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ndakota

Low undergrad GPA, high post-bacc GPA. Applying to Master's in Admin. Will my undergrad GPA kill me?

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Hi all,

I was quite unmotivated in my undergraduate degree studies in Political Science. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life or degree, and didn't take University very seriously, so my GPA suffered as a result (3.0/4.0) with a severe downward trend.

After I graduated I taught English overseas, and really enjoyed it so I came back to the US and enrolled in a post-baccalaureate teaching program. I was highly motivated and received a 4.0/4.0 in this program, and two scholarships for academic and teaching excellence.

It's been two years since that time, and I'm thinking about getting a Master's degree in Admin/Educational Leadership. I know I can most probably get into several programs, but I'd like to try my hand at some more selective schools like Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, etc. 

I have done research on these schools, but it's hard to really know whether or not my undergraduate GPA will tank my application. Does anyone have any advice? 

Thanks!

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I think you should try and apply to more selective schools, but start studying for the GRE now so you can get awesome scores to offset your undergrad GPA!

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It is a possibility they have "unofficial" GPA cutoffs that may keep you out of the first batch of acceptances.  What is your GPA after post-bacc, if you calculate it yourself?  You will definitely want strong GRE scores for top programs. 

You will also probably want someone who can vouch for you who has an "in" on the program.  Try an internship.  Unfortunately, you might be tossed in the wait-list pile and never know unless you have a connection inside.

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My understanding is that post-bacc GPAs aren't given much weight since most people taking the time to enroll in such a program should get mostly A's and B's. But with a lower undergrad GPA, it will at least show some growth and progression between the two. Also, don't be afraid to talk about how you wound up with a lower undergrad GPA (in your personal statement), it's better than hoping they just won't notice it--they will. 

I will echo the sentiments above that your best bet will be to knock the GRE out of the park - take a class, do lots of practice tests, and figure out what scores you want to shoot for. You'll want to be above the mean reported scores for the schools you're interested in. A recent book about PhD admissions decisions found the GRE scores really were the most influential factor in many decisions, so don't give up on the schools you're interested in just because you made some mistakes when you were 18-22 years old (we all did!)

Edited by aebh615

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