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CrazyCatLady80

GPA woes

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Hey Everyone - Haven't been around lately. I have been having some health problems this semester and I am stressing out over my GPA. I am worried that it will end up being a little over 3.7 instead of 3.8. Am I just being a silly perfectionist worrying about this issue?

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Well, on one level your GPA is what it is, so there's not much use *worrying* about it.

On the other, you have every motivation to do AWESOME in the spring, right? Generally, graduate GPAs are expected to be as near to 4.0 as possible. In PhD programs, and pretty much extrapolated to M*s, the idea is that "graduate level work" is an A, with B+ or anything below a pretty big warning marker. (A close friend at my school got kicked out over too many B+s). So from that standpoint, an A-minus average might be a concern for PhD adcoms. But it shouldn't be any kind of killer. Just make sure your SOP and writing sample are unbelievably awesome--you know, exactly the same advice as if you had a 4.0!

Still, it might be a good idea to get one of your LOR writers to mention that even in the midst of health problems you were able to push through beautifully.

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nevermind

Edited by emmm

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I really don't want to bring it up in my LORs, because I have a lot of explaining to do already with my undergrad grades. One of my LORs will address those issues. I don't want people coming away with the fact that I seem to have a lot of issues.

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...Right, I suggested you compartmentalize and have your LOR writers mention your grades,not stuff it all into your SOP. I'm assuming you will have different writers to comment on your undergrad vs grad grades, right? Or perhaps your SOP could discuss one, and an LOR writer could discuss the other?

The point is, an A-minus average in your MA program might be seen as a potential problem, a sign that you're not up to handling grad-level work. You need to supply proof of the opposite, and it is probably a good idea to explain that the A minus does not reflect your actual potential (including explaining how the health problems are unlikely to reoccur, etc).

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Doesn't matter. It all depends on the rest of your package. Your GPA shouldn't be a red flag which 3.7 isn't, so I wouldn't worry. Obviously try to do well, but not in the name of turning a 3.7 into a 3.8.

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I'm interested to hear other people's opinions on this issue.

I thought the general attitude toward graduate GPAs was "do as well as you possibly can, but do not prioritize a 4.0 over research and writing your thesis."

Further, I know for an absolute certainty that at least some MA programs basically hand out 4.0s. My undergraduate institution's MA program is notorious for this.

There are also other schools that make real efforts to combat grade inflation.

If I'm just a first year graduate student and I know this then I'm certain that ADComms do.

Basically, I'm surprised that a person could make straight A- throughout their entire graduate career, produce a good sample, get good letters, and write a good SOP and be punished for that A-.

That's really baffling to me.

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My MA school/dept and PhD school dept both make it very, very clear that an A is the expectation of all grad students. That is not to be confused with easy classes or standards; the point is that grad students should be doing that level work, or they should not be in the program.

I'm not saying that a 3.7 will get your app thrown in the trash without being looked at, but I do think that an A-minus average is nearing the point at which you want to have professors maybe speak on your behalf. Especially if you're talking about a semester of all B-plusses or some such (which I realize is not in the OP and her situation might be different).

I am the TGC voice of gloom-and-doom on this because I watched a very close friend get kicked out of our program over essentially a 3.7 (mix of A's and B+'s). I accept that more optimistic perspectives may apply in many cases (ETA and I will be hoping this is true for you, OP! you seem cool), but I'm not going to have one of them.

Edited by Sparky

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I'm coming to this conversation late but it's giving me heart palpitations. Can you give some context for these comments? Surely not all schools would kick students out for having an A- average...

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1. No, of course not. Apparently my choice of schools is special. Hence me being the doom-and-gloom prophet, and everyone else disagreeing with me! :ph34r:

2. I do, in the end, have only my friend's word about GPA and grades. (But no reason to suspect of dishonesty. And it has been made very, VERY clear to us that B+'s are unacceptable.)

3. It is not a question of one semester and done, but rather an accumulated 3 semesters--almost all our PhD coursework.

4. First semester does not count even at my school, or else I would not still be here!

5. I have a couple of A minuses from after my first semester, and no one has said one word to me about those.

6. Be aware that this expectation of getting an A--it can be a realistic expectation, because the people here do work of that caliber. (And with my A-'s, I have some idea of the boundary). That means if you get in, you are capable of working up to the level. I see this as a TA--my good students tearing out their hair studying for the final, when I can predict in advance approximately how each of them will do. Simply because the ones who are diligent will be diligent and put in the work, the ones who compound that with extra brains will do superawesome, etc. My friend being asked to leave is a HUGE exception. Generally that only happens here when people fail comps. (Uhhh... ::swallows nervously:: :unsure: )

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Okay thank you... I was getting really nervous about my future prospects as a grad student if what you said was true for all schools. I'm assuming I may not fair so well at top tier schools then...

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I don't think anybody in my PhD program has maintained a 4.0, but I also don't know anyone who has gotten below an A- in an course. I think my GPA is like a ~3.9, but most people I know don't put their GPA on their C/Vs or anything. I think your undergrad GPA matters, but that is more from, does your GPA imply a low quality level of work/work ethic as an undergrad, which a 3.7 pretty much says the same thing as a 4.0, if your total application package shows you do good work, and have serious interests that match up with program.

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What's the point in having a GPA in grad school if it is so strict...why not just have it be pass/fail? I mean, a B+ isn't that terrible of a grade-- everyone misses something here or there. I just think it is silly...may just be me though!

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What's the point in having a GPA in grad school if it is so strict...why not just have it be pass/fail? I mean, a B+ isn't that terrible of a grade-- everyone misses something here or there. I just think it is silly...may just be me though!

