My grades suck

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#1 Featherfy  Icon User is offline

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My grades suck

Posted 22 April 2014 - 09:49 PM

I am becoming extremely frustrated right now...because I'm going through that "WHAT DO I DO WITH MY LIFE PHASE"

I'm about to finish my freshman year, but not with grades I should have. Especially if I'm a CS major.

Seriously...
I took Calc 2 my first semester here, and I got a C. Long story short, I should have waited until this semester to take it, but I had nothing else to take.

And now, I'm in an Intro to C++ class, and I'm pretty much looking at a B+ or a B if I'm lucky.

I'm pretty sure those grades won't help me with anything in the future if I start looking for internships starting the middle of next year. I don't want to give this up, because I honestly don't know what else to do that will ensure I have a job and a future.

No, I'm not saying I hate this, I really like it. A LOT actually, though those grades don't show it. And a part of me sees me getting Bs and B+s in future CS classes in the future. I currently have a 2.82 GPA (because of Calc) and should I get lucky with finals, my gpa at the end of the year should range from a 3.29-3.33 (IF I'M LUCKY) which pretty much means I'm going to get kicked out of the honors program until I (hopefully) raise my GPA up to a 3.4. I'm furious with myself, and I think this is more of a rant post than anything.

I was on a roll earlier, and then the harder part of C++ caught up to me, and somehow the harder parts of all other classes sort of coincidentally occurred at the same time. I feel like I can't do anything because of this stupid C and B+ grades. I mean, what CS major can't even get an A in an intro to C++ class? I know I won't be getting an A on this final, and a B is still pushing it. And if anything, I've been working way harder at the end of the semester than the beginning...I don't even know what happened. Everything was looking great. :(( And I'm having such a hard time not giving up, because even if I spend hours studying my grade will barely improve.

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Replies To: My grades suck

#2 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: My grades suck

Posted 22 April 2014 - 10:11 PM

I came out of freshman year with not so good grades. I ended up looking at things, much as you are, and decided math was more up my alley to complement my interests in theoretical CS. I worked harder and smarter my second year and my grades came up. My GPA isn't where I want it to be for graduate school right now, but it's above a 3.0, so I'm not in dangerous territory.

In terms of internships, frankly you're not ready to start applying if you're struggling with Intro to C++. Your focus next year, in my opinion, should be a few things:
-Improving your grades
-Refocusing your study habits
-Developing your abilities as a programmer

The other thing you can do to help complement your GPA is to work on a project. I have friends in CS who have gotten internships with 2.8-3.0 range GPAs because they've had awesome projects. One friend was rejected on the hiring process by a company. He walked by their booth at a career fair, showed them a project, and they told him to reapply. He was hired. This all goes towards developing your abilities as a programmer.

I don't know how you study, but you should meet with your student success center to learn how to study better. I would also suggest making sure you're not biting off 16-18 hours if you can't handle it. Take 13-15 hours if that's more manageable, until you can get yourself in a position to do better.
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#3 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: My grades suck

Posted 22 April 2014 - 10:35 PM

I've never been asked about my GPA on any job interview in my life. I wouldn't be too worried about that. However, as mac says, if you're really getting the material, you shouldn't be struggling for grades, so something is going wrong here. Failure analysis is a useful skill for a programmer, so try applying it here: look at your recent homework and tests. Where are you losing points? What can you learn from this?
If you're losing points to "stupid mistakes", that's a bad place to lose points. Programmers really need to be good at double-checking their work and spotting small errors. "Stupid mistakes" that slip past code review and get into the repo can take anything from hours to weeks to find, depending on how stupid and how subtle they are. In that case, you want to think about slowing down and being more present in your work. Don't rush, it wastes a lot of time.
If you find there are deeper concepts you're not grasping, you should go and talk to your TA or professor about this. The teaching staff is there to make sure you learn, and if you didn't get it the first time, you can discuss it with them. They will probably be able to make some suggestions, either in terms of ways to think about the problem or in terms of further reading that might help. Another useful approach is to talk to your fellow students and find someone who wants to form a study group. Three or four people reading through the questions on a test will usually find that for any problem that any one of them had trouble with, there is someone who understood it and can explain it. And in a group that small, you'll find you can't hide - you'll have to do a lot of explaining, which will be very good for your understanding of the concepts.
If you find that you're running out of time on programming problems - write more code. A professor writing an exam is going to give you problems that they expect you to get through in the allotted time. If you're not finishing, you need to write more programs. You want to know the language so well that you don't have to think about the syntax when you're writing a program. (If you use an IDE that does syntax highlighting or autocompletion, turn them off. Learn to see the code for yourself, with your own eyes!)
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#4 BetaWar  Icon User is offline

