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Is it worth applying with an extremely low GPA?


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I graduated with an extremely low GPA (just shy of a 2.5) is it worth applying to MSW programs? Is there anywhere I could apply and have a chance? I graduated from an Ivy League school in 4 years which i honestly think is pretty good considering I had undiagnosed/untreated bipolar until my last semester of college- do you think there's any chance considering the circumstances or not, if so, where? 

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I don't know where, but I think that you could maybe get into a program if you address the low GPA in your statement. So it's about saying "hey, I'm aware of this shortcoming" but then "let me tell you how I resolved the issue(s) that caused it and why it won't be an issue in the future." Also, if your grades improved that last semester you can use that as an example of ability to succeed academically once the Bipolar was addressed.

 

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I agree with Louise to bring it up in your statement.  However, I would not overly focus on it.  I knew someone who dug herself into a hole by over-addressing it and basically mentioning that she had a low GPA because she couldn't keep up with a full-time undergrad course load, while she was applying for a full-time Masters, which tends to be more academically rigorous.  So, bring it up, briefly address it, and then move on.

But I think you have a shot.  Someone in one of my classes mentioned that she was on provisional status this semester (our first semester) because she had a low GPA.  In order to remain in the program, she has to have a 3.0 GPA by the end of the semester.  So, schools definitely don't just look at your GPA and a low one wouldn't automatically disqualify you.

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You can also discuss what you learned about yourself, and systemic problems you want to professionally address, as you went through the mental health system - how you learn, barriers to recognizing and getting appropriate help, etc. That can actually be a powerful personal story that shows a lot of appealing traits to the adcom.

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I agree with what other responders have stated.  Furthermore, adcoms will see that you graduated from an Ivy institution, where the competition for grades is fierce.  I learned this the hard way when I was an undergrad at an Ivy, having decided to enjoy my journey into adulthood rather than hitting the books.  

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Thank you guys!! Do you know what programs might be less competitive? I kind of wanted to go to school in or around Baltimore (or at least a city in the northeast) to be near my parents. Do you know any programs that are less competitive or more accommodating? Kind of having a hard time accessing that information  

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 10/7/2017 at 4:41 PM, ltr317 said:

I agree with what other responders have stated.  Furthermore, adcoms will see that you graduated from an Ivy institution, where the competition for grades is fierce.  I learned this the hard way when I was an undergrad at an Ivy, having decided to enjoy my journey into adulthood rather than hitting the books.  

Come on, an Ivy institution doesn't particularly have a fierce competition for grades. They're not that different from other well-regarded public and private universities, and in fact, it's pretty well known that they're pretty darn generous with GPAs, especially Harvard. I think you maybe Cornell, with 4.3 GPA system, has a fierce competition, but this doesn't extend to every single Ivy institution. But I frankly don't think adcoms will see your degree at an Ivy institution as an excuse for having a low GPA. I mean, it's harder to get a good GPA U Chicago and UCB than most Ivys, and students at top USNWR 30 universities all know this. And of course, adcoms are going to know about it too. Ivy students overrate themselves and they really gotta stop doing that... Ivy is just the name of a sports league, not schools that are hard to get a good GPA.

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2 hours ago, complit said:

Come on, an Ivy institution doesn't particularly have a fierce competition for grades. They're not that different from other well-regarded public and private universities, and in fact, it's pretty well known that they're pretty darn generous with GPAs, especially Harvard. I think you maybe Cornell, with 4.3 GPA system, has a fierce competition, but this doesn't extend to every single Ivy institution. But I frankly don't think adcoms will see your degree at an Ivy institution as an excuse for having a low GPA. I mean, it's harder to get a good GPA U Chicago and UCB than most Ivys, and students at top USNWR 30 universities all know this. And of course, adcoms are going to know about it too. Ivy students overrate themselves and they really gotta stop doing that... Ivy is just the name of a sports league, not schools that are hard to get a good GPA.

I didn't say other colleges/universities were not competitive grade-wise.  You read too much into my posting.  I was only pointing that out because it was relevant to the OP's case, since we're both Ivy grads.  It was encouragement for him to apply somewhere.  YMMV, so it's your opinion versus mine.  Please don't put yourself in my shoes.  You don't know when or where I graduated.  One of my former classmates who now teaches at our Alma mater told me there is some grade inflation but it's still difficult to get an A,  so students are generally studying harder for that elusive grade.

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Look, it depends. I'm not sure they will be OK with your grades unless you do some interim study and demonstrate an ability to achieve better marks while stable, because you're not giving them much to go off to show what you can do while well. You can then append the undergrad grades with some kind of equity statement. 

Bipolar is a serious illness, but it's also common too. This means that some other applicants have gone through similar experiences while still being able to demonstrate academic rigor, which may or may not sway the committee. I also went to an ivy, had undiagnosed bipolar 1 until senior year, and although bipolar was extremely disruptive to my life, I graduated with a GPA north of 3.8.

Good luck, I hope you find a path to get to where you want to be! You're obviously smart, introspective and humble, so something tells me you're going to be successful, even if you have to take a few more classes to demonstrate your academic chops while well. 

