Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Reflection on Dropping a Class

I don't consider myself someone who often gives up on things. Often I'll want to quit something because it's difficult or tedious, but due to my goal-oriented personality I'll stick through things until the end. Even if it's kind of stupid to keep going with something, I'll muster the strength to push through.

Yesterday I dropped one of my college classes, engineering physics. I've had bad grades in classes before. Once I failed a semester of gym (I've never been the athletic type). In high school I got a 72 on my physics exam, something that completely blindsided me. I've failed my share of tests, including a Spanish test where I perfectly did something in a particular form of the past tense, but it was the wrong form of past tense. Even in those classes I kept going and ended up doing better.

But, in a way, I gave up with EP. My first test grade was a 58. The second was a 31. Don't get me wrong, I've overcome academic mountains in my time. Last semester I had a class, Data and Program Structures, which was ridiculously hard for me to understand. Failed at least one of the tests. The information was abstract and the professor's teaching method didn't resound well for me. But I ended up rocking the final exam and graduated with a high B. It seems as though EP was just too much. It was my Everest, something I couldn't overcome.

I admit part of the reason I had to drop the class was due to my own laziness. I could have studied more, asked more questions, gotten more help. Then again, there's always more I could have done. The other part of why I dropped was the class itself. I would routinely spend three hours a day, four days a week, just doing the homework for the class itself. That didn't leave much time to study for other classes. And so much information was pushed on us in a single class that you really needed to "hurry up and learn." Even if a chapter's worth of material was taught in the 50-minute class (which actually happened before), there would be an assignment due at 4:30 PM that same day. That only gives me three hours to complete homework on a chapter's worth of stuff I had been hurriedly taught in less than an hour!

Plus we had studios, basically lab classes, that were hands-on. Honestly, I'm not the hands-on sort of guy. I don't like to experiment; I prefer to calculate. I'm a logician, or perhaps a number cruncher. There were interpersonal issues that hampered my experience in the studio and in any case the people I worked with knew the stuff better than I.

I feel a little bad for dropping the class. Now I'm down to being a part time student (I was full time at 12 credit hours, and EP accounted for 5 of those). I feel like I'm not really using my time wisely anymore. Like I could be more productive by having more than just two classes. Tuesdays and Thursday only have classes at 12:30 PM now, and on other days I'm done by 11:30 AM. What am I even doing here if I'm not a full time student? There's also the fact that my graduation has possibly been delayed another semester, depending on how things ultimately turn out.

At the same time, it was good for me to withdraw from the class. I wasn't understanding the material. Perhaps that 72 back in high school should have been a warning. Even though it's just a matter of remembering equations and how they relate, the course is surprisingly hard for me. I guess it's partially because it deals with how objects move and interact. Imagining that kind of stuff is a bit beyond my understanding. Also, the class was a huge time sink. That's to be expected from a 5 credit class, but dang. Maybe I could have used my weekends more effectively but nonetheless, it ate up so much time I couldn't do much of anything else. By dropping the class, I'm sparing my GPA from horrible damage, at the expense of getting a W on my transcript. There's no reason to believe employers will be bothered by this. Instead I'll probably take a chemistry class to fulfill the requirements EP was supposed to satisfy.

I can use the free time from having one less class to focus more energy on the other ones, and perhaps enjoy my time a little more. I don't want to start goofing off all day because that is inefficient use of time and contradicts the entire point of being at university. Still a chance to relax is really nice. The impetus on me now is to utilize the opened time slots available and work harder on the other two classes I have.

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