I've heard this echoed by so many professors. It is the way it is in Europe (Northern atleast) and it works great. Some of it should be related to outside funding possibilities, i.e. having "competitive" students with excellent grades, but still silly. No need to put extra pressure on people who obviously want to be there and have shown that they are capable (i.e. the application process). Failing = you're out. Pass = you're golden so now concentrate on developing your research.

and p.s. if A- was an issue then 99% of Euros would be dead in the water - significantly harder to score an A in ECTS and most professors here think C (B+) is an excellent grade.

Edited by cherub

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What's the point in having a GPA in grad school if it is so strict...why not just have it be pass/fail? I mean, a B+ isn't that terrible of a grade-- everyone misses something here or there. I just think it is silly...may just be me though!

 

I think in the context of most grad programs, a B+ is thought of as a warning you might not be up to snuff and is pretty terrible-ish.  It can be overcome for sure, but it should be thought of as a warning sign.  B+ is the lowest grade before F in my grad program.

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I had a question that I hoped someone could help me out with. 

 

I am going to be applying to PhD programs for Fall 2014. I will be finishing up my MA at WVU when I apply. I have a 3.31 in my undergrad but will have a 4.0 in my graduate work. I will have many conference presentations and should have good letters of rec and a solid writing sample. I have found some good schools in my field and faculty that I would like to work with. Some of these schools are Carnegie Mellon, Tufts, UC Santa Cruz, Fordham, and New Hampshire. Should I try and apply to these schools, or would my low undergrad GPA bring me down?  

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No way to know but it certainly won't help your chances. 3.3 is low for PhD admissions but having done a MA will almost certainly boost your chances.

 

Other things to keep in mind besides conference presentations, GPA, LORs, and a writing sample:

-Research Languages- If you don't hav one, you are probably not going to get in

-GRE- Study and do well. A good GRE score will make them forget about your low undergrad GPA

 

hope this helps

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I had a question that I hoped someone could help me out with. 

 

I am going to be applying to PhD programs for Fall 2014. I will be finishing up my MA at WVU when I apply. I have a 3.31 in my undergrad but will have a 4.0 in my graduate work. I will have many conference presentations and should have good letters of rec and a solid writing sample. I have found some good schools in my field and faculty that I would like to work with. Some of these schools are Carnegie Mellon, Tufts, UC Santa Cruz, Fordham, and New Hampshire. Should I try and apply to these schools, or would my low undergrad GPA bring me down?  

Sorry, I can't really help you out, but I'm at WVU right now, so jus wanted to say "hi".  Also, my father received PhD in History at WVU so yippie!  

i'm not in history, but in general, i would think that the MA GPA would be far more important.  Besides, a 3.31 undergrad is certainly not horrible.  It might not be amazing, but it's not like a 2. something that would make them wonder about you.  I would think they look at the recent events much more than the past.  (haha just realized the irony of that statement...for history). 

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I had a question that I hoped someone could help me out with. 

 

I am going to be applying to PhD programs for Fall 2014. I will be finishing up my MA at WVU when I apply. I have a 3.31 in my undergrad but will have a 4.0 in my graduate work. I will have many conference presentations and should have good letters of rec and a solid writing sample. I have found some good schools in my field and faculty that I would like to work with. Some of these schools are Carnegie Mellon, Tufts, UC Santa Cruz, Fordham, and New Hampshire. Should I try and apply to these schools, or would my low undergrad GPA bring me down?  

My experience this years suggests that your undergraduate GPA can be overcome.  My college GPA was significantly worse than yours...something like a 2.7 or so.  I was an indifferent student.  But that was 17 years ago.  In the interim I have earned 2 separate masters degrees (public policy and history ) with a 4.0 in each.  I had very good GRE scores, and a strong, representative writing sample.  Even so, I worried about those grades from my undergrad.  

 

In talking to the doctoral programs to which I was accepted, however, it became clear that the SOP and the writing sample weighed the heaviest by far in their considerations.  Those, combined with my the grades from my masters work, showed committees that my current abilities and drive should be considered above the mistakes of my 20 year old self.  So I would think the same would hold true for others, as well.  Certainly your grades shouldn't dissuade you from investigating your options; you may have some heavier lifting to do than others, but it isn't beyond doing.

 

As an aside, I would say that a poor undergraduate performance, followed by strong masters-level work, likely suggests a maturation of interest and focus that should (I would think) appeal to programs.  That is just my opinion, but its also the mantra that I hung my hat on while waiting for decisions this spring.  If untrue...well, at least it made me feel better.

Edited by Catreus

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I had a question that I hoped someone could help me out with. 

 

I am going to be applying to PhD programs for Fall 2014. I will be finishing up my MA at WVU when I apply. I have a 3.31 in my undergrad but will have a 4.0 in my graduate work. I will have many conference presentations and should have good letters of rec and a solid writing sample. I have found some good schools in my field and faculty that I would like to work with. Some of these schools are Carnegie Mellon, Tufts, UC Santa Cruz, Fordham, and New Hampshire. Should I try and apply to these schools, or would my low undergrad GPA bring me down?  

 

The undergrad GPA won't kill you.  I had a low undergrad GPA in the same realm as yours but an almost-perfect masters GPA.  I think my grad GPA erased my undergrad performance somewhat, since I was accepted by three highly-competitive programs.  It is possible that my low undergrad grades had something to do with the rejections I received, but if you apply to enough places, you'll hopefully find a few that won't weigh it heavily.

 

So I'd say go for it, and focus on making the rest of your materials the best they can be.

Edited by Katzenmusik

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Resurrecting a way old thread for a question that might fit here. I got B+'s in both of my courses this semester (first semester of a Master's program). Would that be a red flag in possible PhD admissions, assuming I do better this coming semester? My current grad GPA is 3.33.

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