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I'm an undergraduate in their penultimate year in the US, although for financial reasons I am thinking of graduating next month instead of next year. For a long time, I've wanted to go into academia: I just found the idea of doing research and maybe teaching appealing. However:
My GPA is completely wrecked: it's below a 3.0. I was fairly depressed for a few terms, and I probably had a mismatch with my major, which was made all the worse by poor focus and me not realizing it until recently.
Most of my coursework has been for things related to my major. Thanks to a strong liberal arts education, I've taken a good selection of other courses, in which I've gotten significantly better grades more consistently, but that's only around 25% of all my courses. (Think generally around the 3.3 range, at a school and presumably departments not known for grade inflation.) I want to go to grad school for something related to this stuff, but I feel like my preparation would be extremely lacking, particularly with my graduation plans. (Too few contacts, not enough experience, etc.)
I'm going to a top 10 or so school supposedly not known for grade inflation in the departments I'm interested in, but I have no idea if this helps.
How can I salvage my dreams of going into academia? At one point, I would have just considered it over and gone into industry, but now, with my current interests, I think it's still worth a shot. But I've had friends tell me I have no chance of getting anywhere decent with my grades, and well, even if they're not the best advisors, the issue of lack of experience and potential references is something.