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Re: My grades suck

Posted 23 April 2014 - 07:54 AM

One thing to keep in mind, they don't put "Dr. D-" on your diploma. Grades don't matter that much overall. It is more your GPA that employers care about, and that is really just for internships and the first 1 or 2 jobs out of college. After that you should have the requisite 3-5 years of industry experience and that should be good enough for most jobs.

I got a C in a few classes and a D in another during college and still graduated with over a 3.5 GPA, so having a bad semester or two won't kill you. I even got B's in some CS classes. All of that and I was still able to find a job. I also had a higher GPA than many of my friends who found jobs.

Moral: Grades are important, yes, but just because some of them aren't optimal doesn't mean your life is ruined.
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#5 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: My grades suck

Posted 23 April 2014 - 08:25 AM

I just want to pause and recognize the insertion of "Dr. D" into the conversation.

Carry on.
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#6 Josh350  Icon User is offline

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Re: My grades suck

Posted 24 April 2014 - 05:38 PM

"Dr. D" Ha!

Don't feel bad, I have a big fat "F" under me. Mainly my fault for not turning in my withdrawal form. My GPA is at 3.0 as it stands, will be going up to 3.3 - 3.4. I also have a C in one of my other math courses. So no, your life is not ruined. I believe this semester has you burned out. I'm burned out too and I empathize.

As far as programming, what are you having difficulty with? I'm taking a basic programming course this semester but I've learned that programming lays in a few core topics, If then statements, Case Structures, Arrays, Loops, Do While statements. Looking at different language I've realize, while structured differently, they all follow the same concept. Don't be afraid of coding like I was, it's very easy. To be honest, I didn't even read the book once this semester and my course was 10 minutes long; for some odd reason I was able to pick everything up by realizing that code is very basic if you know the "logic" behind it. All you code saavy people correct me if I'm wrong. I'm new to this so I might be totally wrong.
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#7 Martyr2  Icon User is online

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Re: My grades suck

Posted 24 April 2014 - 06:20 PM

One thing I have been told by instructors at universities is that they often make it hard for freshman to help weed out the bad, lackluster students. It is not to be mean but it is to help you decide if it is really for you before you get to a senior year and decide that you wasted three years of your life. In the programs I have taken they were brutal the first year and then afterwards (and after half the washouts left) then things got a bit more casual and easy going and then the serious students could actually focus on the good stuff.

I have heard this from many students over the years. So stick with it, push through and I am sure you will find greener pastures on the other side. :)
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#8 Featherfy  Icon User is offline

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Re: My grades suck

Posted 25 April 2014 - 01:44 PM

Yea. I just took my C++ final today...hoping for a C :(( so I can get a B in the class. Ugh that's really bad

Anyway, last night I really sat down and realized that I am indeed doing too much. I'm taking 18 hrs/5 classes right now; and I could handle it pretty well but it burned me out by spring break and I did nothing over break. So I started falling behind hehe. Plus 5 classes means 5 finals way too close to each other. It's ridiculous.

I came to college hoping to do a double major in bio/CS. Well that's not going to happen obviously because it's just not physically possible. I actually need some sleep. I did sign up for ochem next semester in addition to physics and the next CSE class, but I'm 95% sure I'll drop it before the year starts and plug a small music class or easy class in for a GPA boost and a mini break from legit classes.

