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The sub-3.0 GPAs ACCEPTANCE thread


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My undergraduate GPA was less than .1 under 3.0, but I have a 4.0 in my master's program and was elected to Phi Kappa Phi last semester. I got three funded offers and one unfunded offer, plus a waitlist, and only one actual rejection. My GRE scores are pretty good but not savant-level. I had (from what they told me) stellar recommendations, including one from a senior university administrator. My GPA suffered for a few semesters in my first two years in undergrad because of a lot of reasons, but mainly trying to mature as a young gay man in the rural Midwest and the challenges that brings. The main thing I can say to people with lower GPAs wanting into programs is to explain why you had that GPA and how you've grown from that point--one program told me that my personal statement's explanation really helped me get in. 

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this thread is discriminatory against people with sub-2.0 gpas!!

I feel like I need to make a thread for 4.0 undergrads with no acceptances to balance things. (charter member)

You all make me laugh. I took the time to register this account, because I thought that I was looking at a thread of disasters. In-fact, almost all of you have decent GPA's. I dont think I saw anyone

My undergrad GPA is 2.76 and I was accepted into Brown University for my Masters today. I'm in shock, but very excited. I submitted my acceptance of the offer just a few hours ago. Very excited. 

Did you have work experience, or internships, or recommendations from directors for that? Congrats!

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Received word of my acceptance to Jacksonville State University's M.S. Psychology program last week with a GPA of 2.90.  Now to kick some serious butt and make sure I never have to worry about this sort of thing again.

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Man, this thread is depressing.  For those with the sub 3.0 GPAs and admits, what did you do?  Did you explain your low GPA in your SOP?  

 

I got into every school I applied to.  I'm going for a professional degree so there are more slots available.  

 

I bombed my last semester because of deaths in my family and dealing with other family issues at the same time which dragged my mediocre GPA down to a 2.89. I took 2 years off and worked in my field to make sure this is something that I wanted to do and would be willing to spend the money to get the advanced degree.  I had decent GRE scores (which I need to compensate for the GPA) and I wrote a very compelling personal statement about what this field means to me and how working made me realize I want to be an archivist for the rest of my life.  I think I had really strong recommendations from two professors and one of my bosses.  I think if you have the other pieces of the package, you have a chance to make up for the lower GPA (within reason of course, I think it's really hard to make up for anything below 2.7).

 

As far as mentioning my GPA in my SOP, I left that out.  I didn't want to draw any more attention to the GPA and with word limits, I wanted to make sure that I came across as excited about this field.  I felt if they were interested in an explanation for why my GPA suffered in my last semester, they would ask me.  One school actually did ask me and I wrote up a small piece that stated this is what happened, I handled it poorly, and that if something like it were to happen again in the future, I would handle it more maturely.  I didn't try and sugarcoat it or try and get them to pity me, I didn't dwell on my mistakes, I was straightforward in my explanation and how I learned from it.

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Did you have work experience, or internships, or recommendations from directors for that? Congrats!

I have a lot of research experience, and interned at a lab for about 1 year. My letters were from a research supervisor, a PI (who is also dean of admissions at UCI med school) and an EMT instructor. I think my eclectic experience really helped me! Thank you

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  • 4 weeks later...

Could anyone tell me how easy it is to transfer credits from a non-us university to a us university and a us university to another us university. I have a 2.65 uGPA. Planning to work my ass off in a local university, get good recommendations and a good first year GPA and then apply again to US university.

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From what I understand, your plan is to complete one year of graduate school at a local university and then transfer those credits to a US university. Speaking from the little knowledge I have of this subject, it is very difficult to transfer credits in graduate programs, even more so from abroad. Usually the school will ask you to retake many courses which means you will likely end up enrolling in the full course over there and your previous credits won't help you much.

Now in case you are not planning on attending Ivy League or top 30-50 universities, I would suggest applying for the Spring '15 season to a few universities where you think you have a good shot and seeing how everything goes. Remember a sub 3.0 doesn't necessarily mean you won't get accepted anywhere. Good recommendations, respectable GRE scores and a killer SoP can turn things around. I myself was able to get into Syracuse with a 2.67. All the best!

Also, I am from Pakistan too so if you have any other questions please feel free to PM me.

Edited by ahlatsiawa
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I kept meaning to add in on this threat.

