Low undergrad CGPA in Filmmaking, PhD/MS prospects?

Proteus
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Low undergrad CGPA in Filmmaking, PhD/MS prospects?

Postby Proteus » Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:37 pm

Looked for posts about low liberal arts degree gpa, couldn't find any... Please let me know if there are!


My question:
Will my GPA from my filmmaking degree affect my chances of acceptance, assuming exemplary performance from now onwards?

The details/history:
PhD I'm considering: Still exploring, but regardless I will need to take the PGRE. To put down something, Planetary Sciences interest me greatly.

I have a CGPA of 2.27 from a small LAC, completed in 2008. Yikes. Well, I picked the wrong major: Intermedia Arts, essentially, Film Production. Why? I was a top student in high school, 4.3 gpa, all around performer, most encouraged and recognized by my art teacher. I was a blank slate, and a science AND art (aesthetically fluent) kid. I did a film production internship in an attempt to not waste my BA, but the lifestyle/passion weren't there for me.

Fast forward 3 years of soul searching. I'll be 27 later this year. I was diagnosed with ADHD-I by a CME Psychologist a few months ago. Not taking any medication, too leery about it, but I haven't yet put together a plan to address it. I am now returning to community college to pursue a career in research, pulling a 4.0 on the Math/Physics track thus far.

Thoughts?

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: Low undergrad CGPA in Filmmaking, PhD/MS prospects?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:12 am

Plenty of things I could say about this post, but let's get down to the important part.

You want a PhD in Physics/Astronomy/Planetary Sciences which all assume a background in physics. I would say at bare minimum you'll need a 2.5 to have even the slightest chance. I'm not sure how grabbing a second bachelor's degree really works. I'm assuming you'll only need to take specific classes and not have to redo general studies? Anyways, the first degree may cause some concern for committees deciding on your application. However, if you can demonstrate proficiency in Physics itself I'd assume that it won't be much of a hindrance. You must realize though, general physics at the community college level will lack in comparison to what a full on university will expect. Also, I'm fairly certain that most community colleges only offer the introductory course in physics. How do you plan to move from here? Do you feel confident you can do very well in a real physics undergraduate program?

-Riley

Proteus
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Re: Low undergrad CGPA in Filmmaking, PhD/MS prospects?

Postby Proteus » Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:44 pm

WhoaNonstop wrote:Plenty of things I could say about this post, but let's get down to the important part.

You want a PhD in Physics/Astronomy/Planetary Sciences which all assume a background in physics. I would say at bare minimum you'll need a 2.5 to have even the slightest chance. I'm not sure how grabbing a second bachelor's degree really works. I'm assuming you'll only need to take specific classes and not have to redo general studies? Anyways, the first degree may cause some concern for committees deciding on your application. However, if you can demonstrate proficiency in Physics itself I'd assume that it won't be much of a hindrance. You must realize though, general physics at the community college level will lack in comparison to what a full on university will expect. Also, I'm fairly certain that most community colleges only offer the introductory course in physics. How do you plan to move from here? Do you feel confident you can do very well in a real physics undergraduate program?

-Riley


Riley, thanks for your post.

Question: Do I really need to earn a 2nd Bachelors in light of this? I estimate my GPA outside of my film major is 3.88.
-There are some universities so impacted that they do not allow 2nd Bachelors candidates. I won't be considering those if I must earn a BA in Physics to apply to PhD programs.
-I would not have to repeat the Gen. Ed. req's, rather, transfer with as much prep as possible.
-My community college (in the SF Bay Area) furnishes Physics 4A (Motion, forces, gravity, energy, momentum, rotation, equilibrium, fluids, oscillations, waves, and sound), 4B (Electricity, Magnetism, Thermodynamics), and 4C (Light, interference, relativity, quantum physics, atoms, molecules, and nuclei).
-My community college also offers up to Differential Equations.

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: Low undergrad CGPA in Filmmaking, PhD/MS prospects?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:53 pm

Proteus wrote:Question: Do I really need to earn a 2nd Bachelors in light of this?


I would assume that due to the degree you now have not being related to science and the GPA attached to it, you may need to look into getting this second bachelor's degree. I do think it is quite weird how the system is set up and I'm really not 100% sure how to go about getting a 2nd bachelor's myself. You could contact some programs you may be interested in and let them know your ordeal. However, traditionally they like to see a degree with some relation to science under your belt. I'm not sure that just courses will cut it and from my understanding most PhD programs will frown slightly upon community college courses. It depends where you're trying to get in.

