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Ouch - that gpa/gre combination screams out "intelligent (or at least good test-taker) but undisciplined" which is not what grad schools want to hear. Not in your field, cannot recommend schools, but as a strategy I would aim for a masters program at a ~50th ranked school. Do well there and you have a shot at a decent med school or PhD program.

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Is the 2.7 your major GPA, or your overall GPA? Are there any extenuating circumstances?

I'm not in your field either, and I have heard of students getting into grad school with similar numbers, but I imagine it would make it somewhat harder.

More importantly, it sounds like you aren't sure what you want to study yet, so you should think really hard about your goals. If you don't know why you are applying to one field and not some other, the admissions committee won't know either, and they won't want you in their program. You can start by thinking about classes you've done well in, research you'd like to pursue, your eventual career goals, and what professors who know you well think you would excel in. All of these things should inform your decision of what to study, and where. Good luck!

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all 3 fields that you are interested in are very competitive, so 2.7 GPA might pose a problem for most good schools. However, your GREs are very good. A lot will depend on your research exp and letters of rec. I agree that you probably should shoot for masters program and then go into PhD if you want to. For medical field you will need an MCAT.

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  • 1 month later...

Honestly I don't think it is possible to go to a good grad school with a 2.7 GPA. That's life.

Indeed it is possible to go to grad school with a 2.7 GPA. Those who recommended getting an MA at a medium-ranked school are right on target in my opinion. My overall GPA was 2.79, though my major was 3.5 and last two years were 3.3.

Basically, I was a big-time screwup in my first two undergrad years. I explained this in detail in my statements of purpose etc. I was admitted to every single graduate school I applied to for MA degrees (granted, all were medium-ranked schools).

Point is: Don't think you have no chance. The road WILL be rougher for you than for those earlier-maturing students who studied hard all four years of college. But if you can get a 3.75+ in your MA, preferably in a related field, you should be able to be admitted to a doctoral program.

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Well it depends then. In your case, you had a 3.5 in your upper division courses. I just don't really get why if you had a 2.7GPA in your major that you would even think of pursuing graduate school? Having a 2.7GPA means you a. didn't work hard enough or b. you are not qualified to pursue further education in your field. If you are either a. or b. or both, you need to reconsider your motivation or ability to succeed at the graduate level. Sure, chances are you might be able to get into at least one lower-tiered school anyway, but then you have to wonder if going to grad school is even worth that investment in terms of job placement or if school X is just taking your money.

I would be worried if I had a surgeon operate on me who (somehow) got into medical school with a 2.7 undergraduate GPA. Just saying.

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Seadub:

I do not want to start a flame war here. But here's the deal.

First, you forgot option c, I didn't work AT ALL in my freshman and sophomore years because I was an arrogant SOB who didn't give a rat's butt about my grades in classes other than those related to my major. No lie: I deliberately failed and had to repeat Freshman English 101 just because I thought the prof was a flaming idiot.

That didn't stop me from, later in life, from reconsidering, and working on English on my own time. I studied vocab, literature, poetry, rhetoric, philosophy, drama, etc. etc., and EVENTUALLY developed superior skills in English, if the GRE is any measure (and that is debatable). I scored 800 on the GRE-Verbal, for the record.

My point is that one's four undergraduate years in college do not inalterably and immutably determine one's fate. One's early grades do not set in stone tablets whether one is EVER eligible or qualified for advanced studies. I grant you, a 3.5 or better in all subjects the first time around is WISER. But not everybody is wise when they are 18 or 19 years old. Some of us were spoiled brats.

But the world is made of many kinds of people, and, if you didn't read it in my previous post: in my undergraduate first two years, though I was 18 yrs old, I had the maturity of about an 8-year-old. Should that disqualify me from EVER aspiring to advanced learning? I say NO. Should it force me to prove myself by taking a harder road? Of course it should!

Finally, I'd be a lot more concerned at how my physician did in Medical School, how well he/she is regarded by his/her peers, whether he/she is Board-Certified or not ... than I would about whether or not he/she spent most of his/her freshman and sophomore years screwing around because he/she thought partying was more important than studying.

