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Courses Taking extra course to raise GPA

  1. Aug 1, 2012 #1
    My GPA is 3.98 and I can raise it to 3.985 which is translatable to a 3.99 by taking an extra course. Is it a stupid idea to take it say for a better grad school application? (The benefit is it will raise my class rank)

    I'm a mechanical engineering student looking to apply to a top5 graduate program. If you think I should take an extra course, what do you think will most useful, a core elective, a humanities course or a math course in terms of preparing me better for graduate studies? I'm more inclined towards advanced applied mathematics since it seems most useful for grad school.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 1, 2012 #2
    That's ridiculous. No.
  4. Aug 1, 2012 #3
    Care to expand a little more?
  5. Aug 1, 2012 #4
    Does it not sound ridiculous to you? There's no difference between a 3.98 and 3.99 GPA. When you apply to graduate school, do you think admission committees are going to care that you raised your GPA a very insignificant amount by taking unrelated courses? Take an extra course if it interests you. Don't take it to raise an already good GPA. You could be focusing on something useful such as research.
  6. Aug 1, 2012 #5
    A little yes but here's the thing: The applied maths course in question interests me but It would be a lot of trouble to add it to the courses I'm already taking unless I had the GPA incentive. I did say however it would help me improve my class rank.

    I can always say I wanted to use the extra applied math background I have for my research in grad school.
  7. Aug 1, 2012 #6
    It can hurt you also if things don't workout as planned. I wouldn't take the risk.
  8. Aug 1, 2012 #7
    Would it help if the course is an Easy-A course? It also doesn't hurt that I really am interested in it and that I feel it will aid me during my graduate studies?
  9. Aug 1, 2012 #8


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    Many, many GPAs have fallen based on this assumption.
  10. Aug 1, 2012 #9
    Ok ignore for a moment the risk factor for my GPA falling: What's your counterargument for taking this advanced applied math course?
  11. Aug 1, 2012 #10
    This is why I would say no...
  12. Aug 1, 2012 #11
    Ok you still don't support the idea that I should still try to take it to increase my class rank? Isn't that an important aspect when applying to a top5 grad school.(putting aside the research experience factor)
  13. Aug 1, 2012 #12
    I just say this because your plan could back-fire and actually hurt your GPA due to difficulties of adding the class to your schedule (or the class turning out to not be an easy A). I would also weigh in how you could use this time for other aspects pertaining to grad school application... like studying for the GRE, getting research, etc. If you don't have something better to do with your time, by all means take the course. You can always drop it after the first few weeks if it looks like a bad idea.
  14. Aug 1, 2012 #13
    Not really. Class rank and a small increase in GPA is to subjective to matter. You are best taking the safe route. Take your high GPA and run.
  15. Aug 1, 2012 #14
    How do graduate committees know about class rank? I don't even know what my class rank was. I certainly didn't put it on applications.
  16. Aug 1, 2012 #15


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    If you're going to keep asking the same question until you get the answer you want to hear, why bother asking it in the first place?

    A 0.01 difference in GPA is highly unlikely to affect your candidacy for a position in graduate school - even in a "top 5" program. In my experience (although I'm probably not involved in a "top 5" program by your definition), GPA difference begins to stratify students somewhere around the 0.1-0.2 level. As others have said, it's better to use that time towards other factors that will make a difference such as gaining research experience, getting involved with a competative engineering project, tutoring/marking, or simply learning more about the sub-field you want to get into for graduate school.
  17. Aug 1, 2012 #16
    Yes MIT for instance requires you to mention your class rank and surprisingly with my high GPA my class rank is 5/33. There's even 3 4.0s. I only want to make it a 3.99 for this reason.

    Then I can always say that I have always loved applied mathematics and took an extra course to develop mathematical skills that could be applied to my graduate degree.

    It's not that I have nothing better to do. I genuinely have an interest and think this could have positive consequences for me despite the apparent ridiculousness of the opening post. I would be willing to take the effort to insert it with my other courses but from all your responses it seems that I dont need to take it for the purposes of improving my graduate application as the extra math wont really make as big of a difference as GRE, research etc. Although the funny thing is how people overrate the importance of GPAs, class ranks and so on and so forth.
  18. Aug 1, 2012 #17
    The potential loss you can get from taking the extra class out weight the potential gain. That should be reason enough.
  19. Aug 1, 2012 #18
    Trying to be the devil's advocate here:Trying to have a holistic discussion though I see where the general consensus is leading now.
  20. Aug 1, 2012 #19
    If you would have gave a list of reasons for wanting to take the course, or if you started with I am interested in math, is it worth it? Maybe there would be a better discussion, but the title is asking if it is worth taking that extra course to boost your GPA. And everyone knows its not.
  21. Aug 1, 2012 #20
    Yeah you are right but for me like I mentioned the boost in GPA is a boost in my rank. And I needed to make it clear that the odds would be that I'd do well in it because of interest in math. Besides one of my profs freaked me out by saying that if you aren't a 4.0, I have no chance of getting into a top 5 eng. graduate program, which when I come to think of it now is pretty oblivious of him. Dont understand why he'd discourage me like that. Hence the obsession with getting closer towards the 3.99 especially the given competition that exists in my class (3 4.0s!)
  22. Aug 1, 2012 #21
    Outside of maintaining a solid GPA, what have you done to prepare for graduate school admissions? I guarantee there are more 4.0 GPA students applying to those "Top 5" programs than are being accepted overall. What have you done to differentiate yourself from the students applying with perfect GPAs?
  23. Aug 1, 2012 #22
    Haha, I must come across as some GPA obsessed freak:
    Ok Ive
    --TA'ed in my prefered area of research (grading and tutoring)
    --Have around 3 years of research exp with 1 co-authored publication (I'm not sure I have enough time to increase this)
    --Have participated in ECAs
    -- Am the secretary of a cultural organization
    --have very good gre scores
    --have taken a graduate course related to my area of interest

    Now Im scared the class rank may overshadow this. Do you have any other suggestions to make myself 'stand out'?
    ---Could that possibly include using the good math experience I may take from this course?
    (PROBABLY not)
  24. Aug 1, 2012 #23
    I think your professor probably meant that you need to have really solid credentials -- and merely used the "4.0" as an allusion that you have to be top of the chain. I don't know your professor, but it is likely that he wasn't trying to discourage you; but trying to give you a perspective. In fact, I would take it as a motivating statement to study even harder. If someone told me I can get in the top 5 universities with a 3.0, I would slack off!
  25. Aug 1, 2012 #24
    Yes I do hope you are right Nano-Passion because in that case telling me not to apply to a top 5 program because I dont have a 4.0 is plain wrong.
  26. Aug 1, 2012 #25
    Lol I just read the original post just now. He must be joking, he told you NOT to apply? Did he know your credentials by any chance?

    How does your school stand up in terms of reputation in mechanical engineering? I think even if it has pretty bad standing you might have a good shot, so I don't know where he is coming from. And still, it is ludicrous to say not to apply because it doesn't hurt to try.

    I don't work in HR, but if I worked in HR I might scrap the application with a 4.0 -- it looks like the college was too easy. A 3.9 looks much better than a 4.0.
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