-Riley

Proteus
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Re: Low undergrad CGPA in Filmmaking, PhD/MS prospects?

Postby Proteus » Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:48 am

WhoaNonstop wrote:
Proteus wrote:Question: Do I really need to earn a 2nd Bachelors in light of this?


I would assume that due to the degree you now have not being related to science and the GPA attached to it, you may need to look into getting this second bachelor's degree. I do think it is quite weird how the system is set up and I'm really not 100% sure how to go about getting a 2nd bachelor's myself. You could contact some programs you may be interested in and let them know your ordeal. However, traditionally they like to see a degree with some relation to science under your belt. I'm not sure that just courses will cut it and from my understanding most PhD programs will frown slightly upon community college courses. It depends where you're trying to get in.

-Riley


Sound advice. I will pursue a second bachelors if I must. The other possibility is maxing out transferrable maths/physics courses at the community college level, then taking a few grad level Physics courses, finally applying to a Masters enroute to PhD (plenty of chances to prove my worth and promise)... Right?

Bump for anyone else's valuable input!

bfollinprm
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Re: Low undergrad CGPA in Filmmaking, PhD/MS prospects?

Postby bfollinprm » Tue Jun 12, 2012 10:45 am

You will need a bachelors, but take as much as you can at community college, its more affordable. 2nd bachelors is more a problem at public in state schools since they don't want to subsidize your education twice. You wont get into a masters without a bs first, so look for somewhere to do it...maybe the cal state programs are moee open to the idea.

I have to say this path will be expensive for you, and you will be discriminated against for your background at every point. Just so you know what you're getting into.

TakeruK
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Re: Low undergrad CGPA in Filmmaking, PhD/MS prospects?

Postby TakeruK » Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:48 pm

You will definitely need a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, but not necessarily Physics if you are going for the Planetary Science route. Planetary Science is a growing into its own field and it is multidisciplinary, so while Physics -> Astro -> Planetary Science is a traditional way to approach this field, many programs will accept students from other fields such as geochemistry, atmospheric science, and so on. Of course, it depends on what aspect of "Planetary Science" you are interested in! You will still need a science undergrad degree, and you will have to learn some physics while in grad school, but just saying that you don't need Physics to do some aspects of Planetary Science.

I would also recommend going the community college route as far as you can (probably ~2 years worth of courses), then transferring to a traditional college/university and finishing your degree from that place -- might take 2-3 more years. If you are able to stay at the same school, then you might get away with not having to retake courses/electives outside of your major and save yourself ~1 year. But I think the main fact is that your first degree has nothing to do with what you want to do next, so you will have to be prepared to start at almost the same level as a high school graduate.

On the plus side, multidisciplinary programs such as Planetary Science, will not discriminate against its applicants as much for not following the traditional route (i.e. high school -> college majoring in the field -> grad school) and will probably value your experience and background. That said, you will still need to have the same academic background as the other applicants.

By the way, the PGRE is not very highly weighted in Planetary Sciences -- Arizona's Lunar & Planetary Laboratory (i.e. their PS program) does not even want to see your PGRE score. Caltech's GPS (Geo- + Planetary- Sciences) only "strongly recommended" the PGRE -- Caltech GPS accepted me with a 44 and 51 percentile PGRE scores (while their Physics programs require much much higher).

I think your next steps do depend a lot on what you want your end goal to be (Physics? Astro? Planetary Science?) and the sooner you make a choice, the easier and clearer your path forward will be.

Etranger
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Re: Low undergrad CGPA in Filmmaking, PhD/MS prospects?

Postby Etranger » Tue Jun 12, 2012 3:39 pm

Guys, are you certain that applying to a MS program won't be possible if the OP maintains his 4.0? I can't remember the specifics but somebody on physicsforums.com - they posted in the "who wants to be a mathematician thread?" - had a bachelor's in an arts field and switched to math by taking classes at a community college and then going onto an MS degree. Would taking math and physics courses online not help at all?

If staying in the US proves too expensive, then consider studying in Europe, where tuition fees range from 0-1000 euros per semester. (not the UK!) Universitat Leipzig has a physics bachelor's degree in English. I don't know whether transferring credits from community college or testing out of classes would be possible with them though. In case you're interested, it wouldn't hurt to e-mail them. (google "physik leipzig" and find your way through the department's webpage)

MSc degrees (thanks TakerUK!) in Canada are funded as well.

