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MPH LOW GRE + LOW GPA & ACCEPTED. I DID IT - SO CAN YOU: The tale of the underdog applicant


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So, your GPA sucks.

Your GRE score? Taking that baby to the grave..aren't ya?

OR maybe it's worse....perhaps much like myself you have both factors weighing down your application...ya?

I understand..too well, so let's begin with this:

Calm down... breathe....and please, do not take everything on this site to heart. If you're motivated and you're driven to get into an MPH program, you'll get there. You can stop reading now really because YOU WILL GET THERE.

My advice to you is simple: Stay Positive, Stay Confident, and compensate for your low points in your application strategically....it's fine...you will get in.

If you listen to nothing more I say in this blog --- take just this advice with you: All of those previous post you read from people worrying about their "low" gre scores between 1150-1300....screw them. They are the worst - ignore them...all of them. Do not compare yourself to them - value that you have far better sense of self-perception than they do, which will make you a much better graduate student.

So here it goes:

Here was what I was working with when I applied:

Undergrad GPA: 2.9 (average liberal arts school)

GRE first time 870

GRE second time 930

Awful.. I know. School was the LAST thing on my mind, that is until after I graduated.

So here is what I did that got me in to a top 20 program.

Work Experience:

I got a job that paid me to do research (entry level) at a research institute in Boston (city where I did my undergrad)

The job was awesome, challenging, and I was totally unqualified, unprepared, and not holding any academic cred for it (but I tricked them into hiring me somehow, with a bad joke and a super "I really REALLY want this job endearing speech in my interview...)

How did I get my foot in the door for the interview? I searched the HR contact girls name in facebook and found a mutual friend (someone i talked to say once?) in common and capitalized on this Kevin Bacon degree of separation by not being afraid to ASK someone for a favor.

I learned more in that year and half than most people will in their MPH program. Just get in the field somehow and stick with it for a year and half at the least.- I don't care how, just do it.

Working now in my second year in the MPH field at a great health care center/research gig - I CONSTANTLY pay this act of kindness forward as my acquaintance once did for me. It's a fun little helping cycle... get into it.. and stop worrying about ASKING... just do it - worse they can say is no.

Should you work for free?

If you have bills to pay then NO. Honestly, don't...you'll end up resentful if you're broke and you'll be tempted to make a rash choice to switch career paths.

YES - if your rents can flip the bill -

YES - if you know your boundaries and work/volunteer once a week for a few hours or a couple during the week at a lab in a university doing research.

Your BEST strategic move is to work AT the university you want to go to in anything (administration, billing, research, what-the-hell-ever) then not only are you allowed to take courses in the masters program but youll most likely go for free.

Graduate Classes?

I took two graduate level courses in a similar area to what I was interested in studying, got A's, and I believed this helped.

Note - i'd prob. do this at the university/program you'd like to attend...

Published papers?

Screw anyone with a BA and publications - they prob had zero fun in college ...and take pride in that.

I had two posters with my name on it from working in a psych lab that summer before i applied - I'm thinking that helped, but it's such an overrated experience... focus on getting a job that pays with your free time. Ask yourself this: What's more annoying than applying to grad school? Attending conferences with graduate students....

Recs?

They matter - be nice to people, this shouldn't be a problem if you're not a dick in life.

Essay's

Be yourself, research faculty research, and edit the crap out it.

You'll be fine. You'll get in. Just find a way that works for you to work around your weak points and you'll get in. I promise.

Edited by gradmess26
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Good job in getting in! I checked out this post because a similar thing happened to me. Graduated from a decent school, but things didn't go my way, got distracted and had a low GPA to show for it. I decided to take another 2 year undergrad (lots of carried over credits) and managed to do really well. Unfortunately, I think my poor showing at my first degree - regardless of how admissions usually ask for your last two years - was always coming back to haunt me. I applied to a high standard of grad programs, feeling ambitious, and surprise surprise, I didn't get in anywhere.

