sub 3.0 GPAs

80 posts in this topic

Posted

Thank you so much for posting this. I know it's an older thread, but I am sitting here driving myself crazy.

I graduated with a 2.68 from a good state school. I didn't "discover my passion" until my senior year. Unfortunately, that year I piled on a huge plate of classes and was kicking ass and taking names, totally making up for the 2 years of wasted time and had 6 A's and a B (yes, 7 course load) and then my grandmother suddenly passed away, I had to miss 3 weeks of class because my mother completely fell apart emotionally settling up her estate. I pulled out with that tough semester as an undergrad with 3 a's 3 b's and 1 c and graduated. A lot of drama, which is not normal for me, I don't have ADD or depression of anything like that.

I knew this wasn't enough to get into grad school and pursue my dreams and passions. I did a year at the University of Chicago as a non-matriculated student taking graduate courses in my field where I earned a 3.8. I have excellent recommendations, 3 seasons of field experience in a supervisory role, a research project I submitted, a carefully written SOP, and I even went in and met with the department over the fall and sent them thank-you notes and I am about to throw up thinking I am going to get rejected on the basis of my crappy GPA. I also have 1260 on the GRE with a 6.0 on the writing part, which may not be the best but it's respectable.

Seriously, thank you, I'm not this neurotic in real life.

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Posted

my college roommate (and I for that matter), had WELL under 3.0 GPAs. He worked his way through a hyper-expensive Tier One school, while I was dying from severe depression and undiagnosed ADHD-PI. He's now at Harvard, Engineering Ph.D, thanks to a stellar resume of work, and God-willing, I'll soon be there as well after teaching for 13 years for a mid-career Ed.M!

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Posted

I'm posting to bump the status of this thread since I am kind of in the same boat right now. Was really interesting and kind of comforting reading that other people have been in my same shoes. I figure there are others like me out there and just wanted them to have a chance to look at this too if they can...... so......... BUMP!!

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Posted (edited)

I'm posting to bump the status of this thread since I am kind of in the same boat right now. Was really interesting and kind of comforting reading that other people have been in my same shoes. I figure there are others like me out there and just wanted them to have a chance to look at this too if they can...... so......... BUMP!!

It's been a year and a half since I started this thread. It's great to see it's still helping people.

I think one of my favorite quotations so far is:

I'm not this neurotic in real life.

Oh do I remember that feeling. It's just so true. Application season was one of the most fraying experiences I've gone through, and I just finished a hell of a first year in grad school. There's just something about the application process that's truly terrible psychologically in a completely different way than 40 hour stretches in the lab are.

But let me tell you about the light at the end of the tunnel: A year and a half down the line, I've just finished my first year at my new institution. Over the last year I helped put together a new research group, passed and finished all the coursework required for my degree and on Tuesday the NSF agreed to fund the proposal I wrote to the tune of just under half a million dollars. With all the coursework out of the way and funding secured for the next three years, grad school is looking downright cozy.

Go get accepted and kick ass everyone!

Edited by belowthree

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Posted

But let me tell you about the light at the end of the tunnel: A year and a half down the line, I've just finished my first year at my new institution. Over the last year I helped put together a new research group, passed and finished all the coursework required for my degree and on Tuesday the NSF agreed to fund the proposal I wrote to the tune of just under half a million dollars. With all the coursework out of the way and funding secured for the next three years, grad school is looking downright cozy.

Go get accepted and kick ass everyone!

I'll participate in the bumpage because this thread was immensely impactful early in my process. So, thanks bunches to belowthree for his or her candor and genorosity. If more of us were honest and open like this I think fewer wannabe grad students would feel so isolated and defeated before they even begin.

I'm not as far along as belowthree but here's my update so far:

With the "interesting transcript" (as it came to be called by mentor) that you can find in posts upstream I made it into four good to stellar programs. All but one was a PhD program and even that one was an MA/PhD. Two of the four were fully funded and I chose one that, while not an Ivy, is a Tier 1 private school with 5 years of guaranteed funding, a conference budget, and additional named fellowship on top of the standard stipend. In the social sciences. In a horrible year.

I met a women at a conference this weekend who was on the committee that read my app and she remembered me!

So, not only is it possible but it is very possible. We have to work a bit harder to find the right fit and the right people to give us fair consideration but it's out there.

So, chins up to all of us!

The best part? Remember that the minute you start your doctoral program no one seems to care about your UG. Some snits might be comparing pedigrees but it is, for the most part, a clean slate. Take full advantage. I intend to!

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Posted

My undergraduate GPA was a 2.56 from a big name University.