 

I applied with a 2.47 GPA (I brought it up to 2.85 by graduation), and got into 4/5 of the MAs that I applied to (well, one was an MS), including a couple that are among the top in my field. I explained it in my SoP, and had outstanding supporting materials (strong LoRs, an assistantship on a journal, volunteering at a major conference, great GREs). Honestly, I think it comes down to convincing them that the student you will be for them is not the student you were when you got those bad grades. Obviously that's not going to help with schools that have instant cuts for certain GPAs, but I think most schools, if you look like a serious candidate, will at least see what you have going on.

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I kept meaning to add in on this threat.

 

I applied with a 2.47 GPA (I brought it up to 2.85 by graduation), and got into 4/5 of the MAs that I applied to (well, one was an MS), including a couple that are among the top in my field. I explained it in my SoP, and had outstanding supporting materials (strong LoRs, an assistantship on a journal, volunteering at a major conference, great GREs). Honestly, I think it comes down to convincing them that the student you will be for them is not the student you were when you got those bad grades. Obviously that's not going to help with schools that have instant cuts for certain GPAs, but I think most schools, if you look like a serious candidate, will at least see what you have going on.

THANK YOU man, so much inspiration. GodSpeed!!!!

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  • 1 month later...

I know that there hasn't really been an update in this thread for about a month, but I wanted to come in and see how others think my resume/CV would help with my sub-3.0 uGPA.

 

Extenuating Circumstances: I always had a strained relationship with my parents, and they kicked me out of the house when I was 19 because my "way of life" (I'm not straight) didn't agree with theirs (oh and I'm hella liberal and they're not, too) so off I went into the world all by my onesy. I've been on my own for the past six years, two of which I was not in school because I was living permanently in the dorms when I was told by my university I had to pay a $6,000 hold on my account or I couldn't take any more classes. I failed a semester trying to find a place to live because I thought keeping a roof over my head was a wee bit more important than grades at  that time. I was out of school for two years because of this, trying to pay off the $6,000 slowly, which isn't easily done when you're working two jobs, on SNAP, and have to pay rent and utilities amongst other bills (cell phone, credit cards, etc.) So, now I have a 2.34 GPA, but I have two years of school left to boost my GPA. The returning semester (this past Spring) I earned a 3.73 for the semester and made Dean's List. So, do you think if I made that happen for the remaining semesters (3.7 or better to make Dean's List as well) would help, even if my overall GPA is less than stellar?

 

I plan on getting an M.A. in Art History and an M.A. in Museum Studies because I want to be a Curator (and then hopefully on to a PhD.) My experience as of now includes a Curatorial Apprenticeship Program through my University, an internship at the Delaware Museum of Natural History, an internship for a small theatre company where I'm creating a database for their costume collection, an upcoming internship I'll have for this school year with a foundation that runs an education program from their 17th century Swedish ship replica that landed in Delaware (with opportunity for research on boats they attained for a museum collection for when their museum opens since they have boats ranging from Antiquity to the Present, and my History concentration is Classics), along with a wealth of volunteer experience in place on and around my campus: UD Archaeology Lab, UD Historical Costume and Textile Collection, Iron Hill Museum Archaeology Festival, and I'm currently volunteering as a Gallery Monitor for the Newark Arts Alliance, a small non-profit that has rotating exhibitions, classes, and a gallery shop, which I pretty much baby-sit during regular hours.

 

Now, to the important part: Education. This will probably seem nuts to most of you, but I'm a triple major and a double minor. I came in as a Three Language Major, but I switched it when I got chucked out of my house because I started doing poorly when I was attempting to do French, Italian, and Japanese all at once when I was worrying about money. I switched my major to History/Classics and I began to excel in my classes. The reason I added English/Creative Writing later was because the University had dropped that major (which is why I hadn't claimed it in the first place) but when they brought it back, I claimed it because that's originally what I wanted my degree in originally but since I was halfway done my History major (and I was in the middle of taking Ancient Greek and Latin for it), I kept that as well. Recently, I realized if I took 9 more classes, I would qualify for an Asian Studies major with a Japanese concentration, so I claimed that as well.

 

Majors: History/Classics, English/Creative Writing, Asian Studies/Japanese Language Concentration

Minors: Art History and Theatre Studies

 

I am somewhat proficient in French and Italian, and do better in Japanese when speaking, but writing is a challenge. I studied abroad in Japan the summer after high school after being admitted into a prestigious exchange program. While I was in college, I studied abroad in the Winter in France and Italy. I have attended extra lectures and symposiums relevant to my studies (mostly pertaining to Ancient History) as well. I also completed the first Tier of a Leadership Program at my University.

