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How much will a bad CC experience hurt my PhD chances?


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Hi y'all. I am a soon to be graduating senior at a top ranked public university in the US studying Political Science. The Political Science program isn't ranked but the professors I work with are well recognized and respected in their fields and have provided me with an array of resources.

I transferred into university after receiving my AA from a pretty large community college. I am doing amazing at my current school and am on track to graduate with honors, a GPA that with all help from God will stay at or above the 3.96 range, I have taken classes dedicated to the practice of research for the better part of these last two years, I have been in the process of working with two different groups of professors to write coauthored papers that they say can be published or in the works before applications are due, I will be presenting soon at some conferences with my professors on our work, and in addition to this I am in the process of writing my thesis this semester to have as my writing sample. I have yet to take the GRE test but I think I'll do good in it. In short, off the basis of the work I completed since I transferred to my uni, I think I've been doing pretty good.

The problem is my community college years. During the years after I graduated high school, all those laurels that I mentioned in the previous paragraph seemed almost like something more belonging to a foreign planet than to me. I had graduated high school with intentions to go to another university in my state (not as good as my current one but not a bad school at all), however during that time period I was not in the best state mental health wise. I don't want to go into personal details but let's just say, for what I thought was my own mental health's sake, I decided to stay in my hometown for 2 years to do my AA at my local community college. I was a good HS student and had gotten many offers but I couldn't bring myself to leave my city for a combination of personal/family issues. Let's just say that deciding to stay in the same toxic environment that causes a mental health strain, ain't exactly the best solution to that strain.

My mental health issues got worse and affected my academics to a degree that I had never experienced before. To this day I'm still not sure if I graduated community college with a GPA in the 3s – I don't want to check. I was actually rejected from a rather low ranked state school for my transfer application after getting my AA and I thought then that I was for sure not getting into any university at all. Luckily, my current school accepted me, I don't know how to be honest. But since then I've thrived here. When I learned I got accepted, it was like a shift in the universe or something and since then – with the help of my lovely therapist – I've been able to live life not on the edge. I've done my best to work and make connections with peers working on issues I'm interested in and my professors tell me that I am a good candidate for top programs.

But they don't know how bad my community college years were. I haven't really told anyone except for one professor. I guess I'm just asking for opinions. How much will a bad first two years in a CC affect my chances at top programs (top 15 ideally) considering the fact that I have been able to rebound exceedingly in university.

Edited by fallingballoons
minor grammatical errors lol
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2 minutes ago, 2020PhD said:

I have a friend who got rejected from all 22 schools last year because and only because he had one B, sooo imagine....

I don't doubt you have a friend that got rejected from a ton of schools, but it's definitely not because of a single B. Schools don't care ***that*** much about grades (I'm at a CHYMPS and have had multiple Bs in undergrad), and I know of people with ~3.5s who have gotten into top schools as well. His other parts of his application probably just weren't as strong as he though they were...ultimately grades are not even close to the most important thing when people make admissions decisions. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 1/28/2022 at 12:50 PM, 2020PhD said:

I have a friend who got rejected from all 22 schools last year because and only because he had one B, sooo imagine....

Yeah, no.

I've served on admissions committees at Michigan, Ohio State, and now Georgetown. I can unequivocally tell everyone here that this inference lacks truthiness.

As to the OP: Impossible to know, of course, but IME admissions committees weigh more recent academic performance more highly than earlier years, and a clear break is actually to your advantage because it indicates that something fundamentally changed between your AA degree and the BA completion. Either way, no point worrying about what you can't change.

Best of luck.

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