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Ways to improve my chances to get into grad school?

  1. Mar 7, 2009 #1
    Okay, long story short, I am a sophomore looking at eventually getting into a Ph.D. program in Chemical Engineering but my grades aren't up to par. Due to slacking off Freshman year and a heavy work load (due to a double major and work) my gpa is only a 3.25. I'm just afraid because my classes are only going to get harder, so my gpa won't be easy to bring up.

    Right now, I am double majoring in Mathematics (emphasis on modeling and advanced diff eq) and Chemical engineering. I work part time as a desktop support tech. Officially, I repair computers on campus but in reality, I mostly just set up outlook for secretaries. Also, I have an unpaid research job under a Chem E professor and I should be a co-author in a published paper by the time I am a junior. Also, I am trying to raise my grades but next year I get to take sep, thermo, mass transport, pchem, etc while still working and taking extra math classes, so they may not change much.

    Basically, I am wondering what looks good on a resume. What should I do to try and improve my chances of getting into a decent graduate school? Also, if I cannot get straight into a Ph.D. program, how well does the bachelor => master => Ph.D. path work? And how are my chances at getting into a grad school if I keep my gpa about the same?

    Thanks for any advice.
    Derek
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 7, 2009 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    If you want to get into grad school, pull your grades up. Simple as that.

    If you are making choices that prevent you from getting A's, you need to make different choices.
     
  4. Mar 7, 2009 #3
    If you keep your GPA above a 3.0, you should be able to meet most graduate schools' requirements for admission, although some require 3.5. However, meeting the requirement of the graduate school and being competitive in the department's admission process is a different matter, and that depends on the institution. The better your GPA (and other things like GRE scores, research experience, etc.) the better your chances of admission. When you apply, just be realistic. This is true of both MS and PhD programs, although terminal MS programs will generally have easier admissions with a lower likelihood of financial support.

    An MS program (if at a better or equivalent level institution as your undergrad) can improve your chances of admission into a PhD program, because it can be an opportunity to pull up your GPA (Generally institutions will use your GPA and institution reputation at your last attended institution... or if they use both, will weight the later). More importantly, if you do a thesis-based MS (rather than a coursework-based MS) you have an opportunity to pull up your research background more (although it looks like you already have some through Chem-E... and that's good).

    When you take the GRE and get back scores, just weight that factor with your GPA... and be realistic about your applications. Right now you're not in as much trouble as some people since your present GPA is above a 3.0. Just don't let it sag... and try to improve it... since every factor counts in the admissions process.
     
  5. Mar 7, 2009 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    I think one shouldn't come away with the idea "it's okay to get a low GPA for the next 2-1/2 years; I'll get a MS and pull up my grades then". You have an opportunity to finish above a 3.7. You really want to take advantage of that opportunity.
     
  6. Mar 7, 2009 #5
    Do you think it would be better to drop my double major (I'd stick with just Chem E) and unpaid research to help bring up my gpa?
     
  7. Mar 7, 2009 #6

    j93

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    I would. That is a double whammy of positives for graduate school a better GPA and relevant research experience.
     
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