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hey all,

So I graduated with a relatively solid BA GPA in English back in 2016. Around the time I graduated I started going through a bout of depression that lasted through my MA. Low-motivation+isolated grad environment did not bode well for my GPA. I've got my MA now, but I'm scared about how the transcript might affect my applications to PhD English/Lit programs. My advisor says I'm overthinking things and that while I can't get into Yale, I have a respectable GPA. So what schools are not Yale, but are respectable? Because I want to be reasonable. Has anyone here gone through similar experiences or have any advice?

Edited by sweating
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Hey! I also developed really severe depression in school, though mine was during my BA and lasted into my MA. While I know it wasn't my fault, I still feel pretty angry with myself because of how it impacted and hindered certain parts of my life, including my ability to network/form relationships/stay motivated in independent research. However, the most important thing I've learned from GradCafe though is that GPA is not the only factor, or even the most important factor, in your application. I would focus on finding schools that are good fits with your interests, and trying to reach out to any potential advisors before you apply. If you write a fantastic Statement of Purpose, have a great writing sample, and have good LoCs? I think you'll be just fine. And it sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with your advisor, so that's really really good!

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On 3/19/2019 at 7:18 AM, placeinspace said:

Hey! I also developed really severe depression in school, though mine was during my BA and lasted into my MA. While I know it wasn't my fault, I still feel pretty angry with myself because of how it impacted and hindered certain parts of my life, including my ability to network/form relationships/stay motivated in independent research. However, the most important thing I've learned from GradCafe though is that GPA is not the only factor, or even the most important factor, in your application. I would focus on finding schools that are good fits with your interests, and trying to reach out to any potential advisors before you apply. If you write a fantastic Statement of Purpose, have a great writing sample, and have good LoCs? I think you'll be just fine. And it sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with your advisor, so that's really really good!

Thank you for the advice, I'm hoping it works out. I'm having a hard time right now coming up with a reasonable list of schools to apply to that fit my areas of interest AND my qualifications, but this helps a lot. Yeah, I definitely feel a lot of anger toward myself because of how it blurred the lines of where I fit in terms of credentials.  Ahh.

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Without knowing exactly what your GPA was, it's hard to say. However, if your advisor thinks it won't hold you back, then you can probably relax. 

At the same time, I would push back on the assumption that graduate GPA is a less-important part of the application and that a stellar writing sample and SOP will offset a low graduate GPA. Obviously, a high GPA won't get you accepted. It probably doesn't even catch an adcom's eye. However, part of the reason it doesn't catch an adcom's eye is because most English MA students get very high grades. Grades are somewhat inflated in English grad programs, so if an application with an uncharacteristically low MA GPA crossed my desk, I would be a little concerned, wondering if the applicant is prepared for a PhD program, or if they're someone who doesn't work that hard--regardless of how fabulous their writing sample is.

You have to remember that PhD programs aren't just looking for the most talented students--they're looking for students who they think will finish their degrees and be active members of their cohort. Graduate GPA can help them gauge that.

It sounds that your advisor has confidence in you, though, which is what matters here. But if you feel your "low" GPA is going to be a problem, you might be ask them to address the matter in a letter of rec, saying something along the lines of "sweating is an excellent and energetic thinker, but they suffered a health setback last year. However, they made a full recovery and later went on to do X, Y, and Z. Their excellent writing sample on such-and-such is a reflection of their promise."

Edited by Bumblebea
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