How to compensate for a low GPA in your application?

Many a time a lot of our students ask this question. I have a low CGPA.. How do I improve my chances for an admit to a good graduate program? You fervently want to get into a good graduate school, but feel uncertain and hazy over your prospects of getting selected due to your low college/school GPA? If this is the story of your life, read on. This post is dedicated to expound on how to counter low GPAs during application process. While college GPA is an important parameter for application processing, it is not all, and there are ways to deal with it.

We have listed a few such ways to provide you insights and make your lives simpler!

1. Target for a high GRE/GMAT score

If you’ve had low GPA in your college, but a good score on standardized tests like the GRE or the GMAT, it reflects to the admission committee that while you’ve had low scores in college, you have a reasonably good aptitude and intellectual capabilities. Also scores in college exams are very often a bit subjective since grading pattern/scales and also evaluation criteria and class difficulty differ hugely across countries. Since standardized tests are not subject to such differing patterns, it is a very good indicator of your aptitude since everybody is tested on the same grounds. Thus, if you score reasonably good in these tests, your chances to get selected will significantly escalate.

2. Take responsibility and offer an explanation

While a high GRE/GMAT score might prove your intellectual capabilities, you still cannot get rid of that low GPA simply with a high GRE/GMAT score. That’s because such a condition suggests that while you are intellectually capable, you are possibly less motivated. It is thus critical not to disregard your low GPA just because you have a decent GRE/GMAT score. Take responsibility for your low GPA in college in your application. There are a number of reasons of low GPA like illness, family issues, lack of maturity, lack of interest/motivation, switch in teachers etc. You could possibly choose one of these and expound on them. When you take a responsibility for your poor grades with a justification, it gives an impression to the admissions committee of your maturity and drive to improve. You could discuss your poor grades in a personal statement or in an additional information field in application form.

3. Try and get a good recommendation letter

A good rapport with a professor can be a life-saver in case of low GPA. Develop close relationships with teachers and professors so that they may help you with your recommendation letter. A good recommendation letter from a professor that speaks of how you are improving consistently may come as a brownie point. Have an explicit discussion with the teachers/professors you have good rapport with.

4. Extracurricular or outside enrichment classes

These are often the most strong compensatory steps in your application for your low GPA. You could point out how you spent tons of time on extracurricular activities like sports, arts, competitions, contests, internships, part time jobs, other enrichment classes/certificate courses etc. Colleges often like to have a diverse pool of students in their campus. So if you have been significantly active in say sports, highlight that. Most colleges are often forgiving when they get a good reason to believe that you have been prolific in other activities outside academics.

5. Take additional learning courses

When you take additional learning courses, it comes as a brownie point.  It gives an impression to the admissions’ committee that you have a drive and motivation to learn. You may consider taking up online e-learning courses (which are becoming very popular these days) or certificate courses with some learning center or university etc. This can give your application a reasonable weight-age. You could also use this to counter for a low GPA in a particular subject. Say, for example, if you didn’t do well in Operations Research subject in your college, you could take up e-learning courses from platforms like Course-Era in the same subject and display your proficiency there and mention in your application that since you could not have the opportunity to do well, you decided to take up a course on Operations Research to enhance your competence.

6. Wait to apply – Double Masters’

If you are ardently passionate about going to a good university abroad, you may consider waiting. By waiting, we mean, you may enroll yourself into a masters’ course in some college in the country itself and perform well, gain competence and then apply for a double masters’ in universities abroad. While this can be taxing, it escalates your chances significantly and make your application really strong and convincing, displaying your vigour and enthusiasm to learn.

We at Skill Maestro have provided admissions counseling to hundreds of students with this age-old story of the’ low GPA trap’, and have successfully enabled their applications to get selected at many reputed universities like North-Eastern University, Carnegie Mellon University, New York University etc.  You are always welcome!

About Skill Maestro

At Skill Maestro, We guide prospective students about the entire application process as well as suitable universities as per their profile/test scores. We have consulted dozens of prospective students for MIS across the globe. We have a physical presence in Indore where we also help students prepare for GRE, GMAT & SAT


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