 

Sorry for the verbose message! I just wanted to know how this would look next to a less-than-stella GPA and probably a GRE that won't be as good as I hope, as I don't do very well with standardized testing (ADHD and panic disorders do not assist with such things.) Please let me know what all of you think!   

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I think you would be competitive if you simply explained what happened with your home situation and the hold you had to pay briefly. As long as they see an upward arc, I think they are willing to consider lower GPAs.

You may also want to contact a professor you're interested in working with or admin at the relevant dept at each place you apply to asking specifically about whether you should apply if you have a sub 3.0. If some places just weed those apps out, there's no point in applying, but if they consider extenuating circumstances, then you're good. It sounds like you have been doing a lot and that's great.

Who knows, maybe you'll pull it up to 3.0! Did the 3.73 semester raise your GPA? Have you also consider getting an after the fact withdrawal on some of your bad grades? Sometimes the university will allow one due to distress over bad external circumstances if you petition. You'd probably have to talk to the student center or even disability office (esp if you have ADHD or panic disorders) to figure that out but I've found that removing bad grades has more impact than getting good ones. It does take a lot to raise a GPA that many points.

Edited by seeingeyeduck
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The biggest thing, from the feedback I received on my own applications, is the ability to explain why the bad grades happened, while also assuring them that they won't happen again. Blaming things like ADHD is fine, but you need to explain what you've done to overcome it. Financial issues are more complicated, as schools expect grad students to be under financial stress, and it may or may not help you to blame that.

 

Junior/Senior and major gpa are more important that overall GPA, so an exceptional few semesters will help. It looks like you've got a few years left to finish, so just concentrate on doing as much as you can in that time to improve your grades, and find a mentor to review and proof your SOP.

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I think whatever you cite as the cause of your bad grades, it's important to take responsibility for your actions and note that you have learned from the experience. Don't foist responsibility onto others, admit you may have made bad decisions but emphasize that you learned how to deal with bad situations and have become a stronger or smarter person because of it. Just don't say "oh, it was a freak accident and will never happen again." Demonstrate some self insight and say why you reacted the way you did and why you would not react that way now.

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Thanks, everyone! I will definitely take all of this into consideration and get in touch with those who might be able to help me with possibly removing the bad grades from the record. (My GPA went from a 2.22 to a 2.34, so yeah it helped; hopefully I'll keep at that if not better for the remaining semesters!)

 

Oh, I never try to blame anything because I usually do overcome it, it was just an unfortunate situation where I was pretty much hit with every stressor simultaneously. I obviously have pulled my bum out of the fire when I made Dean's List; which I intend to do for the remaining time I'm attending undergrad. HOPEFULLY I'll be able to bump my GPA to a 3.0 provided that I bust my butt like I did this past semester. It just took a little bit more stability and maturing for me to be able to throw myself into my studies as much as possible.

 

Thanks again, everyone; it's been very helpful!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I personally feel like my sub-3.0 GPA (as well as my bouncing from major to major and school to school) as an undergrad killed any chance I had of getting into a PhD program straight from my undergrad school. However, I had 7 years of flip flopping between majors (I switched 13 times) and schools (went to 4 different schools, one of them 3 times and one of them 2 times) intermixed with semesters of brilliant grades (we're talking semesters of 3.67, 3.8, 4.0, etc) followed by semesters with grades so low I'm ashamed to tell anyone. I think someone who just had 1 or 2 years of cruddy grades has much less to worry about than someone like me :)

 

However, the sub-3.0 GPA wasn't an issue at all when it came to masters programs. I was accepted to 3 programs, and none of them interviewed me or even asked about the grades. I assume my LORs, SOP, and GRE scores were sufficient to offset the problems on my transcript. Plus masters programs aren't putting as much on the line as PhD programs... they are shorter programs and lots of them don't offer funding, so they aren't really risking much by accepting someone like myself. Lucky for me, my masters program actually turned out to be a dream come true. It's a state school (cheap!) that was close enough that I didn't have to relocate for, my advisor and I had the same idea for my thesis project, he got me grant money for my thesis, and this year I have a graduate assistantship that both gets me free tuition and a paying job. Granted, it pays pretty poorly, but it actually pays better than the part-time job I had. To be honest, I'm actually glad I was rejected from all those PhD programs because I love my current program so much and I'm doing the research of my dreams (plus I got to travel overseas)! So don't fret if you're an undergrad and you think you may have to settle for doing a masters degree first. It may be the best thing that ever happened to you!

