YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!

  • This has become our largest and most active forum because the physics GRE is just one aspect of getting accepted into a graduate physics program.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

astroboy08
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 3:46 am

YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!

Postby astroboy08 » Sat May 17, 2014 4:04 am

Now that I have your attention, I would love your advice. I have one more semester left as an undergrad and have decided to try to persue grad school. The problem is that I won't meet the minimum gpa requirement for most schools even if I ace everything. I'm less then a point off. I was going trough a rough time( I was coming to terms with my sexuality and coming out) and completley failed a semseter. If I tell them this in my statment and my gre scores are good do I stand a chance? If not what steps can I take to get into a grad school. If it helps, I am a minority,and come from a top 5 physics department with a lot of research. I know its awkward to say but I hear it helps.Thanks in advanced.

TakeruK
Posts: 813
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!

Postby TakeruK » Sun May 18, 2014 4:06 am

astroboy08 wrote:Now that I have your attention, I would love your advice. I have one more semester left as an undergrad and have decided to try to persue grad school. The problem is that I won't meet the minimum gpa requirement for most schools even if I ace everything. I'm less then a point off. I was going trough a rough time( I was coming to terms with my sexuality and coming out) and completley failed a semseter. If I tell them this in my statment and my gre scores are good do I stand a chance? If not what steps can I take to get into a grad school. If it helps, I am a minority,and come from a top 5 physics department with a lot of research. I know its awkward to say but I hear it helps.Thanks in advanced.


It really depends on what the schools mean when they say minimum GPA requirement. For a lot of programs, the published minimum GPA requirement is the minimum allowed by the University Faculty of Graduate Studies (or equivalent) to be admitted, and so the actual GPA of people admitted may be much higher. (For example, one school's minimum is a 65% average but the actual averages for admitted students range in 85%-90%). In this case, if you are barely going to make the minimum, you may be severely below the applicant pool.

However, sometimes the "minimum" means the lowest GPA they have admitted. Your chances would be much better if this was the definition.

You say you have a lot of research experience and I think this will be your strongest factor that will help you get admitted despite being near the minimum. I think at most places, people will appreciate the extra difficulty you faced being a minority (perhaps in more ways than one), and you should discuss this in the right place in your application. My advice would be to keep your SOP focussed on your research experience, academic background and future career plans, and discuss the personal difficulties you faced in achieving what you did in a "Personal History Statement" (or similarly named essay). For schools that only ask for a SOP, then I think this should be included in the SOP too, but I would also take it as a sign that this program wants to hear more about your research/academic experience than your personal experience so make sure the focus is on the former.

Good luck!

astroprof
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:47 pm

Re: YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!

Postby astroprof » Mon May 19, 2014 1:23 pm

If your low GPA is primarily due to just one bad semester, you may still have a chance at admission even if you do not meet the stated minimum GPA requirements. For example, the minimum GPA requirements at my institution are set by the University Graduate School, not by the department, but we can petition to have a student admitted if we can justify why we think they will succeed in our program despite their poor academic record (evidence of research experience/success is the best antidote to poor academic performance). The other issue is that we care much more about your recent academic record than your past, so if you have good grades this year and next, that can mitigate a poor performance early on. In that vein, you may wish to enroll for a full course load for the full academic year, even if you only need one more semester to graduate, so that you have more courses to balance out the ones with bad grades.

You may also wish to consider applying to Masters programs as an intermediary step. Our program has accepted several students who had less than stellar performance as undergraduates, but performed well as masters students and thereby demonstrated that they were ready for the rigors of graduate school. There are a handful of programs that fund Masters-only students. Some of the more notable in Astronomy are San Diego State, Wesleyan University, Fisk-Vanderbilt, and Columbia University (search for Masters-to-PhD Bridge programs).

Finally, I would recommend a *brief* mention of your academic difficulties in your personal statement, along the lines that (1) your poor performance in year X was due to a personal situation and (2) through that experience you have learned Y and (3) you are now even more determined to succeed in Z. If you want the committee to know more than that, I recommend asking one of your letter writers to address it in their letter, rather than using space in your SOP (which should be emphasizing your research experience and your fit to the graduate program).




Return to “Prospective Physics Graduate Student Topics”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests