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I received my rejection letter today and I was devastated. I was shocked because I have finally found a supervisor who saw my passion in the field and didn't care about my low GPA and lab members who were welcoming and offered to help me through my project. The committee believes that my GPA and academic record is below their standards (its one of the top 10 universities in Canada). The department does not even have that many faculty members and is fairly dead ( a friend of mine with a similar GPA got accepted, so I am even more surprised why I was rejected). Although I aced my undergraduate thesis research project (A+), I am still considered that candidate with the lowest GPA. This GPA will never change and it will haunt me forever until I get a higher one in MSc degree, so should I just give up? to be honest, I am only pursuing graduate school because it will increase my employment chances in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. I have been unemployed for a year after graduating from BSc and unless I have an MSc or PhD, employers will see me underqualified. I am in a bad place, I volunteered in labs and hospitals, but that will never offset my GPA. Should I just throw in the towel?

P.S. I could continue applying to other schools, but I'm sure my referees will not be willing to write me reference letters for the third time.

  • Can you ask other referees for letters? Apply for other schools in Canada (top 30 or something) or outside Canada? Try to improve your application (i.e. GRE, MCAT scores etc.)? – The Guy Jun 7 '17 at 17:45
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    Don't give up! Being rejected twice is nothing. And I don't think any exam score will really haunt you forever - it might make things harder for a while but you will benefit from the experience. If I was you I would apply to several more programs, maybe even in Europe where they might not care/know so much about a Canadian exam, and apply for jobs at the same time. Write your referees an e-mail explaining your situation and hopefully they will be willing to write references again, maybe by recycling their previous ones. Good luck! – user72102 Jun 7 '17 at 20:15
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    Two applications is not many - your referees should certainly be willing to pass on letters for other applications. It's part of the job. And it's doubtful that they'd have to rewrite the letter entirely. – haff Jun 8 '17 at 3:03
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    I took the GRE (didn't do exceptionally well) -- So take it again and do better. -- I'm sure my referees will not be willing to write me reference letters for the third time -- They don't have to write them again; they're already written. They just have to send them again. Unless they've actually told you that they're unwilling, don't assume they are. – JeffE Jun 8 '17 at 13:16
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    Also, don't apply to two MSc programs; apply to ten. Your GPA unfortunately means that your chances at any single program are small, but the process is random. The more times you roll the dice, the more likely you are to win. – JeffE Jun 8 '17 at 13:21
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Have you tried applying for any certificate programs? You might be able to apply for some sort of graduate certificate program that will you allow you to demonstrate that you can handle graduate coursework and get good grades. That second transcript could perhaps offset the negative effects of the first.

As for your P.S., don't count yourself out! If I believed in a candidate enough to write two letters of recommendation, I don't think I'd mind writing a third or fourth letter as well. (In fact, I might even write that third letter a little bit more strongly, just out of admiration for your tenacity and persistence – two helpful traits in graduate school.)

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If this is necessary for your career, certainly don't quit trying yet. But realize a few things:

  1. Being at a top school doesn't always matter much for graduate studies, especially in Canada where Masters programsv tend to be more like mini PhDs. So you may find you have more success applying to smaller schools where there is a supervisor whose interests match your own. The supervisor likely matters more than the school.
  2. Strengthen your application in any ways you can. Take some time to get experience in your field outside of academia. Do some extracurricular activities that show leadership potential. If you can upgrade your marks, do so. See if you can turn your bachelor's thesis into a published paper.
  3. Put lots of effort into the other aspects of your application. Make sure you have excellent references. If there's a place to explain extenuating circumstantial, use it to explain your GPA
  • in terms of point 3, my supervisor did explain to the committee the extenuating circumstances that caused my GPA to drop. But it wasn't good enough for them to change their minds. – Emma Jun 7 '17 at 18:21
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    @Emma So it didn't convince that particular committee. They may have had an exceptional number of applications, or a policy of inflexibility with GPA. – jmite Jun 7 '17 at 21:15
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Take some upper level undergraduate course(s) as a non-matriculated student. Make sure it's something you're truly interested in. If you are very engaged in the course, you will likely get a strong grade, and a strong letter of recommendation.

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