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Before I start I would like to say this is not a "Will I get into Harvard?" thread, because I've already ruled out the possibility of me going to any school of that caliber. In fact, it's not an admission question at all because I'm scared that's not even a possibility. It's more of a "Is my application NOT GARBAGE and maybe I can get into some grad school?" thread.

I'm a Biochemistry/Biotechnology double-major and I've done the standard publications of which I have 4 (Two of which are first author (One of which is in Nature), the other two are coauthored publications), and an independently created and co-owned (80% me and 20% professor who provided resources) patent for a novel method of efficient and target-selective drug-delivery valued in the millions which I legally can't discuss further until the patent is finalized in January (Currently US-Patent Provisional). It's also worth noting that I took the extra money from my government grants and used them to build my own DYI lab where I synthesize new nanoparticles at home.

Problem is if you look at my GPA I'm a crappy 3.1/4 because I ended up consuming myself with a terribly craving for research and I'm not from any huge university either, this eventually led to me disregarding my grades and now I'm just a B student. The best I can really hope for from this point is that I can make some nice heroic story about how my struggle was an uphill battle *Insert-filler-here* compassion for research. If it counts from anything, I started off as a D student (Yes, a D student, but only in first year) and ended up being an A student in my final year of university.

Despite my crappy performance in a mid-tier Canadian university, I can net around 4 letters of recommendation which are really strongly in favor of my research skills and maybe 1-2 of those (2 on a really nice day) would be in favor of academic skills (Marks in classes rather than research). If it counts for anything, 2 of them are from Harvard alumni and the other 2 are ETH-Zurich and Caltech alumni.

... Uhh, I also teach chemistry and nanotechnology for fun to little kids (Elementary school) so they can be interested in it? It's fun to let them see that you can have little [nanorobots!!!] zipping around in the human body.


  1. Four publications:
    1. First author on novel drug-delivery method (Nature (Manuscript accepted))
    2. First author on a novel method of screening ovarian cancer
    3. 2 coauthored publications in 'meh' impact factor journals (Journal of Bacteriology)
  2. xxx-million patent independently made (Not sold: Waiting for big investors)
  3. Built my own lab at home with around $15,000.00
  4. D-student to A-student but really subpar GPA (3.1/4.0)
  5. 4 good letters of recommendation
  6. Mid-tier Canadian university
  7. Hosts nanotechnology and chemistry learning shows for kids

Does this application sound anything out of the norm that would catch an AdCom members eye? Or did I just doom myself by screwing over my GPA in favor of my research interests?

Edited by iVector
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5 hours ago, PizzaCat93 said:

Why are you even here? You most certainly are trolling, big time. 

I seriously wish I was but I'm horribly depressed because I just got off a phone interview with Vanderbilt and they told me the same thing... "You need to work on your GPA". I thought the drug delivery nanoparticle patent would be taking me to places like Stanford but I can't even get into a top 50, let alone my chances at a top 5.

If this is just the top 50 then I may as well forget the top 10. It has been my dream to go to a giant academic institutions where I would have access to the resources to change the world and I feel like my obsession with research was the very Achilles heel which cheated me out of my own aspiration because I put my GPA second to my research.


NOTE: I'm also in my third year of university so I don't know if that affects the seriousness of my application. I also only talked to a PI at Vanderbilt for a PhD in materials science. She said she was interested in my application and to call her before sending my application next year so that she can personally view my application. I really feel like that's a sugar-coated no (Much like when an interviewer says "We'll be in touch" RIP). Anyone really interested in me would have said yes, and  nobody did.

Edited by iVector
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  • 3 weeks later...

I think you're being a bit paranoid (which I understand, the process is stressful to say the least).

But I'd think if you put what you said together into a personal statement, you'll be good to go tbh. I think you have a good chance at getting into a top tier school with your experience, especially you still have a year to really boost your GPA.

As for the PI's response, I think she's genuinely interested. For most application processes it is not up to the professors to decide who to let in, and so you can't really expect her to say a definitive "YES."

All in all, your experiences should make up for the GPA, but definitely try to improve on it now that you recognize it as an issue. You're good.

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On 12/8/2015 at 4:11 PM, PizzaCat93 said:

Why are you even here? You most certainly are trolling, big time. 

Hey I have a first-authored pub on Nature, and I am depressed and devastated because I don't think that I can get into any top 50. How dare you to impugn me that I am trolling ;]

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