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The sub-3.0 GPAs ACCEPTANCE thread


starmaker

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I need some ideas.

I made the decision to pursue my Master's in engineering because I really want to involve myself in a particular field of research, but my overall GPA was 3.0 and my major GPA was 2.9.  I have a couple of complicating factors:

1.  No work experience in my field.  I had personal and family issues, and at the end of it all I'm working part-time at a photography studio and putting every cent into my grad fund.

2.  It has been nearly five years since I graduated.  On its own that's not a huge deal, but with the lack of experience I'm basically dead in the water.

I'm going to be taking courses at a local college in the summer and fall, but I need something else if I want to succeed.  I haven't taken the GRE yet, but the practice tests indicate I'd have around ~155V/165Q or higher, so I'm not worried on that front.  I'm going to hail-mary apply to a couple of schools in the fall, more to get practice at applications than expecting to get in, but aside from that I'm kind of stumped.

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I just read through all of these posts and it made me so happy to see that there are people like me out there. I want to share my own story as well. I graduated from a top private university with a 2.6 GPA. I don't have much of an excuse other than the fact that I wasn't focused and wasn't even into what I was studying. I started off as pre-med, and those weed-out classes killed my GPA. I finally changed my major after realizing medicine was not going to be in my future. By the time my junior and senior year rolled around, I did a little better, but not enough to get my cumulative GPA up by much. I did get awarded some money to do research with a professor and I did present a poster, so I had this going for me, but literally nothing else. 

Luckily, I was able to get a job as a research assistant almost right after graduating, with someone in my field. I worked there for a year and started applying to MPH programs. My GREs were decent but not great (152 V, 158 Q). I was accepted into an MPH program and graduated the MPH with a 3.8 GPA while working full time.

To others that have considered whether addressing your low GPA helps--I did. I just included a paragraph about it. No need to dwell on it, but I think it does help to acknowledge your mistakes. I think doing that, along with my research experience, is probably what got me in. I remember seeing that acceptance letter and re-reading it a bunch of times to make sure I had read correctly.

Now I am looking to apply to PhD programs. My undergrad GPA may still prevent me from getting in but I am going to try. By the time I apply, I'll have 5+ years of research experience, a handful of publications and presentations, as well as really good LORs.

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  • 9 months later...
On 4/2/2018 at 9:48 PM, PublicHealth18 said:

I just read through all of these posts and it made me so happy to see that there are people like me out there. I want to share my own story as well. I graduated from a top private university with a 2.6 GPA. I don't have much of an excuse other than the fact that I wasn't focused and wasn't even into what I was studying. I started off as pre-med, and those weed-out classes killed my GPA. I finally changed my major after realizing medicine was not going to be in my future. By the time my junior and senior year rolled around, I did a little better, but not enough to get my cumulative GPA up by much. I did get awarded some money to do research with a professor and I did present a poster, so I had this going for me, but literally nothing else. 

Luckily, I was able to get a job as a research assistant almost right after graduating, with someone in my field. I worked there for a year and started applying to MPH programs. My GREs were decent but not great (152 V, 158 Q). I was accepted into an MPH program and graduated the MPH with a 3.8 GPA while working full time.

To others that have considered whether addressing your low GPA helps--I did. I just included a paragraph about it. No need to dwell on it, but I think it does help to acknowledge your mistakes. I think doing that, along with my research experience, is probably what got me in. I remember seeing that acceptance letter and re-reading it a bunch of times to make sure I had read correctly.

Now I am looking to apply to PhD programs. My undergrad GPA may still prevent me from getting in but I am going to try. By the time I apply, I'll have 5+ years of research experience, a handful of publications and presentations, as well as really good LORs.

Thanks for your story!

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  • 7 months later...

If anyone is willing to give me insight as to how to proceed moving forward towards my dreams/goal. In any case, I graduated from a liberal arts university majoring in biotechnology and finished with a horrible GPA. My goal is to be admitted and do my Ph.D. in Molecular Biology eventually. I have three years of research experience, published a scientific article in a well-known journal. And have another degree in Nursing (i know totally unrelated, but at the time it was what i wanted to do until I discovered the beauty of science) but don’t think it will help. I am going to retake my GREs next month, and have two LORs awaiting; I completed my SOP, however, I don’t know whether to apply this cycle (2020) or wait until 2021 to complete a masters degree in the meantime? 