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Well it depends then. In your case, you had a 3.5 in your upper division courses. I just don't really get why if you had a 2.7GPA in your major that you would even think of pursuing graduate school? Having a 2.7GPA means you a. didn't work hard enough or b. you are not qualified to pursue further education in your field. If you are either a. or b. or both, you need to reconsider your motivation or ability to succeed at the graduate level. Sure, chances are you might be able to get into at least one lower-tiered school anyway, but then you have to wonder if going to grad school is even worth that investment in terms of job placement or if school X is just taking your money.

I would be worried if I had a surgeon operate on me who (somehow) got into medical school with a 2.7 undergraduate GPA. Just saying.

I love when people who joined, like 2 minutes ago, make totally insulting, dumb ass comments.

Maybe they had extenuating circumstances in the first 2.5 years, only to do really well in the last 1.5. Poster didn't provide enough information to make assumptions either way.

Even if their grad school hopes don't pan-out in the long run, they come here for advice/encouragement.

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Seadub:

I do not want to start a flame war here. But here's the deal.

First, you forgot option c, I didn't work AT ALL in my freshman and sophomore years because I was an arrogant SOB who didn't give a rat's butt about my grades in classes other than those related to my major. No lie: I deliberately failed and had to repeat Freshman English 101 just because I thought the prof was a flaming idiot.

That didn't stop me from, later in life, from reconsidering, and working on English on my own time. I studied vocab, literature, poetry, rhetoric, philosophy, drama, etc. etc., and EVENTUALLY developed superior skills in English, if the GRE is any measure (and that is debatable). I scored 800 on the GRE-Verbal, for the record.

My point is that one's four undergraduate years in college do not inalterably and immutably determine one's fate. One's early grades do not set in stone tablets whether one is EVER eligible or qualified for advanced studies. I grant you, a 3.5 or better in all subjects the first time around is WISER. But not everybody is wise when they are 18 or 19 years old. Some of us were spoiled brats.

But the world is made of many kinds of people, and, if you didn't read it in my previous post: in my undergraduate first two years, though I was 18 yrs old, I had the maturity of about an 8-year-old. Should that disqualify me from EVER aspiring to advanced learning? I say NO. Should it force me to prove myself by taking a harder road? Of course it should!

Finally, I'd be a lot more concerned at how my physician did in Medical School, how well he/she is regarded by his/her peers, whether he/she is Board-Certified or not ... than I would about whether or not he/she spent most of his/her freshman and sophomore years screwing around because he/she thought partying was more important than studying.

Agreed. GPA is a number - just because its high doesn't necessarily mean the person is "smart" (they could have purposely gone to a school where work was easy, taken easy classes, easy professors, had extensive help from parents/tutors/friends/etc.) and having a low GPA doesn't necessarily mean they aren't (arrogance early on, health, temporary laziness, extenuating work or family issues, starting with the wrong major, maturity, etc.) are all factors into someone's background... This is why schools do not simply have applicants submit their GPA for admission.

I could go on here with cheesy anecdotes about Trump filing for bankruptcy on multiple occasion, presidential candidates with low GPAs, etc. but I think you get the point.

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I'd be worried about the kind of student applying to grad school who looks down their nose at anyone with a lower GRE/GPA. Probably the kind of student I wouldn't want in my cohort. Just saying.

And coincidentally, the kind of student that's most likely to be in your cohort.

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lol...wow

Honesty doesn't pay in these forums, does it?

Let me give you a scenario. Lets say you are a counselor or professor and have a 2nd or 3rd year student who wants to apply to med school. He/she has a 3.0 GPA and below average MCAT scores from an average undergraduate institution. Statistically speaking, this person is not a "fit" candidate by any means to become accepted into any med school. Do you say nothing and continue to encourage this applicant to spend thousands of dollars in application fees and testing to pursue a near unreachable goal, or give him/her the "straight talk" and outline realistic expectations and alternative goals for the future?

Similarly, if you know a student who has mediocre grades and LSAT scores and just got accepted into a third tier law school, do you eagerly encourage him/her to spend $150,000+ on tuition and living costs when the statistics point to a high correlation between law school ranking and future expected earnings as well as the sheer fact that there is a vast oversupply of new law school grads for an increasingly limited number of positions available to them? Or do you have a serious conversation on the reality of the market for lower-ranked law school grads?

