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...but the GRE has to count for something


DrPepper-olic

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I am quietly going nuts in my broom closet of an office. People are starting to hear back from the schools I applied to, and I'm a little worried. I figured I wouldn't be a first choice applicant because all of my degrees come from a lesser known school, although my particular department has some well-known (notorious) professors in my field. I am starting to fear now, especially after reading all the threads below, that my GRE score wasn't enough to make me a second or third choice applicant. :unsure:

Here's the deal: My GPA for the last two years is 3.81. Ironically, that's also my one of my major GPAs. (The other, Spanish, is 3.72.) My overall GPA is 3.38. In 2005, I had extenuating circumstances, didn't withdraw from classes to take care of them, and wound up with a couple of flags on my transcript. Unfortunately, I took a semester of graduate classes that year, so I have a flag on that transcript too. (Thus my MA GPA is a 3.5 from Whoare U.) It blows because I otherwise have stellar grades and have scored the highest of my classmates on almost every exam given in my graduate programs. I hope/pray that my LORs reflected this excellence. (I am certain that one did. I ended up rotating LORs from 6 different profs in my department, to lower the work load. I had profs who sat on my defense committee, who taught me since undergrad, and who have mentored me recently.) I am starting to fear that my transcripts are screaming, "Don't take her." :o

I even tried to preempt this my committing 2 months of my life to studying for the GRE. (Every lunch hour, every break, every evening, it was me and the Kaplan strategy books.) I got a 800Q, which seems to be the necessary condition for acceptance to most programs in my field. I got a 1560 overall (and 4.5 aw...not terrible, considering). (I will confess, I danced around a bit with the proctors at the test site.) I hoped that this score, paired with my stellar performance for the past 2 years, would overshadow my bad year. Now I fear that my score only got me through the initial stage of looking at applications. Now I have to wait in application limbo. Application purgatory. :(

Yes, I was sure to include a specific paragraph or two in my PSs about how I fit with each department. Yes, I used confident wording (as women are sometimes criticized for). No, my best fit schools haven't rejected me yet. But they are Ivy's. And I really doubt that they take people who have failed classes in their past. Especially after reading all the threads stating that GREs don't matter much. Will I never be able to move out of rural America? Is there no hope for people with a spotted past? Am I destined to pursue higher education only as a hobby from now on? Please, someone, post an example of how GRE scores can help your application get through. I mean, Zach Morris got into Stanford, and he almost failed high school...:blink:

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I am quietly going nuts in my broom closet of an office. People are starting to hear back from the schools I applied to, and I'm a little worried. I figured I wouldn't be a first choice applicant because all of my degrees come from a lesser known school, although my particular department has some well-known (notorious) professors in my field. I am starting to fear now, especially after reading all the threads below, that my GRE score wasn't enough to make me a second or third choice applicant. :unsure:

Here's the deal: My GPA for the last two years is 3.81. Ironically, that's also my one of my major GPAs. (The other, Spanish, is 3.72.) My overall GPA is 3.38. In 2005, I had extenuating circumstances, didn't withdraw from classes to take care of them, and wound up with a couple of flags on my transcript. Unfortunately, I took a semester of graduate classes that year, so I have a flag on that transcript too. (Thus my MA GPA is a 3.5 from Whoare U.) It blows because I otherwise have stellar grades and have scored the highest of my classmates on almost every exam given in my graduate programs. I hope/pray that my LORs reflected this excellence. (I am certain that one did. I ended up rotating LORs from 6 different profs in my department, to lower the work load. I had profs who sat on my defense committee, who taught me since undergrad, and who have mentored me recently.) I am starting to fear that my transcripts are screaming, "Don't take her." :o

I even tried to preempt this my committing 2 months of my life to studying for the GRE. (Every lunch hour, every break, every evening, it was me and the Kaplan strategy books.) I got a 800Q, which seems to be the necessary condition for acceptance to most programs in my field. I got a 1560 overall (and 4.5 aw...not terrible, considering). (I will confess, I danced around a bit with the proctors at the test site.) I hoped that this score, paired with my stellar performance for the past 2 years, would overshadow my bad year. Now I fear that my score only got me through the initial stage of looking at applications. Now I have to wait in application limbo. Application purgatory. :(

