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My chances...


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This is yet another post asking whether or not you all think I am competitive. I am currently a college senior with an over all GPA of 3.1 and major GPA of 3.4. I am majoring in Social Science with concentrations in Anthropology and History and a minor in middle eastern studies.


My GPA is not my strong point, but I do have several extracurriculars.


-Two years writing for my award winning college paper. I was a news writer and an opinion columnist. 

-Four month internship at a social justice center


-One year as a supplemental instruction leader in US history. This position is similar to a TA position. I facilitated 3+ sessions a week, for US history students, that reviewed course concepts, key terms, and assigned readings.


-One year as a writing tutor


-One year in a fiduciary position within my student government that focused on expanding multiculturalism on campus and increasing student representation. I chaired, selected, and trained a fund allocation council. I also oversaw the $ 40,000 budget.

*Although this may not be relevant to my field of study, I am hoping it will strengthen my application.


-One year of college level Arabic. I am hoping to be conversational by the end of the year.


I am applying to programs at Columbia, UCLA, UC Davis, and UC Berkeley. I haven't taken the GRE yet, which I know can determine my competitiveness. 


Any thoughts so far?



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Thoughts are as follows (stated bluntly):

  • No one really cares about your extracurriculars (aka, your fiduciary position). They might care about your being a tutor but, probably not.
  • Assuming you want to stick with Middle Eastern Studies, one year of Arabic is not nearly enough. You'll be in an applicant pool with people with 4 years of Arabic, summer intensive programs, and in-country experience under their belt.
  • You've said nothing about what your research interests are and how they fit with the program and faculty at those institutions.
  • Applying to only 4 elite programs isn't a good strategy, especially given your overall GPA (which is on the low end for sure).

And all of this is without being in your field, whatever that may be.

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Thanks for the feedback!


Apply to some MA programs also.  Unless you have an incredible project, and just come off amazing in letters of rec. and writing sample, you will have a very difficult time getting in anywhere.  Your GPA is low, your extra-curriculars are not going to make much of difference, but they are at least, things that could make you a better writer/teacher.  Even at mid-tier PhD programs these days, you are talking about 6-10 spots for a couple hundred applicants.


You look like an applicant that will have to use an MA program to boost your GPA if you are serious about pursuing a PhD.  That said, we know nothing about your writing sample, personal statement, and letters of rec.  Stranger things have happened.

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