Jump to content

Should I even bother applying...?

Recommended Posts

I really want to get into an MPH program. After some self-reflection and work with cancer survivors, I realized that it's what I want to do. Problem is I have an absolute crap GPA. Absolute crap. Abysmal to the point that I'm embarrassed of it. I don't even have a good reason for it. As an undergrad, I thought I would enjoy studying molecular stuff but turns out I hate it! But I couldn't afford to switch majors since it would have meant staying behind an extra year....so I stuck with my major, which included all of pre-med req classes. Basically, I don't even have a good reason for having a bad GPA. I just sucked as an undergrad. 


So yeah...brace yourself for the astonishing crappiness of my stats. 


School: UC Berkeley

  • GPA: 2.8 cumulative -- I got all As in my major's upper divisions if that accounts for anything (probably not...), it was all the chemistry and physics that killed me
  • Major: Molecular Toxicology



  • two teaching stints, half year each, one at a low-income elementary school, the second as a student teacher at Cal
  • 6 months as a hospital volunteer
  • 1 year of research at a cardiology lab that's working on a nationwide epidemiological study for cardiovascular disease; I have one publication so far as a co-author
  • 1 year as a committee member for a local branch of the American Cancer Society; so far helped organized one Relay for Life and leading the organization for a second event; fundraising and raising awareness for cancer research


Potential LOR

  • a top cardiologist from my research lab
  • program coordinator at the American Cancer Society branch
  • this doctor I'm shadowing for; MD, PhD.


I have yet to take the GRE but I've been scoring above 160 on quant. and verbal on my practice tests.


Overall I'm really frustrated right now. I want this so freaking bad but my cruddy GPA currently is a giant thorn in my side. What are my chances? Should I even bother? I know I don't stand a chance at the top schools, like Columbia (sadly my dream school since, like, birth) or my Alma mater. But what can I do so I can stand a chance at lower tier programs? 



God...I'm really kicking my ass for screwing up as an undergrad. This really came to bite me in the ass.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey there, 

I don't think you should be discouraged. If you search this Public Health forum there are a few tales of people getting in with low GPAs with tips and suggestions, as well as the sub-3.0 thread in the GradCafe Forum is helpful. 

I graduated college with a 2.8 GPA and completed my MPH at Berkeley and will be starting a PhD program this fall so its definitely not impossible to get in and excel. Its most important to not take yourself out of the game and understand that it may take you more than one application cycle to get in and that if you want an MPH you should apply broadly--there are a lot of really good programs outside of the "top 10" and fit is really important. You have to highlight your strong points and make sure that your LoR are strong and written by people who know you well and can really speak to your abilities. Getting a generic "this person is great" letter from a well-known person won't be super helpful for you. You should also include some info about why your GPA is lower and that you are confident in your ability to succeed etc. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for your response. I had a moment of panic. I know I am more than capable of pulling a competitive GRE score; however, having a low GPA is a discouraging factor in my overall application. If you don't mind, may I ask what kind of experience/extra curricular you had when you applied to Cal? 


Thanks for the spark of hope.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

This may be an old thread but people in this forum helped me a lot through my application process and now I am in a good place to give advice.


Do not be discouraged! I got admitted to the PhD at Columbia with a less than perfect GPA and GRE. I've seen that they accept a lot of people for the MPH, show them that you are really interested, highlight your research experience and write something that makes you unique.  It would help you if contact a professor who works on a topic that you are interested in.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you want to apply, go for it. It's not about "should I apply," it's about finding a program that fits what you want and will consider your experience and fully-rounded application. A place that automatically eliminates you just because of GPA probably isn't a great environment to get a master's in anyways.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.