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Thread: Bad GPA, no recommendations, but at least ETS doesn't think I'm stupid. Am I screwed?

  1. #1
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    Bad GPA, no recommendations, but at least ETS doesn't think I'm stupid. Am I screwed?

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    This story is a little convoluted, so bear with me if you can.

    I graduated from Willamette University in 2002 with a BS in chemistry. During my time there, I managed to fall out of favor with just about every chemistry prof in the department. To make matters worse, I finished with a spectacular overall GPA of 2.7 (2.3 within my major). My utter lack of performance wasn't due to a lack of knowledge or ability - it was because I was forced by my parents to major in something I thoroughly despised.

    After graduation, the parental pressure continued - they wanted me to get into graduate school. I moved north to Seattle from my childhood home in western Oregon, feigning interest in the University of Washington's graduate programs. You can probably guess at what my real motives were.

    Anyway, over the past three years, I've managed to get sucked into a career as a software developer by accident. It's the same damn thing every day - I wake up, go to work and sit in front of a monitor for nine hours, then go home and not have the mental energy to do anything. It makes me enough money to be comfortable, but I'm completely disaffected. My heart's just not in it.

    Realizing how completely unsatisfying my occupation is, I was caught up in an unprecedented wave of motivation - for the first time in my entire life, I actually WANTED to go to school. I took the GRE and scored pretty well - 760 Verbal, 770 Quantitative, and 5.5 Analytical Writing. I took some graduate classes in chemistry at UW just to confirm that I really hated it for what it was, and not just because it was forced upon me. It didn't take much of that crap to confirm what I already knew. In the process, however, I rediscovered my long-lost love for meteorology. It was quite liberating to have finally found something I was passionate in.

    Now that I've finally gotten my shizzle together, the frustration has set in. With no good recommendations, a crummy GPA, and not having had the benefit of an analog undergrad program (not just that I didn't take atmo courses at WU ... they didn't even have an atmo department), how do I even begin to start my march into grad school? The only things I've got to my credit are decent GRE scores and an unlimited well of motivation. I'd really prefer to stay on the immediate West Coast, but other than that, I really have no preference as to where I end up. I'll gladly move to a shack in the middle of the windblown eastern Oregon desert if it means I can get into a grad program.

    Help!

  2. #2
    Within my grasp! Anand Iyer's Avatar
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    Re: Bad GPA, no recommendations, but at least ETS doesn't think I'm stupid. Am I scre

    Dinglehoser, welcome to TM.

    Anyway, over the past three years, I've managed to get sucked into a career as a software developer by accident. It's the same damn thing every day - I wake up, go to work and sit in front of a monitor for nine hours, then go home and not have the mental energy to do anything. It makes me enough money to be comfortable, but I'm completely disaffected. My heart's just not in it.
    Man, you are in the same state as I am! Just the difference that I am in the miserable state for the past 1.9 years

    how do I even begin to start my march into grad school?
    Try to express your thirst for higher studies in your SoP. Spend maximum time on it. You must be knowing that SoP plays a very important role in your application process.

    Keep your faith, and apply with confidence. Do your part well, and the rest will take care of itself.

    Good luck!

  3. #3
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    Re: Bad GPA, no recommendations, but at least ETS doesn't think I'm stupid. Am I screwed?

    Nice story. I am impressed with your determination. You're an excellent writer too:-)

    Don't be disgusted with your profile. I have a crummy GPA too and I managed to make it to UMN. Keep on looking for programs in Meteorology at the West Coast. Have u tried Berkeley? Does Oregon State University offer a Meteorology program?

    Don't be discouraged and maintain your persistence. I'm sure you'll get into a nifty grad program in Meteorology soon...

    All the best,
    Tashkenty

  4. #4
    WhenHarryMetSally
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    Re: Bad GPA, no recommendations, but at least ETS doesn't think I'm stupid. Am I scre

    Where's your profile posted, tashkenty? I have a bad GPA too, and applied to only 3 places and don't hope to get into any (already rejected by Rice and UCSB, if UTA rejected bigredx24x they will certainly reject me). And these were pretty good universities. I majored in a different field in my undergrad because I couldn't get into a program that I liked, but then took some EE courses during masters and found I really liked it, and didn't do so badly in those courses. But I think it is only the total GPA that matters. I am wondering if taking some more grad EE courses will help me apply next year - other than that, there is nothing I can do at this point - I cannot get any research experience. The courses sometimes have extensive projects, though. After that, I will be too old to go to grad school, I think. My cumulative GPA is 3.2, EE GPA is 3.6, from a top EE school. My GRE scores are 640 verbal (91 percentile), 690 analytical (84 percentile, took it in 2001, yes, I am that old, the scores will be valid for one more year) and 800 quantitative (98 percentile). Is there any hope in any way that a good university might accept me?

    Quote Originally Posted by tashkenty
    Nice story. I am impressed with your determination. You're an excellent writer too:-)

    Don't be disgusted with your profile. I have a crummy GPA too and I managed to make it to UMN. Keep on looking for programs in Meteorology at the West Coast. Have u tried Berkeley? Does Oregon State University offer a Meteorology program?

    Don't be discouraged and maintain your persistence. I'm sure you'll get into a nifty grad program in Meteorology soon...

    All the best,
    Tashkenty

  5. #5
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    Re: Bad GPA, no recommendations, but at least ETS doesn't think I'm stupid. Am I screwed?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dinglehoser
    This story is a little convoluted, so bear with me if you can.