The blow was hard to take. I felt like shit. I moved back home. I then turned my sights on getting a job, any job. Just to pay the bills and possibly switch careers. I didn't get anything I wanted to work in, and although I was offered basic level jobs, nothing really made me want to pursue it as a potential career-changer.

I think the big gamechanger happened because of advice I got from my brother. He said something on the lines of....even if you can't find work in fields related to your interests, look to volunteer or intern. *BING*

I started off doing minor volunteer jobs at a major non-profit related to my field of interested, and then through that position - found an opening in a field which gave me a 9-5 internship position, and hands-on experience in the organization that would usually be cutoff from non-staff. I'd been there from August - Feb, and during that time, asked my supervisor to be one of my references for my prospective degree. He happily obliged.

Just after sending my personal statement to my top school, I contacted prospective supervisors directly (it's a research degree) and they were curious to meet with someone who was highly recommended from a well-known non-profit, where they happened to also have an association with. I met with each of the three individually, and two of them agreed to supervise me on a prospective project, provided I get in first.

All I needed now was to get an interview. I waited and waited. I knew that all the adcomms had to work with were my grades and my 2 page LOI....so I was nervous. I called in to the course secretary, and she informed me that they were already interviewing! I was shocked, so somehow I went into survival-mode and blurted out that two of their faculty had already agreed to work with me. She was curious, and I don't know how much weight she had, but she asked me to send her an e-mail with the names of those who had agreed. I did.

About a week later, I was contacted by the program for an interview. Phew!

The interview was great, and they did ask "THE QUESTION" of why my first grades were so poor. I answered honestly, without being too honest...and told them that being an unpaid intern while gaining first hand experience showed that I worked very hard to get here. I believe they also contacted my potential supervisors to validate their opinion of me.

Its been a long journey, but I'll be starting in the fall at my top choice program, that accepts about 20 students a year, after a mediocre first undergrad, a second undergrad, and full rejections in my first year of applying to grad school.

Lesson of the story.... there's always a way to get in..provided that you're committed to make it work.

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  • 2 months later...

I am working on a Masters in Anthropology right now and I am having a bugger of a time getting "ins" for ethnographic research. I oroginally focussed on biological anthropology and archaeology as an undergraduate, came in to graduate school with that in mind and then found myself more interested in human health. I then picked up the mantle of medical anthropology. And then, I still found that it was extrememly difficult getting in on research opportunities.

Where should I look to gain access to an internship and research? I have had zero luck so far; well I did have on opportunity, but it ended up being a conflict of itnerest becaseu the compnay was a genetic geneology company that was asking me to do marketing assignments that conflicted with my ability to speak to outside clients objectively.

I am also looking for general advice on how to prepare. I am mostly interested in epidemiology, but I might consider environmetal. I suspect the PH administrator I spoke with last winter expected me to come in pursuing health promotion because of my interest in medical anthropology.

I am taking an undergraduate class in Molecular Biology and taking Biostatistics for Public Health this fall. What else should I consider to beef up my prior coursework?

I will start my own thread, but I would be extremely grateful if perhaps, some of these neophyte questions were answered here.

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  • 4 months later...

You just boosted my confidence 100% with this post. I am having anxiety thinking about applying to top 20 schools. My GPA is fine, but my GRE's sucked due to ADHD. and I have no research or publications because I was single parent for almost the entirety of my undergraduate studies. Now I feel a bit more confident as I send out my applications. Thanks!

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  • 1 month later...
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  • 3 weeks later...

I am very frustrated. I graduate last year and I am planning to apply to a Spanish Masters program.

However, I am concerned about my GRE score. It is very low (Verbal Reasoning Scale Score: 136; Quantitative Reasoning Scale Score: 135; and Analytical Writing Score 2.0. It is very difficult for me take a test like this since I am more comfortable with the Spanish language. My GPA in my Spanish classes at Indiana Univerisity of Pennsylvania (IUP) was 4.00 and my overall GPA was 3.78.Do you think I will be considered acceptable to enter your masters program in Spanish? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 
Sincerely,
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  • 1 month later...

