I have a fairly weird transcript. I took two harder upper-year courses at the second-year of my undergraduate degree. I spent a lot of time working on these courses because I was fascinated by the course material and got A+'s in both of them. I did poorly in one lower-year undergraduate course and got a B+.

How will this reflect on the student for graduate admissions?

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    Not a good, thing, obviously, no, because it reveals some immaturity, understandable in young people! :), but not a plus. One might worry about a new-and-different manifestation of this later... or, sure, interpret it as being focused on more serious things, exercise-of-critical-judgement... Two things: you figure out which it is and take appropriate personal action, and, separately, spin it as "the good version" to admissions committees and such. – paul garrett Dec 16 '14 at 23:27
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    You want either the decision to admit you to the grad school of your choice and the decision of a choice employer to make you an offer to be a no-brainer. The problem right now is that you are not making those decisions that impact your life to be no-brainers. Do things with a little more self-discipline and you'll sleep a lot better at night. Even in a field you love, 90% of the work is scut work. If you can be relied upon only when you are enthused and excited, I am not sure that I'd want you on my team because I have to constantly check on how excited and enthused you are. – Vietnhi Phuvan Dec 16 '14 at 23:29
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    And I want to remind you that you are going to be up against a whole bunch of people whose academic records make the decision to admit to the grad school of their choice a no-brainer. Admissions committee want to see passion and you are showing what you are capable of when you show passion. But they are also looking for discipline and an ability to get things done right even when the motivation has gone to hell and even when you hate and despise what you are doing. – Vietnhi Phuvan Dec 16 '14 at 23:37
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    If those were graduate courses I'd assume you got the A+'s due to easy grading. Often graduate courses give everyone good grades and have little to no work. Then again, I'm not a professor. – Ben Bitdiddle Dec 17 '14 at 2:33
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    A single B+ seems to be inaccurately described as "bad grades". – Anonymous Dec 17 '14 at 4:04

The comments are a bit surprising to me. I had several Bs and 2 Cs on my transcript (overall GPA 3.57, though my major GPA was more like 3.8), and I got into a very good engineering graduate school (US top 10) for my PhD. Maybe my admissions process was special in some way.

Some things to think about:

  • At many schools (see comment), nobody can tell from your transcript what the class average was for the course you got a B+ in (or any other course)
  • Nobody can tell that you got a B+ because you were bored

If you want to bolster your chances, stop slacking in the "easy" courses. Find some undergraduate research opportunities. If you did so well in your graduate courses, those professors might be worth approaching.

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  • Some schools do post the course average GRADE and SD in the transcript, but otherwise good points. – RoboKaren Dec 17 '14 at 12:26
  • @RoboKaren, oh, that's news to me. Edited to reflect. – Bill Barth Dec 17 '14 at 12:48
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    Actually, more extreme versions of the profile that the question describes (with Cs instead of a B+ in lower level courses) almost screams "bored". Thos students usually get admitted to good places, in my experience. – JeffE Dec 17 '14 at 13:39

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