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Low GPA -- Need advice

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Hi guys. I’m a 22-year-old recent graduate interested in applying for MSW programs for the fall 2016 cycle. The problem? I have just under a 3.0 from my undergrad university (GPA: 2.95) :mellow: . My major was psychology; however, I took a lot of difficult science classes (cell & molecular biology, cellular neurobiology, A&P I, chemistry) and most of my psychology degree has a neuroscience emphasis (I took many physiological psychology courses) so my GPA took a hit, although, I did love my neuro courses (and did well in them, too). If it counts for anything, the psychology degree also came from my schools division of science & mathematics. I have attended 2 other institutions that I have done very well at. I have around 32-36 transfer credits – 28 credits from my first school, and 9 credits (give or take) from my other school -- that average around a 3.4 GPA; so I’m not sure if those credits would count towards the cumulative GPA.


I have been through difficult personal situations during the past few years that have negatively affected my GPA. I have struggled with PTSD from working as a paramedic, and came-out as gay during my college years; the family situation/reaction was far from celebratory. My thoughts are to explain this in my personal statement, and discuss the ways I have overcome these challenges. I have good work experience; I’ve been a volunteer medic/Firefighter for 5 years. I learned a lot about helping people at their worst, and it was by far, one of the most humbling jobs in my life. I do have the emotional scares though. In a way, I think these experiences will give me better insight as a social worker. My LOR’s are very strong. I have formed good relationships with some of my professors, and they seemed excited to write a letter on my behalf – most of them know my story as well. I still need to take the GRE, but from my understanding, most school do not look or require them. I know this is the career I want to pursue. Just like it’s a calling to become a paramedic, I also think it’s a calling to become a social worker. So I had a few questions for you guys:

  1. Do I have a chance in hell of getting in anywhere (without accruing a massive burden of debt?)  
  2. What advice would you give me on writing the personal statement? I want to incorporate how I overcame these struggles without seeming self-loathing.
  3. Do most grad schools calculate all the credits from every university or did they just look at your GPA from the school you graduated from. In my case, this is the difference between a >3.0 or < 3.0.
  4. Would you recommend any MSW programs? I have a general idea where I would like to apply, but certainly, I would love any suggestions. (I really liked the University of Pittsburg’s MSW program).


Sorry for the long post. Everyone here seems really helpful, and I’m not sure who else to discuss this with. God bless you all.




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For MSW programs that done require GRE (the large majority of them) you would need to take the GRE because your GOA is less than 3.0. Schools state that this is a requirement on their websites, and they likely suggest a letter of explanation. As far as explains your poor grades, I would mention the STEM nature of your program, that's irrelevant unfortunately as your major is a choice. For personal things, it is a big no-no to go into detail about personal things such as the ones you've experienced. Just say that you went through difficult times due to a series of tough experiences and talk about how you grew academically and personally from them, but do not say what they were. Going into detail about things like that are often kisses of death in grad school admissions. For any MSW programs that may ask for you to talk about any adversity you've experienced, I think coming out would be a good topic, but not the MH stuff. Schools could see that as maybe you're not ready for the high stress nature of an MSW. I don't have any recommendations for sub 3.0ers, but good luck! You may want to check out local schools in your area, especially state ones. Your GPA will be looked at as a whole, they may focus on last 2 undergrad years or the equivalent credits-you should ask schools you're interested in directly.

PS-most people will have debt. Even people with 4.0s and amazing recs can come out with "massive debt". MSW programs on the whole are not known for being affordable and SW careers are not lucrative financially.

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Will a crappy 3.006 GPA from law school keep me out of an MSW program?  I have a strong undergraduate record (Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude).  

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Agh sorry I just noticed a bunch of typos! I'm typing on my phone. I hope my post is still clear! Feel free to PM for more specifics or if you want me to clarify. I am deciding between MSW and MPH and am planning on MPH for now, maybe a dual program.

Edited by artsy16
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