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On 8/23/2019 at 5:31 PM, Nelson G.M. said:

If anyone is willing to give me insight as to how to proceed moving forward towards my dreams/goal. In any case, I graduated from a liberal arts university majoring in biotechnology and finished with a horrible GPA. My goal is to be admitted and do my Ph.D. in Molecular Biology eventually. I have three years of research experience, published a scientific article in a well-known journal. And have another degree in Nursing (i know totally unrelated, but at the time it was what i wanted to do until I discovered the beauty of science) but don’t think it will help. I am going to retake my GREs next month, and have two LORs awaiting; I completed my SOP, however, I don’t know whether to apply this cycle (2020) or wait until 2021 to complete a masters degree in the meantime? 

Sounds like you have a very strong application!

PhD applications are more about the connections with PIs then just meeting minimum requirements. For example, I didn't really apply for the PhD because I met my future advisor, he agreed to take me on, so my application (with my terrible UG GPA) was just a formality. I recommend reaching out to PIs you want to work with and letting them know you are applying to their institutions. With your research experience and publication, you are already a strong candidate. 

IMO getting a master's won't necessarily make you a stronger candidate. PIs want to see your drive to do research, and you have that already. 

Hope this helps. :) 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 8/26/2019 at 2:08 PM, bposadas said:

Sounds like you have a very strong application!

PhD applications are more about the connections with PIs then just meeting minimum requirements. For example, I didn't really apply for the PhD because I met my future advisor, he agreed to take me on, so my application (with my terrible UG GPA) was just a formality. I recommend reaching out to PIs you want to work with and letting them know you are applying to their institutions. With your research experience and publication, you are already a strong candidate. 

IMO getting a master's won't necessarily make you a stronger candidate. PIs want to see your drive to do research, and you have that already. 

Hope this helps. :) 

Honestly, thank you so much for your reply and great feedback, it gave me hopes! I highly appreciate it and now have a better idea as to how to proceed next. Again, THANK YOU! I have now have faith that everything will work out!

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  • 5 months later...

Finally get to post to the sub-3.0 acceptance thread!

My undergrad GPA stood at 2.4 from UC Berkeley.

I was just accepted to nearly every school I applied to (I'm still on the waitlist for MIT, but they only took 5 of 25 interviewed students). These were biology/microbiology programs at Berkeley, UCSF, Caltech, UC San Diego, and Wisconsin at Madison. I was outright rejected from Stanford, but was interviewed everywhere else.

I had nearly 6 years of academic research experience after undergrad to try and make up for my GPA, where I worked in a number of labs all over the world, from NASA Ames in California to a remote field camp in Antarctica. It was letters of rec and my current PI that really helped me get through the door. GPA doesn't matter, so long as you have good people going to bat for you. If your GPA is as low as mine was, you definitely need to prove yourself in some way. 

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On 2/27/2020 at 1:22 PM, microbio2020 said:

Finally get to post to the sub-3.0 acceptance thread!

My undergrad GPA stood at 2.4 from UC Berkeley.

I was just accepted to nearly every school I applied to (I'm still on the waitlist for MIT, but they only took 5 of 25 interviewed students). These were biology/microbiology programs at Berkeley, UCSF, Caltech, UC San Diego, and Wisconsin at Madison. I was outright rejected from Stanford, but was interviewed everywhere else.

I had nearly 6 years of academic research experience after undergrad to try and make up for my GPA, where I worked in a number of labs all over the world, from NASA Ames in California to a remote field camp in Antarctica. It was letters of rec and my current PI that really helped me get through the door. GPA doesn't matter, so long as you have good people going to bat for you. If your GPA is as low as mine was, you definitely need to prove yourself in some way. 

Congratulations! Thank you so much for sharing your story! It's so important to show students that a low UG GPA does not cripple your career for life. It may take a little longer, but it's possible!

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  • 1 month later...
On 1/31/2018 at 1:02 PM, Future_Chem_Professor said:

Update: I got into a program!!! However, I was encouraged by the head of the admission committee to apply for the Masters route. If I excel academically my first year, I will be able to transfer into the PhD program! I'm very excited for the opportunity. 

This just goes to show that anything is possible. If I am able to get into the PhD program, I'll post back on here and hopefully be able to inspire others to never give up when pursuing your dream!!!

Update: I got into the PhD program! After working hard my first year, my grades were good enough to convince the graduate committee to let me transition in the PhD program! Now this happened after the Spring 2019 semester, so I'm a little late in providing an update, haha. I have another 3 years to go, but I've been working hard and have been truly enjoying every minute of it!

