Math Major with Low GPA Seeking Grad School Advice

In summary, the conversation discusses the difficulties of getting into graduate school with a low GPA. The person is a math major with a 3.1 GPA in math and an overall GPA under 3.0. They are wondering if they can still enter graduate school and mention that their school is ranked in the top 5 for engineering. The conversation also mentions the importance of research, publications, and letters of recommendation in the application process. It is advised to focus on strengths and interests rather than justifying low grades. The person also mentions not having time to improve their grades and wanting to find research opportunities. Others suggest staying in college longer to improve grades or taking graduate courses to set themselves apart. The conversation concludes with a discussion on the importance
  • #1
hsong9
80
1
Hi,
I'm math major, and math GPA is 3.1(I got many Bs, one C+, and four As) but overall GPA is under 3.0.. may be 2.8??
Actually, I was CS major, but I changed it.
When I was CS major, I got low CS' GPA, so my overall GPA is too low.
Anyone think I can enter Grad. school?
I really want...
Actually, my school's engneering ranking is top5.
Is it able to reason why I got low GPA when I apply some grad. schools?

Thank you.
 
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  • #2
The math subject doesn't seem to be as important so I have no idea how you are going to distinguish yourself? Any papers/publications? You could possibly get into a school not in top 100 unless you have some unknown means of distinguish yourself academically.
 
  • #3
is major gpa not important??
 
  • #4
yeah but its still only 3.1 only 0.3 more than overall.
 
  • #5
Have you done any research? Any publications? How good do you think your letters of recommendation will be? How good is your GRE? Do your grades show a trend of improvement and/or have you done particularly well in any upper-division or graduate level courses in the last years?

2.8 is pretty low, but the fact that you are at a top-5 school for undergrad will carry weight with many programs, and you might be able to make it if everything else is rock solid besides your GPA. You have a much better chance if it's only the first year or two that are dragging down your GPA. Research and letters of recommendation are key, as is doing well in upper-division and/or graduate courses in your jr and sr years.

I had a 3.3 GPA at a well-regarded undergrad and got into a basically everywhere I applied including several top-20 programs and a top-10 program, so when you hear people saying you absolutely need a 3.7 or whatever, that's not true. However this is the exception and not the rule, and with a 2.8 you're going to have to aim lower. Some programs have a 3.0 minimum, so look into that before you spend time and money applying.

In terms of applications, I would recommend to stay professional and focus on your strongpoints and how your interests fit with their program, rather than wasting precious space talking about why you did poorly. They will see the record and draw their conclusions, and you will not be able to change their minds by writing about it. Unless there were extreme circumstances like you had cancer or something, it will only make you look bad if you try to justify your low grades.
 
  • #6
To put it simply: Getting into grad school is going to be very difficult, no matter what school you attend for undergrad. Here is some advice I gave in a thread about a month back to someone in a similar situation:

G01 said:
3.0 is the cutoff for almost all grad schools. When I say "3.0 is the cutoff" I mean that if your GPA is less than that, most schools won't even let you apply, let alone consider you for admission. This is because any grade in a graduate course below 3.0 is considered failing. If your GPA shows that your average grade is below 3.0, then that tells the admissions committee you would be failing if you performed at the same level in the graduate courses in their program.


If you are not a senior, my advice to you is to try as hard as you can to raise your GPA to above 3.0. Realistically, to be competitive, it should be 3.5 or above. This may be possibly if your a freshman or have several semesters left, depending on your actual GPA.

Anyway, my point is that you should realize that it will be very very tough to convince graduate schools to accept you with a GPA of 2.8, even more so if you don't have much research experience or other things to set you apart.

Whatever happens, I wish you the best of luck though.
 
  • #7
It's going to be very hard to get into grad school with those grades.
 
  • #8
do you have any time left to improve your grades?
 
  • #9
Actually, I don't have time to improve my grades, so
I'm trying to find research opportunity..
I have seriously considered to go to grad. , but I really want..
 
  • #10
Maybe you could stay a few semester and get your grades up?
 
  • #11
hsong9 said:
Actually, I don't have time to improve my grades,

hsong9 said:
but I really want..

No, I think you don't. If you really wanted to go to graduate school, you'd take whatever action necessary to make that happen.

As they say "discipline is the art of remembering what you want".
 
  • #12
I had a 3.3 GPA at a well-regarded undergrad and got into a basically everywhere I applied including several top-20 programs and a top-10 program, so when you hear people saying you absolutely need a 3.7 or whatever, that's not true.

Were you applying for math grad school, or something else?thanks
 
  • #13
arshavin said:
Were you applying for math grad school, or something else?


thanks

Math and applied math phd programs. The top 10 one was applied math.
 