I graduated a year ago with a 2.8 GPA from a top university (honestly don't know if this holds any weight at all). Post-graduation I've gained 1 year of research experience (with one publication and poster to show for it), volunteered for about half a year at a major non-profit in which I got really involved, and some shadowing experience. My GRE scores are decent - competitive at some schools, average at others. I just submitted (or rather, re-submitted...damn SOPHAS undelivered my stuff...) my application and I'm hoping for the best. Your story brought me some hope. Wish me luck. I'm really anxious. :(

Edited by 123hardasABC
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  • 3 weeks later...

So, your GPA sucks.

Your GRE score? Taking that baby to the grave..aren't ya?

OR maybe it's worse....perhaps much like myself you have both factors weighing down your application...ya?

I understand..too well, so let's begin with this:

Calm down... breathe....and please, do not take everything on this site to heart. If you're motivated and you're driven to get into an MPH program, you'll get there. You can stop reading now really because YOU WILL GET THERE.

My advice to you is simple: Stay Positive, Stay Confident, and compensate for your low points in your application strategically....it's fine...you will get in.

If you listen to nothing more I say in this blog --- take just this advice with you: All of those previous post you read from people worrying about their "low" gre scores between 1150-1300....screw them. They are the worst - ignore them...all of them. Do not compare yourself to them - value that you have far better sense of self-perception than they do, which will make you a much better graduate student.

So here it goes:

Here was what I was working with when I applied:

Undergrad GPA: 2.9 (average liberal arts school)

GRE first time 870

GRE second time 930

Awful.. I know. School was the LAST thing on my mind, that is until after I graduated.

So here is what I did that got me in to a top 20 program.

Work Experience:

I got a job that paid me to do research (entry level) at a research institute in Boston (city where I did my undergrad)

The job was awesome, challenging, and I was totally unqualified, unprepared, and not holding any academic cred for it (but I tricked them into hiring me somehow, with a bad joke and a super "I really REALLY want this job endearing speech in my interview...)

How did I get my foot in the door for the interview? I searched the HR contact girls name in facebook and found a mutual friend (someone i talked to say once?) in common and capitalized on this Kevin Bacon degree of separation by not being afraid to ASK someone for a favor.

I learned more in that year and half than most people will in their MPH program. Just get in the field somehow and stick with it for a year and half at the least.- I don't care how, just do it.

Working now in my second year in the MPH field at a great health care center/research gig - I CONSTANTLY pay this act of kindness forward as my acquaintance once did for me. It's a fun little helping cycle... get into it.. and stop worrying about ASKING... just do it - worse they can say is no.

Should you work for free?

If you have bills to pay then NO. Honestly, don't...you'll end up resentful if you're broke and you'll be tempted to make a rash choice to switch career paths.

YES - if your rents can flip the bill -

YES - if you know your boundaries and work/volunteer once a week for a few hours or a couple during the week at a lab in a university doing research.

Your BEST strategic move is to work AT the university you want to go to in anything (administration, billing, research, what-the-hell-ever) then not only are you allowed to take courses in the masters program but youll most likely go for free.

Graduate Classes?

I took two graduate level courses in a similar area to what I was interested in studying, got A's, and I believed this helped.

Note - i'd prob. do this at the university/program you'd like to attend...

Published papers?

Screw anyone with a BA and publications - they prob had zero fun in college ...and take pride in that.

I had two posters with my name on it from working in a psych lab that summer before i applied - I'm thinking that helped, but it's such an overrated experience... focus on getting a job that pays with your free time. Ask yourself this: What's more annoying than applying to grad school? Attending conferences with graduate students....

Recs?

They matter - be nice to people, this shouldn't be a problem if you're not a dick in life.

Essay's

Be yourself, research faculty research, and edit the crap out it.

You'll be fine. You'll get in. Just find a way that works for you to work around your weak points and you'll get in. I promise.

