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Effects of Disastrous First Semester


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The first few months of my college experience were not particularly pleasant, as I was bedridden with a serious case of the flu for two weeks and took the brilliant step of not contacting professors, due to a mixture of nervousness and inability to take responsbility. The end was five Fs (I did pass a pass/fail seminar) This did, however, have the effect of beating some sense into me and in the two and half years since I I've retaken all the classes I failed and, save for one B+, gotten an A in them and all the otther classes I've taken, which gives me an official GPA of "3.81". Since the middle of my sophomore year, I've been interested in getting an MA in IR and my interest has intensified recently, which prompts me to ask the question: how bad of an effect will it have? Obviously the rosy number above won't be how I'm seen, as if one counts the Fs my GPA is around a 3.3, but just how bad an effect will it have? To add a small amount of context I'm an economics/political science/history major and a chinese/asian studies minor and I'll be spending next year studying the language in China. Haven't taken the GREs, but from the significant amount of practice I've done I'd estimate around Mid 90s Verbal/Mid 80s Quant. I have a couple of not very impressive internships (though I'm trying to get a better one for this summer) and not much of work experience.

This is a bit rambling and unfocused, so I guess my basic question is what "tier" of schools should I realistically be looking at if I forego getting work experience. The top is certainly out of reach barring something odd, but below that I'm quite unsure of how I would look.

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You sound like you would benefit from some time off from school to (A) Get more work experience and to (B) Get more focused.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it getting just a wee bit late in the application cycle?

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I'd agree with the above comments. Most (if not all) schools have an optional essay where you can easily explain the first semester circumstances. Admissions offices will see your great track record from that point forward and see that it you're a good student.

I'd also get a job if possible. I applied the Fall after graduating and was admitted to a number of schools. I've now had just over two years of experience and I'm reapplying. I can see how these past couple of years have given me a lot more to think about and a lot more focus as to what I want to get out of a graduate program. Whereas I was hoping to stumble through a program and "figure it out," now I have a clear purpose and focus and that should come through better in my essays.

Edit: And yes, ZacharyObama is right. If you haven't already lined up your recommenders and done some serious research on programs, you shouldn't apply until 2013 at the minimum.

Edited by scholl43
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My initial post was characteristically unclear- I will not be applying anything to this fall, as I will be studying abroad next during the 13-14 academic year and getting credit for it from my current school. This will take me to super-senior status, but for several reasons I think it is the best option. I asked now because I'm making some decisions about what to do this coming spring and summer that might change depending on my post-undergraduate plans.

Edited by neophytia
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