I graduated 3 years ago from a big state research university. I had an irrelevant sociology major and graduated with a 2.9 GPA mainly because I had no inclination that I would ever want to go to graduate school and thought it was more important to just make sure that I had a job to support myself and graduated on time.
After graduation I had a crappy office job for 2 years and took some random IT graduate courses which lead me to eventually get a job as a programmer at a large marketing firm for about a year and I got really interested in the more complex world of computer science especially computer vision, modeling and simulation.
Which brings me to now.
I will be beginning a CS Master's program this summer at a medium sized state university with a concentration in Modeling and Sim. I plan to to the thesis option and I've already begun contacting professors about research opportunities.
My GRE score is 162/155/4.5 but I didn't study because I found out I had to take it at the last minute. With some prep I think I can at least bring that up to about 165/160/5.
All that said, do you think that with my thesis, a publication or 2 and a stellar GPA my masters work would over-shaddow my crappy undergraduate career enough to get me into a good PhD program.
My dream department would be Caltech. But I'd at least like to go somewhere reputable if I'm going to bother with a PhD.
Diversity note in case this helps my cause: I'm female, 1st generation college student, armed forces veteran.
BAD UNDERGRAD: 2.9GPA/unrelated major
If I do really well on my CS Masters program, get some research published, and get my GRE score up to like a 165/160/5 do you think a top program would ignore the transgressions of my youth?