 

Now for some advice on pulling up grades... at the undergrad school I graduated from, I actually didn't mess up my GPA too much. When I entered the biology program, my GPA was a 2.83 or something similar, but I only had 3 semesters completed there at that point. It took one semester to pull my GPA above a 3.0. After 3 years, I got up to a 3.59. Had I chosen to repeat the courses I bombed, I could have graduated with something in the neighborhood of a 3.9 because my college used only the most recent grade for a course (as opposed to factoring both in the GPA). That might be something some of you might want to look into if you only have a few courses killing your GPA. Also, someone mentioned having your bad grades turned into withdrawals after the fact. While I'm not an expert on every school, that one might be tricky. One school I went to would only do that if you left for 7 seven years and didn't take any courses elsewhere. The school I graduated from would do it only under certain circumstances, and would wipe your entire academic record clean from start to finish, regardless of any good grades. So that really might not be a realistic option!

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Just wanted to add to this thread to say that I had a gpa hovering around 3.0 thanks to a disastrous first year in biochemistry. I would later switch but not before some university advisors convinced the grades I had reflected normal transition for biochem.

Anyways... I knew my chances of entering a masters program right away were not too good so I got a job in a field related to my future interest and took postgraduate classes for a certificate related to the masters I wanted to apply for. I applied last cycle and was rejected. I contacted both the program director and the program administrator to find out what I could to better my application. The program administrator got back to me and explained that I had applied later than their primary deadline. Second time I made sure to apply early - kind of a challenge when you're working full time and chasing LORs and reading up on grad applications.

I was accepted and will be starting this Fall 2014 my masters (part-time) while working full time. I hope this helps anyone with a sub 3.0 gpa. I know all the posts I read gave me hope.

Short version: don't give up!

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  • 1 month later...

Ah, undergrad GPA (worse than a tattoo...it just cannot be removed).

I graduated from a selective liberal arts college with a whopping 2.81 and double majors in Neuroscience and Religion. Yuck. I wanted to go to graduate school. After college, I was a research technician at Columbia University in a great lab with a great PI who hired me based on recommendations, my CV and an impromptu IQ test during my interview. During my time as a tech, I was an author on two papers and earned two great letters of recommendation. My GREs were within normal limits for the most competitive schools.

I was rejected at many large state schools (Madison, Michigan, Washington). I was accepted at Columbia and U of Chicago. I ultimately graduated with a PhD in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology from Stony Brook University (GPA 3.81).

Currently, I am in the midst of a career change and as such, am applying to graduate school again. This cycle I applied to two masters programs: MPH and MS in Health Care Policy. I was required to submit all my transcripts. But what is done last matters most and undergrad is quite some time ago for me. I was accepted to both programs.

For applicants with sub threshhold 3.0 GPAs, you need to construct a stellar application to soften the undergrad GPA. If you have just graduated undergrad, this is a tough feat to follow. Some time placed between graduation day and application submission may be needed to focus the admissions committee's eyes elesewhere. For example, being a research technician in a PI's lab who was absolutely influential and powerful and well known in the science community helped me score acceptances.

What would I have changed if I could do it again? Studied harder in undergrad!

Spore, PhD

I am in the same boat. I have a 2.5 GPA and my science GPA will be only a 2.0 after this semester… I am a senior at UK majoring in Biology. I transferred here and my chemistry classes brought my GPA down QUICK. I got a D in organic 1 and general chem 1. I couldn't imagine retaking them. 

Can you please give me more advice? I am very impressed with what you have done. 

When you were a lab tech at Columbia, were you in grad school there? If not, how did you find out about that prestigious position? I am a research assistant in Biomedical Informatics, however I do not have any lab experience whatsoever. It sounds phony, but I am a horrible test taker. I'm amazing at my job and pretty intelligent, but my GPA just says I'm an idiot. I am a senior and am freaking out about what I will do after college. Please give me any more advice. I signed up for this threat specifically to reply to your response. Thank you

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  • 3 weeks later...