Arrrgh I have just found this..and your posting make myday...thank you :D

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I would also like to encourage someone with my achievements. 

 

I graduated from a top public university in my state with a 2.6 GPA in engineering and I was able to attend and complete graduate school in the UK (in a different field). I never took the GRE or the GMAT since those aren't required for UK universities; I also did not have much work experience in my field nor did I do any volunteer work but if there is a will, there is a way. Don't give up!!

 

You may have to do things the long way but you will reach your goal eventually!!  :D

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  • 1 year later...

So, your GPA sucks.

Your GRE score? Taking that baby to the grave..aren't ya?

OR maybe it's worse....perhaps much like myself you have both factors weighing down your application...ya?

I understand..too well, so let's begin with this:

Calm down... breathe....and please, do not take everything on this site to heart. If you're motivated and you're driven to get into an MPH program, you'll get there. You can stop reading now really because YOU WILL GET THERE.

My advice to you is simple: Stay Positive, Stay Confident, and compensate for your low points in your application strategically....it's fine...you will get in.

If you listen to nothing more I say in this blog --- take just this advice with you: All of those previous post you read from people worrying about their "low" gre scores between 1150-1300....screw them. They are the worst - ignore them...all of them. Do not compare yourself to them - value that you have far better sense of self-perception than they do, which will make you a much better graduate student.

So here it goes:

Here was what I was working with when I applied:

Undergrad GPA: 2.9 (average liberal arts school)

GRE first time 870

GRE second time 930

Awful.. I know. School was the LAST thing on my mind, that is until after I graduated.

So here is what I did that got me in to a top 20 program.

Work Experience:

I got a job that paid me to do research (entry level) at a research institute in Boston (city where I did my undergrad)

The job was awesome, challenging, and I was totally unqualified, unprepared, and not holding any academic cred for it (but I tricked them into hiring me somehow, with a bad joke and a super "I really REALLY want this job endearing speech in my interview...)

How did I get my foot in the door for the interview? I searched the HR contact girls name in facebook and found a mutual friend (someone i talked to say once?) in common and capitalized on this Kevin Bacon degree of separation by not being afraid to ASK someone for a favor.

I learned more in that year and half than most people will in their MPH program. Just get in the field somehow and stick with it for a year and half at the least.- I don't care how, just do it.

Working now in my second year in the MPH field at a great health care center/research gig - I CONSTANTLY pay this act of kindness forward as my acquaintance once did for me. It's a fun little helping cycle... get into it.. and stop worrying about ASKING... just do it - worse they can say is no.

Should you work for free?

If you have bills to pay then NO. Honestly, don't...you'll end up resentful if you're broke and you'll be tempted to make a rash choice to switch career paths.

YES - if your rents can flip the bill -

YES - if you know your boundaries and work/volunteer once a week for a few hours or a couple during the week at a lab in a university doing research.

Your BEST strategic move is to work AT the university you want to go to in anything (administration, billing, research, what-the-hell-ever) then not only are you allowed to take courses in the masters program but youll most likely go for free.

Graduate Classes?

I took two graduate level courses in a similar area to what I was interested in studying, got A's, and I believed this helped.

Note - i'd prob. do this at the university/program you'd like to attend...

Published papers?

Screw anyone with a BA and publications - they prob had zero fun in college ...and take pride in that.

I had two posters with my name on it from working in a psych lab that summer before i applied - I'm thinking that helped, but it's such an overrated experience... focus on getting a job that pays with your free time. Ask yourself this: What's more annoying than applying to grad school? Attending conferences with graduate students....

Recs?

They matter - be nice to people, this shouldn't be a problem if you're not a dick in life.

Essay's

Be yourself, research faculty research, and edit the crap out it.

You'll be fine. You'll get in. Just find a way that works for you to work around your weak points and you'll get in. I promise.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT! People can be such downers telling the rest of us that we don't have a high chance.  The top-ranked schools are overated and I have no interests in competing with people whose lives revolve around the value of prestige rather than meaningful goals in life.

