I'm sorry if this is in the wrong place.

I'm an undergraduate majoring in biology. I think, this semester, I'll fail a class on Statistics (the class is titled "Statistics for Life Sciences"). While I have the option this semester to use "Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory" and protect my GPA, this is nonetheless a failure that will show up on my transcript.

I know I messed up and I feel really bad... I could have taken an introductory Math class (an option available to those with only an AS Level in Mathematics) before taking this Statistics class and I stupidly chose not to (officially, an AS Level meets the prerequisite for this Statistics class, though most students taking it have a full A Level in Mathematics). But this is no excuse (it's officially allowed, and plenty of AS Math students succeed in this class) and I think in fact reflects worse on my judgement. :(

I fully intend to retake this course (I can't not take it anyway; it's a core class, plus Statistics is important in Biology) and do much better in it.

How badly does this hurt my chances at a graduate school program in biology? Assuming my other biology-related classes are okay (A grades). I don't know how I'm going to explain it. I was hoping to take a research Master's, then a PhD. Am I screwed?

Thanks for any input and and have a nice day.

  • 1
    Biology students who have trouble with statistics are extremely common. Retake it and devote a lot of time to it. Apr 29 at 3:45
  • These systems are complicated and certainly are not fully meritocratic. Working our way through "meritocratic" systems can take several paths.
    – Ootagu
    Apr 29 at 4:04

At any stage in your career, people who will evaluate whether to give you an opportunity will (or at least should) be looking at multiple aspects of your CV. For each "weak" aspect there should be a "strong" aspect that offsets it. Provided this is true, you should become eligible for consideration. After that, it is often a matter of luck and the competitive nature of the opportunity.

Having said, that, there are places and systems which I personally know of that will automatically reject applications that have a single blemish. These places and systems are making a mistake (in my opinion). In any case, perhaps you would not want to be in a place that does not believe in giving people a second chance.

In summary, I think there are a number of good places which would give you the opportunity if you can counter this particular failure by something---which could even be a good grade in the same course on your second attempt.

  • 1
    It's not about deciding to give people chances; it's about selecting the best applicants from a pool. Apr 29 at 6:36

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