I am doing an 5-year Integrated Master's degree (3-year Bachelor + 2-year Master) on Physics in Europe. Aiming for a thesis in Quantum Computation/Information. I am currently on the 4th year and have a "good" overall grade (84%).

However, due to health issues, I failed to perform well on my 6th semester (the last of the Bachelor), almost failing half of the courses. I got 50%-60% on 4 of them.

So I am faced with a dilemma:

  • Should I focus on finishing my degree on time, potentially having to either manage doing a thesis and improving some grades at the same time, or settle for those low grades and just move on?


  • Should I focus on improving my grades and achieving the ones I know I am capable of, potentially getting to ~88%, with the disadvantage of having to delay/prolong my thesis to a 11th semester?

This might be a very close call and depend on a lot of factors, but I am interested in knowing, in general, which option gives me the highest chance of success in continuing my academic career with a PhD.

Not sure if a Postdoc would follow after, but I am eventually want to go for a top-tier job in industry, either related or not to research (like IBM's or Google's Quantum Lab, or some other not focusing on research).

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    I would also appreciate constructive criticism, instead of plain downvotes. – João Bravo Jun 20 at 13:21
  • Since I am also interested in knowing the best option for an industry career, should I ask this question on The Workplace too? – João Bravo Jun 20 at 14:22
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    Neither. You should focus on mastering course material and doing good research. If staying longer makes that easier (for example, because you can repeat classes), stay longer; if finishing on time makes that easier (for example, because you don't have to repeat classes), finish on time. – JeffE Jun 20 at 22:28

My advice is to stick to the schedule and get the best grades you can along the way even if not perfect. Hanging out in school extra time is unproductive.

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    Well, I do not think it is that simple. I am willing to do it to actually learn what I should have learned in the problematic semester. So it is not unproductive. What I really want to know is which choice would make me a more viable candidate for a PhD admission and an industry top-tier job admission. – João Bravo Jun 20 at 13:23
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    You probably have some lowering if your chances regardless. Stop worrying about past missteps and brushing that up. Move forward. Again my advice. You can get opposite points or just do what you want. But I mean the tough love from the heart. Won't debate it further. Finis. – Guest Jun 20 at 14:23
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    "Hanging out in school extra time is unproductive" I guess it depends on why you're in school. If you're there to try and actually learn things then "hanging out in extra time" might be incredibly productive. – dwizum Jun 20 at 16:39
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    Don't tell grad schools or employers you had bad grades from being sick? Why not, if your health problems are not going to re-occur? They're going to notice something happened in that semester no matter what you do. If you explain it, they won't be left wondering what happened and why you're trying to hide it, and whether they should reject you for that reason. (Of course, depending on the exact health problems, maybe it's something you do want to hide.) – Peter Shor Jun 21 at 2:53
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    @JoãoBravo: As I said, whether you want to hide it depends on the exact health problem. Mental health issues are certainly ones you want to consider hiding. – Peter Shor Jun 22 at 17:41

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