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jcs007's avatar

Should a student who has not been keeping up with a course gamble their grade on the final exam?

Asked by jcs007 (1765points) July 17th, 2008 from iPhone

OK. I’ll be honest with you. The student is me. Right now, I’m taking 2 summer classes: one is linear algebra and the other is stats/probability. I’m keeping up with my linear algebra just fine, but its the stats/probability class that I have not been keeping up with.

So here’s my dillemma: I can still pass the class on one condition, which is that I get a C- or above on the final exam. This means that ihave exactly 2 weeks and 1 day to learn a semester’s worth of stats and probability. However, the downside to this option is that if I don’t get a C- or above, I’ll have to retake the class. In addition, my grade from this semester and from when I retake the class will be averaged together, which means that I will probably not have a good GPA.

My other option is to just drop the class. On my permanent record, I get a W for withdrawn. Too many W’s on your permanent record isn’t good. Also, I have no idea how my loans will be affected by a class drop. On the plus side, if I retake the class, the effort that I put into it would be my actual grade. But I have to say this n
now, that effort won’t be very large…

Oh and I should add that if I choose to gamble on my final, it would be all self study from now until then.

Soooo, that’s my dillemma folks. What do you think I should do?

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9 Answers

Seesul's avatar

I understand and appreciate your tag line “professors who can’t teach”. I think the most important thing here is the unknown of how the loan will be affected. You need to pose this question (about the loan) to the person/office that handles that at your school in order to make the proper decision. Is there another prof that you can take the class from? Will it be a better experience? Is the class or the basis of it something you may really need in the future? My son had the same problem with a Freshman class in college. Others in the class retook it somewhere else and replaced the grade. He did pass, but he regretted what the grade did to his GPA. It didn’t bother us at all, and he ended up graduating with honors anyway. But it still bugged him.

You also need to ask how getting less than a C- would affect your loans. Get to someone right away and ask for help.

timothykinney's avatar

It depends a lot on your future plans, I think. If statistics is just a class you need to graduate and you aren’t planning to go to medical school, law school, or grad school, then it won’t matter if you have a W on your transcript or not. If you do have one of those plans, or statistics is your major, then you should tell the instructor your situation and ask for advice. He/she can usually tell you whether he/she thinks you will pass the class or not based on your final exam.

You have a chance of him/her telling you “You’re not going to pass anyway” or “I’ll pass you if you put in a good effort” which could make your decision much easier.

In the end, this is a life lesson. It’s not the end of the world and you will pull through and be successful in the future.

If you feel like it’s evenly divided between trying for the C- and dropping the class, I would advise trying for the C-. Having been on a hiring committee before, we preferred graduates who had the resolve to finish courses to those that withdrew. Having said that though, one W won’t hurt you much. Multiple Ws is a big red flag. But if you fail the class and take it again, you show that you have resolve to get the job done, even if stats isn’t your strength. And that’s important.

Good luck.

robhaya's avatar

Without risk, there’s no reward. If you feel you can accomplish learning a semesters worth of material over the course of 2 weeks well enough to get a C on the final, than go for it.

Good Luck!
R

skfinkel's avatar

Seems like a statistical question right here. Figure it out, and you’ll know your answer.

Seesul's avatar

I was thinking the same thing, skf, especially after the answer on the other question. From that alone, I know it’s not you, it’s the prof. I also know you could do better with a different one. You also look like you’re sharp enough to perhaps pull it off in two weeks (any good tutors around, I know, hard as finals approach). Tough decision, but a life learning experience, which is what college is all about. Get the facts and go from there. Either way, you have a lot going for you.

jlm11f's avatar

In my opinion, stats/probability was a pretty easy do-it-yourself class. Would you REALLY be learning everything from the semester for the final? i mean, or are you exaggerating? Is your Final comprehensive? if it’s comprehensive, what’s the breakdown? Will it be mainly new stuff and little bit of old stuff, or 50–50? All these questions matter. If the focus is on new stuff, I think you should be able to do it in 2 weeks (with lot of hardwork and no fluthering/other distractions of course). Taking the class again will be a major pain, and you have already admitted that you won’t be putting in that much effort the second time around. One bad grade doesn’t generally affect the loans, but this is really one of this “depends on the loan/individual” things. If statistics isn’t relevant to your major, I would say go for it. Just study, you should soon realize statistics is really all about a couple of ways of testing datas, bunch of formulas and simple old plug and chug. Good Luck.

shilolo's avatar

I say go for it. I had a similar event in college, only (and I’m not proud to say this), I had to learn an entire semester’s worth of material in one night! I had been on cruise control in the class, and aced the midterm, but then (assuming the rest of the class would be the same), stopped really paying attention. After the midterm, the entire focus of the class shifted, and so, I was stuck learning a ton of completely different and new material in one night. Needless to say, it was painful and stressful. I’ve never drank so much Mountain Dew at once (this was before I “discovered” coffee, and well before the Starbuck’s Revolution). But, I managed to pull out a B in the class (averaging my midterm and final), so, it all worked out in the end.

jcs007's avatar

Thanks for the responses everyone! I’ve been thinking this one through and through, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it is best to drop it. For what it’s worth (to me, this helps writing down the pros and cons, just to make sure I’m making the right decision), here’s the breakdown of the good and the bad:

Risking my grade on the final

pros
– Can get this class over with
– Time spent worrying about this class won’t be for nothing
– Work I did for the first 3 weeks won’t be for nothing
– I can say that I actually pulled this off

cons
– Can fail miserably on the final
– Can get a horrible grade that ruins my GPA
– Can be put on academic probation for not maintaining a certain semester GPA
– The effort I put into this class will take away energy I can put into my other class
– My current health condition will make this VERY tough

Dropping the class

pros
– The grade I get for retaking the class will better reflect my effort put into it.
– I can focus on my health issue right now that is bogging me down mentally and physically so that I can have more energy for when I do retake it.
– I can focus all my energy into my other math class

cons
– I have to retake the class
– My loans may yell at me
– All that time and energy spent on the work and worrying for this class was all for naught

The whole risk-reward thing definitely comes into play here. As much as I want the reward of the pros of risking my grade on the final, the things I risk are quite great. However, dropping the class makes the most sense since the worst that will happen is that my loans will yell at me. At this point in my college career, I can’t sacrifice any more of my GPA than I already have.

Again, thanks for your advice everyone! My fierce desire to be done with my math department tipped the scales in favor of the risk on the final. Unfortunately, that desire clouded my best judgment. It took my adviser here and my fellow Flutherites to help me make the right choice.

jlm11f's avatar

@jcs007 – we were not aware that you had a health condition, that would obviously change how the answerers viewed things. Congratulations for making a decision and Good Luck in your other classes :)

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