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I don't know about you, but I feel like SFU is setting me up for failure

I am a transfer student from the US. A lot of my credits got transferred and I have less than 40 to graduate. I am in the PSYC program and I was looking forward to complete my degree at SFU and apply to their grad school.

My first semester was not the greatest because I took 4 courses and they were all in psychology. My advisor said that they were too concentrated but I am a transfer student and all I have left is psyc course and not electives. My 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale (3.33 on a 4.33 sfu scale) from my American University did not transfer. So I ended up having a GPA of that semester which was 2.28.

My second semester is pretty bad because it had a neuroscience class, stats and an intensive writing course. I thought I was making it easier by only taking 3, instead it was a tough semester because of the type of courses I took.

when I calculated what I need to apply for grad school, I need a GPA of 3.8, which means I need to have an A average on every class until I graduate, which even if I put the hard work, it may or may not be the case because of SFU's curve grading scale and because of what kind of TA I get who I believe they grade pretty harshly (this is a whole other topic).

Add to that, I need research experience which makes sense. But adding everything up together, it does not seem feasible for me to achieve grad school. I am an independent broke student, I work once or twice a week to help pay the bills and take loans. How am I supposed to get A's in every class, contribute hours to research experience AND work to pay the bills? and even all this does NOT guarantee grad school because of how ridiculously competitive it is. 

I can definitely bring my grades up because I can retake the ones I got average grades on, but it seems that even if I get higher grades, they are not enough for grad school. Grad school at SFU is competitive for space related reasons and not because of their great programs. Considering the fact that there are only 2 universities with the clinical psyc program, it makes sense. It is disappointing that I may have to apply to different grad schools and move else where. I already settled here with my partner and it will be a pain to move out again.

Hence I feel like SFU is setting me up for failure because there is really no other way around all this mess unless I choose a different grad school in a different province. It seems that SFU is designed for a certain niche of students and not all students. 


  • But a Master's program is designed for a certain niche of students and not all students. Same thing with other schools, or universities in general, they are for a certain niche of students and those who do not make the cut go to college, and those who don't make the cut for college improve their marks at adult continuing education etc. etc. 

    If you really want to do something, you will find a way. I'm rooting for you.
  • Thank you for your response.
    I understand that high grades are needed to apply to any graduate program.
    The issue lies on SFU’s grading policy where you are graded according to how you’re doing compared to your peers. I am from the US and I’ve never this grading policy. In the states, your percentage is your grade and 70% is a C, 80% is a B and 90% is an A. You are graded on what percentage you get regardless on how your peers are doing.

    Here in SFU, you get TAs who are not even in grad school grading upper lever division papers, you never know what your grade is because an 80% could be a C or an A. Average of midterms are usually in the 60’s and I am just shocked that this is a passing grade.

    So yes, having these grading policies will affect your grades in general and will discourage you graduating with high grades that will get you to a masters program.

    In my case, I will finish my university studies elsewhere where they don’t grade on a curve in every single class and where they use percentages for grades and not letter grades. It is not fair that at SFU, your percentage does not reflect the grade you get.

    And what I meant about a certain niche in this context, the masters program’s requirements are way too high considering how SFU grades students and for independent students who don’t live with mommy and daddy may have a slightly lower gpa because they have rent and bills to pay.

  • Yeah, I believe more in the scale system which is essentially "what you get is what you get" compared to being graded against your peers. The business department justifies it by saying "it is more aligned with the real world of competition". For me though, I actually _prefer_ the curved grading scale against your peers because I was almost always in the top 15% of my classes and sometimes the top, so it's easy A+ for me. Meanwhile, I believe more in the scale system because it is more objective (key word, "more") and rigorous, and does not rely on others but simply yourself. It is a harder system though. True competition is not focusing on what your peers are doing, but just simply doing your own best regardless of others and trying to exceed your goals and push the boundaries. So, in reality, the business department system of curved grading is the easier system.

    Whether it is curve or scale though, you just do your best regardless of the the grading system and that is all you can do, nothing more. If you've done that, then there is nothing you need to be disappointed about.

    Yes, it may be easier for students who have the opportunity to reside with their parents and can focus more on school solely, this is true to some degree, it's just obvious. However, again, why focus on what others are doing and complaining the success of others? How well they do shouldn't affect what you can do at your capacity. I worked throughout my entire university career too and I did fairly well. In some cases, the true sacrifice is actually living with your parents still and having to tolerate that environment in order to save up for the long term or focus more on school, compared to people moving out and paying the expense of rent for more fun and the ephemeral feeling of independence. Lastly, I'd like to point to the example of this person at a convocation ceremony I watched who lived on her own with her SO, worked full-time and did honours in psych and was going to do her Master's program too. Guess what, that person was valedictorian. I've also read on here of another person working 2-3 jobs and having like a 4.0 CGPA or something too. Who cares what other people do, just do you, do your best and do what you love. If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If that is finishing your studies somewhere else, than do it, but don't be mopey, it's not worth it. When there's a will, there's a way.
  • It’s interesting because I graduated as a valedictorian and transferred from Georgetown university in DC, which is one of the top universities in the states, and had to move here for personal reasons. I was always getting A’s and B’s, and here at SFU I am getting C+ and B-. Did my performance decline? Maybe a bit because I’m adjusting to this new system but SFU has a complicated grading system for no reason, and it is not worth it. So many people fail, only to retake the same course and fail again. Are all these people not good enough?
    Like, we can’t even compare Georgetown to SFU and yet Georgetown has a fair system that gets you the grade you actually worked for.

    Yes, there are all sorts of scenarios of how people succeed. Though I find it extremely rare for someone to have a 4.0 GPA with 3 jobs. I’ve personally never met any student in degrees in the sciences or social sciences to achieve that with full time work. It’s possible but it is not common. There are a lot factors that can affect that success positively or negatively. The main factor is hard work. But that hard work has to be reflected on a clear grading criteria because at the end, it is the grades that look good, not the effort.

    Living independently is fun when you have a successful career that pays, sure. Not when you’re a student, with loan debt and bills to pay every month. I don’t know what’s considered fun in that because when you have to work hard to pay the bills, there’s nothing fun about it because you don’t have the time to have fun. Parents can provide food and shelter so that their kid focuses on school and yes that is easier. If the environment is hectic, there are various environments like study rooms in libraries where they can focus. Some people live independently because they have to, not because they want to have fun. Having food and shelter provided for cannot be compared to having to work hours to provide the same benefits, along with going to school.

    Yes true success matters on the individual but it would be biased not to consider strong factors that could contribute to reaching that success.

    Also, there is no right or wrong answers to opinions and experiences. Fortunately, I am not an individual who uses excuses as a reason not to succeed. I don’t believe that SFU experience is truly worth it for me, so I’ll pursue my studies elsewhere where there’s a lot more options for universities. There’s only two major universities here UBC or SFU, so it makes sense to make everything competitive because there’s no space to accept everybody.
    My experience is not a destiny, it’s merely a frustration. I am glad that this grading system worked out for you and others, it didn’t for me and I don’t expect it to be any different in the future. Most importantly, I will not let it define me and my hard work.

    Thank you for you response, and good luck in your future endeavors.
  • So, how did things pan out?

    Was reading this thread again and would like to point out, in which you said, “Some people live independently because they have to, not because they want to have fun.”

    Some people live at home because they have to, in order to increase the probability of attaining another goal that makes more sense not to have the expenses you speak of when they don’t have to, not because they want comfort or rely on dependence. It is a choice, but the harder one, one that may take endurance and a high pain threshold.

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