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Midwestern Programs for 3.3 GPA and Under

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Hey everyone,


I am currently an undergraduate student majoring in speech-language-hearing with a minor in psychology and, while I don't have to start applying to graduate programs too soon, I wanted to see what my options were so I would know what I can work towards. 


Unfortunately, I didn't do too well during my first year in college so my GPA is far from spectacular and that's what's been worrying me the most. I'm aiming to apply to programs located in the Midwest unless, when the time comes, I'd have to expand to other regions. At this point, I can see myself with a 3.2 to 3.3 overall GPA by the time application season comes around. Possibly a 3.4 if everything works out. However, I'll still have three semesters to go before everything is set in stone. 


While my overall GPA is low, my major GPA is definitely higher. I have also been getting into a lot of volunteer work, such as spending a portion of the summer working at a summer camp for children with speech impediments, finding shadowing opportunities, and volunteering to teach English to non-native speakers. 


Would anyone be willing to suggest some less competitive schools in the Midwest? 


Thank you! 

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The thing is, even "less competitive" schools are still insanely competitive. They still get way more applicants than they have space for and find ways to thin the pool. Maybe my experience can help though. I also applied mostly to schools in the midwest. As a disclaimer, I don't value the US News rankings, but I use them as a gauge sometimes because I know other people do.


I was in a somewhat similar situation as a less-competitive applicant based on GPA. However, I graduated 3 years before applying. My undergrad GPA was between 3.2 and 3.3, but I was out of major, came back to do post-bacc classes, and had great GRE scores. I've done really well in post-bacc classes as well so I have a high CSD GPA. A high CSD GPA is really important (I think) for people who have overall low GPAs.


In my experience as a student with a low GPA, experience and fit were really important, not necessarily a school being less competitive. You can apply to schools all ranked in the 200s that accept 30% of applicants, but if you're a bad fit, they're going to see that and are going to see what you're trying to do. I had a lot of experiences both in and out of the field (worked abroad for three years, experience working with special needs children and adults, ESL, etc). I applied to a variety of programs: reaches, good-fits, bad-fits. Nothing did I treat as a safety.


As it turned out, all of the programs I was a really good fit for and truly wanted to go to, I got in to, or waitlisted for, and they were all in the Top 50. I had really good reasons for wanting to go to those programs, found from my research before, and I made that known in my SOPs. My visits (after applying) to these schools only confirmed this. I applied to some schools that were, in my mind, "less competitive." "Less competitive" because they were low-ranked (low 100s to 200s), in pretty rural areas (because who wants to live in the middle-of-nowhere Midwest, 2 hours by car from the nearest city?), and had slightly higher acceptance rates than other schools. I got rejected from all but one of those schools, and in my mind it made sense. A school in the middle-of-nowhere Midwest has merits that do appeal to students and there are students who want to go to those programs. I truly believe those programs know these applicants when they read their SOPs. I applied to those programs because I thought I was a great applicant other than my GPA, and thought that that maybe would get me in, but I knew I would only attend those schools as a last resort if I didn't get in to the schools that matched my interests and goals. Maybe that showed in my SOPs for those schools in some way (perhaps because I didn't spend as much time refining my SOP for those programs as I did my top-choices).


The schools I applied to offered things I really wanted. Research or labs doing work I wanted to get involved in, volunteer efforts organized by grad students I wanted to do, clinical experiences that appealed to me, other experiences I wanted, etc. I mentioned these things in my SOP, and not briefly, and my experiences connected nicely to my interests.


I can't suggest less competitive schools because (in my mind) there really is no such thing. You can use EdFind to find schools in the midwest, and comb through them to find programs you love. Know why you love them. You have a lot of time to find programs, and what might help is visiting them. I didn't have time to visit programs before I applied, but if you can find the time, I suggest you do. Those visits can make you realize why you want to go to a certain program, or that a certain program is not right for you at all. Other people might not agree with me, but I think fit is a really important thing to look for when looking for programs, especially as an applicant with less-than stellar stats.

Edited by MangoSmoothie
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I know that you are aiming at applying in the midwest, but your best chance at getting accepted to grad school is to apply as broadly as possible. If you are willing to relocate and apply to some of the less competitive programs in the south, and west as well then you will have better chances of getting in somewhere. 


I would recommend you apply to a good number of less competitive programs in the midwest, and then add some like Eastern New Mexico, Idaho State, Wyoming in the west, and then schools like Montevallo, Louisiana Lafayette, Western Carolina in the south. Good luck!

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I would suggest considering programs that I applied to, maybe with the exception of SCSU (they have a pretty high average GPA and GRE for admitted students. They do cutoffs with GPA and GREs so it could be a waste of money applying there). I applied to programs in the upper midwest that look at the whole applicant. This is beneficial if you really build your resume up to offset the GPA. The schools I applied to were University of North Dakota, University of South Dakota, University of Nebraska Omaha, Minot State University, Minnesota State University-Moorhead. I also chose these schools because they have a decent acceptance rate. I was/am a post-bacc student as well, so it was very important to me that they would still consider me since I was an out of field applicant in the process of completing the required classes. Minot State is also a good option since all students get in state tuition. These schools also receive markedly less amounts of applicants than many other programs in other areas of the country. Like my advisor has said: If you really want to get into graduate school, don't cheat yourself by applying to unrealistic places! I know many people who applied to only big, more competitive programs and now they have no acceptances. Even the smaller programs in the midwest can be crazy competitive, but I think they often are a good option to keep in mind. 

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My one professor gave me some really great advice to start making connections at schools before you even apply. Even if it's just emailing them once or twice asking about the admissions process and any advice that the program has so that when it comes time to make a decision, they may recognize your name and know that you are actually really interested in attending there.


Like other people said, there really isn't a not competitive program. I would look at what range of 'stats' schools have taken into the last few years and see if you're a good fit to those. And maybe take a shot at one or two 'reach' schools. Lots of programs look at your last 60 credits and can see you've been improving so you never really know.

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I got into Midwestern in Downers Grove, IL with a 3.3 GPA and 3.5 CSD GPA. I did take a year off and applied after a year of gaining clinical experience, but if you show interest in their program it's small enough that they highly take that into consideration!! 

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