Arc wrote:Hi everyone. I just completed my first semester as a PhD student in Applied Math at a well ranked US college. I am an international student from an Engineering background, with sufficient programming experience, and my research interests are in numerical fluid dynamics / applied PDE / mathematical physics. I had a perfect score on the general GRE Math, but I wrote the Math GRE and I scored just a little over 600 because I could only really deal with the Calculus problems and then few other sections (most of the material were new to me, since I wasn't a Math / Physics major).
My courses this semester were in Applied Probability, Numerical Analysis and Applied PDE, and I also began some research with my intended supervisor (though it was not required or usual for a first year student me). I haven't done any probability since High School, and this was my first PDE course (didn't take any formally in Engineering though PDEs were encountered), so I had a lot of learning to do in both courses. However, the numerical analysis was mostly a breeze because of my programming background. As the semester progressed I began to pay less attention to the numerical analysis and focus on the other two - thus I lost an opportunity for a relatively easy A in Numerical Analysis due to deliberately uncompleted homework and other time-sacrifices towards the other two courses. I eventually had an A- in Numerical Analysis, a B+ in Applied PDE and a B- in Applied Probability.
I felt I owed the professor an explanation for the B- so I emailed him, and his response was kind of scary, talking about how I "have to discuss my future as a grad student in the department" based on my poor showing in the probability class. As far as I know, this is the final probability class I will be taking. Should I be concerned? Plus, I once read here that grades don't matter that much in grad school if you are able to hold your own in research (which I believe I can). Any advice will be very welcome, please.
I think you should be able to explain the main reason why you received a B- in Applied Probability (aka, focus on research way too much, and the Applied PDE killed most of your possible time devoted for coursework. If the Applied Prob is not relevant to your research direction, and not a core course, you will have a much easier time to explain). If possible, you can even suggest to re-take the Applied Probability, or just self-study and pass one of the qualifying exam on that topic. You should also talk to your advisor, who might know how to work around those situations, as it varies depending on the school.
Best of luck to you! I'd love to learn more about your background, and where you are studying. Also, why applied math in the 1st place?