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Questions about reapplying


Cabincheese
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Hey all, glad to be here. First time poster, but lurked for a while. Did a search on this, but couldn't find anything, so hopefully I'm not repeating a topic.

Brief history: I applied to 4 grad schools last year, was rejected by three, wait-listed by one. Don't think I'll be getting off that wait-list, so I'm trudging forward in reapplying. Will be increasing the number of schools I apply to.

With that, I have a few questions:

- My gpa, sadly, is mediocre. My cumulative GPA is under a 3, while my major GPA is a smidge over 3. Some schools claim they only count your major GPA, but I'm not so sure of the veracity of such a statement. Either way, my GPA is not the greatest. Last year when I applied for the first time, I never made a reference to it in my SOP, since I didn't want to highlight a percieved weakness in my application, and I felt I didn't need to. But I've been thinking about talking about my GPA when i rewrite my SOP this year, offering an explanation and maybe writing how embarrassed I am about it. I could express how I can use my GPA as a motivating factor to do better academically (which is true, I plan to kick butt if I ever do get into grad school). So, is this the right path to take concerning my GPA, by bringing attention to it? Or should I not even mention it?

- I've been unemployed for quite some time, which will most likely hurt the strength of my resume. I hate it, but I can't do much about it. In the meantime, I've been working with my parents at their small mom-and-pop store to keep myself busy, but the work is just that: busy work. Has nothing to do with what I studied in college. Should I list their store in my resume to fill a hole, or don't bother? Also, should I make mention of my unemployment in my SOP, or no?

- With letters of recommendations, did you guys switch recommenders, or stick with the ones you used in the previous year? If you used the same recommenders, how did you approach them to vouch for you again? Recommenders probably don't care, but I dunno... i feel a little sheepish and maybe even a little ashamed in having to ask for their recommendation again. It's like, "Hey, I got rejected. Help me out again, please?" They might be used to students asking for a resubmission of letters, but we'll never know.

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i applied 2 years in a row as well.

in response to your last point: my LOR writers weren't really bothered by having to do it again and it's probably because they had already written the letters and saved them in a file. this seems to be how many profs operate. so it was usually just a matter of copying and pasting, or printing another copy and stuffing it in an envelope. not a big deal.

and don't feel embarrassed about having to reapply. it was a hell of a tough year. lots of people didn't get in anywhere either. your profs will understand, unless they're total a-holes and in that case they shouldn't be writing an LOR for you anyways.

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I took the approach of addressing the low GPA issue head on in my SoP.

It got mixed results, the professor who advised me through my undergraduate work liked it well enough, but another professor I showed it to thought it didn't strike the right tone.

I think I wouldn't ignore it though. It's an issue that needs addressing and if your letter writers don't address it for you (at least one of mine did) then you absolutely need to discuss it in your SoP.

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I've been rejected two years in a row. I approached my same recommenders twice but now I'm going with a whole new group this time around. I think the above posters are rights that they save it in a file and it's not a big deal for them to write it again. At the same time I feel if it didn't work the first time, why try again?

I'd address the GPA issue as well and try to explain it. Don't try to make them feel sorry for you. Just be direct and matter of fact and twist it in a positive light. Say how you learned from the experience and what' you'll do to improve and highlight other parts of your app.

A lot of people are out of work right now (I was unemployed a year after I got a Master's from a top school and just three months ago finally got a job!) so I think people will understand that you were out of work. Don't leave that part of the resume blank though. Say you were job searching and in the meantime took some time to reflect, research etc. some things that interested you and relate to your studies. Twist it somehow by saying you used personal time for personal enrichment or something. I'm sure the busy work drove you mad but it made you realize how much you really want to be in school. Nothing is better motivator for grad school than busy work. Knowing what you DON'T like is important as knowing what you do like.

A superb statement of purpose is what will make it or break it. It's what you gotta hook 'em with so concentrate on that. Good luck!

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks for the help all. The advice has really helped.

I'm still torn whether I should discuss my GPA in my SOP though. I've written a paragraph about my GPA, but it really seemed to put a damper on the overall positive tone I had in my SOP. Plus, I was having a devil of a time figuring out where I should be putting the paragraph. No matter where I was putting it, it seemed to kill the flow of the SOP. Where in the SOP do you recommend I place the GPA discussion? The beginning, somewhere in the middle, near the end?

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Thanks for the help all. The advice has really helped.

I'm still torn whether I should discuss my GPA in my SOP though. I've written a paragraph about my GPA, but it really seemed to put a damper on the overall positive tone I had in my SOP. Plus, I was having a devil of a time figuring out where I should be putting the paragraph. No matter where I was putting it, it seemed to kill the flow of the SOP. Where in the SOP do you recommend I place the GPA discussion? The beginning, somewhere in the middle, near the end?

I say that if you talk about your GPA, talk about it in a positive light. My GPA is a 3.11, but I would probably discuss how each semester my GPA had been dramatically improving especially in my last semester where I earned a 3.6X while taking 6 full time classes, held an internship, and also was a student grader. I may also speak about how I've always done exceptionally well in classes that are related to my general research interest (computer graphics) and was towards the top for each class. I have not written anything about my grades in my essay, but showed that I am passionate and very goal driven.

I have a friend who wrote about his grades as the last paragraph stating that even his Professors were surprised at his mediocre grades and that he'd like admissions to look beyond his grade average. To see a student who's more interested in the projects / subjects than an abstract measure of proficiency in them.

Hopefully this helps you a bit.

This time, I do suggest applying to more than 4 schools...possibly 9 schools: 4 you have a good chance at, 3 safety, and 2 beyond reach.

I'm also reapplying and will be using the same recommenders. I've talked to them during the summer after getting the last of my rejection notices and the realization that I've overlooked a lot of great programs. All agreed to help me with graduate school again. I really had no problems approaching them, they were pretty happy to help out again.

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Yep, went from applying to 4 schools last year to about 7-8 this year. Would do more, but I'm poor, and application fees alone are backbreaking as it is. :(

Good idea about discussing the gradual increase in grades as the years go by, which happened for me. It was just difficult for me to talk about my low GPA, since I didn't really have a valid excuse for it. Didn't have an ailment, didn't go through a harrowing personal experience. I just wanted to goof off, and wasn't even thinking about grad school. Oh, how foolish and naive I was.

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Let me just say that my superstar mentor insists that I discuss my poor GPA. He says that if he got a stellar packet and the GPA didn't jive the first thing he does is checks the SOP for an explanation. If there isn't one he assumes the applicant is trying to hide or gloss over something.

I have addressed it thusly:

My research interests are greatly influenced by both my own truncated college history and work experience as an administrator in proprietary or,

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