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is my GPA really going to work against me?

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Hi there,

I go to a state school and currently have a midrange 3.8. After taking a math class this summer I will probably go down to a midrange 3.7 because I really don't see myself passing with higher than a D or a C. I have a solid 3.8 in my English/Creative Writing major, and a 4.0 in my Theatre/Playwriting major and am looking to apply to schools straight out of undergraduate for my PhD in English Literature.

I've got the requisite coursework, two study abroad experiences, three publications (one creative, two academic), and a national and several regional conferences under my belt. Clearly, my focus has not been on getting solid As in science and mathematics coursework, but rather on professional preparation for graduate school. I've yet to take the GREs but the schools I am applying to use them largely (supposedly) as a last resort sorting method.

I'm just afraid of getting a D in my math class and having my 3.8 shot to hell. Will my background experience in academia, strong letters of recommendation and a solid writing sample and personal statement help overshadow that? I am applying to several large state schools like Florida, Minnesota, and Arizona State, but am also throwing applications the way of WashU and Brown. Could a somewhat shoddy GPA kill my chances in a first-round sort of applications?

Thanks for your help, everyone. :)


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Your GPA isn't shoddy. Major GPA is the most important and a 3.7+ isn't gonna bring you down. As long as your other components are there, you'll be fine. That's really only a hair below the median for top schools. And your Major GPAs are fine. A D in your last semester (even in an unrelated course) isn't gonna look great on your transcript but if your application is strong, people won't care.

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