Remember your last semester of college and feeling like a worthless piece of crap? The past four years of rewarding fun have become a blur as you begin to think about what the future holds. Yeah, the parties were fun, the people were cool and getting drunk on thirsty Thursdays was part of the norm but unfortunately you’re academics suffered. Your grades are average and your GPA says that you’re just an average person with mediocre grades and you’re thinking to yourself “should I even apply to grad schools”, “will they even take a second look at my application knowing my grades are like this?” Well have a little faith, it’s never too late to get back on track and you can still work hard to get into a good graduate school.
Interestingly enough, studies show that most graduate schools do not weigh their decisions solely on your GPA. They actually factor in other important aspects as well that can help sway their ultimate decision. Just keep in mind, if you really want to get into a good school then you’re going to have to put in that much effort and focus on every other areas of your application besides your GPA.
For instance, your admissions essay can count as a key factor to getting into a good graduate program. If you spend a great deal of time on that and really commit to the topic that you are given, you can write a magnificent essay. It’s good to have someone look over your essay for grammatical errors and spelling errors. Don’t rush through it, really spend time on it then colleges can look past your lack luster performance in grades and really weigh in the fact that your admissions essay is really concise and well thought out and well executed. You can express your passion and eagerness to get into a good grad school and also explain any situation that might have hindered your overall GPA.
You’ve heard of the term, it’s not always what you know but whom you know. Yes, this phrase can help you out in the long run if you know the right people. Find someone who knows the grad school you’re applying to. You’re surrounded by professors who know a lot of people in very high places. Ask one of them to write you a recommendation letter highlighting your talents and skills and why you would be best fit for that grad school. Make them write a letter so good it guarantees that no one would be better suited for that school but you. Colleges look at recommendation letters as a sign student leadership. It can be looked upon as a relationship formed between you and the person writing it, highlighting what you’ve accomplished throughout the years.
What if you don’t know anyone and can’t really bang out a personal statement that is strong enough to get those admissions officers jumping at the seams of their pants? Consider improving your academic record by taking classes at the grad school that you want to attend. This method is a smart way to literally get your foot in the door and show admissions officers (when it comes time to apply for full matriculation) that you can actually perform well in a graduate studies program. The key to this trick is actually doing well to counter whatever low grades you got as an undergrad. By taking a couple of classes and performing well, you’ll open yourself up to a possible strong recommendation from a university professor and possibly be able to bypass submitting GRE scores (for those of us who aren’t so standardized savvy).
If at first you don’t succeed dust yourself off and try again. That’s the beauty of school, it always going to be here, so if you apply the first time and don’t get in, try and try again. It pays to be consistent and driven and if you’re an ambitious person then 10-1 you’ll get into a good graduate school. So get going, get motivated, and get to work!