Advice for Undergrad with Bad College Record

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
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Advice for Undergrad with Bad College Record

Post by Infaemous » Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:02 pm

I had a rough first three years doing my Undergrad in Math. I failed a Differential Equations class one semester, Had to withdraw from the University halfway through another semester, and came back Fall 2020 for the next semester to be interrupted by Covid and ended up opting for Pass/Fail grading. This is my fourth year, but because I lost so much time it's going to take me at least and extra semester or two to finish my degree. Overall I have ~3.1 GPA, and absolutely no research experience. The only extra things I have to my record currently are four semesters tutoring for work-study, and an 8 on the Putnam.

I'm still in good standing with my University (it's in the 50 - 75 range by the U.S. News rankings), and I still need about 30 Credit hours to graduate. So given these parameters, what's the best course of action if I want to have a shot at getting accepted at a reasonable PhD program with funding.

I was having a lot of personal issues for those first three years that I think I've managed to get in control of. I'm on track to getting high A's in my Math courses this semester, and I think I can maintain that until I graduate. I received Pass for Intro Analysis I and Linear Algebra II in Fall 2020. This year, I'm taking Intro Analysis II, Abstract Algebra I and II, and Complex Analysis for sure. After that I'll be taking a course on Topology and I have a few options for Math courses to fill the remaining credit hour requirements. I understand that Analysis, Algebra, and Topology at the Senior level are the courses that admissions committees care about the most.

I plan on putting specific effort on studying for the GRE Math subject test. Will that plus getting excellent grades in the next year and a half make much of a difference?

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Re: Advice for Undergrad with Bad College Record

Post by jjmb11 » Sat Oct 10, 2020 1:18 pm

Honestly I think if you improve your grades over the next few semesters, it will help your profile a lot more than you realize. If you can consistently manage good grades from here on out, it will be pretty obvious to anyone looking that something has happened to get you back on track. I know it's frustrating not to graduate on time, but the extra semesters could be a real gift since you have more time to show improvement. And if you take the time to explain the situation in your personal statement, I think that could really help soothe any worries admissions committees might have.

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Re: Advice for Undergrad with Bad College Record

Post by chrisps1992 » Sat Oct 10, 2020 7:40 pm

I had really bad first 2 semesters at my undergrad. Basically I had WF which counts as an F on your transcript for nearly every class. To give you an idea, my gpa was 2.1 my sophomore year. I got my act together and retook most of the courses I got a WF in and brought my gpa up to 3.7 by graduation (although my math GPA was 4.0). I subsequently was admitted to one of my top choices for grad school and was at the top of the waitlist for another. Of course it would have been better if the WFs never happened, but I think admission committees can look past some of it if you show concrete evidence of growth and change. I would say make sure you have 4.0 gpa in your final three semesters.

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Re: Advice for Undergrad with Bad College Record

Post by defen » Sat Oct 10, 2020 8:15 pm

You'd have better chances doing a master's first.

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