ghosts of the past: effects of bad grades from 18 years ago?

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Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jul 25, 2004 8:17 am

ghosts of the past: effects of bad grades from 18 years ago?

Post by quantumnicity » Thu Oct 28, 2004 1:27 pm

hi folks!

i'm nearly done applying for a graduate program for becoming a physics teacher- it's pretty neat, in that it is really an entire undergraduate physics program, with a few graduate level education courses to boot. it's designed for people who have a degree in a related subject (mine was in math, for instance), and who would like to become high school physics teachers and/or eventually continue on at the regular M.S. or PhD level.

My biggest worry is that, about 18 years ago, when i finished my B.A., i had absolutely HORRIBLE grades- cumulative gpa nowhere near a 3.0, due to all the courses i had to retake. i just didn't care back then, and never would've imagined that stuff could come back to haunt me.

Since that time i've done quite a bit, gotten a masters in financial economics, and have been working in a very quantitative and technical field in banking which actually requires the use of a few methods from physics (this is, in fact, how i truly became interested in physics, after having really hated it back during undergrad). I look really good on paper these days and am a far cry from the immature kid i was as an undergrad long ago. Do you think i will stand a chance of being admitted to the teaching program? i spoke with the graduate advisor, and he told me that they rarely even get applications for the program i'm applying to (most applicants shoot for the M.S. or PhD degrees), and that everything should work out just fine for me. However, i never mentioned my poor academic performance from the distant past. What do you guys think?

thanks for any tips or suggestions!

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Joined: Wed Dec 29, 2004 3:20 am

Destroy the Physics GRE

Post by FSC729 » Wed Dec 29, 2004 3:46 am

The only real way any decent Physics grad program will even consider you is if you destroy the Physics GRE. By that I mean get in the 90th percentile. In addition you might want to do some other activities that show that you have the ability to work at the level they want you to.

You might want to get some research under your belt, publish some papers, build up your reputation as someone who has the ability to work at the Phd level that way you can get strong letters of recommendation which will also compensate for bad grades.

Also visit my website

John G.

Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2005 7:59 pm

Post by Mick » Fri Apr 08, 2005 12:09 pm

Your grades don't matter as much as you think. Whoever thinks that you can't get into a physics grad program with a history of bad grades thinks that recruiting comittees aren't made of humans, but rather calculators.

Don't worry about getting into a "decent" grad school. They're all decent. How much physics you learn depends more on you than on the school.

Just apply to the schools you want, and don't worry about "killing" the GRE, you'll get into a program because the HUMANS on the other end will look at your history and your work experience and one or two programs will love you for you!

But to be on the safe side, you should apply to a few extra schools, and you should make phone calls to the department chairs so they have a voice to go with the application.

There is no shortage of "good grade machines" in physics. The shortage is in people who love physics, who can communicate physics, who can teach it, who have real-life experiences for the students to relate.

You'll do fine.

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