In our last post, we gave some suggestions for graduate school applicants with low undergraduate GPAs. Remember, a low undergraduate GPA does not mean you have to kiss your graduate school dreams goodbye. Here are some more tips on how to make an application with a low undergraduate GPA more attractive to graduate schools.
Retake the GRE until you have a stellar score. Thanks to ETS’s new ScoreSelect policy, you now have nothing to lose by taking the GRE multiple times. (Graduate schools won’t even see your lowest scores!) If you took the GRE already and are not satisfied with your score, study harder and retake the test to see if you can get a higher score. A high GRE score can do wonders for offsetting a low undergraduate GPA, particularly if several years have passed between your college graduation and your application to graduate school.
Take some graduate-level courses and do well on them. Graduate schools look at your undergraduate GPA because it is a pretty good predictor of how well you will be able to handle graduate-level coursework. If you have a low GPA, take a couple graduate-level courses at your local university to demonstrate that you are capable of doing graduate-level coursework. Admissions committees will generally be impressed that you took the initiative to pursue high-level coursework independently.
Make sure the other parts of your application are strong. If you have a low undergraduate GPA, you are already at a disadvantage for admissions, so you want to make sure that all the other parts of your application are exceptionally strong. Make sure you seek out recommenders who will write stellar recommendations, not just good ones. (You want a recommender who will say that she remembers you as one of her best students ever, not just as a pleasant person to have in class.) Likewise, take the time to write and rewrite your personal statement until you are satisfied it is an example of your best work. A strong personal statement that clearly outlines your reasons for attending graduate school and how it will help you accomplish your future career goals will go a long way in favorably impressing admissions officers.
If at first you don’t succeed, reapply, reapply again. You may get rejected the first time you apply to graduate school. Don’t be discouraged! This happens to a lot of people, even those with exceptionally high GPAs. If you are rejected one year, take some time to reevaluate your application and see what parts of it you can strengthen. (Could your personal statement use a little more work? Could your GRE scores be just a little higher? Do you need stronger letters of recommendation?) Spend some time reworking your application and reapply next year. Don’t be afraid to reapply to the same program. Reapplying simply shows that you are still highly interested in the program and are not easily discouraged, qualities graduate schools tend to seek out.