I'm an English major and planning to apply to graduate schools. My freshman year I originally planned to be a bio major due to pressures from my family. I had to take chemistry and biology, which soon enough turned into a disaster. I dropped chem, but since I needed enough credits to be considered full time, I was forced to keep with bio. I ended up with a D- in the course. If it wasn't my freshman year, I honestly would have probably done better, but I was having a rough time settling into college with homesickness and depression. Aside from that one hiccup, however, the rest of my grades are As with a couple B+. So what I'm wondering is would that badly affect my application or even receiving scholarships?

  • I think this has been asked and answered, but I'm not sure exactly where. At any rate, your experience is very common, and admissions committees know that. Also, the farther back in time a grade is, the less it matters. Dec 8, 2016 at 6:22

2 Answers 2


It is extremely unlikely that a graduate admissions committee/potential supervisor would look at your first year courses in any amount of detail. They are going to focus on the higher-level courses you take in later years, whether or not you do an honours degree/undergrad thesis, etc.

The only way I can see this affecting you is by lowering the overall average grade for your degree (measured in many places as a GPA). Many departments have a minimum GPA/grade requirement to be considered for admission to grad school. However, as long as you get consistently good grades for the rest of your degree, this little slip-up isn't going to matter much.


No, nothing to worry. Graduate committees understand that students have rough patches, and the first year of undergraduate is certainly a rough one for everyone. Rest assured that the majority of students have had a semester with problems in their lives. What matters is that you are on the right trajectory, as you apparently are. It makes it matter even less because it's not even in your major.

In my 4 or so years on the graduate committee, a single slip-up (or even a single bad semester) has never been an issue.

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