emory College and Oxford College, at least) on having at least a 3.9 in the first semester freshman year.

    There are other GPA based academic honors, however, based on grades obtained later in college.
  • BiffBrownBiffBrown Registered User Posts: 452 Member

    I'm aware that Weinschenk and Soria are regarded as the most challenging. That's a positive in my view but with the following caveats:

    1. It seems to me that a large class like orgo doesn't lend itself to a problem solving sort of teaching and learning experience. When you combine that with their reputation for not relying on a textbook and limited office hours, I see a situation where students are left to figure out a lot of things on their own without a good book or much feedback from the instructor.

    2. It matters to me too whether Weinschenk and Soria apply a more stringent curve than other instructors like Llewelyn, Jui, McDonald or Menger. It seems that, to be fair, they should adopt the same grading curve.

    I'm premed and a likely biology major. I don't fear orgo but I certainly respect the challenge offered by the course as taught by Weinschenk and Soria.
  • HRSMomHRSMom Registered User Posts: 4,632 Senior Member
    Oh well. It's annoying, yes, but try not to be mad at yourself. It is done now.
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,293 Senior Member
    edited December 2016
    @BiffBrown :

    1. They actually have the MOST office hours. Who told you they had limited office hours (maybe people who chose not to attend or literally had a ridiculous amount of conflicts and should have scheduled an appointment)? lol Also, you are wrong about the problem solving sort of teaching (at least painting it in a black and white sense). It depends on how assessments are written. IF the teacher pitches the course as more like a memorization/pattern recognition course (a standard level course found at most less selective schools or MUCH larger section privates, elite or non. Soria's sections are quite small and so are Weinschenk's if you compare them to peer schools and definitely to public schools) with very basic level problem solving (like same level as say, easier or medium book problems), then there is no need to emphasize problem solving simply because assessments primarily ask for regurgitation of certain patterns and facts (like, predict product of this reaction we covered in class, and reactant will only have one possible area to react, or write the mechanism for this, and molecule is as simple as one as one covered in class. True/False, fill-in-blank, regurgitate a drawing for a very specific phenomenon occuring on the same molecule as the one used to demonstrate it in class......ochem basically becomes a lower division biology or a general chemistry class with carbons at this point). However, Weinschenk, despite being in roundtable room still lectures a majority of the time, and Soria is mainly in 360 and 240, standard style lecture halls. They use Socratic method when going through material (in essentially lecture format-unlike gchem professors, they do not just sit students down and give them worksheets. They have an agenda/material and they cover it on board or wherever but just involve students in learning it by calling the students out, giving some problems), which gives INSTANT feedback ("some" teachers literally talk, won't take any questions, and will essentially run out of the room after class to avoid students).

    Just because students don't like being held accountable (and would rather sit silently and take notes passively, go try to understand them, and then complain they don't when they are at a loss when reviewing. Instead, you instantly know what you aren't great at because you are directly engaged in the process) does not make it ineffective (I can see how flipped model for gchem is ineffective because those worksheets given could have been done at home. They are not provocative or interesting, could have been lectured, and look somewhat like a rehash of ALEKS, the book, and generally a waste of time if you are a student that prepares or studies frequently). The book can easily be used as a reference for both courses. Both instructors suggest book problems and textbook chapters to read. Soria gives out a topic list(which he aims to complete) and a problem list per exam and Weinschenk has "lecture notes" or review where he tells you what chapters contain the topics covered that day and the book portions to be covered in the next lecture. Anyone keeping up knows where to consult. Again, what both of them actually do is add on to what is covered in the book (usually more advanced material and perspectives) and then try to teach students to think through the material and WHY things are happening instead of just drawing things up on the board for students to copy and not really explaining what drives the reaction, alternatives, etc. Showing the nuances of the problem or concept and then involving the students in making educated guesses (like "what is the next step in this mechanism" or "why does this occur here instead of here") actually makes students able to solve much higher level problems than otherwise assuming that they don't cram for the exams.

