I'm applying to grad programs in Near and Middle East Studies, as well as Islamic studies, this Fall. Some of these programs are at Yale, UPenn, Cornell and many of the "top tier" schools; with the exception of a few public schools, most of the programs in these fields are located at the Ivies. With that said, I'm now doubting whether I've got what it takes to make the cut. I graduated from a public school (Middle East studies major, minors in History and Philosophy) with a 3.75 GPA (magna cum laude), an honors thesis, 1480 on the GRE, and some good recommendations. However, I started out at a CC and ended up with a 3.2 before I transfered and now I'm worried this might hurt my chances. Is there anyone out there pursuing grad school in the same or related fields with any advice?
hey neareast...i'm applying to essentially the same sorts of programs as you (middle eastern studies, islamic studies, etc). My stats are similar to yours except my CC GPA was like a 3.7 and my GRE scores are 200 points lower...I can't say that i've spoken with people at Yale or Cornell...but in my undergrad I spoke with professors from the near eastern languages/religions at UPenn and they seemed to care a lot about language acquisition and abroad experience more so than GPA (especially from a CC).
UCLA had a graduate fair for people hoping to get graduate degrees in International relations disciplines. I spoke with graduate school reps from other unis like Georgetown and SAIS, and each one had different things that they were looking for in their students. Georgetown told me that they really like to see good recs, work experience/research in the field and that it's an extra plus if it is done abroad. SAIS told me that they really like to see people with backgrounds in economics, who have studied abroad and have learned a middle eastern language.
What i learned from speaking with the reps from various grad schools was that each one is looking for something completely different in a student. Some looked exclusively at GPA, others liked the recs, but the biggy for most of them was studying abroad/working abroad. All in all, i highly doubt that a poor gpa in a cc will be a turnoff (especially since you improved), but then again, you never really know...this whole process seems completely subjective anyway.
does anyone know if the grades of the courses taken at a community college, i.e. during the summer, will be included in the overall gpa when seen by graduate schools?
i ask this because the grades of courses taken in community colleges do not transfer into the university's gpa, but for applying to graduate school, it may be different.
thanks for any input.
some schools have separate areas to fill out your gpas for each school...some ask just for a general overall GPA and a general major GPA..
I have attended 4 undergraduate institutions (2 CCs, UCLA and study abroad), and all the school reps that i asked (where you weren't able to fill in a GPA for each school) told me to average them all together...be sure when you do this to pay attention to the number of units per class and convert quarter units into semester units etc...
what if i only attended a community college for one summer and got a C? that gpa would just be based on one course then, a 2.0. hopefully it doesnt count then. what schools did you talk to or ask, if you dont mind me asking?
does anyone else have input? thanks.
The grad applications I filled out were only interested in transcripts from schools I had earned a degree from.
it really depends on the school...
some universities ask for transcripts from all schools attended, while others ask only for the ones you got a degree from...all of the ones i applied for asked for transcripts from ALL schools attended...you see i have UCLA+year abroad school+ 2 CCs, one of which i only took one class at. I still have to send it out and spend the freaking $6.
I would like to know if it is advisable to emphasize personal background on the SOP. Specifically, I would like to know if the admissions consider the "life stories" of the applicants (say a first generation immigrant, first generation college student, as well as part gypsy)?
I also want to know how good of a chance I have at getting into the University of Madison for the history program there. I am aware that they require the submission of a published paper, but I am not exactly sure what this entails. I had a 4.0 GPA during my freshman year at a smaller school in Connecticut before I transferred to the University of Minnesota TC where I entered their honors program. While there my GPA dropped a bit (3.8/.7) due largely to the fact that I took some management courses. However, I already took an internship at a Superior Court, but I am also planning on doing research for a history professor, study abroad, and so on. I am also confident about the GRE.
I would be grateful for any comments.
this is something very important that a lot of applicants seem to miss...
there is a difference between a statement of purpose (a graduate school thing) and a personal statement (an undergraduate thing). A statement of purpose should address why you want to apply to that school in that particular program and how it will help you reach your goals beyond that program, not reiterate stuff that's in your resume. You can choose to emphasis certain aspects of your resume in your SOP (like how you are an immigrant/1st gen college student which i suppose could tell the committee that you've had to overcome more than most) but by no means should they be a huge part of it....remember the word "purpose" illustrates that one is striving toward some sort of anticipated outcome...so it's more important to emphasize this than reiterating things that they can just look up in other sections of your application...
as for my next statement, i'm not positive on this, but i think that 'first generation immigrant' and '1st generation college student' play less of a role in admissions when it comes to graduate school and more to do with the amount of aid offered. i [i]THINK[/i]
There might be special fellowships available for first-generation students at the school, and it might help in non-school fellowship awards, but I don't think it'll do anything for admissions into a program.
You SOP should address what you have done academically to prepare for the progrram, discuss your research experience, discuss what areas you would like to work in, and what draws you to that school.
Some schools (UC's for example) will send a diversity essay, and that is the place to discuss your personal background.
Thanks for the replies. I wasn't exactly sure what it is that went into a statement of purpose, since I am just starting to think about it. I will probably try for the Masters first to establish a better background.
the masters degrees also require a SOP.
What is a good book you could recommend for studying for the GRE?
i used the kaplan books/cds, as did my friend....my friend, just from studying the books/cds only (no classes) got a 1560 on her GRE...i didnt have as much time to study as her (she at the time wasn't in school nor did she have a job) but i did all right.
i think that it's almost more important to get practice with cds rather than just books because most likely you'll be taking the test on a computer anyway.
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