It's not unusual for a grad school applicant to worry about how their undergrad
GPA might affect their admissions chances, notes Senior Consultant Heather
Macneill. Many misgivings can be put to rest by understanding how
committees look at academic records.
"Many schools will look at several GPAs when reviewing an application," says
Heather. "Your cumulative GPA is almost always reviewed, but many schools will
also ask you to calculate your major GPA, as well as a 'recent' GPA. That gives
them a better idea of how you performed in your major classes and in your recent
Admissions committees typically distinguish between undergraduate and graduate
coursework as well, says Heather. "Graduate programs will usually consider your
undergraduate and graduate GPA separately. Certainly, doing well in a recent
masters program will work in your favor for admission to a PhD program, since it
proves that you can succeed academically at the graduate level."
The most important thing to remember, says Heather, is that your GPA is only one
part of your application file. Admissions committees will consider your GPA in
the context of the other materials you submit. "Most of your application will
come down to the telling your story," says Heather. "It's critical that you
communicate to the admissions committee your motivation and readiness for
graduate study. That's why it's important to provide strong letters of
recommendation and essays that detail the unique skills and experience you can
bring to a graduate program. These are the elements of an application that often
have the biggest impact in admissions decisions."
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