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Very Worried:: Is My Application Competitive Enough (low GPA)



Hi, hey, hello. Stress abound. 

Im intending to apply for the Fall 2023 cycle. I terribly frightened by all the other posts where others have detailed their stats and which programs they are going to; stats I wouldn't even believe another undergrad has, stats the poster somehow laments over. Have I overestimated my chances of being accepted into any phd programs?

My stats: 

UG School: UConn

Major: Physiology and Neurobiology, minor in molecular cell biology

Type of student: Mixed race (black and asian) trans student from a single parent (unemployed, disabled) household from low income area, though currently homeless :/ (tbh, not banking on my diversity really helping me out here)

GPA: 3.25 (idk how to or if i even should explain how i went from the Deans List to here. I feel like explaining my situation would be a bit futile as others have overcome greater adversity)

GRE: not currently taken

Research XP: Working in a neuroscience lab since fall of 2018 (im graduating a year late as I had to take a medical leave of absence). In this lab I've received funding from the NIH and presented my data at the 63rd annual Drosophila Conference. I've created assays with other researchers from different universities. Will be writing my honors thesis in this lab as well. I've presented my work at local conferences, and will do so again this spring. no publications : /

Related Research Awards etc: LSAMP, McNair Scholars Program, NIH-MARC fellowship, SURF award, + leadership scholarship

Extra: President of a Queer Outreach program at the university for 2 years, held other officer positions, lots of mentoring positions 

Applying to, in no specific order: (i have a lot bc i met a grad student that applied to 17 and only got into 1) George Mason, Carnegie Mellon, Tulane, Princeton, Pennsylvania State University, Brandeis, American University, Boston University, University of Chicago, UC San Francisco, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, UC Davis

Additionally, if you think there are other programs that you think would be a better fit for me, please let me know. Next week I will meet with my PI and ask her if I should consider doing a postbacc to compensate for my GPA. What im most stressed about is my GPA, lack of publications, and the fact that a lot of these programs don't even want you to send the GRE (it could help me potentially). 

Please be honest with me, I would prefer to not get false hope : ))

Sorry if that was a lot to read. TDLR; low GPA, lots of research exp, scared i wont be accepted anywhere haha

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Just a couple of observations, I hope they help a little. 

For the GPA; from your description it sounds like it has been trending down (from Dean's list to here). I might speak to it; mine did the reverse and I didn't discuss it. It might put to rest any concerns this trend raises; if there is a personal statement maybe address it there. 

Regarding the school list, I would suggest you consider taking a different approach. Graduate school is all about fit (and if you get niche specialization, all of your future jobs will be about fit). How do you fit with them and how do they fit with you. I would define exactly (or as close to it as you can) what you want to study/what questions you would like to probe, then look for scholars who are working on the same thing. From that list you can derive your school list and determine where you have a reasonable chance of applying. I reached out to every professor I was interested in working with before I applied.

I think you will find success, though the GPA may be an impediment to top tier schools.

good luck


Edited by Quickmick
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for some reason my laptop keeps putting up this little bar which prevents me from quoting you, so i hope you find this reply somehow.

Thank you, quickmick, for your response. I agree, I was looking for programs with their acceptance rate in mind, instead of finding specific groups to work in (save for UCSD). Perhaps I can review previous papers I've read that interested me and look for what institutions those researchers work for? I've received this advice before but admittedly dismissed it as i was more concerned about actually getting in. Thank you, sincerely for your reply. thinking about it that way instead has quelled some (some) of my anxiety lol. 



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