I entered college back in 1994 and was academically dismissed in 1999, and needless to say my transcript is atrocious. I only require a few semesters to graduate and I am planning to go back to get my bachelors and then masters. I was accepted for reenrollment by my old college and was offered an Academic Amnesty program where I can get a fresh start on my GPA. The transcript will still show all the classes previously taken, but the ones with D’s and F’s will not count towards graduation requirements, and my GPA will only be calculated using the newly taken classes after reenrollment. So technically I have a chance of achieving a 4.0 GPA. Down side is that there is no online class option, so I will have to do evening classes or leave work early two days a week for a few semesters.

Please correct me if I am misinformed, but I believe that transferring to another college will in essence do the same thing. Transferrable credits move over, new GPA calculation, etc. But the transcript with the terrible GPA will still exist at my old school. One major plus for this option is that I can transfer to a college offering online programs so I can pursue my degree with minimal affect to my job.

I would like to know how much emphasis graduate schools put on each scenario.

  • If I transfer to an online college and graduate with high GPA, would graduate schools also look at the transcript from my old school and average it?

  • Or would the GPA from the institution that I get the degree matter most?

  • If I have a solid GPA after the Academic Amnesty option, would grad school not care?

  • Is an online degree a significant negative?

  • 3
    My personal opinion is that only an online program at a VERY reputable university might not be considered a negative. It will be harder to get close relationships with professors which you'll need for recommendation letters.
    – mkennedy
    Mar 25, 2015 at 18:23
  • Have you heard of Harvard Extended Undergraduate Program? extension.harvard.edu I just came across this while doing some research and see that its a mainly online program with very minimal admission requirement. Everyone knows Harvard, but wanted to ask you if you heard of this "extension" program and if it's reputable or would one be laughed at for going to a "pseudo" Harvard? Mar 26, 2015 at 16:29
  • I hadn't, but just looked at the website. The degree programs require online AND on-campus course work.
    – mkennedy
    Mar 26, 2015 at 17:01

1 Answer 1


Whatever you do, it's worth keeping in mind that those reading through grad school applications are people as well. They understand that whatever happened 20 years ago will not be who you are today. So, if you have good grades in your most recent courses, and if you have good GRE scores, then they will be quite likely to disregard your grades from the last century. Just point out in your application essay that you have had a few hard years back in the day but that, as can be seen from your most recent transcripts, you have changed and gotten yourself back on track. Honesty pays in this regard, and whatever your GPA will be does, in that case, not matter all that much any more.

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