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GPA vs. GRE

  1. Jan 3, 2009 #1
    My GPA isn't all that great, it's a 2.507. I have another semester left to bring it up some, but it wont be much. But I still will like to take what I have left and bring as much into my favor as possible. My plan is to do good in my GRE and PGRE and apply for graduate school at my current undergrad school and do well in the Master's program in order to get into a better school for a PhD in biophysics. Is that a plausible plan of attack or am I kidding myself? Thanks, DB.
     
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  3. Jan 3, 2009 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Many - perhaps most - schools require a minimum of a 3.0 to enter grad school. Many - again, perhaps most - only seriously consider candidates with a 3.5 or so.

    If you haven't taken the GRE yet, you are too late for Fall 2009 admission. Since you're talking about Fall 2010 now, you have three terms left. My advice is to get straight A's in all of them and to make sure you smoke the GRE.
     
  4. Jan 3, 2009 #3
    I'm actually graduating in May and taking at least a year off from school to sit in some graduate classes and to study for the GRE. I know it is possible to get into grad school on a probationary basis with a GPA lower than 3.0. I just wasn't prepared for what I encountered the past couple years (the years which saw my GPA lower). I just need this year to get my focus back again.
     
  5. Jan 4, 2009 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    I don't think I would particularly recommend that strategy.

    First, your GPA. I agree that it is possible to be accepted with less than a 3.0. (Usually that means 2.9something and not 2.5something) It is also possible to find a winning lottery ticket on the sidewalk. Just as I wouldn't recommend the lottery ticket strategy as sound financial planning, I wouldn't recommend counting on an admissions committee looking the other way when they see a 2.5.

    You need a higher GPA. If that means graduating later, that's what it means. You can chose to graduate on time instead, but one of the consequences of that decision will be a substantial reduction of your chances of getting into grad school.

    Second, you need to really smoke the GRE, especially with a low GPA. The average grad student got somewhere in the 70's (percentile). Getting in the 75th or 80th percentile isn't going to impress an admissions committee: they can just as easily accept someone with a slightly lower GRE and a much, much better GPA. (Remember, admissions is a zero-sum game: there are N slots that the committee fills, and if you get a slot, it means someone else doesn't). We're talking 90's. Maybe high 90's. And maybe high 90's aren't enough.

    When you took that material, the professor obviously felt you didn't understand it well, or your GPA would be higher. Making sure you have a solid foundation is key to success in graduate school, and it is key to scoring well on the GRE. Spending a year retaking classes in which you did poorly is a far better strategy than trying graduate-level work with a shaky foundation. It also compensates for a poor GPA: "I didn't know it then, but I know it now".

    Good luck!
     
  6. Jan 4, 2009 #5
    What about your research and real world experience? Are you a published undergraduate? Did you complete any REU or internship programs? I think those can be of help as well.
     
  7. Jan 4, 2009 #6
    I'm a non-traditional student which played a big part in my difficulties. I've had some research experience, but not much. Responsibilities at home have prevented extended lengths of time away from home to do an internship. My GPA is low, but a few grade replacements plus a few extra things I can do before I graduate will help (but it probably wont get it above a 3.0). I actually just did "another year" (as Vanadium 50 suggested) this year but can't do another due to constraints imposed by the economic situation.

    I was dealt a garbagety hand in life, in addition to a few major mistakes I've made (20/20 is hindsight), having caused me some difficulties. I pretty much need to do the best with what I have right now. I know the professors at my University and they're aware of the problems I've dealt with. They know my GPA isn't for a lack of understanding (one even complimented me for having the intuition of a professor). I think I just need the opportunity to get my crap in order and vindicate myself as being a capable student (which I want to do taking graduate classes*). Learning physics isn't something I'm going to give up on, I have a lot to offer. Plus I want the chance to improve my life doing something more deserving of my mind (ie, biophysics).

    *I actually do better with the more advanced material than the lower level stuff.
     
  8. Jan 4, 2009 #7

    tmc

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    How about you actually take the grad courses instead of just sitting in on them? Getting As in grad courses may help you make your point to admission committees that you actually can handle the workload. And if you can't get As, then perhaps you should consider different plans for your future.
     
  9. Jan 5, 2009 #8
    I have taken two grad courses already. Two 500 level mathematical physics courses, and in about a week I take a 500 level quantum mechanics class. In the mathematical physics I did real well, especially considering it was my first grad level physics class.

    But once I graduate, don't I need to be accepted into grad school to actually take the courses as opposed to just sitting in?
     
  10. Jan 5, 2009 #9
    What grades did you get in the grad courses you took, if I may ask?

    Whether, it be continuing on to a masters at the school you are at now or transferring to another institution, taking grad courses and getting good grades in will definitely help.
     
  11. Jan 5, 2009 #10
    I got A's and will get an A in my quantum class too.

    Perhaps I may get into another field, like cognitive science or neuroscience. I like to keep my options open, but I'll never truly give up on physics.
     
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