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Should I withdraw from this class?


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A little background first:

I'm 33, a non-traditional student who first returned to school to pursue pre-PT and around the time I was applying to PT school, I realized that PA school would be a better fit for me.

I ended up only being able to apply to one PA school last year (didn't realize that there was a time limit on Statistics as a prerequisite at most schools, as I had previously taken stats in 2004). I did not get an interview.

Wanting to cast a wider net in terms of applications this time around, I decide to retake stats and also take biochemistry this semester. Long story short, I currently have a C in the class, and though it's possible to get a B+ at this point, it's highly unlikely. I have a very hard time figuring out what is going to be on each exam (the volume of information is huge), and am already putting in a huge amount of time outside of class studying. I work full-time and am a home owner with tenants, so it is unrealistic to put more time into studying.

Truth be told, the programs I really want to get into are all local programs (I'm a homeowner and my parents are in their 70s and I would prefer to be local) and none of the local 4 programs (Wayne State, U of Detroit, Eastern Michigan, Toledo) require biochem as a prerequisite, so retaking the course isn't absolutely necessary. Wayne State would be my dream school to get into.

My question is should I withdraw from the course or should I tough it out and try to salvage a good grade? I know the pragmatic thing to do would be to withdraw, however, I do have concern that taking a withdrawal this late in my academic career would look bad. Am I being unreasonable?

For the record, my other prerequisites are done (except medical ethics, which I'm going to take at a CC next semester so I can apply to UD-M). My post-bacc GPA is a 3.97, and my last 60 credit hour GPA is about a 3.87 (I have 56 post-bacc credits currently).

 

EDIT:  I meant to say that the class in question is the biochemistry course.  I am doing just fine in stats.  

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I'd say to just stick it out and shoot for a B or better. Seek out some tutoring if need be. The rest of your GPA is top notch pending your science and cumulative are equivalent to your post-bacc GPA. Stats isn't make or break, especially if it's not a requirement for the programs you're looking at.

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Honestly don't have a great answer for you, but if it were me - I would be shooting for at minimum a B-.  It just seems that once you drop below that threshold then it sticks out more on the application. It's not a prerequisite for the places you want to go, but they will still see it on your transcript.  Getting a B- is better than withdrawing, but withdrawing is probably better than a C+ (but that is only my opinion and how I would look at it).  So you have to think about what you realistically can achieve - and tutoring is often a great place to start.

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I should clarify: it's the biochem course I'm having a hard time in. Stats I have an A.

Ah I see. I skipped over it being biochem. In that case, biochem can potentially raise some eyebrows. Especially so if it's medical biochem given how biochem comes up often when studying disease pathology. It's likely that one class won't make or break your application, but I agree with the above poster that B- > Withdrawal > C+.

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I'd tough it out.  I disagree that a C (or C+) would cause any damage to your application.  I say this as someone who HAD a C in biochem and had no problem getting interviews.

 

Even if you aren't acing the tests, having the knowledge will help you when you eventually get into PA school.  Trust me on this....seeing it ALL once before will be advantageous when the time comes to take PA biochem.

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I should also point out that one of my reasons for wanting to drop the course is that I realized mid-way through the third exam that students were blatantly cheating (IE: clearly asking each other "what's the answer to number 16?" etc.), and that this had likely been going on all semester.  After the exam, I said to the professor, "You know there are people talking during the exam, right?" to which he replied, "Oh, they're clueless, so I just let them talk."  I was infuriated.  Granted, I have no idea the degree to which this is affecting the integrity of the grade distribution, but the class averages should certainly be lower than they are -- where they're at now, he's not going to curve.  

