Simfish/InquilineKea's Thoughts

Feeling discouraged from doing anything math intensive?

Here are some inspirational examples that might help keep you moving:

Steven Smale: “He entered the University of Michigan in 1948. Initially, Smale was a good student, placing into an honors calculus sequence taught by Bob Thrall and earning himself A’s. However, his sophomore and junior years were marred with mediocre grades, mostly Bs, Cs and even an F in nuclear physics. However, with some luck, Smale was accepted as a graduate student at the University of Michigan’s mathematics department. Yet again, Smale performed poorly his first years, earning a C average as a graduate student. It was only when the department chair, Hildebrant, threatened to kick out Smale, that he began to work hard[citation needed]. Smale finally earned his Ph.D. in 1957, under Raoul Bott.”


Re: How often did you get a poor grade in a class despite knowing the material well?

As to myself, I got a D- in 2nd semester calc (well deserved) , a D in abstract algebra 1st semester (entirely deserved), and flunked out of school sophomore year (perfectly fair). I never complained about those grades as they were quite fair. Instead I worked for a year in a factory, went back to school, paid my own way, and began to earn better grades. Eventually I became a mathematician. Take your lumps, they are meant to teach you something. If you think you deserve a better grade than you got, most of the time it means you do not even have a clue what you are expected to know,. Go talk to the prof.

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