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First: I want to do grad school, and I'm a undergraduate student.

Now, I have a really bad GPA. My probable final GPA value will be 2.0, and I'm an international student. Still, I have two papers published (more yet to come before I finish the undergraduate school), three scientific projects (two of them with goverment founding), participations on events and many minor things related with what I want to do in my research area.

I will need to enroll in another undergrad school to overcome my bad GPA. Therefore, I designed the following:

  1. I enroll in a Msc program here in my country, and meanwhile I start a second undergrad school to boost my GPA.
  2. I use the CV of this online grad school together with my MSc CV to persue the PhD abroad.
  3. In the end, I will have many things AND a nice GPA.

Therefore, at the time I send the documents for PhD application, I will send a nice undergrad GPA CV of the second graduation, the prior things that I did on the first undergraduation (BUT NOT THE CV per se) and a nice CV of master degree. In practice, I will "mask" my grades from the first undergraduate school.

This plan sounds nice, but, I would like to ask:

It will sound strange for the PhD application comission?

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3 Answers 3

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What you are trying to do (erasing academic history) is a violation of academic integrity that may result in expulsion once it is disclosed.

To answer your question "Can they check it?". It is usually not possible to check the full education history of a foreign citizen. It is already a hard thing to do at Embassy-level, and even harder at the University-level. You may hide something, and they will never know.

However, by erasing a substantial part of your education history, it will make your application look really suspicious, especially when the gap is 4 years.

What was the institution that you were affiliated when you were working on the scientific projects. (not affiliated & no previous qualification?)

Why did you enroll into an (online?) undergraduate program and a graduate one at the same time without previous education? It is simply not possible for many reasons (not necessarily time)

What did you do in that 4-year period?

People are not stupid. They will know immediately that something fishy going on here.

They may also contact the institution where you obtained your master's degree to inquire about the qualification you used in order to apply for the program.

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  • Ok, so the next question: The bad GPA of the first undergraduate course will be a problem if I send two CVs? One nice and the other one bad. Both of them are on exact sciences. Dec 22, 2022 at 14:37
  • I cannot answer it, but I will tell you that it is possible to make up for a bad GPA, and it will be a lengthy process. You cannot expect to immediately end up at a top institution with your GPA and research outputs. So in my opinion, getting a postgraduate degree is definitely worth it, and you need a significant improvement (e.g. a very high GPA) to make up for that bad GPA. What you are doing now are more important than what you did many years ago.
    – Neuchâtel
    Dec 22, 2022 at 14:47
  • What if I transfer from my undergrad course to another in a different university? (because I didn't finish my undergrad yet, and the curriculum will not show the bad grades) Dec 22, 2022 at 16:05
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Like the advice of Pikachu 피카츄 and Sursula -they-, I also suggest that you can't ethically hide your early performance and shouldn't try. Having a later degree revoked for fraud is one consequence.

But you ask how it can be overcome and there is a way for that. A poor GPA can be made irrelevant, even when known, by showing through various things like publications and collaborations is that you have overcome whatever deficit you might have had. You actually already show some of this activity and success, though it isn't clear from what you write that it is in the same field that you want to pursue.

I'll admit the possibility that a student can get bad grades and still learn. I think it is pretty rare and it is also pretty hard to convince people of it, but you might be able to bring it off. Doing badly in class if there are language issues can certainly happen, as can some learning disabilities that can be documented.

I've read reports, not all consistent, that Einstein wasn't a stellar student. But that might have been a result of the stifling education system he was stuck in.

Don't think in terms of two CVs. Think of a single one that shows all, including the warts as needed. But also show that you have the required knowledge and (importantly) insight to embark on research.

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  • It is in same field of research. Dec 22, 2022 at 15:46
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Agree with others – do NOT hide your previous degree. Yes, graduate schools require you to submit all transcripts, and falsifying your background is the surest way to end your academic career.

Instead, try to explain the negatives honestly and accentuate the positives. Specifically:

  • Were there extenuating circumstances for your low GPA? Were you dealing with personal problems, e.g., health, financial? Did you improve over time especially by the last year? That helps to show your future grades are likely to be better.
  • Were your grades better in core courses? That helps to show you have the potential to succeed in grad school.
  • Talk about your research projects. How did you get the funding? Was it a competitive process? What were your contributions to the project? Don't exaggerate because every serious project involves a team, but do describe your specific role. That helps to show your research potential and ability to lead or work in a team.
  • Most important: Papers are the best way to prove your research productivity. Conference proceedings are good too, as few undergrads have journal papers. Provide citations showing the full author list. Use arXiv or ResearchGate etc. to share a copy if it is not yet published or not easily accessed publicly. Note that a vague mention of something "submitted" or "in preparation" is meaningless.

Finally, consider your career options. You mention the MSc as a stepping stone, so I'm guessing you aspire to the PhD. Are you quite sure that is the right path for you? Yes, some people have succeeded in spite of bad grades, but it's a very uphill battle. Perhaps the MSc is all you need to get a good job? Talk to your local academic advisors to make sure you fully understand the reasons behind getting a PhD, and whether that is the right path for you. Good luck.

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  • But, I don't know how the grades of the undergrad school will impact my career in the next 10 years for example. I do know that they are bad for admission process. Also, I do want scientific career, because I want to do research, and be a academic. I have some anxiety behaviour. But I've never went to a doctor or something. I think I can't explain my grades and the over than 20 academic subject failures. Dec 22, 2022 at 15:59
  • What if I transfer from my undergrad course to another in a different university? (because I didn't finish my undergrad yet, and the curriculum will not show the bad grades) Dec 22, 2022 at 16:05
  • @BasicMathGuy If you don't have any better explanation, you have to be prepared for admissions committees to assume that the reason for your bad grades is that you're just not very capable in the subject. That is of course very likely to prevent you from being accepted to a Ph.D. program. Dec 22, 2022 at 18:34
  • @KevinArlin but I do have publications, and better grades on the same subject. But the overall GPA is very low. Dec 22, 2022 at 19:38
  • @BasicMathGuy It's hard to say more than that without knowing more about your field and your publications. If you're in math as your username suggests, then undergraduate grades are extremely important to graduate admissions and the typical admittee to a competitive Ph.D. program will generally have essentially a 4.0 in math courses, without having had to try particularly hard for most of those A's (the latter being why many failures really has to have a good explanation.) So unless you've proven an impressive theorem independently, it's going to be a tall mountain to climb. Dec 22, 2022 at 22:58

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