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Will my GRE score be enough to balance a mediocre GPA?

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I'm currently in the process of applying to SLP programs for Fall 2013. My overall GPA is 3.47 with an undergraduate psychology major and 3.91 for my communication sciences and disorders minor. I know... the two GPA's don't really make much sense, but I'm hoping that admissions will be able to see that my strengths are certainly in CSD courses and that my low GPA is due to some failed soul-searching in criminology and public relations during my first two years.

I took the GRE in June and got a 158 V, 156 Q, 4.5 AW. Converted to the old scale, my score is a 1300. I have registered for the GRE again in November, just to see if I can bring that score up. I know a lot of schools say "just break 1000", but I'm hoping a strong GRE will balance out my low GPA.

Do you think it would be absolutely ridiculous of me to apply to top 20 schools? I do have a strong resume with shadowing, research and community service, which could help. I just don't want to waste my time/money/etc. if admissions are going to take one look at my GPA and toss my application out.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Many factors go into admissions decisions, so I don't think I can answer your topic question. But here are some things to think about:

  • in general, admissions committees do consider all parts of your application. Which means that unless they state a specific GPA cutoff, they will read your application. so wow them with your essay and LORs.
  • If you are still an undergrad, do not sacrifice your grades this semester for the sake of studying for the GRE - you'll be much better off with strong senior year grades than with an extra 100 points on your GRE.
  • many schools care about your "last 60" GPA in addition to your total GPA (ie the GPA from your last 60 credits). it sounds like your "last 60" GPA should be pretty good since most of your poor grades come from your first two years.
  • The reason schools care about GPAs is not that they happen to like the number four. They know that grad school courses are harder than undergrad courses, and want to know that their accepted applicants will do well in grad school. with that in mind, your grades in courses related to grad school and your grades in more advanced courses will be considered more strongly.
  • applying to grad school is a crapshoot. You may be accepted to a school you thought you had no chance at. you may get rejected by a school where the average accepted GRE score is far below yours.
  • In terms of whether or not to apply to top 20 schools, ask yourself why you are asking this question. If you are wondering because you have researched the MedSLP program at UW-Seattle and think it would be an amazing place for you given your interests, then by all means apply. If you are wondering because you want the prestige, remember that unemployment for SLPs is almost zero and grad school is very stressful so you should apply to a program that is a good fit for you. ASHA accreditation guidelines are so strict that no matter where you go you will learn what you need to be a great SLP.

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It's not ridiculous for you to try for top 20 schools. Just make sure you apply to some less competitive schools as well--although from everything I've read, all SLP programs are quite competitive now due to an influx of applicants...and honestly? If you're looking to work as an SLP, I don't think it matters so much if you attend a top 20, just that the program you do attend prepares you well.

Write a strong SOP and focus on your strengths. Find people who can write you great LORs. That's really all you can do at this point.

And remember--admissions is a crapshoot!

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