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My next move?


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OK, so the bottom line is I am an idiot that did not take undergrad seriously and had about a 2.7 cumulative GPA, with a 2.4 at Boston University, the place I graduated. Since then I got an MA at Korea University with a really high GPA and I currently have a 3.96 at NYU in an education program. I'd like to go for a PhD in sociology. My first plan was to go back to an undergrad school and get a degree in sociology to raise my GPA above the 3.0 minimum, which I am half done with. I am trying to figure out what will help me most up until I apply in the fall/winter of 2015. I still need to take the GRE. I'll finish the NYU MA this fall and the second bachelor's this spring. What should my next move be to prove that I am smart and a good student and I was just an immature idiot at BU? How can I maximize my chances of acceptance?


Ideas I've had for the summer:


* Do the ICPSR 8 week summer program at U Michigan and show that I can handle statistics well for research.


* Take a ton more undergrad classes to raise my GPA.


* Study the GRE like crazy and score as high as possible.


* Try to do a research project with one of my professors.


* See if I can continue working at the public policy think tank the I intern at.


Assuming I can only do one of these things, which will look best to doctoral admissions committees? If not one of these things, what would you suggest. And yes, I know I am stupid and everyone who told me that I should have taken undergrad studying seriously was right. I know. I really really really know.

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If you have no research experience (or very little) I would focus my efforts on this. But this does not mean you can tank the GREs , of course. If your GREs are good or better and you build up your research experience, it looks like you will be off to a very good start.


You have enough undergrad coursework, IMO. I wouldn't invest any more time with this once you are done in the spring.

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I reread your post and noticed I misunderstood it. What cumulative GPA do you think you will have when you are done in the spring? If it is not a 3.0 or higher it will be harder to get into grad school as this is often the minimum requirement (however, exceptions have been made before). If you think you can attain a 3.0 by spring I think you should stop taking courses. Your more recent course work will speak for itself.


Do you know if there are any programs that will only calculate the final 2 years of your uGPA? (There are in Canada, but not sure about the US). If so, and if you won't be able to attain an overall GPA of 3.0, then I would focus on applying to these schools and work on building your research experience. I don't think you can get in any PhD program without research experience but you can get into some programs with research experience and a lowish GPA.

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If I understand your post correctly, you are already almost done your second undergraduate degree right? If so, I am pretty sure the grades in this second degree will weigh the most strongly in your application and doing well here will definitely show the admission committee that you are not the same student you were in your first program. 


So, I would say go for the research or if applicable in your field, relevant work experience. I would not worry as much about your "overall" GPA (i.e. all courses from all 3 degrees) and I think schools will mostly care about the GPA in your most recent 4-year degree. This is from a sciences and Canadian school perspective, though. 

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Sorry for the ambiguity in my first post.


The second bachelor's degree is 36 credits in sociology, and they will double count my other credits and award a second bachelor's degree. As long as I continue to get straight A's (or close to it) it will take my GPA above the 3.0 minimum, which is the main reason I decided to do it.


At the think tank I intern at, I work as a research assistant. I am also starting a research project with one of my professors. My statistics credentials are not great, which is why I was considering the ICPSR summer program at Michigan. I guess it will come down to the best way to atone for my poor original undergraduate grades. What can I do with my remaining time that would impress an admissions committee most?


By the way, in my education MA program, I am currently taking only statistics and sociology courses in the sociology department in my final semester. I figure that should help demonstrate that I can handle the rigor since the NYU sociology program is really strong and most of my classmates are doctoral students.

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OK, I also just checked my undergrad grades. At my first 2 schools, cumulatively I was at 2.84, a little better than I thought. I've since had 18 sociology credits that have brought the cumulative GPA up to (by my calculation) 2.9764556962. I have another 15 credits to go (I can transfer an intro class) and if I continue to get straight A's I'll be at 
3.06520231214. That puts me over the 3.0 minimum, but my highest undergraduate grades are at state schools while my poor grades are at Boston University.
Regardless, my graduate grades have been very very high and I hope to do well on the GRE. The question remains, how best to spend my time before applications?


Thank you for reading and especially to those who have/will respond(ed).

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think you should try to make a few of your options happen. Definitely study hard for the GRE, try to publish, try to keep your internship, and if you can squeeze it in, go to Michigan. However, I think Michigan should be the last resort option.

I was a sub 3.0 grad applicant. The school I choose to get my first masters was the only school in town that offered the program and I couldn't leave. Thankfully, their admissions requirements weren't overly strict. I did really well on the MAT and was admitted on a probationary period. When I finished the semester with a 3.8 GPA, I was removed from probation. I went on to graduate with a 3.83 overall and got into wonderful schools. Sometimes it takes a redemption degree, and it seems like you're already working on it.

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