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  • 3 months later...

i have 2.0 gpa score... nd 278 in gre score... with ielts 6.0 bands.. please guys i  really need your help.. can u tell me..how can i get the admission in Mph deegree in usa...nd i also really interested to get admission in Long island University , Brooklyn...your genuine advise..really means a lot to me...

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  • 5 months later...

It is perhaps feasible to get into a MPH program but does that same determination and persistence mean that you will also function well as an epidemiologist in a work environment?  I graduated from nursing school.  People weren't sure I could do it because of a head injury and physical limitations.  Yet I am not certain I can function well as a nurse given cognitive deficiencies that were previously unknown.  I don't want to go down another blind alley.  How far can determination and persistence really take you?

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  • 1 month later...

I graduated a year ago with a 2.8 GPA from a top university (honestly don't know if this holds any weight at all). Post-graduation I've gained 1 year of research experience (with one publication and poster to show for it), volunteered for about half a year at a major non-profit in which I got really involved, and some shadowing experience. My GRE scores are decent - competitive at some schools, average at others. I just submitted (or rather, re-submitted...damn SOPHAS undelivered my stuff...) my application and I'm hoping for the best. Your story brought me some hope. Wish me luck. I'm really anxious. :(

Did you ever get accepted into graduate school with that GPA? Did you address your low GPA in your personal statement? 

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Did you ever get accepted into graduate school with that GPA? Did you address your low GPA in your personal statement? 

Yup! I got in. I currently attend Mount Sinai, will be finishing this December, and have already applied to PhD programs. I also got in Emory and Boston (supposedly good programs for MPH) but settled for Sinai because it was cheapest (not more terminal degree,gotta save $$). And no, I did not address my GPA in my personal statement. 

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I'm 23 and graduated class of 2014 with a cGPA of 3.01 from a solid school, started out neuroscience but dropped to a BS in Psychology with minors in biology and chemistry at the end of my junior year. Basically because of very stupid long-term relationship stuff/I became the legal guardian of my disabled younger brother and my family taking care of my grandfather as he died of alzheimer's, my GPA tanked junior year. My GPA for Psychology is probably a least a 3.5 (due to weird anxiety things I've been too afraid to pull up the numbers and actually look at them). I took the GRE for my first time yesterday and I made a 166v/164q, and I feel decently confident I made about a 5.0 on the writing portion. I also think if I took it again I could add 2-5 points on the quantitative section. 

I researched in neuroscience for two years, but I wasn't very motivated for those two years and didn't get published and I don't have the best relationship with the PI I worked with. I shadowed physicians for 200 hours, volunteered for children's home literacy programs, was a TA/Program Counselor in a summer 'pre-psychiatry' program where high schoolers earned college credit at my university, and was a clinician working with children with developmental disabilities for the past year. I've also taught high school math (one-on-one and in classrooms) as a private contractor.

I know I'm not an abysmal applicant, but I feel very intimidated by going into applications knowing my GPA is lower than I wanted it to be because of a bad five year relationship. It seems pretty obvious that if I try to acknowledge and explain the bad GPA boy troubles should not be mentioned. I also don't know what caliber of program I should be applying to. I'm a Texas resident so I plan on applying to all of the in-state programs. For personal/family reasons applying to schools in Minnesota or close to New York City appeals to me, but I don't know if I'm a good applicant for out of state programs. I'm taking biochemistry in the spring at a local four-year for long-term aspirations, and now that I've sorted/eliminated the major stressors in my life I think I'll do well, but it's probably too late for it to affect my application for fall 2016.

;_______;

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Your GPA is just one factor they look at. Most programs want a minimum of 3.0. Since you are over that, you won't get screened out. Your GRE is really good and you have some experience. With a good SOP that explains why you are interested in public health and good LORs, I think you might be pleasantly surprised. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thank you so much for posting this! I read this every few days for encouragement. I did MBBS in India and my GPA according to WES is 3.6...my GRE scores are not so great (v-144 q-158). I did MBBS and some research on anemia prevalence for 6 months . I want to get into Boston U, George Washington, Tulane, U Texas. I wanted Emory and UNC at first but I think thats out of the picture now. My confidence is shattered after verbal scores on gre. What are my chances?

