I'm an undergraduate math major student in my junior year. I've taken Abstract Algebra 1 last fall. I got a C in that class (I got 65%). In most of my previous courses I got A's, and in some courses I got B's. I know that such a grade would cause much damage to my application (I intend for graduate programs that I intend to apply for next winter, while being in my senior year). I want to point out some things regarding my situation:

  1. In my college, we can not re-take a passed course no matter what, that is, I can not re-take the course (I wished if I got F in that class so that I can re-take it and get a better grade, but I passed it with 65 point from 100). So I can not re-take it and it will be in my final transcript which will be sent to the programs I'm applying for.

  2. This semester, I'm taking Abstract Algebra II and I'm aiming to get as high grade as I could, I wonder if doing so would minimize the damage of this C.

  3. My GPA was 3.8 of 5 (~88%) before my fall semester, now it's 3.6 (86%), in a great part due to this C.

My question is: how much damage such a grade would cause? What are the best ways to minimize those damages? Do I have any chances to get admitted to good school with this C in my transcript? What about top schools like Berekely etc? Do I even have a chance?

Regarding the possible duplicate: Although the answer in the proposed question is great, I think that my question may have more specific answer since it is directed towards a specific field namely, mathematics. So, an emphasize on reference letters, research experience or motivation letters may be more significant and crucial in math more than in other disciplines. Hence, I believe a more specific and tailored answer can be provided to my question rather than a general answer for bad grades.

Some (Clarifying but un-important) remarks:

Some people may think that I'm not good enough and this was the reason I got C in that class but I want to point some facts regarding that:

  1. In my university, this course is not a challenging course, so it's normally easy to pass it with a good grade because the material and the treatment is not advanced or demanding. I got A's in the most demanding courses in my department. Regarding getting a C, this was due to several factors: First of all, I faced some problems in the two days before the exam, I went to the final exam without any sleep for a period of nearly 30-35 hours and I was very tired, I was sleeping in the exam and fully exhausted mentally. I faced some psychological problems for most time in this fall semester which had bad effect on my grades in general, but specially, the situation was catastropic in the algebra course. This C is not due to my lack of knowledge: in fact, I've mastered the topics in the course since High School (It's a Group Theory course - I went through most of Dummit and Foote doing almost all of the exercises in my high school years). It was due to an urgent problems at the time.

  2. I'm not a bad student, as an indication for that: in the same semester, I've attended two graduate courses, one in Module Theory and the second in Forcing (set theory) and both of the professors considered me as one of the best students in the class although I was the only undergraduate. Sadly, we can not take graduate courses for credit in my uni, so my attendance was not official, I was attending because I wanted to learn the stuff. Also, I've attended a graduate course in Algebraic Logic in my sophomore year, and same impressions were made by the professor. In my sophomore year, I was meeting some professors regularly to guide me to self-study Category theory and Commutative Algebra.

  3. My GPA is currently the HIGHEST GPA among my fellows in the same program, which may indicate that such a C is not normal for me.

  4. Some people may ask, why did you take this course if you already know the material? Answer: in my college, most courses are mandatory, so I must take them even if I've mastered the content. This course is one of those mandatorycourses.

  • Is there a procedure for flagging extenuating circumstances at your institution? At my university, students are able to submit a form (with suitable evidence, eg a doctor's note) explaining why they may need to resubmit or resit coursework or exams. This may help regarding your 1st remark.
    – astronat
    Apr 16 '17 at 22:07
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    I stopped worrying about GPAs and C's after my first year as an undergrad :) Over the long run, it might not affect you that much. Grad school is more for research (ie publications etc) than for getting high grades. Admission committees know that! + they know that many undergrads miss up few courses here and there. PS, 1. Very low "CGPA" will hurt more way more than one or two C's, 2. Every country/school is different!, 3. Check out answers to similar questions posted here !
    – The Guy
    Apr 17 '17 at 9:44
  • There are many questions similar to yours. For example, Will one 'C' grade due to health issues ruin my chances of admission into a top grad school?. After you get to that question, please pay attention to those linked question on the right hand side.
    – Nobody
    Apr 17 '17 at 13:16
  • Worrying is a waste of time. You seem to have a solid record. If you are attempting a prestigious graduate program, you could attempt to do something exceptional. Apr 18 '17 at 1:06
  • @Insulin69, Which things would be considered exceptional? I mean, can you provide examples for what you mean because that is not obvious for me. Apr 18 '17 at 2:14