Just a few ideas...

Proteus
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Re: Low undergrad CGPA in Filmmaking, PhD/MS prospects?

Postby Proteus » Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:49 pm

Let's take the two respectable points made by TakeruK and Etranger and consider them together:

TakeruK wrote:You will definitely need a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, but not necessarily Physics if you are going for the Planetary Science route. Planetary Science is a growing into its own field and it is multidisciplinary, so while Physics -> Astro -> Planetary Science is a traditional way to approach this field, many programs will accept students from other fields such as geochemistry, atmospheric science, and so on. Of course, it depends on what aspect of "Planetary Science" you are interested in! You will still need a science undergrad degree, and you will have to learn some physics while in grad school, but just saying that you don't need Physics to do some aspects of Planetary Science.

On the plus side, multidisciplinary programs such as Planetary Science, will not discriminate against its applicants as much for not following the traditional route (i.e. high school -> college majoring in the field -> grad school) and will probably value your experience and background. That said, you will still need to have the same academic background as the other applicants.

By the way, the PGRE is not very highly weighted in Planetary Sciences -- Arizona's Lunar & Planetary Laboratory (i.e. their PS program) does not even want to see your PGRE score. Caltech's GPS (Geo- + Planetary- Sciences) only "strongly recommended" the PGRE -- Caltech GPS accepted me with a 44 and 51 percentile PGRE scores (while their Physics programs require much much higher).

I think your next steps do depend a lot on what you want your end goal to be (Physics? Astro? Planetary Science?) and the sooner you make a choice, the easier and clearer your path forward will be.

and...
Etranger wrote:Guys, are you certain that applying to a MS program won't be possible if the OP maintains his 4.0? I can't remember the specifics but somebody on physicsforums.com - they posted in the "who wants to be a mathematician thread?" - had a bachelor's in an arts field and switched to math by taking classes at a community college and then going onto an MS degree. Would taking math and physics courses online not help at all?


Hypothesis: If I continue my path as a high achieving Planetary Sciences PhD hopeful, and I take CC classes to work myself up to an MS in [some field conducive to Planetary Sci, if not PS itself], then this is the strongest, most efficient path I may rightfully take enroute to the Planetary Sci PhD.



True? Highly likely? Load of rubbish? Slim, but valid chance? What say you all? I am also female and a minority. How does this change the equation?

Thank you for the input! The picture is getting sharper in my mind.

TakeruK
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Re: Low undergrad CGPA in Filmmaking, PhD/MS prospects?

Postby TakeruK » Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:16 pm

I'm not 100% sure about how US terminal MS programs work, but in Canada, you really do need a bachelor's degree in a related field to enter MSc programs. You generally need to have an honours degree, which mostly means you must have completed a senior thesis project to get your degree. I am certain that community college physics classes will not make a student eligible for a MSc Physics program in Canada. In addition, community college physics classes usually does not fulfill the pre-requisites for graduate level courses in Physics.

Earlier in the thread, you said you want to max out the "transferable" community college classes -- transferring to where/what program? It would make the most sense if you were transferring these to a Physics BSc degree program at a college (where you will also be taking the graduate classes you mention), then graduating with a BSc in Physics, then applying to a PhD program that you are interested in (you can also apply to MS programs as a backup, given your "non-traditional" background).

Actually, I'm not sure it sounds like you would prefer to try to get a MS in place of a BS in physics and then apply to PhDs. It sounds like it would take the same amount of time for you to get a second BS in physics as it would for you to finish the CC courses and (somehow?) use those to get you into a MS program, then finish that MS program.

In addition, grad schools / PhD programs really only care about the 3rd and 4th year courses -- which is why it's not really a disadvantage for students to do 1st/2nd year in a CC then transfer to a traditional college to finish off their undergrad. So not having these courses would be really hard for you to get into grad school, I think.

I'm assuming that the CC you are currently enrolled in only has up to 2nd year level Physics so the most you can get from them is an associate degree. So is your plan to get an associate's degree in math/physics and use that as well as your current BA to apply to MS programs in Physics and then get into a PhD program with your MS in Physics (or whatever field you end up choosing).

