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Is it possible to rectify mistakes?

  1. Jan 11, 2013 #1
    Hello everyone,
    I apologize if I'm beating the same dead horse that has been beaten a thousand times on this forum, but of all the different "I sucked at college but can I get a PhD anyway?" threads, I'm not sure anyone "sucked at college" the way that I did haha. So, long story short, I ended up with an extremely poor GPA of 2.5 predominantly because I ended up getting a D in Calc 1 when I should have failed, and played catch up the rest of the calc sequence. It wasn't until after college was over (I've been teaching AP physics for some years now) that I was diagnosed and began treatment for some Psych issues that had been untreated during my college years.

    To the question: I understand the reason I did poorly was because I didn't do what was necessary. I've been working my way through the Calc sequence again independently and intend on doing the same with the advanced undergrad physics courses (Electro, Quantum...). With absolutely no research experience, is there a way I can prove that I have matured as a student and possibly make it into a masters program? Would I have to retake undergrad courses?

    Anything? :yuck:

    Thank you all for your time, and for dealing with yet another sob story!

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 11, 2013 #2
    I forgot to mention that I'd specifically be interested in Applied Physics or Medical Physics if that modifies anything.
  4. Jan 11, 2013 #3


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    Hi Tyler,

    Medical physics programs are very competative to begin with. In recent years most students that have gotten into the programs that I'm familiar with have had GPAs of 3.5 or greater. At 2.5, you're generally below the minimum cutoff for most graduate admissions. That means unless you're able to improve this, its highly unlikely that your application package will ever get beyond the first set of filters.

    Unfortunately brushing up on coursework afterward, doesn't give an admission committee any kind of tangible evidence of how much more you understand the material in comparison to the other applicants. So while this is great for your own understanding, it won't help you in the application process.

    Now that it's been a few years, you may be able to either re-take some courses or take some different senior level courses. If you can demonstate that having your psyhological issues under control makes a big difference and you are now capable of obtaining competative grades, then you have a solid case.

    Something else that might help is to look for work as a physics assistant in a radiation therapy department if your final goal is medical physics. Bachelor degree-level physics grads are commonly accepted for these positions and it will help you learn about the field.
  5. Jan 11, 2013 #4


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    A 2.5 GPA is an almost insurmountable barrier to admission into a graduate program in any field. A 3.0GPA is the bare minimum GPA for admission to almost all graduate programs in the U.S. At my university, it is impossible to get around this requirement, as it is a university wide requirement. The director of graduate studies for physics would need to get special approval from the dean to admit you.

    Additionally most grad schools require a minimum GPA of 3.0 to remain in the program once you are there. Studying independently will not help overcome these barriers to admission as there is no record of improvement that you can show.

    The best thing to do would be to find a job that allows you to use the skills from your undergrad degree and help you gain experience for a future career. (Choppy has some good suggestions.) You can retake courses for credit on a part time basis, and it might help your case if you see exceptional improvement in your scores. A lab tech job could help with research experience.

    However, the facts on the ground are that, in your case, the barriers for admission to a graduate program are exceptionally high. In my opinion you should focus most of your energy and finances on building a career from the degree you already have.
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