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Is applying to grad school a stupid idea with my stats?

letterboxletterbox Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
edited November 2012 in Graduate School
I want to apply to a Ph.D program in political theory, but there are two issues with my transcript that I think could prevent me from being accepted anywhere, let alone to a program of my choice.

My Quantitative score on the GRE was abysmal -- 27th percentile. Verbal was 96th percentile, 5.5 AW.

My GPA is 2.9, but my major GPA is 3.5, and I've never gotten less than an A- in a political theory course. My low cumulative is due to a struggle with major depressive disorder that lasted from my freshman year until recently. I spent my first two years at a Seven Sisters college and kept up a 3.4 GPA, but transferred to a small state university when my funding ran out. My GPA at the higher-ranked school was actually better than my GPA at the mediocre university school. There are two medical withdrawals on my transcript.

I'm a research assistant for my university's only political theorist and have worked with him for the past two years. I was also a TA for him last year in an Honors class, and have TA'd intro Economics classes. I completed an Honors thesis last spring and have been president of the Political Science Student Association for 3 years. I have excellent letters of recommendation from professors who are adamant that I pursue my Ph.D, even with the holes in my transcript.

Does the combination of my GPA and Quantitative score put me out of the running for grad school altogether? I have no delusions about attending a top program, but I'm hesitant to waste money applying anywhere if I'm doomed to automatic rejection.

Post edited by letterbox on

Replies to: Is applying to grad school a stupid idea with my stats?

  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 9,640 Senior Member
    With political theory it could go either way. I know that some political science programs care about the quant scores on the GRE, because they are quantitative programs that do highly quant research. I would imagine that if you're not so good at math, you aren't aiming for those kinds of programs. I'm assuming that political theory is less quantitative, so perhaps your quant score won't matter much. I know for English and history programs, for example, the department sometimes doesn't care so much about the quant score as long as it's not so low as to raise eyebrows with the graduate school.

    Are you completely out of the running? Of course not. Your major GPA is pretty good and other than your low cumulative, you actually have a relatively strong file. Talk to those professors who are adamant that you pursue a PhD, and ask them for advice on programs that you should apply to. You may also want to consider applying to a few great MA programs just in case, as they may be a springboard into a PhD program.
  • letterboxletterbox Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    Thank you! I scheduled a meeting with my theory professor tomorrow to figure out which programs I should apply to.
  • EMU2012EMU2012 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    I think you have a decent shot given your secondary resume builders. The low quant score shouldn't hurt you too much in theory, but every program is different. The high verbal score should impress them enough to read the rest of your file, which looks to be in good shape.

    If you don't make the cut this year, take the time and money to take a Princeton Review GRE course to help you with the quant section. You don't have to be good at math to score high on the test, you just have to learn some tricks and work hard. Once you've done that, take the GRE again and try next year.
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