Because I took out a loan instead of asking for funding, I went to a big name private University in NYC and graduated with an MA. For me, it was like starting over with a clean slate. I graduated with all A's and two A-.

My 2nd Masters was completed at a smaller public school and I finished that one with a 3.94 GPA.

My GRE math score was good... verbal score was bad!

So, I count on the fact that PhD programs will not look at my UG GPA. I hope that my 2 Masters GPAs will override these.

Good luck! It can be done!

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Posted

It seems a lot of folks are able to speak up for the social sciences, so I'll throw in a story from the physical side.

I went to an Ivy and graduated with a 3.14 GPA, mostly because I made Dean's List in three of my last four semesters (the GPA on my transcript that went with the apps was 3.07). I had research experience, extracirriculars, and a 1440 GRE. They knew I working on an honors thesis when I submitted my application, but it wasn't complete (which makes more of a difference than folks might realize; five people in my major started honors theses, and only two were finished, one of which was mine). I applied to four schools (in retrospect, I should've applied to a couple more). One school rejected me, two accepted me with partial funding, one accepted me with full funding.

A buddy of mine in the same major had around a 2.9. Took challenging courses, but grade-wise they really hurt him. He applied to six schools. Four rejected him, one gave him partial funding. The last was a school he did summer research at during his rising junior summer. They remembered him, remembered his quality of work, and gave him a full funding offer.

My research partner from an REU had only a 2.98 and went to a second-tier institution for our field. Applied to ten schools, rejected my eight. One school offered acceptance without funding. The last was the school where we did our REU. They accepted her with full funding.

In conclusion, it's not just about your GPA. It matters a lot because they want to make sure you can put up with rigorous class and research, but it's not the only factor they consider. Prior research, awards, and experience count for a lot as well.

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Posted

A buddy of mine in the same major had around a 2.9. Took challenging courses, but grade-wise they really hurt him. He applied to six schools. Four rejected him, one gave him partial funding. The last was a school he did summer research at during his rising junior summer. They remembered him, remembered his quality of work, and gave him a full funding offer.

My research partner from an REU had only a 2.98 and went to a second-tier institution for our field. Applied to ten schools, rejected my eight. One school offered acceptance without funding. The last was the school where we did our REU. They accepted her with full funding.

In conclusion, it's not just about your GPA. It matters a lot because they want to make sure you can put up with rigorous class and research, but it's not the only factor they consider. Prior research, awards, and experience count for a lot as well.

So true. I was very worried about my GPA (ended with a 3.2 overall and 3.1 in my major) mostly because my major GPA was lower than my overall..and it was low in general. I applied to four schools, was accepted and took one offer before hearing from everyone else....surprise surprise, it's the school that I completed my REU at. They knew me, I knew them and the school and already loved it, it just fit. There was one school I would've preferred but I had to give my desicion to my school before I heard from the second school (Worked out better anyways, I didn't hear until around May that I had passed the cutoffs for the second school but still needed faculty support, and I doubt anyone would've had the funds for me by then).

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Posted

I wanted to bump this thread, 'cause it made me happy to see.

My undergrad GPA was 2.5. I went to a top-10 school famed for its difficulty, and from sophomore year through senior year (and for nearly two years after I graduated), I had an undiagnosed sleep disorder that absolutely destroyed my concentration and my ability to commit anything to memory, and left me exhausted all the time. I thought it was all because of stress (until it continued after I graduated). I was sleeping 9 hours/night when I could, and I was still too tired to process what was being said in class (assuming I could even stay awake) and sometimes too tired to even go. When I studied for exams I would forget the previous sentence of the book or notes as soon as I moved on to the next one, and eventually curl up and take a nap. Looking back on it, I can't believe I still managed to graduate in four years.

Happily, once I got tested and diagnosed, I got treated. Successfully.

Since then I changed fields, from systems neuroscience to CS. I've been doing research in industry full-time for more than three years. I have two journal publications and a sole-author poster presentation (and I'm hoping to have at least two more publications by next fall, when I apply). I did a post-bac in CS while working full-time and am now a part-time MS student (and recipient of a merit scholarship that covers part of my tuition) while working full-time, with a solid GPA (I'm hoping to bring it up some more, though). I've won two competitive conference travel awards and been a co-author of two successful government grant applications. I have a huge amount of service to the field (e.g. through professional organizations) and to promoting underrepresented groups in the field. Basically, I am hoping to be a star in every way that I can except for undergrad GPA, and hoping that everything else will balance it out.

