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applying as provisional/non-degree


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i graduated with a less than desirable GPA due to a lack of direction my first couple years. For most good schools, it doesnt meet the requirements for a regular degree seeking student. It is above a 2.5, however, and allows me to apply as a provisional student to some. The degree I got was in ecology, evolutionary, and environmental bio. Right now, I've been working in population management up in alaskan fisheries for the better part of the last year; however, it's not what I want to research. I was planning on applying not as a provisional, but a non-degree seeking student to take classes and hopefully get on some profs good sides in the area I would want to pursue. If I'm not mistaken, it doesn't go through the same application process. Along those lines, is the application for provisional students as stringent as regular applications? I mean, at first glance, who are the candidates that get accepted into a provisional status if grad school itself is extremely difficult to get into? Then if I do get in, is it possible to use LOR from current faculty at the university? or is that frowned upon?

I was hoping to know if anyone else had gone through a similar scenario getting into grad school through the back doors and how it played out. I am planning to take the GRE's and the bio subject test in the fall. I'll also probably continue working another year since this is coming out of pocket initially. Hopefully later I can find some support if things work out. I took a few graduate courses as an undergrad since it was required and got a few A's and B's. At that point, though, there was no saving my GPA. Either way, I know I can meet the GPA requirements that transition provisionals into a regular status academically.



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Then if I do get in, is it possible to use LOR from current faculty at the university? or is that frowned upon?

Just to answer this question -- I don't think it's "frowned upon" to use LORs from people at the University you're applying to at all! Actually, I think it's a good thing since what can be more relevant than a recommendation from its own faculty!

In addition, there are lots of other situations where a student might use a LOR from the same school they're applying to:

1. They did their undergrad at that school

2. They did a REU, SURF, or other undergrad research program with a supervisor (or collaborator) from that school

3. Someone they worked with in the past has now transferred to that school


I don't think any of the above situations would be "frowned upon", so I don't see why your situation would be any different.

However -- LORs are best if they came from someone who supervised your research work. Will you get the chance to prove yourself research-wise in the provisional/non-degree program? With just classes, it might be hard to impress the faculty enough so that they are fully confident in your ability to succeed as a graduate student. Of course, if you do really really well, or if you already have enough previous research experience and want to do this to make up for your GPA, I would think the faculty will see your potential! Maybe you would be able to volunteer to work for some faculty members?

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Thanks for the input TakeruK. The school I want to get into is the Colorado University. I don't have extensive research experience that would make my application competitive which is why I kind of wanted to work on that front. I was hoping to move nearby and volunteer at a lab while working, taking what i can get, before applying for graduate admissions.


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