So if your question is whether that plan will work -- obviously I can't give a real answer since I'm also just another student. But from researching program requirements, reading these forums, talking to profs about admissions, etc. my opinion is that you will have a very slim chance of that working. In Canada, you would nominally have zero chance of being admitted since you do not meet the minimum requirements. However, it is possible that you can persuade someone to give you a chance but this means they are risking their grant money to fund you so you really have to be very convincing. In the US, I'm not sure how their terminal masters degrees work. It is my opinion that you should spend the time getting a second bachelor's degree in physics/related field instead and then applying for PhD programs directly. A MS degree is meant to be taken after a BS degree, not in place of it.

Proteus
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Re: Low undergrad CGPA in Filmmaking, PhD/MS prospects?

Postby Proteus » Wed Jun 13, 2012 1:54 am

TakeruK wrote:It is my opinion that you should spend the time getting a second bachelor's degree in physics/related field instead and then applying for PhD programs directly. A MS degree is meant to be taken after a BS degree, not in place of it.


Point well taken. I suppose Physics and its related disciplines don't take BA non-science transfers. Now to sift through programs that allow second bachelors candidates. Back (nearly) to square one...!

Etranger
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Re: Low undergrad CGPA in Filmmaking, PhD/MS prospects?

Postby Etranger » Wed Jun 13, 2012 7:29 am

^
Try using CollegeBoard's search feature.

Columbia's School of General Studies has majors in physics, astrophysics and astronomy. Look into that and financial aid there. ;)

bfollinprm
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Re: Low undergrad CGPA in Filmmaking, PhD/MS prospects?

Postby bfollinprm » Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:50 am

To go along with that, the east coast, if you cann move, will probably be an easier path. Less state $ in education so less discrimination against 2nd bachelors. Columbia is one of the few that gives financial aid.

Proteus
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Re: Low undergrad CGPA in Filmmaking, PhD/MS prospects?

Postby Proteus » Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:42 pm

bfollinprm wrote:To go along with that, the east coast, if you cann move, will probably be an easier path. Less state $ in education so less discrimination against 2nd bachelors. Columbia is one of the few that gives financial aid.

There is hope! I am noticing a rather pleasing pattern of "less discrimination" against second bachelor's candidates (what more, specific SOP for people like me) the further East my search goes. I am in California after all, where higher education makes great promises to a great many people, and as such, is beleaguered with bureaucracy, warranted and/or not. With statewide higher education budget cuts and money mismanagement in my face on the community college level, it's no wonder. ...But that's a whole 'nother thread I'll spare you from.
Etranger wrote:^
Try using CollegeBoard's search feature.

Columbia's School of General Studies has majors in physics, astrophysics and astronomy. Look into that and financial aid there. ;)

I didn't find CollegeBoard's search feature all that useful, but I did cross reference a bunch of standard and not-so-standard lists to form what is now a rather comprehensive list of Universities currently accepting second bachelor's candidates in Physics, Astrophysics, Astronomy, and Planetary Scicences/Geology. I have made sure to make specific notes on caveats and whether certain departments and schools do not allow second bachelor's. I will soon make them available on the forums for all the non-traditionals interested out there. :mrgreen:

I think the second bachelor's situation poses an interesting challenge of sensitivity, timing, and self-knowledge that perhaps typical first time undergrads may not have to entertain (at least not with the level of seriousness and confidence that one must demonstrate at the get-go).

My choices are more limited and so are my funds/eligibility of funding, so must aim as high as I can to make myself a worthy investment to a respected undergraduate program that will take me on. From what I've read concerning second bachelor's hopefuls at Top 20 Universities, you've really got to set the record straight and show 'em what you're made of. Show them why you really need a second bachelor's degree. The acceptance rate of second bachelor's candidates at top schools is understandably lower than normal, and my new alma mater experience will truly set the stage for my PhD journey. Will I get in somewhere good? It's exciting and a little daunting. I am an atypical candidate, so how can I show my edge? I must seek internship opportunities and pursue research as a self-imposed requirement before my Junior year, rapidly develop a working intuition of Physics, and really form a sophisticated work ethic, networking scheme, and utility of time.

*Note: While using the search function on various Universities' websites to quickly find the rules on second bachelor's, I would sometimes encounter news on professors and allied researchers who in their time also pursued second bachelor's degrees to get to where they are. And not surprisingly, some of those institutions no longer allow this.


Wow. That was long. Cheers.




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