Wednesday, January 03, 2007

applying to grad school (3)

Undergrads often ask which is most important in their grad school applications: their letters of reference, statement of purpose, or transcripts. The answer is all three: your application will be picked over by a committee whose individual members may well rate the significance of each of these differently.

Some undergrads, by second or third year, have convinced themselves that university grades don't matter in life. That may be largely true. But the one place where university grades are important is ... universities. If you're planning to apply to grad school or medical school or law school or whatever, your university marks will be important. I have seen many grad student applicants explain that their low first and second (and sometimes third) year marks are unrepresentative, that they saw the light on the road to Damascus sometime in third year, and therefore their higher upper year marks better demonstrate their potential. Maybe. This may well convince members of the grad committee to accept you ... or they may ask you to do a make-up year or take some make-up courses, to confirm that the good student is the real you. Better to do well in courses the first time.

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