  • #14
The thing with GPA is this. I think what everyone has agreed after years of discussion on how GPA works in graduate admissions is this:

1. Only your major GPA matters.
2. Only your upper year GPA matters if you have shown improvement.
3. Course selection is as important as your GPA.

Personally if I was ever asked to serve on an admission committee I have no idea why I would look at Calculus II grade if there was something like Analysis course, or even better, graduate real analysis course.

I think GPA should be used to determine whether you will pass quals. People around me seem to have this point of view but I am not sure. I know students who got into top 10 programs with sub 3.5 GPA.

Of course, this is because being able to do research and take graduate courses is more important. The only two ways to show that I am aware of is to 1. research or 2. take graduate courses.

If you haven't done that, I am afraid it becomes quite difficult to say you are different and have talent. Because then frankly the only thing they can rely on is your GPA.
 
  • #15
I don't think course selection\grad courses are that important otherwise you might have more cases of people with 700+ PGRE 3.0-3.5GPA being admitted instead of more cases of 500-700PGRE 3.5+GPA being admitted.
 
  • #16
I don't follow what you are saying.
 
  • #17
Unknot said:
The thing with GPA is this. I think what everyone has agreed after years of discussion on how GPA works in graduate admissions is this:

1. Only your major GPA matters.
2. Only your upper year GPA matters if you have shown improvement.
3. Course selection is as important as your GPA.

I disagree. I have been on graduate admissions committees (in physics). An overall GPA of less than3.0 is NOT accepted at some institutions, including the institution where I was located. This was a requirement by the Graduate Admissions office... NOT the admission committees of various departments. If you wanted to try to accept a student with lower GPA, you would have to petition the graduate office, and others here (who have been on committees) have said that sometimes it must go to the provost for approval. While it's possible, therefore, an admissions committee often won't go there.

Our spreadsheet method computed applicant rank based on a formula incorporating GPA, major GPA, an undergraduate institution "rank" (based on in internal department ranking sometimes altered by the committee), PGRE score, qualitative and verbal GRE scores, and a committee reading (avg of three readings of letters of recommendation & transcripts & personal statement). The factors you state here -- upper-level performance, improvement & course selection -- only effect the committee reading score (mildly so, 5% or perhaps 10% with a generous reader), and while the committee score was weighted heavily, it still wouldn't completely counteract a bad GRE or bad GPA.

Note however, if an applicant had an MS in physics or engineering, THAT GPA and institution would go in the spreadsheet. My advice to you is therefore to perhaps shoot for a quality terminal MS degree at your home institution or an institution of similar rank... and show good performance there. It will also help the committee score in future Ph.D. applications because you'll gain more research experience.
 
  • #18
I agree with the person who said that your major GPA is the most important. My overall GPA was pretty average (3.6), but I made A's in almost every physics and math course I took, and that really made an impression when applying to graduate school. I got mostly B's and C's in liberal arts courses.

If you can establish a track record of doing well in upper level math classes, your chances will be much better.
 

Related to Math Major with Low GPA Seeking Grad School Advice

1. Can I get into a graduate program with a low GPA in math?

Yes, it is possible to get into a graduate program with a low GPA in math. Admissions committees take into consideration more than just your GPA, such as letters of recommendation, research experience, and personal statements. You can also improve your chances by retaking courses to improve your GPA or gaining relevant experience in the field.

2. How can I explain my low GPA in my graduate school application?

Be honest and transparent in your application. Explain any extenuating circumstances that may have affected your GPA, such as personal or health issues. You can also use your personal statement to highlight your strengths and growth in the field of math despite your low GPA.

3. Will my low GPA affect my chances of receiving financial aid or scholarships?

It may affect your chances of receiving financial aid or scholarships, but it is not impossible. Some organizations and institutions take into consideration other factors besides GPA when awarding financial aid or scholarships. You can also reach out to the financial aid office of your desired graduate program to inquire about potential opportunities for funding.

4. Should I retake courses to improve my GPA?

Retaking courses can be beneficial in improving your GPA, but it is not always necessary. Some graduate programs may allow you to take additional courses to demonstrate your proficiency in the subject. It is important to weigh the cost and time commitment of retaking courses against the potential benefit it may have on your GPA.

5. Are there specific graduate programs that are more lenient towards low GPAs in math?

There is no guarantee that any specific graduate program will be more lenient towards low GPAs in math. It is important to research and apply to a variety of programs to increase your chances of acceptance. You can also reach out to the graduate program directly to inquire about their admissions process and if they have any specific considerations for applicants with low GPAs.

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