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As a freshman, I NP a physics for engineers class on purpose because I wanted to switch to the physics major, and if I finished that class I would have been unable to take the first two classes in the physics for physicists series(I attempted to late drop after realizing that I want to pursue physics, but that petition was rejected, so I had to NP the class).

I technically could have substituted the physics for engineers series with the physics for physicists series, but the physics for engineers series was quite bad in that it incorporated a flipped classroom technique(which I find unhelpful), and it was also less in depth and moved at a quicker pace. As a result, I wanted to start the physics for physicists series from scratch. In this case, would my NP in a physics class hinder my grad school application if I did well in the physics for physicist series after changing majors?

  • Could you not withdraw from the course? – xuq01 Mar 9 '18 at 3:10
  • Nope the engineering college likes to be hard asses and rarely accept petitions, even in medical situations apparently. – Fast Carp Mar 9 '18 at 3:38
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    @JessicaB In another 4 years, when OP is applying for grad school, the flipped classroom fad will have spent itself, and it will be universally acknowledged as one of the silliest educational experiments to date. You heard it here first. – B. Goddard Mar 9 '18 at 12:07
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    @B.Goddard Haha I sure hope so, not sure why it is still being adopted when most students dislike it. – Fast Carp Mar 9 '18 at 22:14
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    @FastCarp It's based on the "brilliant" observation that if students do more homework, they get better test scores. So now technology gives us this Big Brother way of enforcing more homework. Short term gains are there, but long term: The students don't learn to be self-disciplined, so when they get to upper division courses, they flounder all the more. The people who broke education in the 60's are now in charge of fixing it. We're doomed. – B. Goddard Mar 9 '18 at 22:53
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If you do excellent work for the rest of your undergraduate career, consistent with standards required for graduate school, I doubt that anyone will notice one NP on the record in your freshman year.

Ideally, one of the professors writing a letter of recommendation 3.5 years from now can make the briefest of mentions of an 'administrative snafu' at the start being the only blemish on an excellent transcript. Especially in that case, you can get by without making a fuss over it in your letter of application. (In any case, I'm not sure you should draw attention to it.)

Two or three years from now, If this still seems an issue for you, you might investigate whether there is some sort of retroactive withdrawal procedure. With a couple of years of solid work in the department, you may have more leverage for a successful investigation. Also, your current department has a stake in establishing a record of 'getting its best students into' first-rate graduate programs.

To be sure, there are mistakes one can make that unfairly foreclose future options. But I would be very much surprised if this is one of them.

  • Thanks for the great advice! The idea of having a professor write about the issue in a letter of rec is a good idea. – Fast Carp Mar 14 '18 at 5:09

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