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I am in the US. I have an undergraduate Bachelors in Computer Science from a top university in the US, graduated about 7-8 years ago. I am currently a software engineer at a large tech company. I am very interested in going to grad school either for an MBA or an MS. The issue I'm having is that my undergrad scores were poor. I barely graduated with a 3.02 and that my math courses were worse.

I could give reasons regarding mental health/enormous pressure/complete breakdowns about what happened during that time but ultimately the outcome was that I did not do well in my courses, Cs and B minuses even with some retakes.

I know that I can do a lot better if I were able to take those courses now. To bolster my application for grad school, I am looking into postbacc programs. The problem I'm running into is:

  1. Many of these postbacc programs have a minimum undergrad GPA. On top of that, they even have minimum grades (B- or above) for specific undergrad courses.
  2. Many of these postbacc programs don't offer the basic undergrad courses I want to take. I want to take Intro Stats and Intro Probability again, even Calc, because I don't remember those subjects and I didn't do great when I did them beforehand.

I feel like im in a deadlock because I want to go to postbacc to improve my scores/demonstrate academic ability, but the postbacc programs themselves require a demonstration of academic ability. I am frustrated with getting penalized continuously for mistakes I made in the past. I want the opportunity to demonstrate that I am capable of doing well in these courses.

What can I do? I have thought about taking online courses from Coursera, but I doubt that these would ever be considered as "post-secondary" academic success.

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First:

Many of these postbacc programs have a minimum undergrad GPA. On top of that, they even have minimum grades (B- or above) for specific undergrad courses.

Yes, and it's also true that many (most?) postbac programs will admit any breathing body. I know, because I've taught at a couple of "top universities" (a term I dislike very much, but that rant is for later), and I've also taught at non-elite institutions, and in both cases postbac students have ranged from the brilliant to the barely breathing. So expand your search area. If you are set on doing a postbac at a highly selective institution (read below for more about that), then take a couple courses at a lower-ranked institution with good teachers, get good grades and then apply with those grades to the postbac program you have your eyes on.

Another common faulty assumption is that there are some standards for what is a postbac program. Most universities offer postbacs, but these range from full programs, e.g. pre-med, to outright cash grabs where the university finds someone willing to teach a class and anybody wanting to a take a class, puts them in a room, collects a lot of money from the students, gives a little money to the teacher, and uses the profit to hire more administrators.

So instead of focusing in finding a "top-rated", "highly-selective", etc. program, spend time looking for a good program, one with teaching standards, good support for the professors, and which hires (=pays for) good teachers. Finding those programs is hard, because all published ratings are manipulated by the institutions, but with some effort you should be able to find the hidden gems. Take a couple of classes, improve your grades, and use those grades to apply to an MS program.

Among my previous students, I can think of quite a few that had bad undergrad grades, took postbac courses, then went on to great things, including med, vet schools, law, PhD programs, etc.

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  • Yeah I want to be one of those students who takes postbacc courses then applies to top MS/MBA programs. If the postbacc program is not from a top-tier institution im okay with that, so long as it helps bolster my application for Grad school. Jul 17, 2023 at 19:17

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