Grad School for the not so stellar?

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by SamAca10, Jan 29, 2014.

  1. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    I'm interested in going to grad school in a few years but I am pretty concerned about the possibility of it happening. To make a long story short, I went engineering to round myself out (I'm really good at writing, really improved in math these past few years), but my GPA has taken a toll and is below the 3.0 mark. Does anyone here know how good my grad school chances will be in a few years with those factors? Oh and I'm not planning on studying engineering in grad school.
     
  2. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Only speaking from personal experience here. When I applied to my grad school program, I was coming with some real world public relations experience, and a sub 2.5 GPA from CGA (I realized too late "2.0 - Good to Go" was not a good, long-term, motto).

    The associate dean of the graduate school was a West Point grad and understood the "challenged" service academy GPAs.

    Because of my experience I didn't have to complete the GRE, which I was very happy about. I was given a conditional acceptance, provided I kept my GPA above a B for my first two classes.

    I finished my program a year ago with something in the 3.6-3.8 range, which I was happy with.

    Maybe I got lucky with the dean, and with my prior experience, but I did well in the program, and was eventually offered a job by one of my old grad school professors. I certainly appreciated the chance GW took on me, and I've always recommended the school and program to my veteran buddies.
     
  3. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    SamAca, there are several factors that will influence acceptance. First and foremost is the type of program you want to enter. In broad brush strokes, STEM fields tend to be more selective than social sciences or humanities. Since I'm painting with a broad brush, there will of course be exceptions.

    Another factor will be GRE scores, whether or not your desired schools require them. Here's a secret about the GRE (here I'm talking the standard test, not subject tests): Educational Testing Services knows that not everyone who earns a B.A./B.S. took college math, so the math problems tend to be "harder" algebra and geometry problems from middle school and high school. Likewise, not every college graduate had a course in logic, and most college grads who didn't major in English had one semester or one year of college composition. The point of all this is, it is quite a bit simpler to boost your scores with prep books and inexpensive prep courses. Since you're graduating from an exceptionally demanding college accredited by ABET, you're already ahead of that curve. If you test well, it'll be worth it to pour some energy into a good prep and kill the exam.

    You'll also have some credibility if you wait a few years, as you mentioned you would. Life experience matters a lot. In the real world, you work on teams, solve problems (not exercises) collaboratively with people of varying skills, talent, background, commitment to the goal, and opinions about how to do that. Graduate schools seek that.

    Finally, the grad school game tends to be a lot different than the college admissions game. Graduate schools admit serious students who have plans, who don't have to be told what to learn or how to study or where the library is or how to find a paper or what's going to be on the exam. They want people who take initiative, who collaborate well, and who want to contribute as well as having their own personal goals. That sounds a lot like descriptions of service academy graduates.

    It's merely anecdata, but I got into a highly selective STEM grad school, with a stipend and fellowship, and despite a barely-3.0 GPA out of college, because I had very high GRE scores and eight years of solid work experience that I communicated about in ways that made sense to graduate schools. When the time comes, you'll have a clear narrative, tangible results, work experiences, and good GRE scores to counter that one "meh" data point of your undergraduate GPA.
     
  4. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    I also fall into that not so great GPA category from USNA. I was around a 2.7. I did my first Masters while in the USMC. I started going on the weekends then did some online courses while deployed then finished in the classroom. I was on probation for 2 semesters pulled two As and then it was dropped. I graduated with a 3.8. And truthfully... it was a lot more reading and writing then my undergrad but not hard at all. I have since done my second Masters in Systems Engineering. I was a History major at USNA and did my first Masters in a humanities. I did not take the GRE. I think my first Masters and my letters of recommendation from SES level engineers and directors was what got me in. In finished my second Masters with a 3.7. It wasn't that hard. Most of the work is what I do daily.

    There are plenty of chances out there as you can see. Every one of my friends who has completed their Masters after USNA has done much better than they did as undergrads.
     
  5. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    I will add my 19 cents worth.

    I have my BSME from USAFA...with a stellar 2.20 GPA. :eek:

    That got me into a good MPM program at The George Washington University without a GRE.

    Then when I worked for Motorola, I was sent to ASU for an MBA; again, no GMAT required, they liked where my BS came from.

    I am now in a PhD program (Yeah, I'm crazy) here in Arizona...again, they looked at my BS and where it came from, my Masters' level performance, and that was that.

    I will tell you this: my academy education was MUCH harder for me than my two masters and my current PhD program.

    Don't worry...if you want it, and apply yourself, you'll do fine!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  6. Blue&SilverBear

    Blue&SilverBear USAFA Alumnus

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    It depends on how you want to go to grad school...

    Part-time on your own won't be that big of a deal. With military experience, a USCGA degree, and a good GRE/GMAT you should be fine getting in most anywhere for a part-time/executive/online program.

    Full-time on your own might be more of a challenge. You probably won't get into Harvard Business School, but with a good GRE/GMAT you can probably still get into a lot of good schools.

    Keep working hard and do what you can to bring that GPA up! Grad school was a cake walk after USAFA...
     
  7. Physicsguru

    Physicsguru Member

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    Here's another option for you, though I don't know how well it will apply to Coast Guard: military graduate schools.

    I graduated with a 2.47 in a NROTC program with a math major and a minor in fun (thus explaining the low GPA). During my squadron tour I kept getting good fitness reports, and ended up on a flag staff. While on the staff I found out that I had screened for postgrad studies, so I contacted Naval Postgraduate School and found out what programs were available. I split my staff tour and got my MS in Applied Physics at NPS (with a 3.47...I learned my lesson).

    If they're available to you, military postgraduate schools are a great deal. You get paid to go to school, you can go full time with no operational duties concurrent, and many times the programs are marketable in the real world. You do obligate yourself to continued service, so it's more attractive if you're thinking of making a career of the Coast Guard. Do well on your operational tours and you'll have that option available.
     
  8. MabryPsyD

    MabryPsyD Dr. G.

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    Congrats on your doctoral program. You bring up a good point. Undergrad GPA isn't the end-all like it used to be. With the explosion of accessible and affordable masters programs, you can easily make up for a low undergrad GPA.

    My undergrad wasn't....great. However, I credit my master of information tech GPA for the ability to be accepted to my clinical grad programs. With the funding the military provides (TA, 9/11, etc), there is no reason an officer/former officer shouldn't earn a grad degree regardless of undergrad GPA.

    Thank you sir for sharing!
     
  9. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Typically you'll see Coasties going through the Naval War College or Naval Postgraduate School. I had instructors who went to the other war colleges too, or the National Defense University. I have no idea what kind of weight the school's pull in the private sector.... I've always looked at them (rightly or wrongly) as a check in the box for some mid to senior officers. But they haven't really popped up on the outside in my experience.
     

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