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microbecode01

Seeking Advice in Bad Transcript/GPA

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Dear TheGradCafe friends,

I am a college sophomore with double majors in microbiology and mathematics, and I am pursuing a graduate program in the medical microbiology/immunology. I wrote this email to seek your advice and opinion about the impact of my current grades and coursework when I am aplaying for the graduate school. Unfortunately, I have been working hard on adjusting my study strategy apsince my freshman year and I unfortunately have been doing very bad.....I got BC on Calculus I, Biology I, Analytical Chemistry, and Advanced General Chemistry....on this semester, I unfortunately scored F on Organic Chemistry I and D on Immunolgy but I scored A on Multivariable Calculus and graduate-level Inteoductory Biostatististics. If I can show the upward trending on the grades for next three and a half year (I am planning for five years), will the admission committees overlook my past failure? About my failing in organic chemistry I, should I retake the course or proceed with II and the Lab (and upper-level organic chemistry courses) and get the best grades as possible? I have a good knowledge in the organic chemistry I but my qualitative exam-taking skill was the problem (which I have been inproving it since the winter break). Should I re-take the immunology too or take advanced courses?

I have been doing research since my freshman year and I will be doing an indpendent projects in my I munology lab and computational biology lab starting on this semester.

I apologize for the grammatical errors, and I very welcome the harsh advice!

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If you fail a class, you probably aren't ready for the next one in that sequence. At least take Orgo I again.

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You can overcome these bad grades if you do very well in the future. I have 2 Ds on my undergrad transcript, one in a chem course and the other in a math course. I am currently working on my MS with a 4.0 GPA and have received interviews from the only 2 of my schools who have issued any so far. You need to make great grades going forward (nearly all As and Bs). If you can do that then the admission committee will look at the upward trend in grades.

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As someone who just completed the Organic Chemistry sequence and had a rough time at the beginning, I cannot even begin to stress how important it is to master the material in Orgo I and retake it before proceeding to Orgo II - while I got the same grade in both courses, Orgo II was far more difficult and would have been impossible to pass had I not established a proper foundation the previous semester.  I understand that you say that you have knowledge of the material, but if I were an adcom member, I would want to see proof of that via the retaking of the class. It can also only boost your GPA if you pass this time around!

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Thank you very much for all of your advice and help! I actually talked with my Organic Chemistry I professor and reviewed my knowledge, and he told me that I do have a good base in Organic Chemistry I. The problem I had is with the qualitative test-taking skill and it is almost fixed now. The professor actually recommended me to proceed with the second semester (II) and take the advanced organic chemistry courses later on rather than re-taking the same course. My major advisers also recommended that way but the chemistry adviser recommended me to re-take the course....the problem is that my university does not have a grading forgiveness/replacement system and it does a average. This means that my final grade will be C if I re-take the course and scored A. I am currently reviewing my organic chemistry textbook and Organic Chemistry as a Second Language (I lamented that fact I did not know this book before) along with my independent research. Should I proceed with advanced courses? Do admission committee (even Top 5 programs) fortive the bad grades if I do really well (all A's) for the rest of semester?

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 My major advisers also recommended that way but the chemistry adviser recommended me to re-take the course....

 

I would retake. I learned, in my own undergrad experience, that is better to go slower rather than faster.

 

Do admission committee (even Top 5 programs) fortive the bad grades if I do really well (all A's) for the rest of semester?

 

Yes.

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For all of your introductory classes (anything with a 1 next to it) I would imagine that if you did very well in the more advanced classes that those bad grades would be overlooked. My professors have told me that having an upward trend in grades is always good to see. I experienced the same rough sophomore year  and now my last 60 unit GPA (Jr/Sr) is much better. The only thing I would have a hard time getting over would be that D in immunology. I see you want to major in Micro/Immuno/Viro or something along those lines. A D in immuno which at my school is a higher level class isn't going to sit well with PI's who run Immuno or Viro labs. 

 

I've been working in a Virology lab for a few years now and an advanced knowledge of Immunology is very important. Also bad grades can be supplemented with good research experience.

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Once again, thank you very much for the advice! I decided to re-take the organic chemistry on next semester and retake the introductory immunology on next Fall. WIll admission committee overlook my failures in organic chemistry and immunology if I retake them and score A, and take advanced immunology/medical microbiology courses?

I have been doing research in the environmental bacteriology lab during my freshman year and quantitative molecular biology from summer to the last semester. Although I scored D on immunology (it is largely my fault for not taking the genetics and cell biology before it; however, the course pre-requisite states a semester of biology and year-long chemistry and that pre-requisite has not been changed for 20 years; the new professors just noticed it and will change the pre-requisite), I still love the immunology and medical microbiology. I am currently involved in the immunology lab and computational biology lab, and I am preparing for starting my own independent project in immunology, and I have been really enjoying learning about the experimental immunology.

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I wouldn't say it would be "overlooked" completely because you did do poorly the first time around (they will probably wonder why you did poorly and if it will cause issues in grad school courses- probably still something to consider), but doing well in those classes will assure them that you know the material and learned how to study for those courses! Then doing well in upper level classes will look even better. More bad grades in upper level classes would likely be a red flag, though.

 

People make mistakes. Sometimes you have to fix them and sometimes you have to let them go. I think you are choosing the right thing in this instance. Good luck!  :)

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I would try to take the prerequisites before you take immunology a second time. Having a solid foundation in cell biology and genetics will help you in the long run anyway.

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