    Whoever complains that they don't strictly follow the book is stuck in HS and does not want to follow the notes and rely on the book and additional problem solving sessions as another resource. For more difficult material, usually a term is given for it (say, anomeric or stereoelectronic effect), and if the notes were not clear, there is the internet or other books. I don't see the problem in getting students to begin directing their own learning to get to the next level. Teachers usually cannot get students to solve higher level problems on their own by holding their hands or spoonfeeding them (then students will expect the exact same problem type and will feel betrayed when they don't get it on their exam. So what most teachers who want to develop critical inquiry skills do is give a broad range of extra problems outside of the textbook for each unit and let students do it more alone in somewhat guided settings. Although sometimes Soria will host a bonus point activity in class that involves a higher level problem) . They give students the foundation (basic level concepts and reactions covered in book, book problems) which is a good starting place, and then they must see if they can instantly apply to harder problems (OYOs and studio sessions for Weinschenk and Soria respectively). Getting to the latter more so takes an ability to connect new with old concepts or to connect the current material covered to a broader framework, so yes, many will not just leave lecture and immediately know how to solve those problems. That is the purpose.

    2. The grades end up about the same at the end. Some instructors do not apply a curve at all (Soria and Jui- no offense, but Jui's students will be at a disadvantage in 222 if they do not step their game up, they were taught a lot of surface level material and mainly memorized reactions and mechanisms, there was non need for them to learn anything with complexity or to really understand why things happened. I tutored 2 students in there and I am a little worried despite both doing very solidly. They have more difficulty learning newer reactions because they did not really learn the principles behind similar older ones. They remembered the arrows and the outcome which is how they were taught. They were taught on a scenario by scenario basis with little explanation of the differences. Jui achieves his distribution by writing exams in the high 70s-80 and no curve. Soria has the bonus point system, applying points directly to exams of students who earn them). Weinschenk and McDonald curve to about the same thing (B-/B). There are multiple means through which a professor can achieve the same or a very similar distribution as colleagues.

    Also, when you think about a curve. Honestly, them all applying the same curve for the sake of doing so is SUPER questionable. Believe it or not, there are self-selection patterns where stronger students select more challenging sections. I am unsure if it is fair that McDonald, Jui, etc curve to the same levels as W and S (S is more strictly dependent on student strength since many have to earn bonus points to help their score. His will fluctuate from year to year. Weinschenk evaluates versus past classes to decide how to distribute so his can fluctuate as well). I can say that for those two, generally students get what they deserve, but I have seen in cases like Scarborough, where students are dramatically under-performing on easier exams but get curved to a similar distribution as those two. I would simply avoid the latter environment because it isn't healthy and does not promote achievement whatsoever. Students are basically taking advantage of him knowing that if they suck, he has to curve to similar levels as others. McDonald, they will get what they deserve, and I imagine Llewellyn would be the same. Again, in the end, they end up at the same level, but I am not sure if it is fair and reflects actual performance versus a reasonable norm in certain cases.

  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,293 Senior Member
    *Also, as a biology major. You can afford to get good teaching and take a risk in one class. Biology offers plenty of opps for A's in STEM classes, trust me. In the midst of a sea of A's, no one will care if you slip and get a non-A in something like ochem (and those two do not limit great rec. letters to those with A grades). Taking the right instructors can improve your thinking in ways that many other classes won't.
  • BiffBrownBiffBrown Registered User Posts: 452 Member
    @bernie12 That's helpful insight into the process. Thanks.

    When I talked about applying the same standards, I had meant that I assumed that the chemistry department enforced similar grading standards for different sections of the same course. Am I wrong about that?