Edited by lemma
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On 10/29/2017 at 9:11 PM, ltr317 said:

I didn't say other colleges/universities were not competitive grade-wise.  You read too much into my posting.  I was only pointing that out because it was relevant to the OP's case, since we're both Ivy grads.  It was encouragement for him to apply somewhere.  YMMV, so it's your opinion versus mine.  Please don't put yourself in my shoes.  You don't know when or where I graduated.  One of my former classmates who now teaches at our Alma mater told me there is some grade inflation but it's still difficult to get an A,  so students are generally studying harder for that elusive grade.

Uh, I didn't put myself in your shoes. I made a relevant response, pointing out the information you gave that is not necessarily true. You said "adcoms will see that you graduated from an Ivy institution, where the competition for grades is fierce." You basically indicated that adcoms will be more understanding of low GPA because OP graduated an Ivy institutions because the competition for the grade is fierce. And I was simply stating that this is not true because Ivy doesn't necessarily have a fierce competition for grades, at least compared to non-Ivy institutions. There are tons of non-Ivy schools that have students that are comparable to Ivy students (like MIT, UChicago, Stanford, JHU, WUSTL, Vandy, Northwestern, CMU, Williams, UCB, Pomona, etc, etc. I can come up with more than 40 schools that are as hard as getting into Ivy institutions.). And some of these schools I listed are known for having a fierce competition for GPA, even more so than Ivys. Many, although not all, Ivy institutions are already known for having a serious grade inflation, not just among adcom but also among the public, especially the ones who go to top institutions in the United States.

And that being said, I'm simply saying that "adcoms seeing that you graduated from an Ivy institution"(emphasis mine) won't lead them to sympathize with the lower GPA. And as much as we'd love to give an encouraging message, it is also important to give the right information. An extremely low GPA, wherever you come from, is a red flag. More convincing argument for the OP to make is that he/she went through a bipolar disorder, which is a serious mental condition that undermines one's performance. The OP can include that information and explain why it was hard to get great GPA with that condition, and how he/she had overcome the medical condition. 

So, no. it's not about my opinion or putting myself in your shoes. I know I sounded a little harsh in the first comment, but at the end, I was simply pointing out what you said isn't necessarily true. Ivys aren't particularly known for a fierce competition, and there are so many schools out there that are just as hard as getting into Ivys and have bright students. So it is very dubious that "adcoms will see that you graduated from an Ivy institution, where the competition for grades is fierce" will really do anything as you claim. There are applicants who are from good schools and also have great GPAs. Assuming that having an "Ivy" degree may help one way or another even to a very small degree is misleading.

Edited by complit
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On 10/6/2017 at 1:04 PM, Msw9993 said:

I graduated with an extremely low GPA (just shy of a 2.5) is it worth applying to MSW programs? Is there anywhere I could apply and have a chance? I graduated from an Ivy League school in 4 years which i honestly think is pretty good considering I had undiagnosed/untreated bipolar until my last semester of college- do you think there's any chance considering the circumstances or not, if so, where? 

Make full use of the competitive advantages that come from attending an Ivy. If your Ivy has a school of social work, consider reaching out to administrators and faculty members to discuss your concerns and ask for guidance. Listen with a keen ear. Someone may say without saying "If you apply here, you may have a shot.;)"

See if your alumni association has resources that will help you identify MSW programs that have other alumni as students and instructors. If such resources are not available, start looking at faculty and current student rosters to see how well  your school is represented. 

In the event you get any kind of push back for exercising any kind of "elitist privilege," look your critic in the eye and point out that you earned what ever benefits you receive from the educational path that you have walked. 

Edited by Sigaba
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19 minutes ago, Sigaba said:

Make full use of the competitive advantages of that come from attending an Ivy. If your Ivy has a school of social work, consider reaching out to administrators and faculty members to discuss your concerns and ask for guidance. Listen with a keen ear. Someone may say without saying "If you apply here, you may have a shot.;)"

See if your alumni association has resources that will help you identify MSW programs that have other alumni as students and instructors. If such resources are not available, start looking at faculty and current student rosters to see how well  your school is represented. 

In the event you get any kind of push back for exercising any kind of "elitist privilege," look your critic in the eye and point out that you earned what ever benefits you receive from the educational path that you have walked. 

5

Yeah, I second this. I think one of the biggest advantages of attending big private universities are "alma mater/networking advantage" (not adcoms seeing the name of the school and thinking you're coming from a school that is so hard to get GPA). Especially since you're considering MSW program (I'm not a MSW person, but I have quite a few friends who are currently in or finished MSW at Columbia, NYU, CUNY Hunters, etc), I think you will be able to make a strong case out of your life struggles. There are other people who are enduring conditions similar to yours. I think your strength would be you're one of those survivals who know those people's struggles on a personal level. I strongly recommend you to send an email to a professor who's in Socia Work program at your school. Go talk to them and ask for any advice. They will know how MSW admissions are looking nowadays, and it's likely that they've seen applicants and students like you. They would know what you should do at this point. Networking can never hurt you, and you make a good one since you go to a private institution with a great networking opportunity. 

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