For anyone who is serious about pursuing an advanced degree in ANY field, don't let anyone talk you out of it. I've had undergrad professors, former coworkers, and friends try to tell me that my dream was unrealistic and unachievable. But I didn't listen, and I worked hard. And just like a lot of people on this thread say after they've accomplished their goal, it was worth it. I'm so grateful that I was given an opportunity to turn it all around. It is NEVER too late to chase your dreams!

If make it all the way through, I'll most definitely update this post again to show everybody that this is achievable no matter what circumstances you may find yourself in :) 

Good luck to anyone out there who's currently trying to go to grad school and prove to themselves that they're capable of succeeding at this level. You most certainly can do it!!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

GPA's in my opinion are pretty worthless.

For example, I would admire a person who got 2.5 in three quantum mechanics course over a 3.75 with an outdoor recreation course in terms of workload and immense difficulty.

It's very relative... and many committees know that...

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On 12/21/2021 at 5:48 PM, kraftpunk97 said:

Guys with sub 3.0 GPA, do you explain it in your SOP? I have a sub 3.0 GPA in my undergrad, how do I address it in my SOP for my masters?

Try scheduling a 1v1 virtual meeting with the admissions office. I contacted several programs and shared my transcript/cv, and we broke down everything. They also explained the difference between undergraduate and masters admissions. By the end of the first meeting, they gave me the confidence to submit a top-notch application. This was my Georgetown experience, so I can't speak for the other programs. You don't need to explain a 3.0 GPA in your statements.  

The admissions advice on Self-Made Millennial is the best guide for grad school, regardless of GPA. It helped me. 

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Here’s my story. I’m starting at Georgetown next spring, enrolling in the Security Studies Program. My credentials are on the signature.

I graduated American University with a 3.17 GPA and worked in the State Department for several years. When the thought of graduate school came across, I contacted the admissions office, and we scheduled a 1v1 virtual meeting. We discussed my transcript and resume, the difference between undergraduate and masters’ admissions, and personally attended information sessions hosted by the admissions office.

A friend suggested SSP but was hesitant in applying since it was considered the best, until meeting an SSP graduate renewed my purpose in giving this a second try (cuz I liked her). I applied for the 2021 Fall Semester (at the last minute) and was waitlisted in the most competitive application pool in school history. My support network encouraged me to apply again and was accepted for Spring 2022.

If you are looking for a YouTube video for guidance, the advice posted on Self Made Millennial mirrored my experience with the Georgetown admissions office.

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In 2003 I had 2 semesters of all F's due to some medical/personal problems and left school (chemistry BS).  This definitely tanked my prior stellar GPA.   After getting a job as a flight attendant for one of the major US carriers, flying for 13 years, and leaving the airline industry due to COVID, I decided to go back and complete my chem degree and apply for a PhD program in chemical engineering at Tulane.  My total GPA at time of application was 2.9, but this included 3 recent semesters (spring, summer, fall 2021) of all A's in advanced science/math undergrad courses.  I got accepted into the program at Tulane with full funding, despite my low GPA.  I only applied at Tulane, but my advisor at my graduationg university told me I'd likely get into any graduate program I applied to.  He told me to apply to CalTech and the like, but I'm tied down to New Orleans already so didn't apply anywhere besides Tulane.  Graduate programs will likely look at the entire package of an applicant, and not just a low GPA.  If your bad semesters were last year, it would probably be a different story.

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  • 1 month later...
On 12/21/2021 at 5:48 PM, kraftpunk97 said:

Guys with sub 3.0 GPA, do you explain it in your SOP? I have a sub 3.0 GPA in my undergrad, how do I address it in my SOP for my masters?

I know I'm late with this reply as many applications have closed. However, I hope you aren't stressing too much about it. I went to a top 5 Canadian university for engineering and had a CGPA of 3.1. My GPA was horrendous for the first 2 years, lots of Cs and Ds and even failing a class. I explained it in my SOP and emphasized on the improvement in my last 2 years. It definitely helped to have pretty good internship/work experiences... but I was accepted into an Ivy League masters program last week!! Best of luck to you!!!

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  • 4 months later...
On 2/15/2012 at 11:40 AM, starmaker said:

 

Yeah, I think this is the key. I have a decent MS GPA, several publications, four and a half years of research-environment industry experience, a high GRE.

Thank you for this advice! I think it's helpful information and can be true for many things. If one area is lacking, it will definitely help to go above and beyond in other areas. Experience is helpful!

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