    I graduated from Willamette University in 2002 with a BS in chemistry. During my time there, I managed to fall out of favor with just about every chemistry prof in the department. To make matters worse, I finished with a spectacular overall GPA of 2.7 (2.3 within my major). My utter lack of performance wasn't due to a lack of knowledge or ability - it was because I was forced by my parents to major in something I thoroughly despised.

    After graduation, the parental pressure continued - they wanted me to get into graduate school. I moved north to Seattle from my childhood home in western Oregon, feigning interest in the University of Washington's graduate programs. You can probably guess at what my real motives were.

    Anyway, over the past three years, I've managed to get sucked into a career as a software developer by accident. It's the same damn thing every day - I wake up, go to work and sit in front of a monitor for nine hours, then go home and not have the mental energy to do anything. It makes me enough money to be comfortable, but I'm completely disaffected. My heart's just not in it.

    Realizing how completely unsatisfying my occupation is, I was caught up in an unprecedented wave of motivation - for the first time in my entire life, I actually WANTED to go to school. I took the GRE and scored pretty well - 760 Verbal, 770 Quantitative, and 5.5 Analytical Writing. I took some graduate classes in chemistry at UW just to confirm that I really hated it for what it was, and not just because it was forced upon me. It didn't take much of that crap to confirm what I already knew. In the process, however, I rediscovered my long-lost love for meteorology. It was quite liberating to have finally found something I was passionate in.

    Now that I've finally gotten my shizzle together, the frustration has set in. With no good recommendations, a crummy GPA, and not having had the benefit of an analog undergrad program (not just that I didn't take atmo courses at WU ... they didn't even have an atmo department), how do I even begin to start my march into grad school? The only things I've got to my credit are decent GRE scores and an unlimited well of motivation. I'd really prefer to stay on the immediate West Coast, but other than that, I really have no preference as to where I end up. I'll gladly move to a shack in the middle of the windblown eastern Oregon desert if it means I can get into a grad program.

    Help!
    Well, I believe that all is not lost but 2.7 GPA is usually below the 3.0 cutoff GPA of most graduate programs. I know since I too had a 2.77 GPA for undergrad, but I got into a masters program (I had 3.1 major GPA) from a local state school and ended up with 3.93 GPA and got some pretty good recommendations. But I was applying for Ph.D programs. I'm going to assume here that you are applying for masters programs. I think you would need to take some Atmos classes (maybe at UW since you've already taken some classes there) and get A's in all of them. Hopefully, you'll get to know some professors (it might be really tough since you're working full time) and maybe get into some research in the field.

    My thought is that without taking more classes and getting to know some professors, your chances at grad school is pretty slim, especially since Atmospheric Sciences is not offered everywhere (some offer Earth Systems Science). The ideal situation is that you take some classes at UW, get good grades and catch the attention of some profs who can get you into their graduate program. The problem you might have in your scenario is that you may get into a grad program but not into the grad school. Let me explain. Sometimes, profs in the grad program can recommend you for admission, but you don't make the cutoff for the grad school (this happened to a friend and she had to appeal). So, maybe you can take enough courses to pull up your GPA to 3.0. Even though your undergrad GPA is fixed, you can explain that your last 60 units GPA (some schools ask this) is over 3.0.

    I don't think explaining that your low GPA is due to parental pressures and actually hating chemistry in your SOP is going to fly. I believe that grad school wants mature and responsible adults who can take responsibility for their actions and even persevere through things they don't like. You have to demonstrate how you've grown in the last 3 years in your SOP to have a case. I don't know if your profile is ready to apply this year, especially since you just found your long lost love. Give yourself some time to take more classes and make sure you really want a grad degree for you not because of your parents and not because you hate your current job. I would also talk to the graduate counselor at UW and express your interest and see what he thinks. If knowledge and interest of meteorology is overflowing from your pores, then you might make an impression and he can give you tips on how to get in. Good luck!
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  6. #6
    WhenHarryMetSally
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    Re: Bad GPA, no recommendations, but at least ETS doesn't think I'm stupid. Am I scre

    Very well said, scheng. Do you have any advice for me? (I posted the 3rd post on this thread) I really need some sound, practical advice.

  7. #7
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    Re: Bad GPA, no recommendations, but at least ETS doesn't think I'm stupid. Am I scre

    Quote Originally Posted by WhenHarryMetSally
    Very well said, scheng. Do you have any advice for me? (I posted the 3rd post on this thread) I really need some sound, practical advice.
    I would love to offer whatever knowledge I have, which will be limited because I'm not in EE. But do you think you can start a new thread of your own? I try not to "hijack" other people's threads so they can get the help they need. When you start the new thread, you can put your situation in more details. I do wonder why you only applied to 3 schools if you have your heart set on going to grad school? Also, your GRE Analytical score strikes me as a little low for EE. My initial thoughts...please start new thread.
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  8. #8
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
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    Re: Bad GPA, no recommendations, but at least ETS doesn't think I'm stupid. Am I screwed?

    Thanks to everybody for your insight. You've given me a lot of great ideas and a sense of direction. I think I'll try to weasel my way into some undergrad atmos courses and hopefully kick some rear. If I can average 3.7 or higher over 20-25 units, hopefully that will be sufficient to help me prove to the admissions people that I am a little smarter than your average granite slab.

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