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GPA took a major hit, how plausible is acceptance from great EEB grad program?




This is my first post ever, so please forgive/ feel free to guide me if I'm posting in the wrong place. 

I'm currently a life science undergrad (marine biology) major at a top University in California, going into my senior year. I'm a non-trad student (on the younger side), a former business owner and artist who went back to school to focus the rest of my life on climate change. My broad interests include the conservation of marine predators from anthropogenic effects. From the beginning, my goal has been to go to graduate school because I want to do research professionally, in academia or not. Prior to my junior year, my gpa was 3.87. Unfortunately, my junior year was also the last year of my best friend's life due to metastatic cancer. I was one of her primary caregivers and was at the hospital every day with her for ~4 months straight. I knew my gpa would fall and it did, to ~2.9 - No F's or D's. I wouldn't change what I did with my best friend, but seeing that number still makes my heart sink. Anyway, I'll likely get my gpa up to the low 3's by the time the grad school applications are due this winter. I'll definitely include a statement explaining what happened and have no problem discussing it in detail. 

Can someone level with me and tell me how plausible it is to be admitted to good/ great California ecology graduate programs with such a low gpa? (Honestly, one of the labs that's best suited for my interests happens to be at Stanford and I'm afraid that one may be out of the question.) If it is plausible to be accepted, any suggestions or tips are welcome.

Thank you for your time!


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