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Paranoid - Am I Just Worrying Too Much?

tbeckman3tbeckman3 Registered User Posts: 19 New Member
edited June 2011 in Harvey Mudd College
Hey guys,

I am enrolled to go to HMC and hopefully study engineering or biology/chemistry jointly. Now, to my question: I got a job right after 1st semester ended and all my applications were sent in order to start raising money to help my parents pay for my college. I work 3-4 days per week for 5 hours, so naturally it took away from the time I was able to focus on school. I have been a straight A student my whole life, but my AP Calc BC and AP Physics C grades have both dropped to high and mid B's respectively. I know the material, I just haven't had time to study the specific problems needed to pass tests or to focus on my lab work.

Now, I know I'm not going to get kicked out or anything, but since HMC is such an intense math and science school, will there be any repercussions because of this, such as different placement or anything? At ASP they all told us to loosen up and that we'd have to get used to not getting straight A's at Mudd, but I'm not sure they meant last semester of high school. :(

I'm like 90% sure I'm worrying WAY too much, but hey, I figured asking wouldn't hurt. Thanks.
Post edited by tbeckman3 on
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Replies to: Paranoid - Am I Just Worrying Too Much?

  • fiona_fiona_ Registered User Posts: 1,811 Senior Member
    You'll be perfectly fine, some Mudders didn't take those classes in HS and they're managing well :) However, since content from those classes is used in college classes, it might be worth reviewing/studying it if you have free time.
  • AnthroponomistAnthroponomist Registered User Posts: 121 Junior Member
    Don't worry about it. I didn't take Calc BC, and while I did take a class on the mechanics portion of C (and an independent study on E&M, which kind of faltered away to next to nothing after the second week of it lol), I didn't take any of the APs because my school doesn't require it and I already knew I was in. (Thus pocketing $46 X 2 I think.)

    I'm not too worried about placement or anything like that. We'll both end up where we're most fit to be, probably. Mid B's isn't anything to worry about, and I don't think grades matter for placement anyways--I believe it's all on the tests at orientation etc (someone can check me on that).
  • Blackroses216Blackroses216 Registered User Posts: 1,326 Senior Member
    There is absolutely NOTHING for you to be worrying about. Getting Bs will not effect you in anyway whatsoever. Placement is determined by tests you can optionally take to be placed into an advanced section of a course or pass out all together. There will be no repercussions whatsoever.. and seriously, repercussions over Bs? You need to chill out, enjoy your last summer before college (even if you are working, I worked too last summer) and just relax! Seriously you will be fine. :) Please, please, please do not stress out so much! And please don't freak out about grades when you get here! That is seriously one of the worst things you could do!
  • nemomnemom Registered User Posts: 1,607 Senior Member
    You will certainly be fine. They are not going to kick you out for a few Bs in your last semester of high school. Blackroses216 is right about placement - the HM placement exams (and, in some cases, conversations with department folks) are what will matter there. Once you start at college, nobody will really much know or care what you did in high school as well.
    Get used to the idea of Bs too.
    Definitely relax and recharge. That's what my child is doing.
  • tbeckman3tbeckman3 Registered User Posts: 19 New Member
    Thanks guys, I was mainly worried just because HMC is a math and engineering school and the courses my grades dropped in were in those categories. I won't worry anymore then, phew! Although I may review a bit for those placement tests after a full summer.
  • Blackroses216Blackroses216 Registered User Posts: 1,326 Senior Member
    Also, a note to you and any other incoming students- Don't do an excessive amount of studying to get into a harder section. You really aren't doing yourself any favors. It doesn't give you an advantage in anything (like a GPA boost). It's just harder. By all means if you think you know the material and feel like you would be bored (although keep in mind all mudd freshman classes are likely to go way more in dept than your high school classes), then by all means take the placement test. I think some of the people in the advanced physics section told me that although it was harder, they got slightly less work. Not sure how accurate that really is. I know for Math 25 (I think they're changing the name again this year.. they're separating Calculus and Linear Algebra into two half semester courses for you guys) we had a Black and a Gold section. You could get into the Black section by exam, and was usually if you had taken BC calc. Even though I had taken BC calc, I still didn't do that great on the exam, and I wouldn't want to have taken an advanced section anyway (my high school wasn't the best to say the least). It was just more theory based/ more proofs.. which I'm not very fond of anyway, so I was more than happy not to be in that section. So yeah, if you feel like that's what you really want, go for it; but don't go with the mentality that higher placement is better, that's bound to stress you out!
  • nemomnemom Registered User Posts: 1,607 Senior Member
    Yup - you want to be in the right section, not the hardest section you can possibly manage to squeeze into. From what I see, a lot of the freshman year is spent getting everybody up to speed and into the college mode. A really hard high school course is just different in manner from an equally hard college course. Having much less class time can take considerable getting used to. Physics can be tricky too because basic physics courses can vary a great deal in terms of what topics are covered.
    Math is similar - back when I rode my dinosaur to class , geometry was all about proofs, but I know that a lot of HS geo courses do very little proof work - but they cover material we didn't.
    Blackroses216 - I know first semester is p/f, but after that, can kids do p/f in courses generally? (Just wondering - I have no clue what my child would do.)
  • Blackroses216Blackroses216 Registered User Posts: 1,326 Senior Member
    Also note- there will be sophomore's in some of your classes. I know for mechanics at least (spring), about 10 people dropped and another 10 or so failed this year. I believe that says something about the difficulty of the physics courses here, since Mudd students were the top students in their high schools. I am oh so looking forward to Electricity and Magnetism next semester...