I was doing fine this semester but it all went downhill...plus a group project screwed me over w/ incompetent group members. Whatever...I was hoping to do better because it looks like I'm going to get kicked out of the honors program, at least for the fall semester until I can bring my GPA back up to a 3.4.

But I feel that as long as I get it together and just FOCUS ONLY ON CS, I should be fine. At least based off of what you guys said, my GPA isn't a huge factor in a lot of things unless I want to do grad school which is still way up in the air right now. Eh, I might just spend summer reworking C++ and making sure I really understand it because if I get time to read it, I will totally get it...I just neglected to do so.
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#9 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: My grades suck

Posted 25 April 2014 - 01:53 PM

Try to avoid the "when I have time" trap. I remember telling one of my guitar students about this. What I ended up saying to him, and I say to you now is this: "You will never have more time than you have right now - and this will always be true."
It took him a few minutes to get that completely, but he stopped putting things off after that.
If something needs to be done, figure out how to do it now - what can you do today, and tomorrow, to get this done? Do that, and keep doing it. If you do happen to have more free time later on, you can do more then - but start doing it now.
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#10 Featherfy  Icon User is offline

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Re: My grades suck

Posted 25 April 2014 - 11:48 PM

I'm just really worried about getting internships. I mean a C in a math class and a B in a CS class will raise flags, if anything. I mean, unless I do really well in my CS classes next semester and next year, those grades and the GPA are undesirable.
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#11 astonecipher  Icon User is offline

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Re: My grades suck

Posted 26 April 2014 - 08:42 AM

Start working on side projects if you haven't previously. Create projects that shoe you do understand the material. Having a poor gpa that can be explained why , with something that shows you have grasped the concepts is better than a bad gpa and saying, 'screwed up what should I do'
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#12 Featherfy  Icon User is offline

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Re: My grades suck

Posted 26 April 2014 - 07:51 PM

K well I ended up with a B- in the class :/
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#13 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: My grades suck

Posted 26 April 2014 - 08:29 PM

Employers will care more about how you did in your 3000 Data Structures class than in your 1000 Intro to C++ class. The junior level class will have bigger and more intense programming projects than an intro class, so it's a better gauge of your abilities. You're at the point where you're really learning the basics. In an internship environment, you'll be writing thousands of lines of code, not the 150 lines of code programs you've been writing. So I'd place most of my emphasis on improving next year, which includes working on more projects.
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#14 Featherfy  Icon User is offline

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Re: My grades suck

Posted 26 April 2014 - 08:34 PM

Ok. So, how do you guys go about finding projects to start working on? I know that obviously working on projects help you learn and improve skills better than classes, but I'm stuck as to when you have enough...knowledge to actually start a project?

I don't know really what to think of if I want to start a project. Like start small and working my up makes sense...but where do I start.

what did you guys do to start off? I love working on things like this, believe me. When I am coding, I really like it. It's honestly a lot of fun. I know my parents are going to give me a hard time about this because I've done bad in these intro classes, but it's either this or a science major --> medical school which will definitely not go better.
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#15 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: My grades suck

Posted 26 April 2014 - 08:51 PM

What are you interested in, aside from CS? Are you into biology? If so, be the bioinformatics guy. Learn about it and write relevant code. Are you into accounting? Write some really basic accounting software (not something you'd use professionally, but something small to practice). If you're into game theory, study algorithmic game theory and write code there.

There are also a ton of sites like Project Euler and Rosalind.info where you can practice more.

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but it's either this or a science major --> medical school which will definitely not go better.

Take it from me- don't major in something *just* because it's employable. You want to be able to find a job, but you also want to enjoy what you do. If you find yourself not enjoying CS down the road, it's okay to change majors or pick up a minor you do enjoy. After all, you're the one who has to get a job with these skills, not your parents.
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