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More Ways to Deal with Your Low GPA

Several months ago we shared 3 tips on dealing with a low GPA. Here are 2 more tips to get you out of that GPA rut and help you create a strong application, despite your low stats.

1. Add context to your low GPA

 
Despite taking additional classes and having a great test score, schools may still question your low GPA. You need to address their apprehension and prove that whatever caused your low GPA is either not a factor in your life anymore. Here are a few ways you can explain your situation:

  • Circumstances beyond your control. This can include illness, family problems, difficulty adjusting to college. What to do: You need to honestly address the issue and show that you have moved beyond it.
  • Circumstances at least partly within your control. Did you make poor choices early in your academic career? Did you choose the wrong major or need to work more than part time while in school? What to do: Take responsibility for your mistake and show how you’ve become a more mature, responsible adult. Point to improved grades and work achievements. If you had to work, discuss how many hours, and try to show how your grades improved during periods when you were not working.
  • A low or declining GPA with no extenuating circumstances. As noted above, this is a major red flag. What to do: You must take responsibility and ensure that you won’t let it happen again. You need to take additional classes and get A’s in all of them to show your motivation. You need to talk about what caused your past lack of motivation, but what you really need to communicate is that you are on the right track and that the past is in the past. Be sure that your explanation is direct and to the point. You want the adcom to be able to see what happened, and not to think that you’re whining or making excuses.

2. Avoid common mistakes in handling a low GPA

 
The biggest mistake applicants make is to think that their GPA doesn’t matter. If you’re applying to grad school within 5 years or completing your undergrad work, the school will use your GPA to determine how much you are able to achieve academically. It is also a way of comparing students.
 
Some students will try to justify their poor performance by stating that they were too busy to study and take their classes seriously. You must take full responsibility for your grades, and the things that caused them – whether you made a mistake, had poor time management skills or made bad decisions. If you tell the adcom that you were happy with your decision and would act the same way again, you will probably not be invited to join the incoming class.
 
A successful application to a competitive program will not focus solely on ways you improved on your weaknesses. You also need to give schools good reasons to accept you. Give examples of where you were able to shine and make a difference. Make the school excited about having you in their incoming class, and come next fall, you just may be!
 
Have you checked out Accepted’s podcast yet? Listen to weekly admissions tips with the Admissions Straight Talk podcast – expert advice that you can listen to on-the-go!

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