The point is you cannot ignore the simple law of supply and demand when it comes to graduate studies. Those with higher test scores and higher UGPA are probably going to have a better chance at getting into top-ranked schools than those with lower test scores and a lower GPA. And graduates of top-ranked schools are more likely going to have better job opportunities available to them upon graduation than graduates of lower-ranked institutions. Whether or not that is necessarily "fair" or "right" is questionable, but that's life.

I think people generally appreciate honesty, but in your delivery you come of as a pretentious jackass.

You may not a be a jackass, but you also don't know if this person i) lazy, or ii) just doesn't have what it takes. As for the money argument, for all you know he could be rolling in the dough.

On a personal note, I know a lot of people that were given the "straight talk," as you say, and ended up settling for less than they should have in life.

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I think people generally appreciate honesty, but in your delivery you come of as a pretentious jackass.

You may not a be a jackass, but you also don't know if this person i) lazy, or ii) just doesn't have what it takes. As for the money argument, for all you know he could be rolling in the dough.

On a personal note, I know a lot of people that were given the "straight talk," as you say, and ended up settling for less than they should have in life.

He's not trying to be a jerk, he's trying to be realistic. It's one thing to shoot for your dreams, it's another thing to chase an unreasonable goal and assume everything will be fine. Nothing pretentious about it.

Edited by Lit23
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Let me give you a scenario. Lets say you are a counselor or professor and have a 2nd or 3rd year student who wants to apply to med school. He/she has a 3.0 GPA and below average MCAT scores from an average undergraduate institution. Statistically speaking, this person is not a "fit" candidate by any means to become accepted into any med school. Do you say nothing and continue to encourage this applicant to spend thousands of dollars in application fees and testing to pursue a near unreachable goal, or give him/her the "straight talk" and outline realistic expectations and alternative goals for the future?

Similarly, if you know a student who has mediocre grades and LSAT scores and just got accepted into a third tier law school, do you eagerly encourage him/her to spend $150,000+ on tuition and living costs when the statistics point to a high correlation between law school ranking and future expected earnings as well as the sheer fact that there is a vast oversupply of new law school grads for an increasingly limited number of positions available to them? Or do you have a serious conversation on the reality of the market for lower-ranked law school grads?

The point is you cannot ignore the simple law of supply and demand when it comes to graduate studies. Those with higher test scores and higher UGPA are probably going to have a better chance at getting into top-ranked schools than those with lower test scores and a lower GPA. And graduates of top-ranked schools are more likely going to have better job opportunities available to them upon graduation than graduates of lower-ranked institutions. Whether or not that is necessarily "fair" or "right" is questionable, but that's life.

Seems to me that, although law school and med school may be more of a numbers game, most other fields are a lot less willing to impose strict cut-offs. I don't know what your field is, but mine and most other social sciences I know of go quite a bit out of their way to assure applicants that a low GPA or GRE will not sink their chances at grad school. The OP never did get around to saying what it was s/he was hoping to study, but if it was a research program then I think that the low GPA will not hurt as much as it might in a vocational program.

As to "top-ranked schools" and "better job opportunities".... well, I can't speak for the rest of the forum, but I'm definitely not in it for the money. If I were, I'd be in for a heck of a lot of disappointment. :)

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Colorless, you read my mind. No one should be in anything for the money..but of course thats my opinion. Work for works sake! Love your job, and be happy with the compensation as well. We need to get away from this idea of materialism, especially when considering education.

I'll apologize about my previous post, it was immature. While I don't think it was unwarranted, it's unlike me to make snide comments. As for my cohort, they're all good people. We work side by side and evaluate each others research. Very collaborative atmosphere. So..no, no pretentious individuals. I'm blessed.

Frankly, if you want to do something truly great, something you hold to be important, don't let material conditions hold you down. I'm in sociology, I'm 50,000 in debt. The 'realistic' thing to do would be working a job to pay off my 20,000 from undergrad, as sociology professorial positions pay diddly. Yeah it'll take a long time to pay off my loans. Realistically, I'd be unhappy working a job with a bachelors of sociology. Do what you think will yield the most happiness. What do you have to lose? You're not taking your money with you when you die.

