Are you concerned that your low undergrad GPA will keep you from being accepted at the grad school of your choice? Here are 3 things you can do about it.
1.Assess your GPA
Is it really low? A low GPA can be defined as one that is .3 or more below your target school’s average GPA for accepted students (on the US 4.0 scale). This information is usually published in the class profile, and sometimes in the U.S. News rankings. Another way to think of a low GPA is one that is below the school’s 75th or 80th percentile (most schools publish this information).
The good thing about these definitions is that either of them is used in relation to the schools you are applying to. If you have a 3.3 GPA and the average GPA of the entering class is 3.3, you don’t have a low GPA. However, if you have the same 3.3 GPA and the schools you are targeting have an average GPA for accepted students of 3.7, then your GPA will be considered low.
NOTE: Your GPA doesn’t define you. Even if you do have a low GPA, that doesn’t mean that you can’t shoot for the stars and still try and get into your dream graduate program. Read on for more tips on what you need to do.
2. Analyze the cause(s) of your low GPA
Ask yourself the following questions that show several causes in order of difficulty to overcome (easiest to hardest):
• Did you have a tough time adjusting to college, affecting your freshman GPA, but you then improved every year and even made the Dean’s List the last two years with a 4.0 in the last year?
• Did situations that you had no control over lead to a drop in your grades for a particular time period?
• Did you choose the wrong major, causing you to have low grades? Did your grades improve once you found the right major?
• Did you work part time or participate in a sport to qualify for an athletic scholarship?
• Did you start out with a high GPA in your freshman year and then lose your drive? Did your grades have a steady drop? This trend can cause a red flag, even if you were able to maintain a 3.4 or 3.5 overall GPA.
The cause of your low GPA, and how low it is, will affect what you are able to do about it, and how much effort you need to alleviate its importance in your overall application.
3. Address your low GPA
In addressing your low GPA you need to show the adcom that it isn’t a true indication of your abilities and that you are able to do much more. There are two things you can do to show this:
• Ace your test. You need a high score on your GMAT, GRE, LSAT or MCAT. This will show that you have the ability to excel.
• Take classes and earn A’s in them. You may need to take just a few classes to fill in the gaps, or pursue a full master’s degree. Whatever path you choose, you want to show the adcom that you’re able to shine in the academic setting related to the area you want to study. The number of classes you should take depends on how low your GPA is in comparison to your target school’s average and how much time has passed since you completed your undergrad. If the gap is large, you may consider a master’s program.
A low GAP does not need to be a grad school acceptance death sentence. With a smart admissions strategy and some hard work, you can undo the damage caused by bad grades and position yourself as a strong candidate who’s got what it takes to get into and succeed at your top choice grad school.
Like what you just read? Accepted’s got loads more tips for you…that you can listen to on the go! Check out Accepted’s podcast, Admissions Straight Talk, for weekly tips that will help you get accepted to your top grad choice grad school.