    I'm not complaining about course materials that go beyond the textbook. I'm simply making the point that as a visual learner, I'm someone who absorbs information more easily after seeing it on the printed page. Presumably, there are more advanced textbooks or scientific articles that Weinschenk and Soria could refer students to that cover more sophisticated concepts. Do they do that?
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,293 Senior Member
    edited December 2016
    @BiffBrown : Usually faculty for one multi-section course may meet to discuss "suggested" standards, but many (especially tenured and tenure track) are free to deviate. Fortunately, it isn't really the case at Emory for ochem if you simply want the same distribution across sections. General chemistry is a tighter ship because you basically have two (you likely know who they are) making all of the "suggestions" to other sections and often even attempting to enforce them (also, it is gen. chem, except for curricular experiences, there isn't going to be this giant gap in the level to which instructors expect students to know material unless the instructor tries really hard. These are not the types to deviate strongly from a textbook. Ochem can be taken in many different directions and covered using many different conceptual frameworks because it is an actually field of chemistry. There is no one who does research in "general chemistry". Ochem teaching is more likely to reflect the research interests and training of the instructor).

    Also, it isn't a departmental thing (that is atypical at private schools). And again, it is difficult to set grading standards across sections unless they give the same or similar level assessments. When those are different, the idea of "fair" becomes arbitrary because you are comparing across sections which is kind of just wrong. That is likely what leads to some instructors forcing their lower caliber students and course to the same distribution as the other sections regardless of it is deserved or not (and you have extreme cases, where people like Menger used to give many more As than other sections, but likely that could happen in a stronger year. He wrote easy exams, so it may have been really easy for many to hit 80 something or whatever he wanted the A range to be). Basically, the normalization you speak of, in most cases, is likely to result in easier sections being more generous than they should be than the other way around (especially with regard to the B/C range students), but it looks okay on paper because the grade brackets are in line with the other sections. See what I mean?

    Also, if you are a visual learner, most more effective instructors in organic chemistry use the board or whatever display apparatus extremely well and it is far better than doing say....powerpoints. Organic chemistry mostly focuses on structure at Emory and not math, so that should not be a problem if you are a visual learner (again, I see the difference in general chemistry, where it may often be a lot of math or they just gloss over what they write so the representation in the textbook may have more clarity or present it in a way that you can understand better, but usually in ochem, whatever they write on the board and discuss about it is an accurate reflection of how they want you to approach understanding the topic). The pictures will usually be clear enough to the point where you know where to consult in the book if you are keeping up with the material.

    If one asks they may tell (I imagine some reluctance because they pull higher level problems from them sometimes. However, they likely know that most students will not recognize them), but part of the challenge (and goal) of that class is getting to the point where you even know how to read the advanced text or literature and understand what they are talking about. I promise you, from my own experience, and my experience tutoring, it takes a solid foundation to get to the point where consulting the advanced text is truly helpful (as you have to learn how to not be intimidated and even overlook perspectives and content as not relevant. In addition, you have to have good command over terminology in the topic to ensure that you can even use the index effectively).

    Again, usually the conceptual framework they give you in class is a good enough starting point. You just have to learn entertain different ways of seeing problems (like OYOs or studios) involving them (and recognizing when they are relevant for explaining certain things as opposed to a simpler concept so there is a lot of judgement involved) within reason to consistently solve higher level problems with any degree of success. The advanced texts will not get you there or give you any leg up before you are competent enough to use it (there is a reason they did not choose them for the course after all....very dense. So they use their lectures and discussions to fill in the gaps). If anything, you personally can use them to measure yourself up (basically, understanding the more complex chemistry in them is a benchmark). Right in the chemistry library shelves are books on writing organic mechanisms (seriously, for my better students, when tutoring over at Emory, I go to the shelf, grab one, find the relevant section, and have them read it to see if it clears up a harder concept....but again, for only for those who I know have the foundation in place). You can download full or large portions of advanced organic texts via the library website. There is also the Harvard database and Yale website to help learn how to solve tougher problems or engage with some of the non-textbook content they cover.
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