Is my school weird or something?

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Is my school weird or something?

Post by bencmier » Mon May 14, 2012 10:10 pm

I keep reading about all these people with 3.5-4.0 physics GPA on this site asking about grad school. At my school (Western Washington University), the exams are so damn near impossible to pass that the average grade in each junior/senior level courses is right at passing (C-). How are we supposed to get into grad school with grades like this? We put in about 70 hours/week on physics coursework. Any help is appreciated. :(

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Re: Is my school weird or something?

Post by TakeruK » Tue May 15, 2012 10:30 am

People with 3.5-4.0 GPA shouldn't really worry too much about their grades for applying to grad schools, except for applying to the top tier (but these are hard enough to get into that any student would be worried). You don't need a 3.5+ GPA to get into grad school.

It might be important to note the people who post on this forum are not representative of all physics undergrads/grad school applicants. I think the profile threads especially show a bias towards the stronger students (either the average student is too intimated to post, or does not know about this forum, or is not interested in posting etc. who knows). I visited a school this year with a couple dozen other students but none of them posted an acceptance in this forum (i.e. I didn't see such a profile posted in the 2012 thread).

GPAs in the 3.0-3.5 range are still "good enough" for grad school -- maybe not for the top tier schools though but it really depends on your program. I suppose if you are worried that your grades don't reflect your ability, maybe a strong PGRE score will help (but there's no guarantee that your PGRE score will reflect your ability either!).

If you and other students think you have a case for unfair marking, you could try to approach the department but any changes to how the courses are done probably won't happen until after you're gone! But if Western Washington is known for giving out low grades / have hard exams then you can only hope that the schools you are applying to knows this. I'm not sure if mentioning that your classes have a C- average will help you since with just that information, it's not clear whether this reflects the courses' difficulty or the students' ability or some combination.

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Re: Is my school weird or something?

Post by mrrsnhtl » Wed May 16, 2012 6:01 pm

Maybe not yourself, but your recommenders would mention the grade oppression in their letters. It would surely help, as long as you also prove yourself with pgre etc..

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