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How many grad schools should I apply to?

webbkswebbks Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
So. I'm applying

Replies to: How many grad schools should I apply to?

  • webbkswebbks Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    Sorry, accidentally saved the post too early:
    So. I'm starting to research graduate schools to start applications. Right now, I have about 15 schools on my list. 3 of them are masters programs, and 12 are Ph.D. programs, but the 12 are at top schools for my field, which is history.

    I had a miserable freshman year; I got a D the first semester and failed a class the second semester. I ended up with a 2.9 GPA, or something like that. Since then, my GPA hasn't been less than a 3.5 per semester. I haven't taken the GRE yet. I have had three internships in my field, and volunteer experience in my field as well. I'm able to read, write, and speak three relevant languages. I'm in the honors society for my major and have presented, or plan to present, at the conference all four years. I was published in an undergraduate review. I'm also graduating with departmental honors because of my honors thesis.

    I have something written in a personal statement about my grades: It would be disingenuous of me not to address the problems in my background, in relation to poor grades that I received freshman year. I faced a learning curve my freshman year while adjusting to a new environment, but have since excelled in my courses. Since then, I have committed myself to my studies and have made them my top priority, Because of the changes I have made, my GPA has been at least a 3.5.

    Do I have a chance at getting into a good grad program? How many programs should I apply to?
  • MandalorianMandalorian Registered User Posts: 1,455 Senior Member
    edited August 6
    It's ok to use a couple sentences in the personal statement to discuss your grades, but don't harp on it, discussing grades is not the point of the statement. One of the main uses for it is to help pair you up with an advisor based on research interests, be careful not to detract much from that.
  • scmom12scmom12 Registered User Posts: 2,637 Senior Member
    Also for grad school it may make a difference if bad grade was in a class in different area other than history. If so address it (if at all) in terms of " I had a rough go in chemistry but I have 4.0 in history classes". Best is to have strong references and strong personal statement that show you have specific academic goals. Score well on gre!
  • webbkswebbks Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    Thanks, everyone!

    My bad grades were not in history classes (the lowest I've gotten in a history class is a B). I wrote this about my poor grades:
    It would be disingenuous of me not to address the problems in my background, in relation to poor grades that I received freshman year. I faced a learning curve my freshman year while adjusting to a new environment, but have since excelled in my courses. Since then, I have committed myself to my studies and have made them my top priority, Because of the changes I have made, my GPA has been at least a 3.5.
  • WildLupineWildLupine Registered User Posts: 93 Junior Member
    Are you having your academic advisor and other history professors read your personal statement to give you feedback? Your advisor is in a much better position to tell you how to handle this issue than anyone on CC.

    My take on your question: students often have a difficult transition to college, resulting in a few bad grades in the first year. The committee will look at the pattern of your grades and notice that you had a rough start but then figured out how to study and manage your time. If your advisor tells you to keep the acknowledgement in your letter, I would cut the "it would be disingenuous" statement; I'm not sure how failing to mention two low grades from your first year is disingenuous.
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 11,415 Super Moderator
    Yeah, I wouldn't use this. At most, I might say something like this:

    "After a rough start in my freshman year, I've excelled in my courses, with my GPA in my last 60 credits being a 3.5" edited however you need to make it correct.
  • mommyrocksmommyrocks Registered User Posts: 1,099 Senior Member
    edited August 8
    It is okay to apply to 15 grad school programs. I have read of people applying to anywhere from 6 to 15. However, make sure they are not all so competitive that you may not get in. Admissions to PhD programs usually ranges from 5% to 15% admission rate. It is much more competitive than applying to a bachelor's degree program, especially if you are after a fully funded program. Obtaining your own funding can help, so be looking at possible outside funding as well. You may decide to reduce the number of universities you apply to so you can spend more time on each one to make it the best possible application. Some universities may expect you to have already contacted a professor and gotten a professor to agree to sponsor you before they will even consider your application (at least, this is the case with many science PhD programs). Be sure to read all the instructions and application tips on each university's website before applying.
  • warblersrulewarblersrule Super Moderator Posts: 9,375 Super Moderator
    mommyrocks wrote:
    However, make sure they are not all so competitive that you may not get in. Admissions to PhD programs usually ranges from 5% to 15% admission rate.
    I recommend the opposite; aim high or go home. History is an incredibly oversaturated field, particularly if you're studying US history. Graduates of the top PhD programs in history still have a decent shot at a TT job, but your chances are minuscule if you attend a mediocre program. There's no point in slogging through 7-8 years of a program with no real shot at a career in academia afterwards.

    That said, it's good that you plan to apply to at least a couple of master's programs, which are typically less selective than PhD programs. A master's program would give you a chance to beef up your CV and get a better handle on exactly what you want to study.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 28,366 Senior Member
    Be sure you can affford the master's programs you apply to (or find one of the small number of funded master's programs).
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