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Pre-Med Coursework Jeopardize Grad-School?


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I'm currently a Junior with a 3.5 cumulative GPA. Originally, when I entered undergrad, I thought medical school was for me. However, after barely making it through General and Organic Chemistry, I've decided medical school isn't for me. I have always been a psychology major on the pre-med track, but I have now decided to drop pre-med (psychiatry) in hopes of going into clinical or counseling psychology. My question is, do you believe my GPA will be a substantial hindrance to my graduate school application? I have solid letters of recommendation and so far great research experience, but I worry that against an applicant with similar letters and experience, I will fall flat because of my gpa.

I have a major GPA of 4.0 - I have received "A's" in all my psychology major courses and in all my core classes. My cumulative GPA is only so low due some "C's" in chemistry. I know there's not much I can do about those C's now, but I was curious if those C's would be overlooked, or if my pre-med coursework will continue to haunt me? I wish I could just make those C's dissapear, because they are no longer relevant to my degree, but I, of course, cannot.

Any insight or advice would be appreciated.

Thank you!


Edited by Dunne_Student
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The right answer is that it sounds like you're worrying too much.

Though Psych programs are notoriously competitive, it sounds like you're a really strong applicant. 3.5 is higher than my GPA, and I've been accepted to Ivy-league (Geoscience) grad programs. Plus your major GPA is obviously very solid.

The real way to make sure you have nothing to worry about is dominate your GRE, get good letters of rec, and continue to stack the odds in your favor for the remainder of your application.

And don't stress yourself out! You're a good applicant, and let that come through in your personal statement too!

Edited by Kartopery
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I don't think your GPA will hurt your application too much. A lot of the clinical programs that I applied to asked for junior/senior year GPA in addition to overall GPA, and there were some that also looked at psychology GPA separately, which would definitely work in your favor.

I think schools are in general pretty understanding of how difficult pre-med courses are, and it sounds to me like the other areas of your application (research, letters of rec) will be very strong. If you apply to programs that match closely with your research interests and have a strong GRE score and personal statement, I don't think a 3.5 would make it a bad application.

I'm only one person so I can't speak for all programs or applicants, but my GPA was very close to 3.5 and I ended up being accepted to a clinical program that I absolutely love!

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I was pre-med in undergrad as well, and also a Psychology major. My pre-med classes (for me it was physics and bio) royally f***ed my GPA, but my in-major GPA for psych still ended up being just under 3.8 by the time I graduated. Like you are, I was really worried when I was sending in my applications. I knew so much about applying to med school - what pre-reqs I needed, what ECs I needed, what test I had to take and what scores I needed - but barely anything about applying to grad schools and did not even know where to look to find useful resources. My school's career office was no help, and even throughout the application process I kept second-guessing myself despite being told that my GPA was not a large concern by the professors who wrote my recommendation letters. I've heard back from two of the schools that I applied to so far, both with an invite to interview weekends, so I can say with certainty that as long as you do well on the GRE, you will be fine. Numbers are not everything, and doing well on the GRE will compensate for a less than stellar GPA. 

If you'd like to talk I'd be happy to, I know it's stressful switching over from pre-med to psych and feeling like you don't even know what it is that you're supposed to know. :)

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Hi there,

A few thoughts:

1) As a Junior you have an opportunity to pull up your GPA. If you can graduate with >3.6 that will help quite a bit.

2) Although cumulative GPA is what is looked at most, some programs may inspect your Junior/Senior year grades more closely. So if you can finish strong that may also give you an advantage.

3) Research experience and letters of recommendation count for a lot. Since you are strong there you may have an edge over other applicants with a higher GPA.

4)  Most people know that pre-med classes are tough. Professors may cut you some slack for a few low grades.

5) The GRE can definitely help you here. If you can score well (>90% on verbal and >80% quant), you will demonstrate your aptitude. To really stand out, though, you'll need a top score (>95% verbal and >90% quant). If you are a decent test taker this is achievable if you use the right study strategies and put in the time/effort to master GRE questions.

Best of luck and don't lose hope!

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