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Unsure of what tier school I should go for?


chemist_689
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I am currently a senior undergrad at Idaho State (will graduate in May 2013) with a BA in chemistry. My goal is to go to a chemistry graduate school for a PhD in analytical chem. I started doing research the summer after my freshman year and have been doing that non-stop since with three poster presentations and two publications to major journals with my work, however my GPA is not very good. as of right now its a 2.98 (has been going upwards after sophomore year).

I know that my GPA will hold me back some but I also know that I have good research experience and that I can get 3 strong letters from professors here. I just don't really know how much my GPA is going to hold me back from a lot of schools and how small of schools I should be looking at? any help is appreciated. Thanks

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One problem that you will run into, is that a number of schools have a minimum cutoff of 3.0 that isn't decided by the departments, but the schools as a whole. And getting around that cuttoff ranges from simply very difficult to impossible, depending on the school.

Almost any GPA above the cutoff with the rest of your background shouldn't be nearly as much of a problem- research experience and your LoRs are what really matter. It's like a step function. The difference between a 2.98 and a 3.02 can be huge. You also are going into a pretty competitive area (Analytical) with far fewer programs offering Analytical PhDs than any others, but still a large number of applicants.

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Thank you for the reply,

I have also seen this 3.0 cut-off at a few of the schools that I have researched.

Because applications are generally due December-January my GPA will be under the 3.0 but I should be able to get it above that by graduation. will this have any effect at all or does only my GPA at the time of the application due date matter?

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For your application, it's the GPA at the time of application that matters. There are usually conditions that you have to maintain your GPA above a certain level before graduation.

I would go ahead and apply this season, but if you can get your GPA up in another semester, it might be in your best interest to do so, and then you can always apply again the next season.

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OK I will apply this season for sure and cross my fingers :)

Would it be good to email some professors at schools I am interested in and get to know them a little? also I am really unsure of how to find the schools that I have the best chance of getting into? I really like some of the research being done at U of Minnesota (is this a very popular or good school?)

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I've seen certain schools have a minimal GPA requirement of 2.5 because of the program curriculum, so a lower gpa would've been acceptable. Some majors are more rigorous, specifically those whom fall into the STEM category.

The school itself may have a low GPA requirement, but that wont stop the actual program from upping the ante.

To the OP, "a closed mouth don't get fed. . ." All you can really do is try if you have the financial means to do so. The problem is, by wanting to get in 2013, you might be unfairly handicapping yourself when you can just wait a year and get in 2014. Unless you are super old and super anxious about one year, delaying your application season might be a better bet.

But if you have the money I say go for it (because really that's why is the ultimate decider here, whether you can spend 80-100 bucks per application).

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