Whether to include advanced courses or not?

Posts: 36
Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2012 12:37 am

Whether to include advanced courses or not?

Postby StewieVader » Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:47 pm

I'm in the process of drafting my SOP right now and am facing a dilemma about whether to mention my advanced graduate courses in my SOP. I've taken these courses with Ph.D students and had found them pretty challenging with many of them involving term projects as well. The problem is that I screwed up my grades in a few of them like my intro to QFT course (got a C). I am trying to retake some of them but they won't show on my transcripts till next semester.

I wonder if I should even bother mentioning that I took advanced courses in my SOP. I'm afraid it might attract attention to these bad grades and hurt my application. To put it in perspective, I haven't mentioned much about my academic record and coursework in my SOP with a majority of it spent on my projects.

Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:32 pm

Re: Whether to include advanced courses or not?

Postby hooverbm » Sat Nov 10, 2012 4:51 pm

I think that the only circumstance where it is beneficial to include that you took Grad level courses is if you did well in them. I'm not sure how many grad level courses you did, or how well, but if you got a few Cs, I probably wouldn't incorporate it into your personal statement.

The context when I think it is appropriate to discuss your academic record is if it highlights growth over time. For example, I didn't do terrible, but I didn't do great in physics and math when I started as an undergraduate (B+'s) But over time, my grades improved. Graduate schools like to see that sort of growth. Even if part of your academic record shows growth, it may be important to include to take attention off a lower than average GPA. For example, maybe your math grades improved over time, but your physics grades stayed about the same. Or maybe your physics lab grades have improved. Briefly bringing attention to that growth certainly can't hurt you, but be prepared to explain circumstances around a bump in your academic record if it applies to you.

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