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Is a 3.45 GPA good enough?


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Hey everyone,

I'm currently freaking out because it looks like I'll be applying to grad school with a 3.45 and I feel like that's not enough. ? I do have a 3.85 GPA in history, which is the program I'm applying to.

Other things on my application: 

-Conference presentations

-Student panels

-Two internships

-Fluent in one language other than English, reading proficient in another two

-Honors thesis

-Deans List (x2) 

-Publication 

-Awards (Diamond Award for NRHH and Italian language award) 

-Extracurriculars (+ leadership positions) 

-President of our Phi Alpha Theta chapter for 2 years 

 

 

I've also reached out to the professors I want to work under, who have all said I would be a good fit. My faculty mentor says I have a "first-rate application," but I'm still worried my 3.45 and Bs (only in non-major classes) won't be enough. For reference, I go to a private, top 100 Jesuit school. 

 

Edited by historygeek
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You're wasting your time worrying about things you can't change. Nobody on this forum sits on admissions committees to the schools you're applying to, so nobody can give you any guarantees. GPA isn't the most important part of the process, but you're miles better off putting your energy into improving the things you can change rather than worrying about it.

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I wouldn't worry. Completely different field (Geography) so anecdotal , but I got into many of my choice programs with a 3.49 overall and a 3.25 in major (Including a couple C's). All the other parts will matter much more and it sounds like you'll have good rec letters.

One thing I'd try to avoid is 'apologizing' excessively on you  application for your GPA. I was considering adding a section to my SOP to explain some of my low grades in  very pertinent courses (intro sciences), or asking letter writers to consider talking about how I've ameliorated those deficiencies in their courses. But ultimately I was advised and  decided not to and to just focus on my strengths.  Its one thing if you needed to explain a sub 3.0, but your 'low' GPA really isnt that low.

On another note from your signature it seems like you're planning on applying to ALOT of schools. I get that your early in the process, but I'd recommend paring it down to a more select list which you can really throw yourself at the applications for.

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Yes, you'll be fine. I got into my program with a 3.44, though my undergrad is very well-known for grade deflation.

Not to be harsh, but most programs couldn't care less about extracurriculars and student panels. Unless the publication is in a decent (read, not an undergrad) journal, then it may not mean a lot.

I think you've got as good a chance as most people applying.

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3 hours ago, qocha_geog said:

I wouldn't worry. Completely different field (Geography) so anecdotal , but I got into many of my choice programs with a 3.49 overall and a 3.25 in major (Including a couple C's). All the other parts will matter much more and it sounds like you'll have good rec letters.

One thing I'd try to avoid is 'apologizing' excessively on you  application for your GPA. I was considering adding a section to my SOP to explain some of my low grades in  very pertinent courses (intro sciences), or asking letter writers to consider talking about how I've ameliorated those deficiencies in their courses. But ultimately I was advised and  decided not to and to just focus on my strengths.  Its one thing if you needed to explain a sub 3.0, but your 'low' GPA really isnt that low.

On another note from your signature it seems like you're planning on applying to ALOT of schools. I get that your early in the process, but I'd recommend paring it down to a more select list which you can really throw yourself at the applications for.

Thanks so much for your response! I do plan on cutting my list significantly and am currently in the process of figuring out which schools I will for sure apply to. 

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In general, your GPA and achievements don't mean much. More important is your fit into the university and department.  The professors may have said you are a "good fit," but you need to be honest with yourself. How does your research fit into the recently accepted and finished PhD students? Is your language sufficient to cover your field of study? (Here, I mean whether there are unwritten rules that your program has about the "necessary" languages to complete your PhD in your proposed field of study. For example, a colleague of mine with a "first-rate application" was denied because of her basic language skills in Korean, despite her language abilities in several European languages, including Russian. She applied with a project centered on Communist music and nationalism.) Are the recent graduates from the university highly respected and prepared to enter the field?

I understand that you are in the beginning phases of preparing your application, but there are a lot of unwritten rules in academia. The sooner you can answer the unwritten questions, the quicker you can focus on a handful of applications (5-7, at most). Quality over quantity will put you in a better position to be accepted by more schools, which will give you options.

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I won't repeat the same advice you have already been given. However, my GPA was far lower (different field as well) and I got into some top rate programs as well. My advice is this: Reach out to professors and gauge fit before applying. Fit matters so much more than GPA. Also, make sure in your statements that you exude confidence. I would not even draw attention to your GPA because quite honestly it is pretty good. I would focus on why you want to be in that particular program, who you want to work with and why, what you plan to research, what you hope to add to their program, and lastly what the graduate degree means to you and what you hope to accomplish with it. Study hard and take the GRE and do well and don't even bother worrying about the GPA.

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55 minutes ago, Tigla said:

In general, your GPA and achievements don't mean much. More important is your fit into the university and department.  The professors may have said you are a "good fit," but you need to be honest with yourself. How does your research fit into the recently accepted and finished PhD students? Is your language sufficient to cover your field of study? (Here, I mean whether there are unwritten rules that your program has about the "necessary" languages to complete your PhD in your proposed field of study. For example, a colleague of mine with a "first-rate application" was denied because of her basic language skills in Korean, despite her language abilities in several European languages, including Russian. She applied with a project centered on Communist music and nationalism.) Are the recent graduates from the university highly respected and prepared to enter the field?

I understand that you are in the beginning phases of preparing your application, but there are a lot of unwritten rules in academia. The sooner you can answer the unwritten questions, the quicker you can focus on a handful of applications (5-7, at most). Quality over quantity will put you in a better position to be accepted by more schools, which will give you options.

Thankfully, my intended field is a comparative study of Italian women in the US and Italy, so (hopefully) my fluency in Italian will be sufficient. However, I'm also proficient in Spanish and reading Latin. 

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Everyone has given you sound advice on the application process.  Just concentrate on the things you have control over in the next 6-7 months.  Unless I missed it, you didn't specify whether you're planning on applying to MA or PhD programs. 

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1 hour ago, ltr317 said:

Everyone has given you sound advice on the application process.  Just concentrate on the things you have control over in the next 6-7 months.  Unless I missed it, you didn't specify whether you're planning on applying to MA or PhD programs. 

I'm applying to primarily PhD programs. 

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