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Hi, all.

This is going to be somewhat vague (and something that doubtlessly varies by applicant, field, school, or any number of other factors), but it’s something that has made me increasingly anxious as application deadlines draw nearer: 

Do you all think that my having completed core requirements at a “regional” school (ex: University of [North, South, East, West, etc.] [State]) could impact my consideration for a PhD at historically “elite” schools?

Is it something I should qualify in my statement of purpose, that I elected to attend a local school to save money with the intention of transferring out? Or could admitting even that signal a lack of ambition, preparation, thought, etc.? 

I inevitably graduated from a better state school and am well on my way to finishing a M.A. at a top-15 public school, but I am so worried—maybe baselessly so—that my early-coursework transcripts at a no-name institution could completely discredit my PhD application profile, especially at Ivies or Ivy-adjacent schools. 

Am I wrong to worry about this? Is this something others are mulling over? Or better yet: could anyone with a similar background who ended up at a phenomenal school comment on their experience?

My mental image of so-considered prestigious schools is warped, to be sure, but I can’t help but imagine that the admissions committees in those kinds of universities will quite literally turn up their noses when they see that I attended a regional school for two years. Any help you all could provide would be greatly appreciated.

My GRE came back better than expected, I have a good number of publications and presentations on my cv, some solid recommendations, and “trendy” research interests, but I feel like my freshman–sophomore year transcripts will be the kiss of death for my applications at “elite” schools. 

TLDR; (1) I went to a “bad” school for core, (2) I moved on to a “better” school to complete my undergrad, and (3) I am finishing my M.A. at a fairly “well-regarded” public school, but I’m stressed beyond belief about item one (1). 

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Plenty of people start off at regional schools or community colleges for financial purposes. The program honestly isn't going to focus on that, especially if you already have a MA. They will care more about your GPA and what classes you took at the graduate level. 

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I wouldn't be worried about this. I know a bunch of people who went to less well known University of Wisconsin extension schools that ended up attending prestigious grad schools. And especially since you already have a MA! 

Core classes are just that - they're going to be pretty similar across all institutions and the better known schools know this. 

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