A Professor and mentor of mine once told me "When you want to achieve greatness and do something truly good, you'll be surprised at the amount of people who want to stop you from accomplishing that." Get into psych, a masters program. Prove through hard work and a kick ass thesis that you're PhD quality, if you want to do a PhD. Med school and Neuro tend to be driven by grades and tests in the app. process.

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I think this thread has gotten a bit off-topic, and I'm sorry to have contributed to that. We started out trying to help the OP determine their options, considering their scores and interests, but now the conversation has turned to a very general discussion of whether or not applicants should have good grades. There are other threads that would be suited to that conversation, but on this one, it's more or less irrelevant to the OP's concerns. We should probably let this discussion end, unless the OP comes back at some point to elaborate.

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I don't think it is simply about getting in. We need to think about job prospects unless people expect to live on nothing. There are, for example, many who are struggling in the humanities to find jobs. Its just the way the market works. Med school depends on a minimum number to cross along with a few other things. Brand name matters a lot in law. Yes, I agree Phd admissions may not be as much as a numbers game (although I think top schools will use numbers), but that does not mean you will find a job after grad school. Brand name matters, as does the researcher, as does the contacts you build at the school you go to. A lot of the jobs are done through personal contacts, not through recruiters or job boards.

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I think people generally appreciate honesty, but in your delivery you come of as a pretentious jackass.

You may not a be a jackass, but you also don't know if this person i) lazy, or ii) just doesn't have what it takes. As for the money argument, for all you know he could be rolling in the dough.

On a personal note, I know a lot of people that were given the "straight talk," as you say, and ended up settling for less than they should have in life.

He is far from being a jackass. I think these points are well made, and one cannot just ignore such points. We can argue against them, if we like........but to completely toss them out because of the tone is not logical.

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He is far from being a jackass. I think these points are well made, and one cannot just ignore such points. We can argue against them, if we like........but to completely toss them out because of the tone is not logical.

Although it was I who originally contradicted you, seadub, I also think you are not a jackass, but rather a very critically thinking pragmatist (you referenced salaries and costs vs benefits, etc) .... But in my opinion you simply hadn't thought of all the ramifications of your blanket statement. Forgive me if I misquote you, I believe your statement was something to the effect of "If you have a 2.7 you're not going to graduate school."

Everyone has their own dreams and aspirations. Ideally, if person X wants to be a lawyer in a top New York City law firm, starting off at $150K+ per year, then X should make that decision somewhere around 9th grade, and work for the 3.85+ HS GPA necessary to get him/her into a great pre-law program at a top-20 major university, earn a 3.85+ pre-law GPA, and should begin taking LSAT-prep classes in the summer before his/her junior year of college. And it wouldn't hurt to make the acquaintance, by hook or by crook, of one's local Congressman or Senator of Federal District judge, for a recommendation.

The problem is that NOT everyone has such foresight or ambition or tenacity, especially at such a young age. Nonetheless, I still firmly believe that higher learning is available and accessible to those who truly want it ... though I freely admit the path is not easy if you don't resemble my hypothetical person X above.

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Yeah...off topic, and I contributed to it as well. While the ideas presented here are pragmatic to the max, of course we cant toss them out. And we havent, as they lit off quite a debate. Honestly, the GRE is losing its grip among graduate schools...and for good reason. While its still used as a benchmark for the typical grad student profile, I think adcomms are looking past it and reviewing each app fully. Im pretty passionate about education and the problems of standardized tests. There are a lot of issues individuals seem to ignore issues that start early in the education process. Things like tracking, which throws students of low SES into basic courses, while filtering advantaged students into higher ed courses...and most of that is correlated with social and cultural capital. This starts in elementary school, and certainly has an effect on the quality of education one recieves. Even if youre person X...you better not grow up socioeconomically disadvantaged. So there are a lot of factors that play into the GRE or any other standard test, obviously. In any case, yeah, the test is still used. Dont stop complaining about it. Theres my soap box about the GRE. I dont even think it was warranted here after reflecting on previous posts.