I'm planning to apply to programs ranging from the #1 in my field to completely unranked, and for a bunch of fellowships. I realize that I may not get in anywhere but the unranked program, if that, and that external fellowships are probably a long shot, but what you don't apply for, you definitely won't get.

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Posted

Thank goodness for this thread.:)

I'm a double major and I'm applying next fall for master's programs and my overall GPA will be just under a 3.0. I keep reading I'll need a 3.5 but it is nice to know as long as my grades show a constant improvement, and do well on my GRE, I'll have a good shot.

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Posted

Hi belowthree et al,

I too am a belowthree ... though i finished my undergrad studies in 1974. I was deeply depressed my freshman year and ended up with a 1.7 for that year, and a 2.2 in my sophomore year. Good grades (3.5+ in my junior and senior years, but there's still that stigma of low OVERALL GPA).

I am hoping against hope that (1) a superior GRE; (2) tons of relevant work experience; © tons of independent study, including presenting at an international conference; (d) two masters' degrees (2nd to be finished soon I hope) will all make up for it.

Maybe so, maybe not.

Good luck to all of us late bloomers!

John

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Posted

This is a great topic. Thanks for starting it.

I am one of the lucky ones who thinks, "At least my GPA is above 3.5 so I'll be Ok." However, I recently took the GRE and utterly bombed it (the scores are so embarrassing that I refuse to post them here). For all you stressed out about your GPA and used the GRE to boost your application, do you have any advice for someone who has a decent GPA (Dean's list honor roll) but sub-standard GRE scores--slightly below 1000 (gulp!).

I feel that the GRE can offset a poor GPA, but will a god-awful GRE work against decent grades?

Thanks!

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Posted

YES!

Awesome, fantastic department reacted to my application with enthusiasm and several profs saying, "I want to convince you to go here!" My research ideas were going in a direction that they wanted the department to go in anyway, both in methodology and subject area.

Specialized department at another school insulted my 2 Cs freshman year (organic chemistry and calculus, come on.) while still offering me a spot. My topic was related to 3 of the 4 faculty member's interests and recent publications, and I have the right kind of background to approach it more critically than a "traditional" applicant to the program.

The lesson I take from this is that even if a school is being snobby about stats, they still can't pass you over if you have a good idea.

Thanks for the encouragement Latte. I feel that I have a stellar 'research proposition' (I'm a writer so that means a novel idea--pun intended), my GPA is decent, but my GRE scores are horrible. My question is (and I've asking around this website) will the committee entirely overlook an application based on some number or are all applications looked at completely?

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Posted

I feel that the GRE can offset a poor GPA, but will a god-awful GRE work against decent grades?

It always seemed to me that it was the other way around (which sure doesn't help me). A good GPA + a poor GRE looks like a good student who is bad at taking that particular style of test. A poor GPA + a good GRE looks like someone who is smart but lazy. Neither is necessarily true, but those are the impressions they give.

The exception, I guess, is if your undergrad program is very no-name or sends few students to grad programs, so that there's not much track record with which to evaluate how well your undergrad program prepares its students. In that case, good GPA + poor GRE might give the impression that you got good grades because your undergrad program had low standards.

Are you in a field with a GRE subject test? If so, you might consider taking the subject test even if the programs don't require it. If you bomb it, you don't have to send it (you can send the required general GRE scores without sending subject test scores), and if you do well, you've demonstrated that you have some depth of knowledge in your field according to a standardized scale.

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Posted

It always seemed to me that it was the other way around (which sure doesn't help me). A good GPA + a poor GRE looks like a good student who is bad at taking that particular style of test. A poor GPA + a good GRE looks like someone who is smart but lazy. Neither is necessarily true, but those are the impressions they give.

The exception, I guess, is if your undergrad program is very no-name or sends few students to grad programs, so that there's not much track record with which to evaluate how well your undergrad program prepares its students. In that case, good GPA + poor GRE might give the impression that you got good grades because your undergrad program had low standards.

Are you in a field with a GRE subject test? If so, you might consider taking the subject test even if the programs don't require it. If you bomb it, you don't have to send it (you can send the required general GRE scores without sending subject test scores), and if you do well, you've demonstrated that you have some depth of knowledge in your field according to a standardized scale.

Thanks for the insight. The school I am applying to does not require the subject test, but I will look into it ;)

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Posted

After reading this forum I feel like this should be adjusted to read "Replying to sub 3.5 GPAs" and all the bullet points still apply. Honestly is having a 3.2 or 3.3 really that different? They make you feel like unless you have at least a 3.5 you won't be looked at. We all know that just because you meet the minimum standards doesn't mean you have a snowballs chance in hell wink.gif

The reason why it's 3.0 is because that is usually the "strict cut-off" for most schools. At least if you have above a 3.0 you can feel somewhat secure that you won't be cut out if there happens to be some automated initial elimination cycle...

