Dream University with a Bad GPA?

posted at April 23, 2019, 4:04 p.m.


The simple answer is you have to make the best of what is left and play to your strengths. Here are the components of your profile that you can still use to elevate your application:

GRE: Often, universities only view the GRE as a filtering parameter. Universities get thousands of applications and reading every one of them is impossible. Hence they use the GRE to figure out whether the application is worth reading. Decisions between two strong profiles taken based on the GRE are rare (A lot of top Canadian and European schools don’t even require the GRE). However, a good GRE score is looked at as a reflection of the student’s aptitude. Since the GPA is on the lower side, a higher GRE score (more than the class average) would help your chances. However, don’t count on it because like we mentioned before, decisions between two very similar applicants made based on GRE are rare. The more important aspects you should tweak are below.

Get Work Experience: Work ex is often underrated in terms of how it can elevate your application and help you in your job search in the USA. If you have good projects as a part of your work, you will have a lot of content to put into your SoP and the chances of you having a more compelling narrative increase. Admissions committees will also look favorably upon the experiences that you bring into the class. Good work experience will help you cover up any academic deficiencies you have to a certain extent because you are showing another dimension of your profile to the admissions committee. It will also give you the possibility of having solid letters of recommendation from your managers. All of this can serve your chances well.

(SoP) Statement of Purpose: The most crucial aspect of your application. Students often write the statement of purpose like an extended resume and a glowing narrative of their achievements. The admissions process isn’t a competition of who brags best. You need to have clear long term goals, and you need to show how you’ve been working towards your goals. This is where the nature of your research papers and work experience comes in. If your projects in college were web development related, a couple of your research papers on AI and a couple of others on some other field of CS, you would struggle to present a coherent narrative as to why you want to pursue a Stanford CS degree. You also have to show how deeply you’ve thought about a masters degree in terms of your career and goals. If you can present a coherent narrative in a short and compelling document that is your SoP, you are on your way to a great admit. We’ve seen great SoPs elevate ordinary profiles and incoherent ones derail even the strongest profiles.

Strong Letters of Recommendation (LoRs): These are often ignored by so many Indian applicants. A lot of LoRs are just a long paragraph of praise. It involves the recommender talking about ten different qualities of a student and making it seem like the student is a flawless masterpiece! Such letters do nothing for your applications. LoRs have to compliment the SoP. There has to be 2–3 qualities along with an endorsement of technical skills relevant to the student’s goals which are backed by examples. Well-founded letters from the right people sometimes land you the admit straight away!

A graduate school application is like a painting. There are different aspects of it that need to come together to paint a picture. If one shade is missing, you can still use other aspects of your profile to paint the right picture and ensure you aren’t judged only by one attribute.