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I'm studying political science. My CGPA is awful at around 2.95, however, my GPA for the last fall, winter, and summer semester for my 3rd year have been 3.3, 4.0, 3.8 (I did really bad in first and second year). At the best, I am looking at about a 3.1/3.2 CGPA by the time I graduate.

I am wondering how competitive I actually am? Do I even have a chance with such a low CGPA knowing that meeting the requirements does not guarantee acceptance?

In terms of professors, I'm in the DSA of my program and know a couple of professors who would write me a good reference letter. I'm currently doing a independent study research project with a prof as well. And I worked through my entire undergrad: about 4 years of work experience in administrative and retail work.

Do I have a chance or is this a pipe dream? Is it true that grad schools only look at last 2 years?

  • We don't do these kind of shopping questions. And for the record, my masters is entering its fourth year because my grades are bad and I ran out of money. – Sean Roberson Oct 28 '19 at 4:44
  • I did not see this as a shopping question at all. The OP asks an important question about how the admissions process works and what admissions committees look for. They do not ask for advice about the different schools mentioned. – Philly Oct 30 '19 at 1:20
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    I edited your question to remove the parts people might think make it off-topic. Your question about a sharp improvement in grades is on-topic. But please, put way more effort into preparing your grad school apps than you did this post. – Azor Ahai Oct 30 '19 at 1:33
  • Yes. For example, get a great score on the GRE. – GEdgar Oct 30 '19 at 12:13
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Yes, you have a chance.

There is no guarantee, but graduate admissions committees do more than just look at GPAs for applicants. If your work for the past two years has been consistently strong, and you have strong letters of recommendation, then use your cover letter to explain what affected your grades earlier. It is equally important to explain what changed, so that the admissions committee does not worry about the problem reoccurring. This does not mean you have to get into personal details; a general explanation is sufficient. The ability to overcome adversity and persevere to reach your goals can be a compelling story about who you are and what your are passionate about.

It will depend on the admissions committee, of course, and I would recommend applying to a range of programs, including your ideal schools and some others that have good programs and less competitive applicant pools. But that is always good advice for applying to graduate school.

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