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Tell me about how grad schools look at grades

  1. Dec 23, 2007 #1
    I finished by first semester of university. My grades are as follows:

    Math (4 credits) - 100% - A+
    Phys (3 credits) - 100% - A+
    English (3 credits) - 81% - A-
    Chemistry (4 credits) - 97% - A+
    Biology (3 credits) - 88% - A

    So, unlike most US schools, my school has three classes of A, and for some reason, uses a 4.33 GPA scale which works out to a 4.20 for me (However, I am not even sure if this will appear on my transcript). I intend to apply to US grad schools, so how will they compare my marks other applicants with the usual 4 point scale and A-, A? Will they look at the raw percent score at all?

    I will be a physics/Math major so obviously the last three courses are BS credits every first year "needs", so will they be given the same weight as my math and physics courses?

    Also, how are these grades? I am sort of pissed that my school is making me take English (In addition to many more arts courses through out my degree) because they are not my strongest area where as my friends at other schools are allowed to just focus on their major and pull off a perfect GPA. Will grad schools recognize this?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 23, 2007 #2
    Are you kidding me? Those are great grades.

    All universities will require all students to take mandatory english/humanities courses....that's the whole point of a university.

    It is weird that your school uses A+ grades....grad schools will surely could that as an A (4.0). Your GPA is then technically slightly lower than a 4.0 because of that A-.
  4. Dec 23, 2007 #3
    I really wish schools would just take a standardized approach to grading. No matter how superior you think your philosophy is, it is meaningless to another school :-(
  5. Dec 23, 2007 #4
    An 81% is an A-, wow? The school I attend also uses an A+ system, which I find annoying in some sense too. The thing I don't like is that not all professors will give out an A+, so you can't really say it is out of a true 4.33 (maybe like a 4.16 in reality). However, I wouldn't worry about it: just do well in your classes and you should be fine.

    edit... And your GPA should be 4.15, unless I made a mistake in calculation, and I think it will show up on your transcript as 4.15. Whenever I get above a 4.0 it shows up on the transcript as whatever it was.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2007
  6. Dec 23, 2007 #5
    I completely agree that liberal arts requirements are bogus.

    I strongly disagree that this has any relation to the so-called "point" of a university. I spent four years of high school with a nice distribution including English, History, etc. I learned enough of that to last a lifetime. When I came to college, ready to hit physics and math hard, I was shocked and disgusted when I discovered I needed 6-7 courses of liberal arts requirements. It will probably take me 150-200 hours of my life to satisfy these requirements.

    And these 150-200 hours will be totally wasted since I am completely focused on math and physics and I will quickly forget all of the history I learned. The great thing about the American university system is that it is set up to give students excellent opportunities to succeed in specific fields. However, IMO, many students (at my school) seem to have come to college more for social reasons than academic reasons and don't care at all about these opportunities. The administration feels the need to give them guidance.

    If you know what field you want to go into, I think it is SENSELESS and in some sense DOWNRIGHT WRONG for the administration to force you to work on subjects outside of your major. This undermines the capacity of this great university system and really is a lose-lose situation for me, the teachers of the courses I don't want to take, the students in those courses who do want to take them, the field of physics which I could be contributing to, etc.

    Here are some alternatives, none of which are very inspiring:
    1) transfer to a school that has fewer LA requirements (I think Brown has none),
    2) become an engineer
    3) find a grad school that will accept you with a physics major but not college degree.

    In conclusion, if anyone in a college administration reads this, please for the sake of academic achievement and everything the university stands for, don't waste your students time with outrageous liberal arts requirements. That is what high school is for.
  7. Dec 23, 2007 #6
    uhhh, so what do grad schools want? im still not sure anyone addressed this beyond reassuring him that his grades are ok... so from what you said I gather they only care about gpa... and if those A+'s were in English it wouldn't make a difference.... what else? Is extracurricular stuff still important? Previous Employment? Research? Surely all of these matter to some extent, but im trying to get a feel for what's most important...
  8. Dec 23, 2007 #7
    If you want to get into grad school, just do these three things

