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I started my BSc (major Engineering of automatic systems, in a world top-30 college) in 2010 and, one 1.5 years in and around 25% done, I left to cope with growing family problems (multiple severe health issues amongst close relatives). It was not a light decisions, I was part of a great student research team and really loved the people around me, but being left unable to concentrate by all the struggles at home I had no other option.

During the time not in college I founded, along with a friend, a startup company out of personal research in the field of HMIs of systems for beta testing and got acquired by a much larger company and my product is now in worldwide usage within the parent group. The deal was/is satisfactory from an economical point of view and getting a technical vision that i truly believed in to grow was a fantastic experience but I started to find myself really disliking the corporate job very when, due to company reorganization, I was moved from product development to a more white collar job.

This experience made me realize that what I love is critical thinking around technical problems, so, around 3 years ago, I re-enrolled in college while holding on to my position in the company; at age 26 a strong economical independence is fundamental to me, especially because it allows me a great independence from the problematic family environment and to make one of my childhood dream -flying gliders- come true.

It has been 3 years of exhausting studying 9pm - 1 am 5 days a week and, slowly, I managed to reach around 80% completion of my degree, even if with a low GPA (22/30) and hopefully I`ll graduate within 1.5 years.

Questions time:

My current objective is to pursue a higher level of education, I`d like to know how does such a twisty academical career affects my chances of getting accepted in a good Master program around 2 years from now.

Moreover, I`d also like to know what is a legitimate level of "help" that I could ask for to a professor of a mandatory course that I am finding extremely difficult (e.g. recommending area of focus and exercises to pay special attention to) , since being unable to attend lessons makes it way harder to know what to focus on while preparing for tests.

Thankyou for your help

  • First, you say around 25% done, then you say around 80% completion of my degree by of exhausting studying 9pm - 1 am 5 days a week. Where did you do the 55%(from 25 to 80)? The same college? If the same college, then there is not much difference between you finished BSc in 2013 and in 2018. People understand. I don't quite understand what your problem is. – scaaahu Nov 3 '16 at 9:24
  • Yes, same college. I re-enrolled at the same college getting the previous 25 recognized. For this matter, the question can be simplified to "is completion time taken into account when evaluating candidates" and "is my GPA looked at keeping in ming the fact that studying at night after an 8 to 7 job is way harder than studying as a full time occupation"? – Caterpillaraoz Nov 3 '16 at 9:33
  • You can say something in your Statement of purpose or some place in the application package to describe your difficulty while finishing college. – scaaahu Nov 3 '16 at 9:39
  • Isn`s this seen as looking-for-pity? – Caterpillaraoz Nov 3 '16 at 9:40
  • If you're stating the fact, why is it "looking-for-pity"? – scaaahu Nov 3 '16 at 9:45
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I`d like to know how does such a twisty academical career affects my chances of getting accepted in a good Master program around 2 years from now.

Overall, the point of the admissions process is finding candidates who will succeed in higher study. Your ability to overcome obstacles to get a degree, as well as your success in industry, both provide evidence that you will also be able to tackle a master's program. Overall, your story is a positive one. Taking a long time to complete a degree won't matter at all under the circumstances.

If there are some slight negatives to your story, they are:

  • Low GPA this does matter, but how much is dependent on the institution. Also, your success in non-academic activities may offset this somewhat.
  • Will you continue to struggle to have time for your studies in the master's program? This is something admissions committees may worry about. If the circumstances that caused difficulty are going to change (for example, you will stop full-time employment in order to get a master's degree, or the family issues have now been resolved), then you should be sure to amke that clear.

what is a legitimate level of "help" that I could ask for to a professor of a mandatory course that I am finding extremely difficult

There is no harm in asking the questions that you suggest. Your professor can always say no if they don't want to provide the information. Also consider simply going to your professor and saying "I'm finding this class extremely difficult, are there any resources I could take advantage of for extra help?"

  • "If the circumstances that caused difficulty are going to change (for example, you will stop full-time employment in order to get a master's degree, or the family issues have now been resolved), then you should be sure to amke that clear." I am definitely saving this for when application time comes. Thanks – Caterpillaraoz Nov 3 '16 at 10:49
  • @Caterpillaraoz - It would be better if you could demonstrate your seriousness starting one year before graduation. You got a good deal from selling the start-up. How about taking a leave of absence, or going to part-time for at least a few months? You need some very strong grades in some upper level course in your primary field of interest. Speaking for the U.S. environment, going to school part-time isn't in itself a problem, nor is taking a break. – aparente001 Nov 4 '16 at 3:14
  • @aparente001 In my country this is not as acceptable as in the US, I ll however clearly state in the application letter that i will resign from the company before the beginning of the courses. Since ill be in the usa on a student visa they have no reason to think I ll do otherwise – Caterpillaraoz Nov 4 '16 at 10:42
  • @Caterpillaraoz - Another reason to consider taking a leave of absence or reducing your hours would be to finish strong in the courses that matter the most to the admissions committee -- the upper level courses in your field. Which, by the way, often require a more substantial time investment than some of the earlier courses. You'll have an easier time asking them to put less weight on your overall gpa if you can show three A's in some challenging, key classes that will lay the foundation for grad studies in the particular field. – aparente001 Nov 4 '16 at 13:40

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