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Freshman year GPA (not horrible, but not brilliant)

  1. Jan 9, 2013 #1
    My freshman year GPA wasn't horrible - I got between a 3.6 and a 3.7, but I had a very difficult time adjusting to college for a variety of reasons. I've just finished my second semester of my sophomore year, and things have settled down a lot, and my semester GPA was in the mid 3.9s (and I was one point in one exam off getting a 4.0). While there's no guarantee that I'll continue along this path in future semesters, I feel focused and think that a 3.9+ semester GPA is definitely feasible. I also have straight As in physics classes...

    Nonetheless, looking at graduate school admission statistics makes me feel pretty hopeless. Many good schools list a 3.80 as the average GPA of admitted students, and even though I'm confident that I have the ability to get there within a few semesters, I'm worried that my GPA in upper level courses will be shadowed by my freshman year. In short, how much will graduate schools and employers look at my grades in later years compared to my overall GPA?

    I know other factors are also important - I go to a rigorous university (one of harvard, yale, princeton or stanford), and I've been involved in a few research projects and won a few named fellowships. But I can't help but feel so angry at myself for my freshman year...
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 9, 2013 #2


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    From what I've seen if you'e got a GPA in the 3.7 - 4.0 range, you won't have too much difficulty getting in to graduate school.

    In the 3.3 - 3.7 range you can get in, although you may not get your first choice.

    In the 3.0 - 3.3 range things become a little more uncertain - you've made the minimum cutoff, but may not be competative, particularly in the more popular programs, and other factors are likely to play a bigger role.

    Below 3.0, it's still possible in some cases, but becomes improbable because you're now below the admission threshold for most schools.

    All of that said, getting into grad school is best seen as a stochasitc process. You could have a 4.0 GPA and not make your first choice for any number of reasons.
  4. Jan 9, 2013 #3
    Thanks Choppy :) My problem is that some schools seem to indicate that below a 3.8 GPA isn't competitive (I think the one I saw saying that was UCSB). Even though people at my college do get above 3.8, the cohort is very high achieving and the course load can be very demanding, so I'm not sure how a 3.8 here compares to the average 3.8 that a person receives across the US. I spoke to a friend about this, and apparently my current GPA is better/on par with the average GPA from my college accepted into Harvard and Yale law, but I'm not sure how accurate that is or whether law school is easier to get into than physics graduate school (in any case, they consider different factors). I currently have a little bit below a 3.80... That said, I just wish/hope that my better grades in later years will be considered much more seriously than my freshman year grades... I'm not sure whether having a 3.95 GPA in upper years compared to, say, a 3.85 overall makes much of a difference...
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