I need help fixing a lot of things after freshman year.

A-Jns22's picture
Rank: Senior Monkey | 74

I am a freshman at Penn. I've been a straight-A student, but I came here from another country and scored a 2.9 as a STEM major (I'm not in Wharton, I'm in engineering). I fucked up, and while I know why I did, I also know it doesn't matter why. I am taking 2 summer classes and doing an internship this summer. I plan on taking a lot of classes next semester. I am not quitting Penn, and I know this is my fault. it truly was just a bad year, and I faced mental health issues for the first time. That's not an excuse though, and this is my fault. I want to ask you what I should do but that'd be stupid. The answer is 4.0 from now on I'm guessing, and I will work on it. But right now I'm in a new country, I feel lost. I need to clean up this mess and I don't know if I would even have a chance with anything because I heard recruiting has been pushed to sophomore spring.

I know all of you are high achievers and you've probably hit a low in your lives (yeah I know this is worse than just a low) when you felt like you lost yourself. That's how I feel, I would like to know what you would say to yourself in that situation now.

Comments (7)

May 7, 2018

I got a 2.67 my first semester at a semi-target, 3.7 second in a STEM major.

I've had 5 interviews so far, 1 for IB as a sophomore, just keep grinding and networking, it's not the end of the world, especially because you're at a target. That 2.9 really puts pre-university into perspective, doesn't it? You'll get opportunities, they're not gone now.

May 7, 2018

Take a deep breath and grab some perspective, my friend. If this is "worse than just a low" point in your life then you lead a truly charmed existence. You had a couple of bad semesters to start your time at one of the most prestigious institutions in the world. You're still in a very enviable position, and on your death bed this won't make the top ten list of regrets. Give yourself a break.

Put your mental health first. If that's a lingering issue, getting yourself to a good place is priority #1, 2, and 3. Take time off if you need. College and 40+ years of working will be there for you when you're ready.

If you're up for it, the summer classes will be a huge help as you try to raise the GPA. A solid sophomore fall and you can get into shouting distance of 3.5, which will clear the minimum cut-off for a lot of very desirable internships. You'll also have a narrative to tell, where you struggled with the transition to college but now have demonstrated improvement. Many employers will understand and value that. Really - all is not lost.

You're a high achiever used to nothing but success, so getting the very best internship as a sophomore seems like the most important thing in the world. It's not. The real world is not the scheduled linear progression that the typical SA -> A -> MBA -> A path implies. Make your own path at your own pace, and put your health first. You'll be fine.

May 7, 2018

First of all, take care of yourself. Relax a bit, its summer now. Nothing is more important than your own health. Second, if you get your grades up throughout the rest of college, you can make quite a tale out of the struggles you faced coming here and how you worked hard to overcome them.

Made ya look

May 7, 2018


Remember, "this too shall pass." This will not be the worst thing to happen to you in your life. Actually, I sincerely hope for you that life will never get worse than this, you'd have lived a charmed life if so.

You are not your grades. Your destiny is not sealed by three digits on a piece of paper.


You're doing the right stuff by maximizing the short-term repair on your GPA. One immediate suggestion: commit right now to taking five years in undergrad. Seriously, this is the panacea that will solve nearly all your ills.

a) You can reduce the mental stress simply by extending the shot clock an entire extra year. You're now no longer a rising sophomore, you're a rising freshman from a recruiting perspective.

This means that you can relax on having to worry about recruiting in April/May 2019 for a 2020 summer analyst position. You're now class of 2022 instead of 2021, so your final summer analyst role will be summer 2021 (the June-August after your fourth semester).

Wondering what to fill the extra time with? Easy. After you've secured your final summer analyst position, take a semester abroad. You have more freedom than most students, you can choose a program completely unrelated to your Penn degree since you don't have to worry about reaching a credit minimum in four semesters.

You can also spread out your hard engineering classes over more semesters. You don't have to stack as many challenging core degree requirements simultaneously.

b) You can take classes toward an easy minor or even a second major outside of Engineering (in CAS, for instance) in the upcoming fall and spring semester. This will pad your GPA in a way you couldn't if you were stuck trying to fit all the requirements to graduate on a normal four-year timeline. Art History, Cinema and Media Studies, Fine Arts, and Urban Design are all things I just pulled off the website that look easy and fun.

Figure out something that you can use to explore your creative interests and will be a refreshing break from your primary major. It will also be a huge selling point on your resume; you're a well-balanced individual who has multiple interests and pursued them at a world-class university.

(If this is a huge struggle financially, don't do a full fifth year, simply add one extra semester instead of two. This still pushes your graduating class out one year and affords you all the corresponding recruiting benefits.)


Invest serious time in figuring out what went wrong and why. It sounds like you've taken some real steps on this, but I heartily encourage you to build solid mental models around performance and then reinforce them through a behavior system that eliminates the space for a failure like you've already encountered.


Good luck. This is a setback, not a game-over scenario. I had a pretty bumpy undergrad experience and I came out of it for the better. You can make your life whatever you want of it.

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May 7, 2018

Is delaying graduation an option if you've already started recruiting for 2019 SAs as a sophomore? I have an ok GPA I have to repair to get up to 3.6-7, and I'm at 3.5 right now. If I recruit this year for 2019 SA, don't get anything good, can I still delay my graduation a semester and then try again for 2020 SA with this year's summer internship under my belt and a higher GPA?

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May 7, 2018

Thank you for your suggestions - they make a lot of sense. I would love to consider the fifth year, but finances for a fifth year would be a big deal. I am on hardly any financial aid, and which my parents are fine with paying for 4 years, I'm not sure I want to make them pay so much more.

Best Response
May 7, 2018
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