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Hello all,

I am new here so I have a lot of reading to do. I am glad this community exists.

I did not see my question here using a search, but I am certain someone has posted something similar.

I am looking into PhD programs in Lit, Rhet and Comp, or Linguistics. I have the background for all three. My undergrad was a GPA was a 3.83 - however . . .(sound the booming music) I ended up with a 3.27 . . .can I round that up to 3.3 for you GPA when I graduated from my Master's Program. For those of you who are reading this as undergrads and who may not know, pretty much anything below a 3.5 is terrible.

I realize when I apply that there are more factors than my GPA that will affect my chances of acceptance. There are people who have great GPA's and get rejected.

I mentioned the fact that I have a low GPA to the Director of one of the Graduate programs I am considering applying and I was told that I should tackle it head on rather than avoid it.

My question to all of you is - how do I mention this in the application? What approach would you or would you not take and why were you in my situation? (Keep in mind I have been out of school since '02 really. So, I will have to retake my GRE's and come up with some scholarship samples that are new.

So - what would head on tackling be to you?

PS Don't be too harsh, I'm fragile here.

PPS Don't believe that PS above, I am okay. Just not happy one bad semester/period in my life is causing me so much strife.

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If one semester made a big difference, be forthright. "You'll note a sharp drop in my performance in Spring of 1912. This is because my dog committed suicide."

Obviously you'll want to tell a plausible -- and preferably true -- story, but you get the point. Address it and move on with confidence.

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If one semester made a big difference, be forthright. "You'll note a sharp drop in my performance in Spring of 1912. This is because my dog committed suicide."

Obviously you'll want to tell a plausible -- and preferably true -- story, but you get the point. Address it and move on with confidence.

Thanks Minnesotan,

I assume that is what the logical thing to do is. I realize that committees look at more than just GPA. I understand the possibility that a lower GPA it could keep me out of many of the top English Departments or affect my chances of getting a TA or stipend. Having said that I could have a 4.0 GPA and those things still could happen to me when I apply.

I recall professors telling me stories of committees that overlooked now quasi-famous academics. So, the realm of possibility is out there.

I guess my chief concern is opening up that personal vein in a statement of purpose about what caused my GPA downfall.

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I guess my chief concern is opening up that personal vein in a statement of purpose about what caused my GPA downfall.

The trick will be to use positive language, and emphasize how this is both behind you and an exception. Don't be overly sentimental, use negative language, and stay away from self-pity. Address it briefly, (one or two sentences) and in a very matter-of-fact tone.

I've also read ppl suggesting that your LoR writers address it for you, which seems like a pretty good idea to me. They can write objectively about how your GPA does not reflect your academic abilities, etc. I don't know that you want every LoR writer to address the issue, but maybe one of them can?

Good luck!

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Rainy has some good advice. I would add to that: if there are psychological issues or recurring health problems, it is better not to mention them. This is one case where the communis opinio suggest one is better off being vague. Rather than saying "I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia after an attempted suicide," you might want to go for something like, "after one semester with health issues, I was able to get back to work..."

I know it sounds odd, especially considering the high concentration of people with mental issues in grad school (you don't have to be crazy to work here, but it helps!), but committees are human, too, and they tend to shy away from someone who claims recurring illness or psychological issues on their app.

There was a long discussion about this on LiveJournal last year. Interesting what a large proportion of that community is mentally unwell.

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Keep in mind I have been out of school since '02 really.

While it's too late for your current round of applications, I might have some long term advice if you find yourself needing to reapply. You might consider auditing a graduate seminar in the fall of 2010 at college near you (preferably one that you'll be applying to). The benefits are numerous: earning a new transcript that illustrates your current dedication, getting quickly caught up on the developments in your field (if you're rusty), finding a new potential (and current) Prof as a possible LoR writer, and constructing a graduate seminar paper that might function as a writing sample.

Lastly, if your transcripts currently read "good-->bad" why not change them to read "good-->bad-->good"? I think that "2 out of 3" sounds better than only "50%"--right? This might also change people

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