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AcademicGround >> Grad school reject GPA low:advice?


3/28/07 2:53 AM
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FightStudent
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Edited: 28-Mar-07
Member Since: 05/28/2004
Posts: 2176
 
I was recently rejected by a Master's degree program for Political Science because, according to the words of the Selections Committee itself, my undergraduate GPA was significantly lower than the average of the pool of applicants. I have resolved, come hell or high water, to, by God's will, get accepted into that program at some point. Now what I need to know is what I should do in order to do so. What would be the best course of action? Political Science has always been a passion for me and I have always wanted to go into academia. My low GPA had far more to do personal issues that I was wrestling with in my undergraduate days (family problems, entering into and then dissolving an engagement with my fiance, having to support my family financially, etc.) than with lack of ability. I know this in my heart of hearts because during the first and last years of my degree, when said problems were non-existent, my GPA was quite high. Some have suggested that I reapply for admission the following semester and right some sort of addendum or "Statement of Extenuating circumstances" or something to that effect saying much of what I have said above, however I am honestly one that loathes giving excuses. Thus, my situation is as follows, 1) I am determined to get accepted into the Degree program 2) Determined not to make excuses for why my GPA is low. Given the two constraints above, what would be the best approach that I could possibly take in order to try to get into the degree program? If anyone on here has had a similar experience, knows someone who has, or has any other relevant info or advice, please do share it. I am willing to do nearly anything short of picking up another undergraduate degree. Any and all advice/help is welcomed. Thanks in advance.
3/28/07 3:26 AM
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Gortiz
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Edited: 28-Mar-07
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 5964
Ask them what you can do to be accepted for admission- acknowledge your weak points and see what they say. (Do they accept applicants mid- academic year?) You might have to take the GRE again and get a higher score (at least on the verbal or analytical writing), or take some undergrad "prep" classes. Have you considered going into another Master's Program at another University, getting good grades, and then trying to transfer to your first choice? Some Univ's are cheap when it comes to transferring, but if you show you are willing to do the work and are likely to finish the program that could sway them. Do you have any internships, work experience, etc. that is related to Poli Sci? Every program I've seen looked upon that highly.
3/28/07 7:50 AM
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asdf
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Edited: 28-Mar-07 06:55 AM
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 11457
A guy at I know picked up two degrees for this reason. First time around, GPA was around 2.0. Second time around, around 4.0. He ended up at MIT. People do the same thing for medical school, except they pick up Master's degrees. If it's a good program, extenuating circumstances aren't going to help that much. You need stellar results to overcome the bad results.
3/28/07 8:32 AM
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Seul
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Edited: 28-Mar-07
Member Since: 09/18/2002
Posts: 603
A cousin of mine got a B.A. in Poly Sci with the intent of going to law school, but he couldn't get in because of his low gpa. He went back and got a master's degree, then reapplied and got in.... So maybe just go back and earn a second degree? There are quite a few programs in my college that are only like 30-ish hours (all require another major or minor, but you already have that), you could knock one out in two semesters... assuming your school is the same way.
3/29/07 12:25 AM
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FightStudent
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Edited: 29-Mar-07
Member Since: 05/28/2004
Posts: 2177
Thank you to everyone for your advice and help. Seul, I have found your advice most helpful. I never knew that I could potentially pick up a second degree doing only 30-ish hours. I did some research today and am almost 90% sure that there is a local University that does offer a Political Science undergraduate degree that can be completed in 33 hours if one already posesses another undgraduate degree. I am going to call them tomorrow to make sure. If all works out according to plan, in two summer sessions and two regular semesters, I can knock out the degree. Seul, I really, truly appreciate your help (as well as Gortiz and asdf). Before receiving this advice, my situation looked almost hopeless. Now it looks far better. Thanks again.
3/29/07 1:43 AM
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Gortiz
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Edited: 29-Mar-07
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FightStudent, You're welcome. It is NOT hopeless. Something else I was reminded of when I looked at my transcript: as an undergrad I transferred from one Univ to another. When I did begin at the 2nd univ, they did let me transfer classes that applied to my major/ minor, electives, etc., but the grades I got at the 1st Univ did NOT apply to my GPA at the 2nd Univ. So it was sort of a fresh start. I had a decent GPA, but not top of the heap- what made me look good was that I would in all likeliness graduate (and I did!) A good personal statement always helps too. For my grad program, I again met the requirements, but was not top of the heap. (My GRE score was above average, but I could have done better.) The program director told me that it was my personal statement that impressed the committee. There really are several different factors to take under consideration.