The take away message I am getting here is to apply to a Master's program first, is that correct?  

 

Yes.

 

Not to be a downer, but if your overall GPA is lower than 3 (or around there) I would be floored if you got into some of those schools(WHOI, Scripps, Brown, UCD,URI) which are all top tier programs, barring some kind of high impact publication (EPSL, Nature, Science). If your GRE scores aren't stellar, I'm not even sure they would even see your application without some kind of petition from a faculty member that wants you, and only you. Remember, POIs get many interested applicants, they don't always pick one they lobby for. Often times they present 3 or 4 and let the adcomm mold the entire incoming class to accommodate. 

 

I had a 3.05 GPA from undergrad, so while I wasn't below minimum requirements, it just means that they didn't have to petition to accept me.  At that GPA, you should question if you can keep up with your would be peers at those schools, as thats what they will be asking when looking at your application (if it isn't chopped out). It's one thing to say you could do the work, its another thing to do it and be productive in research. I don't think its fair to say you can just flip a switch (which a lot of people on this forum do). Remember that the best undergraduate applicants have years of research experience, good grades, GREs and maybe even a publication.  How does someone with poor GPA compete with that?

 

The answer is a masters degree (funded). Three things that the masters degree did for me: Improved my GPA (graduated with 3.85), Deep research experience ( much more technical than even a senior thesis), and a High impact publication (its still going through the 2nd round of reviews, but even if this journal doesn't except it, its a lock at the next one down which is still very high).

 

At my program, they still wanted me to do the full 5 year PhD (maybe less depending on how fast I can do research) since I don't have a masters degree from their program. I'm fine with that. WHOI is the same way. So is URI, Scripps and Brown. Its going to add a year or two over going straight to PhD, but you will probably end up in a better program because of it.  

 

So while you may still want to apply to those programs, it might be worthwhile to invest time into masters programs instead of your middle tier schools. Just some thought; I know this is your second time, but you have to ask if you have enough meat in your application to begin with. 

 

goodluck!

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@GeoDude,

 

My top program of choice only offers a Master's degree.  This was the program that wait listed me last year and ultimately denied me because my GRE quant score was too low.  I am from Sacto and go back home a few times a year.  I have visited UC Davis on more than one occasion and know for a fact they will not admit me into a Ph.D. program.  So, I will be applying to UCD for a Master's w/thesis.  I was not aware UCD requires Ph.D. students to complete the entire program, that is good to know.  I was also not aware that Brown and URI require the same.  

 

I did know that MIT/WHOI requires students to complete the entire program no matter how many Master's degrees they may bring with them.  To be frank I doubt I can handle their coursework and probably will not apply. 

 

I am on the fence with URI, but leaning towards Master's w/thesis.  For UConn, they would like to see a Master's first before Ph.D. To my knowledge they will admit those with only a Bachelor's straight into Ph.D. only if the applicant has a stellar undergraduate record.   They will also admit a less-than-"stellar" student into a Master's program with the stipulation that the student goes through a probationary period.  I am cool with that. 

 

UDel, and VIMS need more consideration.

 

When Maryland rejected my application last year I was told they would have recommended me for their Master's program had I only mentioned my GPA in my SOP.  I am not sure why but for what ever reason not discussing my GPA really rubbed them the wrong way.  This year my application will be to their Master's program.  

 

There are a few schools I am considering that are not in my sig.  University of New England and Coastal Carolina are two of them.  Both only confer Master's degrees.  I am also considering UMass Dartmouth, who allows Master's students to skip their thesis and go straight into Ph.D. under certain considerations. 

 

Yes, I do feel that I can do well in graduate-level courses.  My undergraduate GPA suffered for a few reasons of which have more to do with ill-formed choices that seemed logical at the time instead of a lack of ability.  Lesson learned indeed.   

 

I am retaking the GRE in a few weeks.  

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@GeoDude,

 

I got into Brown for a Masters in Biotech with a sub-3.0 GPA. It's possible! Now I'm thinking about applying to their PhD program next year...

 

 

There are departments at brown that only have PhD programs.

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Crucial,

 

That sounds like a good plan, and well thought out. Consider that if your ultimate goal is to do a PhD, and some of the places that are reaches now are places you want to do your PhD, you might not apply to them this year. Often times candidates who apply a second time get reviewed much harsher than first time candidates. 

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