In terms of GPA, well yeah...people make mistakes at the age of 18 and 19..and at the age of 40...and 90.. So you didnt get a super high GPA, dont beat yourself up over it. Like I said earlier, go for the psych avenue. Liberal arts tend to be more forgiving when considering test scores or GPA scores. I tend to think this is because its not profit driven.

I dont think seadub is a jackass. Lets keep the personal attacks out. If we want to have a strong discussion on the validity of the test we can do so with mutual respect. Again, I apologize about the comment I made earlier.

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To the OP,

Another good idea would be to take some time off from school. Work, get into a research program, whatever. Just do something where you're out in the world gaining experience. The 2.7 won't look as bad after you've been out of school for 3, 4, 5 years as it will if you try to go straight to grad school from undergrad. If your angle is that you weren't mature or properly motivated, coming back a few years later will help you prove your case.

Also, pretty interesting discussion about the prospects of getting in, and I think you're all right. Chances of getting in below 3.0, or whatever other number, is more difficult, but it's definitely possible. I think the applicants below "the line" that are also motivated for the right reasons AND capable of performing well in graduate school will be able to stand out from the rest of the sub-par GPA/GRE crowd. If it's what you want to do it's worth it to send in your application and make them tell you no. Don't self-select yourself out because you don't think you have the numbers.

I'm not applying for a law program, but check out this website: http://gulc.lawschoolnumbers.com/stats It's interesting seeing where the line is for all the different schools. This is Georgetown, and it's pretty clear you want to be above 3.3/170 LSAT. They did waitlist someone with a 2.73/172, which is a situation similar to our OP's. Waitlist is better than a straight rejection!

Edited by Smile of Fury
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If you're interested in medicine, you should spend some time on mdapplicants. It will give you a pretty good sense of the competition, and how to stand out. (I was depressed by a poster who had a 42 MCAT and a 4.0 from a top school, and didn't get in anywhere. If it was accurate, it was a clear example of anti-Asian bias in admissions.) I would say that regardless where you are headed, you should try to get some more research experience. If you get some strong publications, the schools will come to you, more or less. I would apply for a one year research job, rather than grad school. If you are headed for medical school, I would match that with some intensive clinical volunteering, and looking into master's program in something off-beat or interesting. (Like international development, or some subfield of public health. Not biology.)

Grad schools, ultimately, are looking for a checklist. Who's the smartest? Got them. Who's the most public-spirited? Got them. The way to win the game is to accumulate more ways for them to check you off.

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GRE: 800 Quant/670 Verbal/Analytical not in yet

GPA: 2.7 as Chemistry Major at Duke U

Interests: medicine, neuroscience, psychology

Anybody that can point to possible directions?

I'm not in your field, so I can't say for sure, but to go by what I've heard from friends who are in your prospective fields, you might have a tough time of it. It's possible, but you might have to take a more roundabout way in, and it'll take a lot of dedication on your part. Just an anecdote, so take it for what it is: A friend was in a similar situation, got a little lax about undergrad grades, and when it came time for apps into med schools, he was pretty much shut down entirely. Smart guy, great background otherwise, but the GPA, similar to yours, cost him. He did an extra year of undergrad, including summers working in any labs he could possibly get into. Then he went to a master's program in a science field to make himself more marketable. Only after all this extra work could he get programs to consider him. Similar extra time, if you can manage it, might help you not only refine your GPA, but your interests as well, which couldn't hurt in the long run. Spottedtoad and Smile of Fury also suggested excellent ideas that could certainly benefit you. Take time to consider all of the possible options.

My MA program does give some GPA wiggle room for otherwise strong applicants, but if you're below that minimum you have to "remediate" a little bit with extra coursework to prove you have the chops. I don't know if the sciences would be quite that forgiving, but if you're really set on this and willing to work (and work and work and work), you might be able to do it.

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Well I had a 2.9 GPA but I had the highest GRE score of the incoming students at the school (I only found this out because I got an alumni scholarship that went to the student with the highest GRE score). I chose my program based on funding and the cost of living in the city compared to a graduate stipend. While my PhD is not from a top-tier school, I have a few publications and I am managing to pull postdoc interviews at top-tier schools. So apply (but realistic so you don't spend too much) and hope for the best.

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