I did go to class today and express to the professor that I wanted to withdraw -- truthfully, I don't because I am stubborn as hell, but if the pragmatic thing to do is drop, I will -- and he wanted to know why, so I explained my situation.  I did realize that the class average on this last exam was actually 10 points lower than I thought it was, meaning I scored over the mean (albeit barely).  He was nice enough and did explain that the exam we had just taken is always the hardest exam of the semester, the final is approximately 50% repeat questions from the midterm exams (which we have) and that my work thus far in the class would likely net me at least B for the rest of the semester.  I'm still not sure.  It's just risky is all, and with the unpredictability of the exams, I'm certainly hesitant to commit to it.  

I have two weeks to decide.  I could always withdraw and then just audit for the rest of the semester so I am exposed to the material. 

 

Would you guys stay in the class knowing full well that the grade distribution has no integrity due to the rampant cheating?

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The grade distribution and cheating has no bearing on how you learn the material, study, and take your exams.

 

It may be frustrating, but those are things that are out of your control.  How YOU do in the course is still up to you.

 

What are you going to say when asked at PA school interviews about why you withdrew from a course?  I got mad that the other kids were cheating so I left?  That won't make you look good.

 

If you have the potential to finish the course with a B, stick it out.  Stay in your lane.  Do your best work.  You can't control what other students do, nor should you try.

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Knowing the information your professor gave, I would definitely stick it out.  A "W" certainly doesn't look good and is marginally better than a C+ (and some would argue it's no better).  Assuming you are able to succeed at earning a B then that will only enhance your application, even if the school your applying to doesn't require it.  It shows you're capable of high level coursework, which is PA school.

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The only time a W would factor into your GPA is if it is a WF (withdrawn failing) or WP (withdrawn with penalty, usually for dropping past the school's drop period). These factor into your GPA as Fs. If withdrawing will give you a WF or a withdraw with penalty, stick out the class as a mediocre grade will look 10x better than an F.  A regular W or a W without penalty doesn't impact your GPA at all, in which case the choice is entirely a personal one.

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The only time a W would factor into your GPA is if it is a WF (withdrawn failing) or WP (withdrawn with penalty, usually for dropping past the school's drop period). These factor into your GPA as Fs. If withdrawing will give you a WF or a withdraw with penalty, stick out the class as a mediocre grade will look 10x better than an F.  A regular W or a W without penalty doesn't impact your GPA at all, in which case the choice is entirely a personal one.

A WP at my university means withdrawal while passing. How does that translate into a F? Are you sure about that?

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a WP will not affect your GPA; a WF will.  See the CASPA FAQ.  

 

Q: What types of courses ARE NOT included in my GPA at all?

A: Any course in which a grade of withdrawal (passing), pass/no-pass, audit, incomplete, exempted or not yet enrolled is indicated will not be included in the GPAs.

https://portal.caspaonline.org/caspaHelpPages/frequently-asked-questions/processing-your-application/grade-point-average-gpa-calculations/

as for having Ws on your transcript in general, it depends.  I had scattered Ws (or Qs as they were on my transcript).  The only ones that anyone in interviews ever asked about were the consecutive ones, all recent, where I restarted Org Chem 4 times.  As long as you have a reasonable explanation -- in my case, my reasons were 1-a new job with different hours that conflicted with class & lab times, 2-my stepmother's health worsened dramatically (and she died), 3-mother was dx with a glioblastoma multiforme (she also died), before I was able to complete the course -- it's unlikely to be an issue.  Dropping the course because other people were cheating?  I can't say how that would be perceived.  

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A WP at my university means withdrawal while passing. How does that translate into a F? Are you sure about that?

Many schools use different symbols to represent the same thing, so the letters "WP" in and of themselves do not necessarily mean "Withdrawn with Penalty" (though on some transcripts they do). Sometimes it's a W with a little asterisk, but again, it varies. If it means withdrawn passing, you're fine. But if you have a WF or a withdrawn WITH penalty (using whatever symbol your school uses to represent that) that is counted as an F. CASPA uses the back of your transcript to reference what the symbols mean beyond your A-F grades since they vary school to school. You can use the back of your transcript as well to determine what your symbols mean.

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