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When to apply for graduate school/Med school.

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Main Question or Discussion Point

I am a sophomore at a Canadian University majoring in Mathematics and Computer Science. My overall GPA is 3.44 but I am hoping it to raise it to a 3.7 by the end of my junior year. I have heard that most undergrads apply for graduate schools at the end of their junior year. Since my GPA isn't so great I was wondering if it hurts to apply at the end of my senior year so I can raise my GPA a little more? If I apply at the end of my senior year, how long does it take to make decision? I mean if I get accepted can I start my graduate studies the following year or do I have to wait a few months for them to decide? How about medical school? does the same rules apply for medical schools as well?
 

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  • #2
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Most people apply at the end of the first semester senior year, which means that you would only have GPA up to junior year. You probably wouldn't apply at the 'end' of your senior year since applications are always due beginning of January, and applying before then doesn't really get you much (unless you are an excellent candidate) since programs wait for all the applications to come in.

Don't know anything about medical school.
 
  • #3
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Most schools usually have a 2 sets of deadlines. One for fall admission and apps are usually due around december/january, and they have spring admission. I am not sure exactly when those are due but I would guess sometime in early fall. Its usually better to apply for fall admissions because by spring departments have usually given out most of their money for grad students. So applying for fall admissions usually gives you a better shot at getting department funding. A research assistantship is different but that depends on the lab. If you were able to raise your GPA up to 3.7 by the end of your junior year that would be great and you should go ahead and apply during your first semester senior year for admission to grad school the following fall. The fact that your GPA will be trending up is a good thing. So when you apply during first semester senior year, grad schools will see your grades up until that point as well as the classes you currently taking and possibly what you plan on taking the next semester.

If you wait until the end of your senior year you will have to wait until next spring to start grad school. So assuming you graduate sometime in May, you wouldn't start grad school until January as opposed to August had you applied during your first semester senior year.

There are some schools with later deadlines for fall admissions, latest I have seen was February so then you could also have your grades from first semester senior year.

I also don't know anything about med school. It is very different from graduate school.
 
  • #4
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From my experience, it's not very common for schools to have spring admissions.
 
  • #5
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Thank you both for your replies.
Do you guys think it is wise to apply to one school more than once? I am just afraid that if I get rejected the first time (at the end of junior year) I will be at a disadvantage the second time I apply. Also, I am planning on applying to math p.h.d programs and my grades in my math courses are all very close to a 100%. I also tried to take the more theoretical versions of math courses when possible. What is really lowering my GPA is my computer science and elective courses. Do you think that the admission committee will notice that although my GPA is low but I have done very well in my math courses?
 
  • #6
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It will certainly help. Grad school isn't like undergrad, they are not looking for someone who is well rounded. They want someone who can be a competent researcher in their field. So if you are applying to math programs and your math grades are very good it shouldn't matter what you received in your humanities/social science classes. Of course if they are so bad that they make your overall GPA really low the school may not even look at your application to find out why. But a GPA of 3.4 isn't awful so you don't need to worry too much if your major GPA is high.

As for applying to a school more than once. You should apply to a lot of places that you would consider a "reach" school as well as safety schools so you get in somewhere. If you don't get in anywhere and plan to apply again the next year you better spend that year doing something relevant to what you want study. If you didn't get in the first time then you probably won't get in the second time if you haven't made any improvements.
 
  • #7
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Also keep in mind there are other things that these app committees look at that can be just as or even more important than grades.

Research and letters of recommendations are very important.
 
  • #8
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Thanks again.
Do you know if it is okay to stay another year (finish B.sc in 5 years) and apply at the end of the 4th year in order to improve my GPA and resume even more? I don't want to take 2-3 courses per semester, I will still take the full load but stay one more year. I think that way I can not only improve my GPA, but also I can take advanced graduate courses and also do more research during the summer between the 4th and 5th year. How do you think this will affect my chances?
 
  • #9
Choppy
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Thanks again.
Do you know if it is okay to stay another year (finish B.sc in 5 years) and apply at the end of the 4th year in order to improve my GPA and resume even more? I don't want to take 2-3 courses per semester, I will still take the full load but stay one more year. I think that way I can not only improve my GPA, but also I can take advanced graduate courses and also do more research during the summer between the 4th and 5th year. How do you think this will affect my chances?
It doesn't really make a lot of sense to me. Apply at the beginning of your 4th year and see what happens. If you're not happy with the results then you can concentrate on improving your GPA and research experience by adding another year of undergraduate experience, but if you avoid doing that in the first place there's the potential for wasting a year.
 
  • #10
bcrowell
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Have you thought about taking a year off after graduation and using it to do something that you won't be able to do once you're married with a job, kids, and a mortgage? For example, you could get a job teaching English someplace exotic and fascinating. The Peace Corps can be a great experience (but it's not just one year). You can backpack through Latin America on a very low budget.
 
  • #11
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It doesn't really make a lot of sense to me. Apply at the beginning of your 4th year and see what happens. If you're not happy with the results then you can concentrate on improving your GPA and research experience by adding another year of undergraduate experience, but if you avoid doing that in the first place there's the potential for wasting a year.
That makes sense but I have heard that being rejected from a school has a negative effect on the admission decision the next time you are applying, even though you may be just as qualified as people who are applying for the first time. I have heard you either get in with the first shot or not at all (a little exaggerated) . Therefore, I prefer to improve my resume as much as possible and apply once and for all. So my main question is regardless of when I apply weather the advantages of staying an extra year(better GPA, research, etc.) will outweigh the disadvantages which is basically them saying "he couldn't finish his b.sc in 4 years".

Have you thought about taking a year off after graduation and using it to do something that you won't be able to do once you're married with a job, kids, and a mortgage? For example, you could get a job teaching English someplace exotic and fascinating. The Peace Corps can be a great experience (but it's not just one year). You can backpack through Latin America on a very low budget.
That is actually what I had in mind for sometime, but I have come to realize that to be truly successful in research and academia you have to start early and work really hard. Although spending one year backpacking through Latin America might seem tempting, but it will not only set me back one year from achieving my goal it causes me to forget some of the material I learned so catching up will be even harder. The benefits of working toward your ultimate goal and pleasure remain with you until you achieve it, but the pleasure of backpacking through Latin America will last only 1 year.
 
  • #12
Choppy
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That makes sense but I have heard that being rejected from a school has a negative effect on the admission decision the next time you are applying, even though you may be just as qualified as people who are applying for the first time. I have heard you either get in with the first shot or not at all (a little exaggerated) . Therefore, I prefer to improve my resume as much as possible and apply once and for all. So my main question is regardless of when I apply weather the advantages of staying an extra year(better GPA, research, etc.) will outweigh the disadvantages which is basically them saying "he couldn't finish his b.sc in 4 years".
Just to be clear: you should only apply once you personally feel ready.

However, I think you're basing a rather large decision on an unproven premise.

Do you have some evidence to back up the idea that being rejected once lowers your chances in subsequent years? I can see this being true for someone who does nothing over the next year and reapplies. I suppose it also depends on what you're capable of changing.

A candidate who gets rejected, then spends a year improving himself specifically to get into a particular program (and who actually does get better marks) has demonstrated a clear desire to succeed and may actually be more desirable as a candidate. Of course, another year of the same or worse performance will hurt.
 

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