    As for pass fail, after the first semester students have the option of taking one course pass fail each semester. HOWEVER, the course can not be a core course, a major course, or part of the concentration. Basically, these can be additional math/ science courses you want to take, or humanities courses (they can still meet graduation requirements, just not be part of your concentration). Also, while a D is considered passing letter grade wise, you need a C- equivalent to receive a pass.

    Keep in mind after the first year, the average student GPA is somewhere around 2.7-2.8 I believe (Yes, this means most students get at least one or two B-s or even Cs!). You are considered to be on the honors list with a GPA above a 3.0 (given you took more than 15 credits the given semester). If you don't pass a course, you can still graduate on time, and that goes the same for dropping courses. If a student is at risk of failing, even if it is a core course, they can drop it and retake it. I'd say about 10-15% of the freshman class had to drop or got a NC for a first semester course.
  • lizardrocklizardrock Registered User Posts: 83 Junior Member
    Wondering how you can graduate on time with a failed/dropped class. I imagine one class may not be an issue but I am interested if your academic advisor helps you lay out a plan if needed. I know in looking at my daughter's 4 year sample schedule there is little/no room for changes. Can students take summer courses at other universities and transfer the credits in? I don't know why but I thought that was very difficult to do at Mudd. I know that summer math is available during the summer after frosh year, but if you have had serious struggles during the year I am not sure as a parent I would push for an accelerated math program.
  • SuinSuin Registered User Posts: 182 Junior Member
    Limited humanities classes can be taken at other universities, which can help in graduating on time. I'm not sure how often students do this however. Summer math can give you a bit of slack as well. Otherwise you'd have to overload, which would most certainly not be fun.

    Placement tests would determine what classes you're in, but seeing as how you haven't taken any advanced college courses you'd probably be in the standard classes anyway.
  • twocollegetwocollege Registered User Posts: 133 Junior Member
    Do the students who drop mechanics in the first year still take electromagnetic theory
    in the second year or must they wait until junior year?
  • Blackroses216Blackroses216 Registered User Posts: 1,326 Senior Member
    As Suin said, you can take some humanities classes at other universities over the summer (which I assume are approved beforehand), and summer math also helps. You wouldn't actually necessary have to even overload, although it would be more likely. (You need something like 16 credits a semester, some 17 to graduate on time as an engineer.. taking 18 credits more than one semester could prevent an overload. There are ways to do this, but it takes careful planning (advisor can help out) and if you drop too many credits, it is unlikely that you will be able to study abroad. Dropping/ retaking a total of 3 classes will not kill you (assuming only one or none of them are full semester courses).

    The students who dropped mechanics will be in electromagnetic theory this coming fall semester. Mechanics is only offered in the spring, so that is when they'd be taking it with the freshman. However, these students also have the option of taking a joint science class and passing out by a Mudd exam, or just passing out by Mudd exam all together (which is awfully hard to do).
  • Blackroses216Blackroses216 Registered User Posts: 1,326 Senior Member
    Also I just finished summer math- and I can agree to the fact that it isn't the best idea for students who were struggling during the year. While it gives you time to concentrate only on two math subjects, the structure is really intense and leaves little room for "not getting it". Basically, you take your classes in the morning from 9-12, and then you have 8+ hours of homework a night usually. Each of the two professors have a one hour office hour (although you can schedule separate time) which is different from having 2-3 hours a day during the year, as well as being able to work on your homework the night before and then go in with questions after you have time to fully look at it. You don't have that opportunity; office hours are held a few hours after class, and since the homework takes so long you might not have gotten to something you'd be stuck on later at night. There is tutoring though. But the homework is due at 9am the following morning, and the cycle repeats. We had a quiz everyday in one of the classes, and 2 hour take home quizzes each Saturday for the other class. It was intense to say the least, and included a lot of sleep deprivation.

    So for students who may have struggled before, not the best idea. It's hard to keep up with the homework, as well as understanding the material. So even if they did get through it, it is possible to receive a significantly lower grade than had they otherwise taken it during the year (given, they'll have a bunch of other classes to take then).
  • fiona_fiona_ Registered User Posts: 1,811 Senior Member
    Also note that credits come from PE, colloquium, and forum, which count toward the 128 credits needed for graduation, so you need about 120 'real credits' == 15 credits per term. So one dropped class means an extra class another semester.
  • WAMOM2WAMOM2 Registered User Posts: 118 Junior Member
    Getting back to your original question, you don't need to worry for slipping down to Bs in a few classes, but don't freak out if you have to write a letter. My son, had a couple of Bs and a B- his spring semester of senior year due to being gone at various competitions and a wee bit of senioritis. They sent a letter saying he was not at risk of losing his acceptance, but as it was quite a change from his prior record, they wanted him to explain the drop. Not a big deal, but just be prepared that you mihgt see that and don't worry about it.

    I also agree about not jumping ahead too far. If you place out of classes, then the more advanced classes are not pass/fail first semester.
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