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Some advice please!


humdrum

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Im in a bit of a quandary here. Consider my case -

I got really bad grades in my UG (in computer Science) - 2.5 (I had no intention of applying to grad school at the time and was having a good time. No good excuse really)

But after working for a couple of years in the industry as a programmer, I realized that working as a programmer was not my thing, and research is what I want to do.

I do have a couple of good things going for me - good GRE scores (730V/790Q),

And I am working as a research assistant at IISc - which is the best research institute in India.

I expect my LoR's to be decent - not spectacular.

So, this is my plan of action -

I have applied to about 5 good schools for PhD - among the top 20. With my grades I think it will be really difficult to get a admit to a good Phd program directly, so I am thinking of applying to about 5 mid-ranked universities for Masters. I plan to continue for a PhD after doing well during Masters.

What I am really worried about is that my application will be thrown out due to my low GPA even before the rest of it is evaluated. Is there any way of preventing that? Do you think emailing prof's and requesting them to lookout for my application will help?

What do you think about my chances for getting admitted for masters? I have heard that for masters, mid-ranked universities take the GRE score more seriously than the top universities do. Is that accurate?

Do you think this is the best plan of action? Any suggestions at all?

Edited by humdrum
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Although I know very little about computer science applications and programs, it seems you are taking a very pragmatic approach. With your experience and GREs I expect that the Masters programs will consider you. If your LORs can also vouch for your ability to do good work, I think you've got a shot at the masters programs. I doubt that you'll have a chance at top PhD programs because of your GPA, but with an excellent masters record, you'll be in a much stronger position to try again.

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Hi humdrum,

I'm in somewhat a similar position as you. I did very poorly in undergrad, for the same reasons as you.

I'm not applying to PhD programs, but Masters first given my performance back in university. Taking my GREs at the end of Dec and really banking of these plus my essays and Recommendations which should be favourable.

Another different between us is that I'm applying for a Comms. degree.

Your approach seems sound. I'm curious who your recommenders are? I have my ex-bosses writing these for me and managed to get 1 prof to vouch for me despite my dismal performance.

All the best.

D

generallygrad.blogspot.com

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Hi humdrum,

I'm in somewhat a similar position as you. I did very poorly in undergrad, for the same reasons as you.

I'm not applying to PhD programs, but Masters first given my performance back in university. Taking my GREs at the end of Dec and really banking of these plus my essays and Recommendations which should be favourable.

Another different between us is that I'm applying for a Comms. degree.

Your approach seems sound. I'm curious who your recommenders are? I have my ex-bosses writing these for me and managed to get 1 prof to vouch for me despite my dismal performance.

All the best.

D

generallygrad.blogspot.com

I got a recommendation from my current boss, who is a prof. at IISc. One from my ex boss, the founder of the company where I used to work before, and one from a prof. from my UG college.

I worry about the last recommender the most. In his email - he said that he had a hard time recalling the work that we did together, but would write me a recommendation anyway. Frankly I prefer this to him remembering what work we actually did. :-)

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I am in a similar situation, although I am seeking a Masters, not PhD. 2.6 in undergrad. Since then I have improved it with other undergrad classes, I have a 3.4 in those. But they overall average out to barely a 3.0. Unlike you I do not have stellar GREs, mine are more average with a 540Q, 580V, 5.0AW. I have some great LoRs. I think at this point, it is now a crapshoot. But make sure you spend a lot of time and effort on your statement of purpose, as it is one of the only things you can really control for amping up your overall application!

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I'm almost in the same boat, 2.99UGPA, great LORs, middle of the road GRE-1260. One thing I did this past fall was I took a grad course in my intended field as a non-degree student and received an A. I think this will help out, along w/ my SOP.

best of luck to all!

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  • 2 weeks later...

humdrum,

As long as you do your homework on the masters programs that you're applying to, I actually think you have a pretty good shot considering your GRE scores (I think it's actually pretty common for applicants to terminal masters programs to have less-than-stellar UGPA's because people with great UGPA's often just apply right to the PhD anyways, foregoing the masters). I think applying to PhD's might not be the best use of your time since it is purely an academic degree, and the only academic qualification they have to go off from you is your UGPA. But, if you rock a masters and THEN apply to a PhD, it might actually look even better since it would look like you've turned things around (with the GREs too).

As far as e-mailing professors to look at your app regardless of your UGPA, that doesn't seem like the greatest idea. Drawing any attention to the UGPA without a really good masters GPA to counter it wouldn't really work in your favor. Just make the rest of your app good so they forget about the UGPA.

Good luck with applying to masters programs!

Edited by cwe93
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I am in CS, and I got into a mid-ranked MS program with a 2.5 undergrad GPA (not in CS, though), after having taken a few non-degree CS classes in which I did pretty well. In fact, I not only got into both places that I had applied to, but I got a substantial merit scholarship from the one that I ended up attending. I had lower GRE scores than yours, but my industry experience (about a year and a half at the time that I applied to MS programs) was research rather than straight programming, and I had a couple of publications.

I think your chances are just fine, but that you should try to pick programs where the department has more influence in the admissions process than the graduate school. When the graduate school has more influence, that means that people are more likely to be cut based on low stats, in general.

Don't email profs and ask them to keep an eye out for your application. That's a little presumptuous - you're asking for a favor. Instead, pick a prof or two at each target program, explain some of your qualifications that might be useful to them, and ask if they are taking new students, where they see the lab going in the future, things like that (don't be too dismayed if they don't respond - profs are busy and might just not have a chance to get back to you). If they are really interested, you might get a nice research dialogue going.

The academic blogger FSP has written a few posts about the way for an applicant to introduce him/herself to a prof at a target department. I suggest that you read all three of these posts.

http://science-professor.blogspot.com/2010/11/getting-to-know-me-and-you.html

http://science-professor.blogspot.com/2009/11/you-choose.html

http://science-professor.blogspot.com/2007/12/writing-to-me.html

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