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How much does a "bad" semester early on effect one's chances (transfer student)?


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Hello all.  I was reviewing my academic history when it hit me- I got a 3.0 GPA in the fall semester of my sophomore year.  

I'm a transfer student, and I've attended a total of 3 academic institutions.  First, I went to a community college.  I got straight A's my first semester, all A's and 1 B my first spring semester, and then straight B's the summer semester after that (luckily I only took 9 credits here).  Then, my fall semester after (fall 2014, my sophomore year) I transferred to a 4 year university and got a 3.0- I also received my only college-level C this semester in a computer science class.  I know it's not an excuse, but I really didn't like my classes that semester.  After this, I transferred back to the community college I was attending previously for spring 2015, got straight A's, then graduated with my AA degree.  My GPA when I graduated from community college was a 3.76- my 3.0 at the other university was not included in this.  

This year (2015-2016), I transferred to the university I am currently attending.  I did very well- I got a 3.9 for the year.  Also, I discovered SLP about a 1/3 of the way into this year- I've got a 4.0 for the 12 credits of it I've taken!  I thought I was in a good spot, until I reflected on my GPA for my first two years, which I calculated as an overall 3.6 with the 3.0 included.  Yikes!  Even when I factored in the past year, the number only went up to about a 3.7 cumulative.  I'm not great at math though, so I hope these numbers are correct :rolleyes:

By the time I graduate, I'll have well more than the needed amount of credits (according to my grad plan, 140-150 total credits).  I'm going to receive my BS in psych, with a CSD minor.  I added extra classes to my CSD minor, so I'm going to have about 30 credits of CSD coursework by the time I graduate- this is almost enough to constitute as a major.  I'm really hoping that if I work hard enough fall semester, I can get my cumulative closer to a 3.75 with everything included.  How much weight do universities typically put on one's first 2 years?  

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I started out my 1st bachelor's as a pre-med and got a bunch of B and B+ grades. I did a lot better my second half and wound up with a 3.7 cumulative GPA. I was told by the head of the CSD department at one of my target schools that was competitive. If you get strong GRE and/or MAT scores and get some decent volunteer and/or work experience, I don't think you need to sweat a shaky start too much. 

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I don't think you should worry too much about specific semesters - instead you should focus on being a very well-rounded candidate.  If your overall GPA is in the 3.7 range and current in the 3.9 range with CSD 4.0, you should be solid in the GPA dept.  Now focus on acing the GRE, getting great letters of rec, and writing an amazing SOP that makes you stand out from others who may have very similar extracurricular experiences.  

Somewhere I read that if your first draft of your SOP looks a lot like your final draft, you are doing something wrong.  So I took that to heart and got input from a LOT of people.  Multiple PhDs in hard science fields (from Harvard and Stanford), along with an attorney from a top ten law school, and a finance guy from a top finance grad program.  Use your resources - don't be afraid to ask people their opinion on your SOP as you will find many of them will be flattered and glad to help.  I revised my SOP, and re-revised over and over again until it truly didn't mirror my first draft.

If my schools had focused on a particular semester or two of mine, they would have seen a slew of dreaded "withdrawals" which would have been a major red flag to many.  Fortunately my most recent experience overshadowed this.  

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On 6/3/2016 at 11:37 PM, Jolie717 said:

I don't think you should worry too much about specific semesters - instead you should focus on being a very well-rounded candidate.  If your overall GPA is in the 3.7 range and current in the 3.9 range with CSD 4.0, you should be solid in the GPA dept.  Now focus on acing the GRE, getting great letters of rec, and writing an amazing SOP that makes you stand out from others who may have very similar extracurricular experiences.  

Somewhere I read that if your first draft of your SOP looks a lot like your final draft, you are doing something wrong.  So I took that to heart and got input from a LOT of people.  Multiple PhDs in hard science fields (from Harvard and Stanford), along with an attorney from a top ten law school, and a finance guy from a top finance grad program.  Use your resources - don't be afraid to ask people their opinion on your SOP as you will find many of them will be flattered and glad to help.  I revised my SOP, and re-revised over and over again until it truly didn't mirror my first draft.

If my schools had focused on a particular semester or two of mine, they would have seen a slew of dreaded "withdrawals" which would have been a major red flag to many.  Fortunately my most recent experience overshadowed this.  

This is very reassuring.  I have a few withdrawals myself (not a lot, but a few throughout my college career).  I haven't started writing my SOP yet, but luckily I already do have an advisor in the department at my school who is willing to look it over.  I will definitely keep this in mind come fall.

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