Lack of Involvement 1st 2 Years of College - GRAD SCHOOL CHANCES?

<p>I plan to apply to grad schools for next year. I'm a bit concerned about my chances though. These concerns may be unwarranted but I am worried that my lack of extracurriculars during my first 2 years of college may hurt my chances. I am currently a 2nd semester junior at SUNY Oneonta. I've attended quite a few colleges before hand though. I know that without my GRE scores and knowing what schools I intend to apply to, the question is difficult to answer. But, I am just wondering if I still have fair chances of getting accepted into some decent masters programs?</p>

<p>17 credits at the University of Rochester (GPA = 3.49)
35 credits at Hudson Valley Community College (GPA = 4.00)
9 credits at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (GPA = 3.56)
16 credits at SUNY Oneonta (GPA 3.93)
Overall GPA = 3.82</p>

<p>-My 1st semester of college I did some volunteering at soup kitchens through the campus church.<br>
-My 2nd semester of college I commuted to HVCC and worked as a phlebotomist at a local hospital.
-My 3rd semester of college I commuted to RPI and worked 2 jobs as a phlebotomist and as a kitchen helper at a local retirement home.
My 4th semester I went back to HVCC and commuted and worked the kitchen helper job (~30 hrs/wk while full-time in school)</p>

<p>As you can see, the first 2 years of college pretty much just consisted of me going to school and working part-time.</p>

<p>However, once I transferred to SUNY Oneonta, I got much more involved.</p>

<p>-Resident Student Organization Representative (E-Board Position) on Residence Hall Government
-Resident Student Organization Member
-Member of C.H.O.I.C.E.S. (Choosing Healthier Options In the College Environment Successfully)
-Tour Guide
-Psychology Club Member
-Vice President of G.E.A.R.S. (Gender Equality and Rights Society)
-Admissions Blogger</p>

<p>I am also currently planning an internship/research with a faculty member in the Health Education Office for next semester.</p>

<p>Do you think that my lack of involvement outside the classroom during my 1st 2 years can be overlooked because of my increased participation? Any information that anyone could provide would be most helpful.</p>

<p>As far as I've heard, graduate admissions don't care about or require extracurricular activities. Grad school admissions are different than college admissions in this respect. However, it's always a good thing if your activities are relevant to your area of study or graduate research.</p>

<p>What academic field will you be applying to?</p>

<p>I believe that the only EC's that are important are work in your field followed by work as a Teaching Assistant or other relevant leadership. The most important thing for grad school is relevant research experience or internship experience. The other stuff is just nice but really a side note.</p>

<p>The most important thing will be your transcripts. And your LORs can be a deciding factor. For some schools GRE is important, but not for others, depending on the area of study too. Pay attention to your SOP. But experience, research, intership, publications, seminars, presentations will be key. Especially that work done in your last 2 years.</p>

<p>Just in case you don't believe Slorg and BrownParent, here's another voice: ECs don't matter except for medical school. In addition to usual trio of grades, test scores, and letters of recommendation, research and internships are crucial components.</p>

<p>Edited to add: some graduate school applications will have a small area for other relevant experience. If you have ECs related to the field, then you can put them there, but they won't be a real factor in admissions.</p>

<p>What exactly would "research experience" mean? Out here we just study to do well in the end of term exams. There is no research going on except at the top tier universities like IIT.</p>

<p>I don't know how American universities view the education/experience of internationals; however, I'm quite certain that they understand the differences.</p>

<p>U.S. students can work closely with professors outside of the classroom, by working in labs or helping with archival research or assisting with the writing of a book or article. Or they can complete an independent study project or a honors thesis. Top PhD programs (and to a lesser extent, top master's programs) look for evidence that the student is capable of performing independent research outside of the classroom and has therefore been trained, albeit at an elementary level, to think and act like a graduate student. Being a good student is not enough at the graduate level. You must contribute to the knowledge/literature of your field in a meaningful way. Having great grades shows that you can master difficult concepts and study hard, but it does not reveal anything about your ability to perform independent research. Having undergraduate research shows that, at the very least, you understand the process.</p>

<p>Um, so? Who cares about your ECs? The free time should be spent balancing between enjoying college and doing something PRODUCTIVE to enhance your knowledge in your field, like reading or researching.</p>

<p>I guess every graduate school program is different, that must be why these types of questions are asked so often. I know for most engineering graduate programs not named MIT, Berkeley, Stanford or Cornell....</p>

<p>Average Undergraduate GPA + Good Work Experience + 3.5 GPA in about 2 or 3 graduate courses as non-degree student = Admission to graduate program</p>

<p>...and a nice "promise to pay" voucher/purchase-order from your employer will help also.</p>

<p>"What exactly would "research experience" mean? Out here we just study to do well in the end of term exams. There is no research going on except at the top tier universities like IIT."</p>

<p>At any decent undergraduate school they'll have opportunities for you to do independent research or directed research with a professor in your department. You just have to do whatever you can to get experience in your field. They don't care if you were a member of the "Let's Care for Animals" group or played the tuba (unless its relevant to your program).</p>