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Is it worthwhile to apply? (REALLY Low GPA)


calicopirate

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I'm applying for my Masters in Social Work for Fall of 2013. The thing is that I have an overall GPA of 2.49, but my GPA in my major (English) is 3.88. All of the programs that I'm looking at to apply require no less than 3.0 to apply. However, I finished my undergrad degree eight years ago. Since then, I've volunteered in various organizations and have served two terms with AmeriCorps. Because of these two things, I have first-hand experience in the field. 

 

I'm planning on taking my GREs and several classes at the community college to demonstrate my current academic ability.

 

With that said, I have these questions:

 

1. Would I be lying if I said that I have a 2.5 GPA?

 

2. Is there a way to bring it up that I have a 3.88 GPA in my major? 

 

And most importantly, is it worthwhile to apply? I'm imagining the admissions person looking at my GPA on the application, laughing at it, and throwing it away before getting to my personal statement or letter of recommendations. 

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2.5 is not a lie, most apps only require one digit. If it's what you want to do, then of course, it's worthwhile to give it a try. Make sure to stress your major GPA and perhaps if you have a good explanation for your overall GPA, mention it briefly in your SOP.

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It may be difficult to tell which programs have a "hard" requirement of a 3.0 and which programs are more flexible, so you should contact the graduate coordinator for the department. For non-traditional applicants different portions of the application may carry more weight, so you should ask a human and make sure to apply to programs that won't throw your application out on sight. Open communication with these programs is often a lot easier than guessing!

Also, many programs ask for both your cumulative and major GPAs. If they do not, there is no harm in writing your major GPA at the top of your resume, or mentioning it quickly in your SOP.

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Also note that a lot of schools will look at the last 60 hours instead of your cumulative gpa. In some cases, you can get conditional acceptance requiring you to get all As and Bs, taking leveling courses, or satisfy some other requirement. In any case, I would call each school's graduate office and ask them specifically what their requirements are. Some schools have strict gpa requirements, others have unwritten rules about gpa cut-offs.

Best of luck.

Edited by RiseofthePhoenix
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You don' need to worry about either saying you have a 2.5 or your major GPA. The school is not going to base their decision on what you say - they are going to review your transcript.

With a sub 2.5 GPA and having been away from school for 8+ years you need to ask yourself if you can not only be acc3pted to a program - but succeed since the work will be even more difficult as you move ahead.

Also - going to a community college to boost a sub-par GPA won't be as effective as going to a university and taking some master's level courses. Why not go that route?

Edited by TheFez
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Thanks! I'm just worried because I feel like I'm not qualified enough despite having two two years of fieldwork. :( I would take graduate-level classes, but unfortunately, the university closest to me doesn't offer classes in the field that I wish to go to. 

 

Should I address my GPA in the SOP of the application? 

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You can address your GPA if you have something persuasive to say. If there is some extenuating circumstance that led to your low grades (e.g. illness, or other hardship). If it comes across as a weak or feeble excuse for just doing poorly - it will hurt more than help since you could be using the SOP to make a strong case for why your coursework does not reflect your true potential.

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Taking some Undergraduate classes in social work - at least worth 12 credits - and getting a good GPA would help here.

 

The problem is not just the GPA, but that you are changing from English Major to Social Work and they don't correlate well - unless you had Social Work Minor - in that case you should highlight your Social Work Minor more in your SOP, if you have good grades there.

 

It's true that you have great experience in the field and it should go in your favour. But a lot of schools may still want you to have completed Undergrad courses worth at least 12 credits in Social Work.

 

So, you can enrol for some Social Work classes, write in your SOP what Social Work classes you are enrolled in and when you can expect to send them these grades - the earlier the better. Try to get good grades in these courses and it should be alright.

Edited by Seeking
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You can address your GPA if you have something persuasive to say. If there is some extenuating circumstance that led to your low grades (e.g. illness, or other hardship). If it comes across as a weak or feeble excuse for just doing poorly - it will hurt more than help since you could be using the SOP to make a strong case for why your coursework does not reflect your true potential.

 

I feel like I have a lot to say about my current job which is related to the degree that I wish to pursue. That being said, I'm not sure if it's best to devote a section of my SOP explaining my low GPA, which was due to health problems. I thought about discussing it because it happened during the last 60 hours of my undergrad years and affects my GPA that I have to report on several of my applications. 

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This sounds like something that should be addressed in an addendum/supplemental essay. (Many schools give you this option). You want to keep your SOP as bright and forward-looking as possible.

Health problems are very sympathetic in general, I think, so I wouldn't be too discouraged. The one thing to keep in mind is whether or not they seem firmly in the past. You say you graduated eight years ago, but are you still struggling with these same health issues? This is something you will need to address. For exmaple, if the issue was depression, some adcomms might think 'well, if her severe depression caused her to fail so many classes then, why won't it impact her graduate studies now?' I am speculating of course, but these are issues I would consider when figuring out how to address your low GPA. If you still struggle with whatever illness, you need to show (in 2 sentences max) how you are able to better deal with it now.

I wouldn't be too worried about going from English to social work, depending upon to what tier of school you're applying of course. A friend of mine just got accepted to a great program with a fine arts background, and all she had was some internship experience. I get the impression that MSW programs are more concerned with your commitment/interest in the common good than your undergrad major or GPA.

If you want someone to look over your SOP or addendum, I'd be more than happy to. Feel free to send me whatever you've written in a private mesage. I know (from personal experience) that dealing with GPA issues can be anxiety-producing, so I'd be happy to help you.

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A good friend of mine went from an undergrad degree of Anthropology to a MSW so I'm not too worried about it. I'll take you up on your offer of reviewing my SOP. I'm still working on it, but thank you in advance. :) 

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  • 2 weeks later...

just apply and send the emails to potential POIs no matter what. this is a real life example:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsui_Lap-chee

 

"He studied Biology at the New Asia College of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and was awarded a B.Sc. (3rd Class Honours) and a M.Phil. in 1972 and 1974, respectively. Despite his unpromising performance at university, Tsui would eventually prove himself as an accomplished scientist. Upon the recommendation of his mentor at the CUHK, he continued his graduate education in the United States and received his Ph.D. from theUniversity of Pittsburgh in 1979."

 

maybe the world changed a lot and this is not working anymore under all kinds of procedure or instruction or requirement. just work that out and never give up.

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Address the health issues in your letter of intent.  Keep it brief--I had health problems that contributed to low grades, the problem is solved, I'm sure that I can do better now.

 

Do anything that you can to demonstrate your interest in social work.  Volunteer.  Take social work classes, even if only at a community college.  If you can't attend a university in your area, enroll in a program online.  The ad comms will want to see that you can get back into the game after so many years.

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