4/1/07 3:42 AM
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FiatLux
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Edited: 01-Apr-07
Member Since: 03/12/2002
Posts: 4739
If you're willing to go to any school then things aren't hopeless. However, you'll need to research the schools you apply to and work to convince each one of them why you want to go there (specifically what professors you want to study with). Low scores are going to hurt no matter what. However, you'll need to do things like internships, publishing, taking independent study courses, upgrading your letters of recommendation, and making outstanding marks on the GRE. If you can make a 5 or better on the writing section of the GRE you should be in decent shape. One thing to keep in mind is that admissions is an art, not a science.
4/1/07 7:24 PM
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Seul
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Edited: 01-Apr-07
Member Since: 09/18/2002
Posts: 607
I'm glad I could help. Just make sure about the total # of hours, and if they require a minor seperate from whatever you might already possess (though most of what I have seen seems to suggest that if you are getting/have a second major, a minor is unnecessary), as most 30-ish hr. programs seem to have some extra caveat. I hope everything works out well, keep us updated!
4/20/07 1:58 AM
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sicko
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Edited: 20-Apr-07
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 17680
You also might want to talk to the school, a lot of universities will accept someone as an "undeclared" or extended-studies grad student for a certain number of credits. Talk with them b/c I know some universities will allow you to do this, take the first few classes of the program you want (assuming you meet the class requirements) and then re-apply. They take your performance in the classes into consideration, so if you do well it looks much better, and when they accept you you're allowed to use those credits towards the degree so it's not like you've lost any time
4/29/07 3:05 PM
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hekster
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Edited: 29-Apr-07 03:56 PM
Member Since: 01/01/2001
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You don't actually have to earn another degree. All it reall takes is a few graduate level courses. They weigh the GPA of the graduate level work over your GPA in your undergraduate. Take 1 class a semester for a year so you can get the best grade possible and then reapply. This is information that I wish I had known about 4 yrs ago. I am starting graduate school in Miami for International Relations this fall. I graduated from the U of M in Political Science/IR. Which school are you applying for and what program? Masters degrees in Poli-Sci aren't that helpful really. Work experience is better. Unless you have some specific field like Political Psychology or the like.
9/16/07 4:50 PM
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thesleeper
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Edited: 16-Sep-07
Member Since: 08/31/2007
Posts: 13
bump for the other thread
9/22/07 7:46 PM
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hakirra
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Edited: 22-Sep-07
Member Since: 08/30/2007
Posts: 118
hekster, I'm researching this myself and think it best to finish the masters. You will have a difficult time getting good letters of rec from your department when it seems you are abandoning them for greener pastures. They want people who finish their program and then go on and do something great because it makes their program look better.
9/23/07 8:13 PM
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thesleeper
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Edited: 23-Sep-07
Member Since: 08/31/2007
Posts: 23
You are probably right about masters vs. Phd and the greener pastures thing, but if you take a couple of classes and pay for it out of your pocket they will still write you letters of rec. I am in a Phd program but they are seriously underfunding their TAs here, so I can always claim I can't afford to continue and am applying somewhere with more money.
10/23/07 12:58 AM
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naqis
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Edited: 23-Oct-07
Member Since: 05/04/2006
Posts: 739
Personally, I would avoid a masters in a social science as they don't lead to anything specific. If you want to go into academia, then just go straight for a Ph.d. (which would be a problem with a low gpa, of course). If you want to go into governmental or private sector work, then a slightly different degree (like a policy program, or economics) would be more helpful. Just my two cents.

As to the low gpa, that's not something you can generally get around unless you have one or all of the following:

1) High GRE scores

2) Outstanding letters of recommendation, preferably from a respected member of the field

3) An impressive personal statement that puts your poor gpa into context and highlights your ambition, knowledge of the field/topic, etc.

Also, if the department has set specific qualifications for acceptence in to their program (i.e. such and such a score on the verbal and analytical sections of the GRE, or a 3.5 gpa) then you you really won't be able to get past these.  Most top programs don't set arbitrary minimum requirements for GRE scores and gpas, but a lot of middle-tier schools do. It really depends on the program. But if your's does, then I would look to apply to a school that doesn't.

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