    (1) GPA> 3.75
    (2) 3 letters of recomendation (Try to get them from professors, not assistant professors)
    (3) Work expierence related to what you want to do in grad school.
    (4) GRE score (If applying to a different school than the one you currently attend)

    Thats all you need. Its that simple. Dont worry about joining clubs or organizations to fluff your Resume. It really says nothing meaninful from 1-3 listed above. 1-3 is the meat and potatoes you need to worry about.

    ehrenfest, I agree that core courses take up time, a LOT of time. But they are necessary to make you a well rounded individual. It used to be that getting a PhD required you to take foreign language. The point of having an education is to be well rounded so that when you open your mouth on topics other than physics, you have something meaningful to say. Wait until you work with someone that cant communicate and see how important these courses are.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2007
  9. Dec 23, 2007 #8
    You absolutely DO NOT need a GPA or 3.75 or higher to get into grad school. Most grad schools want a GPA above 3.0, but students with high 2-averages are also admitted.
  10. Dec 23, 2007 #9

    That does not mean a 3.2 get you in. That means a 3.2 is the cutoff. Most people applying are WELL above 3.2. Devil is in the details.

    Any GOOD graduate program is going to want above 3.0. If you want to have a full ride and get paid to attend grad school, I would advise you to get above a 3.75. You do NOT want to pay one cent for grad school.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2007
  11. Dec 23, 2007 #10

    Sample of one data point doesn't prove much. :smile:

    I had below a 3.2 and I got into grad school just fine. I know others who have been accepted with less than a 3.0.
  12. Dec 23, 2007 #11
  13. Dec 23, 2007 #12
    I attend one of the best grad schools in the world for my research. I just think you're biased. :biggrin:

    Nope, I was covered as a Research Assistant my first year, and now I have a NASA fellowship.
  14. Dec 23, 2007 #13


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    What is knowledge without the ability to either communicate or apply it?

    English helps you communicate better and the social sciences teach you about those whom you may be trying to communicate to. Wouldn't these sub skills be important to most majors?

    Edit: reply to ehrenfest
  15. Dec 23, 2007 #14
    Mwua, biased? :tongue2: :rofl:
  16. Dec 23, 2007 #15
    Let me clarify my point. I am not saying that history, English, foreign languages are useless. I am saying that if I take AP French, AP US History, AP European History, AP English, and I do not want to take any liberal arts courses in college, I should be able to do that. I am not saying that I want to stop learning anything about history, english, foreign cultures. I contend that the skills I need in these fields can be readily absorbed in any reasonable college environment. A good college should provide its students with lots of exposure to these things just through campus activities, dinner discussions, guest speakers, etc. I think one of the reasons that some colleges have those strict liberal arts requirements is in order to make up inside the classroom what they lack outside the classroom.
  17. Dec 23, 2007 #16
    You sure can opt out, as long as you have high enough scores on the AP exam. I know a girl that did not do a single one thanks to her HS AP courses.
  18. Dec 24, 2007 #17
    Forcing someone to sit through a course they don't want to be in is certainly the way to make someone well rounded and they certainly wont forget the meaningless excess afterwards. Not to mention most any post-secondary school has an english proficiency requirement for admittance so obviously more credit hours of english under the pretense of "improving communication skills" are not redundant at all.

    anyway, can someone fill tell me how a US grad school will look at my grades? Will they truncate the '+' or will they reassign letter grades based on the raw percentage scores?
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2007
  19. Dec 25, 2007 #18
    I don't know, I think that requiring LA courses is important for science majors. People need to think outside their principal area of focus sometimes.

    Maybe you should have gone to another school with fewer requirements. My school (the University of Toronto) only requires four semester-long courses in social sciences and humanities.
  20. Dec 25, 2007 #19
    My school requires 13 semester-long courses and does not allow AP credit to substitute. :(

    Four semester-long courses would have been much nicer, but I still think there should be 0. I can think outside of math and physics, and I regularly read about LA subjects on the internet and in magazines and books, but why do I need formal training in this area?
  21. Dec 25, 2007 #20
    Because you are supposed to come out a well rounded graduate.
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