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Low Undergrad GPA. Am I screwed for grad school (PhD, Masters)?


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Hey y'all,

Currently a second-year student at UCLA, who has an overall GPA of 2.477 (2.965 Major GPA) and no research experience at my current institution. Do I have some hope in getting accepted to a Social Psych Ph.D. program (e.g., the UCs) in the future?  To begin with, I don't know where to start, nor do I know if I have the right mentality to apply (and even handle the rigors of graduate school)... Ever since I transferred from a community college to UCLA, I became more anxious and lacked the confidence to ask for help from my peers. I'm even embarrassed to apply for research positions, knowing that I'll get rejected because of other applicants who have higher GPAs and are more experienced. ?

Any tips/suggestions, and has anyone ever been in a similar situation? 

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Hey heyyy,

Well, you're only in your second year at your institution so I think that you are beating yourself up a bit too much. You only begin applying to Ph.D programs in your senior year, so if you don't feel as if you're in the right mentality, or if you don't exactly know what you're doing, then it's normal. 

First thing first, though, is to definitely get yourself involved in some kind of research at your institution. I have never been to UCLA, so I'm unsure how the structure is for research assistants, but you should try your best to apply for the position regardless of the predicted outcome. You would never know if you didn't try, right?

While you are applying, do some research on the professors at your university whose work seems pretty interesting to you. During their office hours, I would recommend you to sit in to speak with those professors and give them some background about yourself and explain some of your passions to them. Building strong relationships with professors whose labs you wanna work in helps them see your motivation and can also help for a strong recommendation letter in the future. Even if you don't become a research assistant during this application cycle, at least you would have the appropriate connections and possible mentors to get you prepared for graduate school.

As far as your GPA, you can make it up. The classes with the lowest grades, you should target first. Re-take those classes in hopes of getting an A so that your GPA can be boosted. I know that taking classes over can feel a bit daunting, but remember that your end-goal is to become competitive for graduate school. Also, taking classes over again shows determination and can reflect well for grad applications.  See if you can take these classes in the summer so that your expected graduation date isn't pushed back.

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