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I am have completed 7 semesters in undergraduate in Computer Science. My goal is to apply for Masters in a top graduate school, like MIT or Stanford.

I have the highest GPA in my batch. However, there is an inconsistency in my record. In the first 5 semesters, I received 2 gold medals, 3 silver medals. I was also named in Dean's List in these semesters. However, in 6th and 7th semesters, although I scored highest GPA in my batch, I did not receive any honors or medals, because I did not take the prescribed course load. So my record looks like this:

Semester 1 (3.98 GPA, Gold Medal, Dean's List)

Semester 2 (4 GPA, Gold Medal, Dean's List)

Semester 3 (3.98 GPA, Silver Medal, Dean's List)

Semester 4 (3.82 GPA, Silver Medal, Dean's List)

Semester 5 (3.96 GPA, Silver Medal, Dean's List)

Semester 6 (3.95 GPA, no medal, no list)

Semester 7 (3.9 GPA, no medal, no list)

I am worried because a faculty member told me that not getting any honors in two semesters will raise flags against me. The admission committee might think that I am a student who takes easy courses, and withdraws courses that are not challenging.

That is certainly not the case, but I am really worried that my GPA might be held back against me.

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    What are these "medals" of which you speak? Who awards them and for what? I've never heard of such things, and I doubt many have. Are they local to your university or country?
    – Buffy
    Dec 9, 2023 at 20:01
  • These medals are awarded by our university to the highest academic performers in a semester. First position holder gets gold, second one gets silver, and third one gets bronze. However, only the students who have completed the university's prescribed load in a semester are eligible for the medal. Dec 9, 2023 at 20:03
  • The truth is that it won’t make any difference because these graduate admissions committees are just overworked professors who don’t have the time to learn the ranking system of every random place in the world.
    – knzhou
    Dec 9, 2023 at 20:20
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    If you want them to actually understand what you’re writing, I would recommend just listing your average GPA for all semesters, and saying it’s the highest in the batch. Nothing else you wrote matters.
    – knzhou
    Dec 9, 2023 at 20:21
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    Is this common (medals) in Pakistan? Anywhere else you know of?
    – Buffy
    Dec 9, 2023 at 20:29

1 Answer 1

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I doubt that US institutions would have any experience with such medals and would probably treat any of them as a plus if they know the meaning. It is a very unusual concept here. But, I'd guess that the general evaluation would be about the same as being on the dean's list, which is probably highly correlated with GPA in any case.

However, your search for an appropriate graduate program in the US should be broader based than just the top few institutions. Similar institutions may have similar criteria and being rejected by one may mean being rejected by other similar places. Cast a much broader net. The top 50, at least. If you get several offers then you are in a good spot. If you aim narrowly you might wind up empty.

And, if you aren't familiar with US graduate programs, I'd also suggest you consider applying for doctoral study. Most places don't fund masters level students, but do that with doctoral level applicants, probably as a TA. And tuition is high.

See the following for more information on doctoral admissions: How does the admissions process work for Ph.D. programs in Country X?

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