Yes, I was sure to include a specific paragraph or two in my PSs about how I fit with each department. Yes, I used confident wording (as women are sometimes criticized for). No, my best fit schools haven't rejected me yet. But they are Ivy's. And I really doubt that they take people who have failed classes in their past. Especially after reading all the threads stating that GREs don't matter much. Will I never be able to move out of rural America? Is there no hope for people with a spotted past? Am I destined to pursue higher education only as a hobby from now on? Please, someone, post an example of how GRE scores can help your application get through. I mean, Zach Morris got into Stanford, and he almost failed high school...:blink:

I certainly think such a high gre score in your field is impressive! I also don't think one bad year will haunt you forever. That being said, I'd agree with others that most programs seem to look at the whole package--what lies beyond gre and gpa. I found this post from a professor to be most helpful:

Good luck!

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I think your high GRE score would get noticed. Of course it's very unlikely that it would be the reason that they would choose you, but I think that it would be noticed and may play some part in funding decisions. Your SoP and your letters would be much more important however, and if you clearly outlined your research experience and interests as well as how you would fit with the schools that you applied to, then that would help your application a lot more than your high GRE. I'm not sure how much the schools you applied to will consider the flags on your transcripts, but they do tend to pay a lot of attention to the last 2 years and they do like to see that your GPA has improved over the years. It's hard waiting, but I hope you get some good news soon. All the best!

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I think your high GRE score would get noticed. Of course it's very unlikely that it would be the reason that they would choose you, but I think that it would be noticed and may play some part in funding decisions. Your SoP and your letters would be much more important however, and if you clearly outlined your research experience and interests as well as how you would fit with the schools that you applied to, then that would help your application a lot more than your high GRE. I'm not sure how much the schools you applied to will consider the flags on your transcripts, but they do tend to pay a lot of attention to the last 2 years and they do like to see that your GPA has improved over the years. It's hard waiting, but I hope you get some good news soon. All the best!

Completely agree with newms. It will get you notice, it is a quick mark on your app that will catch their eye. It will help if you are considered for any fellowships/scholarships too. But I will echo newms in saying at this point your SOP, LORs and research fit with the program will play a huge role. I would not worry too much about your GPA stumbles early on. But it def bodes well that your last 2 years are great, it shows you focused and got your game together.

Good luck and I hope you don't have to wait much longer!

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Thanks newms! You know, I spent a lot of time fighting for my right to finish my education. Some professors at my original institution were nay-sayers about my return to graduate studies since I had that f, and I was adding 2 part-time jobs into the mix. I earned a lot of self-respect while proving them wrong, and I fell in love with my field in the process. (My husband knows, and he's OK welcoming academics into our marriage...:P) My insecurities are certainly coming out. I would be willing to go through an oral qualifying exam if I had to, to convince the adcoms that I'm worth it. (I would also duke it out, American Gladiator-style if need be.) I think if I do go through the whole process again, I will at least have a pub or two by then.

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Completely agree with newms. It will get you notice, it is a quick mark on your app that will catch their eye. It will help if you are considered for any fellowships/scholarships too. But I will echo newms in saying at this point your SOP, LORs and research fit with the program will play a huge role. I would not worry too much about your GPA stumbles early on. But it def bodes well that your last 2 years are great, it shows you focused and got your game together.

Good luck and I hope you don't have to wait much longer!

I agree with the above posters. I see admissions as a holistic look at each applicant. You had a hiccup in your past, but the GRE scores show that you are a capable student. Also on every thread I've seen about the GRE people say that the scores don't matter unless you have a perfect score such as your 800Q. That is something to take notice of. In your SoP I'm sure you explained the hiccups in your transcripts. Life happens.

Personally, I think that someone that can overcome adversity and show themselves to be a good student is actually a good candidate for admissions. There will be set backs in grad school and you have shown that you can overcome them. Now don't you wish I was on the admissions committee? ;)

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Especially after reading all the threads stating that GREs don't matter much. Will I never be able to move out of rural America? Is there no hope for people with a spotted past? Am I destined to pursue higher education only as a hobby from now on?

Haha. Calm down. :)

The GREs matter. After all, they still have you take them. Each school will obviously weight them differently, but I can't imagine any school that requires them to completely ignore them and say, "pshh. whatever."

Congrats on the score. whoa.

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