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Do NOT think of not applying to a certain school on the basis of what others think


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Hey Everyone,

So I wanted to get this off my chest. If you have a low GRE score or a low GPA, or even low extra-curriculars and you ask people what your chances are, you will only bring yourself down if people say that you can't get in or "your scores are too low". I asked this question before and felt down. I applied to USC for their Computer Science Master's program, but even though my GRE isn't great (Q: 158, V: 146), the rest of my application already is, and there's no need to worry about getting a rejection. If it happens, you can still see what other schools say and they want to see how PASSIONATE you are. This can definitely make a difference if you have a low GRE or a low GPA. I knew someone who got into Brown University's CS program with a 2.85!! Can you believe it? The reason why he got in was because the admission officers saw how he was passionate about the hard classes and wanted to challenge himself rather than being in easy or boring classes that didn't interest him much. See, even though I have a 3.44 GPA, my CS GPA is a 3.71 and even though I had a down year, I told myself that I wouldn't give up and I would not stop until I got into a really good graduate school. I sent my applications to George Washington and USC. I will be sending more to NYU Tandon, Northwestern and Georgia Tech just to see what I get. I know for a FACT that because of my high grades in CS courses, I do have a competitive edge. I have even worked in two research labs. Even though it was less than a year and I didn't get published, I still learned extensive skills and produced great results. The MAIN thing I worked on was my Statement of Purpose and my resume. The Statement of Purpose is the KEY into getting into your graduate school as I have been told by other applicants who have gotten in to such great schools. I have even gotten 3 great recommendations from 2 professors and one manager. So the bottom line is, don't get discouraged by what people say in these forums. You won't be weeded out just because of your low GRE score or your low GPA. These universities use a holistic approach when it comes to your application, meaning they look at everything before making a final decision. I would like to hear what you all would like to say :) I know that waiting for that admit can be nerve wracking, but as long as you do your absolute best on the application, you should not have to worry. If you get rejected, then you should not let yourself go down. Rather, just stay focused and committed and when schools see that in your application then that's your golden ticket.

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I sort of half-agree with your post.

It's true that a single metric is often not enough to get you rejected - many programs use a holistic review and won't toss out your application if you are below some imaginary threshold. It's also true that an otherwise outstanding application can make up for a low metric in one area, like a low GPA or low GRE scores.

That said, first of all, I don't think it's "passion" that makes the difference. There are many very passionate students who really want to go to graduate school, but programs are concerned with whether you can do the work and successfully complete the program. It's an otherwise outstanding packet; the other elements show the committee that your one or two low metric(s) are not really reflective of your true potential. Most professors do not see a 2.86 and say "here is a student who just didn't want to take the easy way out! He took the hard classes!" (Quite frankly, simply attempting hard things doesn't matter quite as much as doing well in them. As Yoda would say, there is no try.) They may wonder "Does this student have a strong enough grounding in the undergrad work to succeed here?"

Second of all, it is true that some programs do weed people out on the basis of low GRE scores or low GPAs. Some schools have stated cutoffs and they do not accept people below them, except in exceptional circumstances. Other programs have sort of unofficial minimums they like to try to adhere to - sometimes unconsciously.

That said, a 3.44 isn't that low of a GPA, especially in engineering, and especially with a major GPA of a 3.71.

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  • 2 months later...

From my experience applying "top schools" CS Masters for Fall 2015 and 2016 programs, I believe that the most significant factor is the research/paper/publication you have done during in your undergraduate years. Then follow by SOP, GRE, GPA, resume and etc.  What I believe personally is that most of the top schools want their Masters students to continue their research and interest areas from the undergraduate years, not counting from zero. If you change your interest or research areas from your undergraduate years, your chance of being accepted is quite low. But if you have a very high GPA and GRE score and quite good essay, that could compensate.


Nevertheless, if you are not applying for top school, the research/paper/publication during the undergraduate years might not have a major effect on the decision. 

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