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Thread: Grad school low GPA

  1. #1
    Jun 2012
    United States

    Grad school low GPA

    Greetings Cyburbia,

    I'm preparing applications for some graduate school programs this fall but I only had a 2.89 when I graduated from my undergrad. I do however have a solid 2+ years working with the homeless, conducting homeless outreach, harm reduction and now I am an advocate at a legal rights center for people with disabilities. The low GPA is a result of chronic depression and anxiety (which I am coming to terms with and managing thankfully) and being in the wrong program. I graduated with a BA in Spanish and Portuguese but floated around in photography and media arts as well. I have taken about 9 hours of CRP courses in which I got As and Bs though. My plan is to find a program that is practical, progressive (sustainability) and prepares me for the workforce. I have time to take an evening or online class now which I plan on doing as well this fall. Advice? Should I take something like an economics class for now or a CRP evening class? Thanks in advance.

    Urban Enthusiast

  2. #2
    May 2012
    Portland, Oregon
    I was on the admissions committee for my graduate program this year, and I'd suggest a few things.
    - Take graduate level courses and excel in them. Consider moving to where you'd like to attend graduate school and taking post-bac classes before you even apply, so the faculty can get to know you a bit. Many schools offer certificate programs in GIS, Urban Design, and others. Getting into those programs is less difficult, and you might be able transition into a full degree after proving yourself.
    - Make sure to explain why you wound up with a mediocre GPA and how ready for a rigorous academic environment you now are.
    - Professional experience is great, but be sure to tie it into why you need a Planning degree at the particular schools you're applying to.
    - Make sure your letters of recommendation aren't boiler-plate verbiage from professors who clearly don't know you terribly well.

  3. #3
    Mar 2012
    West of the Mississippi
    I was in the same boat and got into my preferred destination. Just make sure that you do well on the GRE and talk about your strengths as a candidate in your statement of purpose. I also called and spoke on the phone with the person heading up the admissions committee and had an impromptu interview. Anything to move the focus from overall GPA to your strengths. Also highlight a solid in major GPA, or solid GPA for your final 4 semesters. In some cases (UCLA) that is the GPA they ask for anyway.

    Good luck!

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

  4. #4
    Mar 2011
    SW VT
    I agree with what's been said here, but I just wanted to add that linguistic capabilities are very valuable assets. A number of planning schools incorporate participation theory and practice into their curricula, so multi-lingual outreach approaches are encouraged. If you can develop or maintain fluency in Portuguese and/or Spanish, your appeal is significantly strengthened, and any research proposal in the US or elsewhere you may come up with will benefit from it, too.

    As for the certificate program: totally. Not the answer to everything, but could really serve as a platform for demonstrating your capacity to integrate your work experience with planning skills (like spatial analysis). I can imagine a GIS presentation of a Getis-Ord hotspot analysis regarding implemented harm reduction efforts versus actual reductions in reported violence among the homeless making a strong statement to an admissions committee!

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