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Low GPA: What do I do now?!


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First time posting- I couldn't find a subforum for this so I apologize if I'm being redundant. 

So when I was in college I didn't think I wanted to go to grad school- so I didn't work very hard and my final GPA is something like 3.12 or 3.15. (That's my overall GPA- not sure how to calculate what the last two years were separately). So I passed the minimum requirement for a lot of schools.Unfortunately, I now have my heart set on the UW Evans School for Public Policy- their average applicant GPA is 3.5. 

If I do well on the GREs, do I have any hope? Or would I need to get a perfect score on the GREs (not gonna happen- my vocab scores are pretty high but I'm basically reteaching myself algebra right now). 


Or even, with that kind of score, would I have any hope at ANY grad school? 

What do you suggest?

Thank you!

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Grad schools admit based on the entirety of a student's application. A low GPA does not automatically rule you out. However, some schools will use GPA as a selection for those who get to move on from round 1 to round 2. 

A couple things can help you. First, score well on the GRE. Often GPA and GRE scores are seen to even each other out if one is low and the other is high. Second, explain what changes took place between your first two and last two years of undergrad. Often, application essays or cover letters will allow you to explain low grades. Third, calculate your GPA in your major area. There are online GPA calculator that can show you how to do this. As a former graduate admissions counselor, we were able to ok some people's low GPAs because they had D's and even F's in subjects completely unrelated to their future MA concentration (e.g., applying for history but have low grades in organic chemistry). Fourth, speak with the directors of the departments at the school(s) you are interested in. The directors want the best students for their programs. They may be willing to suggest a couple areas to help strengthen your application (or tell you outright that you may need to apply elsewhere). As a rule though, do not rely on Directors to hold your hand through the process. Be courteous and grateful for any information they give you. Lastly, if you are requesting references from any professors who would have witnessed your improvement in academics, you can always tell them that your GPA is a worry for you and ask them to describe your academic improvement in their letter of recommendation. 

Lastly, remember you are looking at an average GPA. If they accept one 4.0 student and one 3.0 student, the admissions average is still 3.5. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

As someone looking for a PhD program in a STEM field with a GPA of 3.00 (the bare minimum) and basically 50% GRE score, the thing I've seen on a lot of these admissions is a 3.00 is the minimum, but no cut offs for the GRE, just averages. For my field (Biochemistry) however, background research experience and and LOR are incredibly important, which is where my main strength is. So I'm still looking at top tier schools, I don't know if I'll get it, but the general concensus is, if my LOR and my personal statement is really good, then I have a decent chance given my research background and field I am going into. Point being, it all comes down to networking, and your field. I.e. Say your future PI really likes you and wants you in, lets just say that GPA and GRE could be swung under the rug ;). However each field is different, as is each application. 

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