When I applied I had a pretty good application other than my GPA, so thankfully they actually looked at it and I was accepted. I did wake up in a cold sweat some nights while I was waiting for the letters, wondering if I had completely screwed up my future by being a bad, bad undergrad...

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Posted

I wish I had seen this topic (and forum) before I had applied to grad school. I was constantly stressed last semester about my inadequate gpa (2.75) even with my "spectacular" resume, good LoRs and a PS I had worked on for months. I finally told myself what would happen, would happen and there are various non-traditional pathes to graduate school. Then I was *provisionally* accepted to one of my top 3 schools! There is hope after all!

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Aha! I knew if I looked enough I'd find something devoted to people with "terrible" GPAs. Mine is 2.85. Last semester was supposed to be the one to bring it up to above 3.0 but it didn't work out. I'm applying to Statistics Masters programs and so far I've only heard from Virginia Tech, and they accepted me! So, there is some hope. It seemed very likely that I'd get all rejections. GRE went well, but not as well as I'd have liked for the quantitative (690 v, 720 q). Anyway, now we'll see if anyone else accepts me and if I get any funding, but at least it's not a complete wash. Good luck to all other "non-traditional" students who have had trouble with their GPAs.

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Posted

Aha! I knew if I looked enough I'd find something devoted to people with "terrible" GPAs. Mine is 2.85. Last semester was supposed to be the one to bring it up to above 3.0 but it didn't work out. I'm applying to Statistics Masters programs and so far I've only heard from Virginia Tech, and they accepted me! So, there is some hope. It seemed very likely that I'd get all rejections. GRE went well, but not as well as I'd have liked for the quantitative (690 v, 720 q). Anyway, now we'll see if anyone else accepts me and if I get any funding, but at least it's not a complete wash. Good luck to all other "non-traditional" students who have had trouble with their GPAs.

Your GRE scores sound fine thom1820! Btw Blacksburg is a really nice place :)

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Posted

Your GRE scores sound fine thom1820! Btw Blacksburg is a really nice place :)

Have you lived there? Can you tell me more? The City Guide section here doesn't have much on it. I'm coming from Madison WI which isn't huge, but I'm nervous about how small Blacksburg is. Warmer would be nice though...

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Have you lived there? Can you tell me more? The City Guide section here doesn't have much on it. I'm coming from Madison WI which isn't huge, but I'm nervous about how small Blacksburg is. Warmer would be nice though...

Blacksburg is no New York City, but it is a good, mid-sized city with plenty to do, good local music scene, good arts presence. Very livable city. :)

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Posted

Same thing happened to me! 2.4ish GPA in undergrad, 3.7ish in 21 hours of post bacc-work, a 1300+ GRE score and I thought I wouldn't get in anywhere. I got accepted into one of my top three programs! Granted, it was provisionally, but as long as I make above a 3.0 my first year there I believe I'll be fine.

Congrats!

I wish I had seen this topic (and forum) before I had applied to grad school. I was constantly stressed last semester about my inadequate gpa (2.75) even with my "spectacular" resume, good LoRs and a PS I had worked on for months. I finally told myself what would happen, would happen and there are various non-traditional pathes to graduate school. Then I was *provisionally* accepted to one of my top 3 schools! There is hope after all!

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Posted

I just wanted to add to Belowthree's list:

***You know you have under a 3.0 when you leave the GPA section blank while submitting your admissions results.

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Posted

I just wanted to add to Belowthree's list:

***You know you have under a 3.0 when you leave the GPA section blank while submitting your admissions results.

I find the lower gpa's inspiring as I am not much better than a 3.0, and it makes me feel as though I have a chance next year. Even if they are rejects I feel as though I am not the only one crazy enough to apply.

*** You know you have a low gpa when you find it inspiring that people with around your gpa are reflected on the admissions result board.

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Posted

hey all. GPA is definitely not the be-all end-all, nor do I think it's even the first round of screening/cut off for most social/oriented programs

I graduated with a 2.49 from McGill.

I have been accepted for MPP's/MPA's at George Washington, NYU, Carnegie Mellon, University of Manchester (England)

What got me in?

maybe GRE's (690q 710v 5.5W)

PS

Past exeperience (4 internship/1 job)

3 languages spoken

And I'm 22! work experience and languages win it over GPA for me

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