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On 10/27/2015, 2:56:02, franticsemantics said:

I'm 23 and graduated class of 2014 with a cGPA of 3.01 from a solid school, started out neuroscience but dropped to a BS in Psychology with minors in biology and chemistry at the end of my junior year. Basically because of very stupid long-term relationship stuff/I became the legal guardian of my disabled younger brother and my family taking care of my grandfather as he died of alzheimer's, my GPA tanked junior year. My GPA for Psychology is probably a least a 3.5 (due to weird anxiety things I've been too afraid to pull up the numbers and actually look at them). I took the GRE for my first time yesterday and I made a 166v/164q, and I feel decently confident I made about a 5.0 on the writing portion. I also think if I took it again I could add 2-5 points on the quantitative section. 

I researched in neuroscience for two years, but I wasn't very motivated for those two years and didn't get published and I don't have the best relationship with the PI I worked with. I shadowed physicians for 200 hours, volunteered for children's home literacy programs, was a TA/Program Counselor in a summer 'pre-psychiatry' program where high schoolers earned college credit at my university, and was a clinician working with children with developmental disabilities for the past year. I've also taught high school math (one-on-one and in classrooms) as a private contractor.

I know I'm not an abysmal applicant, but I feel very intimidated by going into applications knowing my GPA is lower than I wanted it to be because of a bad five year relationship. It seems pretty obvious that if I try to acknowledge and explain the bad GPA boy troubles should not be mentioned. I also don't know what caliber of program I should be applying to. I'm a Texas resident so I plan on applying to all of the in-state programs. For personal/family reasons applying to schools in Minnesota or close to New York City appeals to me, but I don't know if I'm a good applicant for out of state programs. I'm taking biochemistry in the spring at a local four-year for long-term aspirations, and now that I've sorted/eliminated the major stressors in my life I think I'll do well, but it's probably too late for it to affect my application for fall 2016.

;_______;

If you want to stay in NYC, I recommend you look in to Mount Sinai's MPH program. It's a very forgiving program when it comes to academic history. I applied there with a sub 3.0 uGPA and will be finishing their program early. If you want, PM me and I can give you the contact info of some people in administration. 

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  • 1 month later...

Undergrad School: Top 20 global University
Undergrad GPA:
2.65 (WES evaluation)
Major/Minor: Biological Sciences
GRE: 162(v), 158(q), 4.0
Experience/Research (please, be brief): 3 years research lab experience, navigator and research intern with the ACA and Medicaid (volunteer, 1 yr), STEM teacher in underserved NYC schools (volunteer, 1 yr)

Interested in: Global Health/ Maternal & Child Health
Applied: Columbia, Mount Sinai, WUSTL, SLU, Colorado, Emory, Tulane
Accepted: Colorado, ISMMS
Rejected: Tulane
Waitlisted:

 

I attached an addendum to all my applications explaining the personal reasons for my low GPA, and that they no longer apply. I also had some strong recommendations from my boss and former bosses.

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  • 1 month later...
On 11/12/2013 at 5:32 AM, whydoiloveLatin said:

I would also like to encourage someone with my achievements. 

 

I graduated from a top public university in my state with a 2.6 GPA in engineering and I was able to attend and complete graduate school in the UK (in a different field). I never took the GRE or the GMAT since those aren't required for UK universities; I also did not have much work experience in my field nor did I do any volunteer work but if there is a will, there is a way. Don't give up!!

 

You may have to do things the long way but you will reach your goal eventually!!  :D

Did you attend undergrad in America? I'm also an American student with a BA in biology applying to graduate programs in the UK. My GPA is a 2.9 so I'm very nervous. Did you apply through Across the Pond? 

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