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Thread: getting a withdrawal grade in math course

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    getting a withdrawal grade in math course

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    I'm currently a junior in a college in the US (top 20 phd econ), double majoring in econ and math. I was wondering how much it will hurt me when I apply in the future if I drop Operations Research I and take a W(withdrawal grade) this semester, and take it again in the future and get an A. I've been struggling a lot this semester (frequent family/health issues) and I didn't do well on the midterms (expected to either get a C or B in the course if I continue). As to my previous math background, I didn't start strong (got a C in introduction to proof class and a B in matrix algebra), but ended up A's in Calc 1-3, Differential Equations, two Real Analysis courses, Linear Algebra, Abstract Algebra, Mathematical Probability, Statistical Inference, and a B in Discrete Math. (Planning on taking more math electives and some grad-level econ courses before I apply). Assuming that I would like to apply to a good number of top10 and top 20 schools, if I take a W now and make it up with an A before I apply to PhD programs, will it still hurt me? (I have no W's so far on my transcript.) Also, if I decide to apply to RA positions before PhD (still thinking about it), will it hurt me during that process as well?

    Thanks for your help.

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    Re: getting a withdrawal grade in math course

    I think with your described math background, it won't disadvantage you too much in your RA search.

    I had a poor intermediate level statistics grade (a B-) and I asked many advisers in undergrad if it was worth re-taking the class and doing well. They said no, just take further classes and do better. So I took Probability Theory, and still didn't do much better (B) though I did do well in my analysis sequence. Somehow I still ended up at the Fed as an RA. Grades are only a foot in the door, it takes an interest in research and knowledge of coding/research skills to be competitive for an RA position.

    As for how it will look for PhD admissions, from what I've gathered it seems like people outside of the Top 10-15 don't have perfect transcripts.

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    Re: getting a withdrawal grade in math course

    Thanks for your thought! I would still like to apply top 10-15, do you think it'll hurt me a lot then? (Assuming I get A's in the rest of my math and econ courses). Any other thoughts?

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    Re: getting a withdrawal grade in math course

    It's certainly going to hurt; the typical U.S. admit to a top 15 program will have consistent A-range grades in math courses. That said, you have enough strong grades in other courses to get a careful evaluation anywhere, and the weight on grad econ courses and RA performance are higher than your math transcript altogether. You'll still have a lot of time to work on making your profile strong enough for top 15. Take the W or take a B/C but there's nothing much you can do at this point.

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    Re: getting a withdrawal grade in math course

    I had a withdrawal mark on my transcript for linear algebra. I took the class during my second to last or last quarter at my undergrad (UCLA) and came 15 minutes late to a 50 minute mid-term. Needless to say, it was one of my worse mistakes in undergrad. I ended up taking the course again at a community college after I graduated and got an A. I consider my math background to be on the weaker side compared to other candidates (I took one Real Analysis course, 3 calc, 2 stats, and linear algebra). I applied this year and was accepted to only one school, UCLA, and wait-listed at UCSD. I was rejected from all other schools (I applied widely to top 15 programs). I new going in that the withdrawal and the weirdness of how I took the math courses (most of them after I graduated) would not generally be good for my application. My admission results at non-California schools are in line with this assessment (as always, they aren't necessarily causal), but I do think that being able to say that I took classes at a community college (which is a check-box on some UC applications) combined with the re-take were helpful for the UC schools. I am not sure how well this applies to you if you are not in California (also my only acceptance was also my undergrad university, so there are a bunch of confounding things about my situation). When I applied and thought about the withdrawal, I took some time to decide whether to point it out or leave it, since all the apps have a section for discussing extenuating circumstances. In my case, I decided to let it be. There were some issues I went through when I withdrew from that linear algebra course, but I did not find them particularly compelling. You had some medical issues, so perhaps it might be relevant to directly mention it. So all in all I agree with what has been said by chateau. Just thought I would add a personal anecdote.

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    Re: getting a withdrawal grade in math course

    thanks for all your inputs! how will these math grades (including W in Operations Research initially then an A after retake) affect me when applying to RA positions at top universities, if anyone has any idea?

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