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How bad are C's?

Posted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 1:04 pm
by gliese876d
I know most people on this forum have pretty spectacular grades, and GRE scores, and are aiming to get into the top schools for graduate study. My situation, however, is that I'm aiming at astronomy graduate study at schools around the ranking of my undergraduate institution or maybe a little better (my undergrad physics department is ranked 48th in graduate physics departments by US News and World Report). So most of the schools I'm applying to are ranked between 10th and 50th, though I don't know how much that necessarily reflects *astronomy* graduate study since US News and World Report ranks by physics graduate study.

Anyway, my general GRE scores are decent but not amazing, and my PGRE score I expect to be not so great. I will graduate with honors, I have research experience, and in all my astronomy classes I've gotten either A-, A or A+, with the exception of one B+. However, I have a few C's in some of my physics classes. I notice that most graduate programs require no less than a B in all of the courses you take during the first two years, which got me thinking, if the standards are that high for graduate classes, how detrimental is it for them to see C's on my undergraduate transcripts, even if my overal GPA is decent and my astronomy and math classes are all B+ or above? Anyone have any opinions on how much these C's will hurt my chances of acceptance into the type of programs I'm trying to get into?

Re: How bad are C's?

Posted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 3:36 pm
by stardust
Graduate school grading is different than undergraduate grading. Undergraduate
grading is typically harsher. They typically don't give lower than a B in graduate

Re: How bad are C's?

Posted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 6:10 pm
by secander2!
I wouldn't think a few C's would hurt too much for 10 to 50 ranked schools especially since you have a respectable overall GPA. I think it's mostly the top 10 where any little blemish can be an application killer. Also, Astronomy looks kindlier on lower PGRE scores, so it's quite possible that your "not so great" score might even be an asset for some of the programs thereby counterbalancing the few Cs. Best of luck!

Re: How bad are C's?

Posted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 6:30 pm
by tmc
Depends where you got your Cs.
If you get a C in calculus 1 then get an A+ in calc. 2 and 3, noone's ever gonna case. If the opposite happens, and you get an A+ in calc 1 and 2, but a C in calc 3, then might point to problems.

If you got a few Cs in pure theory stuff and go into experiment, they may not care. If you go in astro and get a C in stat thermo, it'll hurt you terribly. If it's in something fairly unrelated to what you'll be doing, they could look over it.

The grades will definitely hurt you, but they won't kill your application by themselves as long as your GPA is fairly good and you have good research experience.

Re: How bad are C's?

Posted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 9:21 pm
by gliese876d
Thanks for the thoughts. I guess when I compare what I got my C's in to your examples, tmc, I'd say it's a little of both maybe? I got a C in Physics 2 (which is basically like introductory E&M), but then I got an B+ in intermediate E&M. But the others were a little worse: a C in optics and a C+ in mechanics...So I guess we'll see; I'm just so paranoid of being rejected everywhere, but I think I'm trying to be realistic in the places I'm apply to in light of my situation...