(Closed) Grad School question

posted 8 years ago in College
Post # 3
Hostess
18644 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2009

Honestly that is a good GPA!  Since you are above a B average, that is better than a lot of students.  I wouldn’t worry about it.  You might need to take the GRE but it isn’t really very difficult since there are a lot of books to prep for it that have practice questions.

Post # 4
Member
259 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

I skipped the MS and went straight from my BS to my PhD and I didn’t have a problem with it at all.

I found during the application process that GPA was important but not as much as people made it out to be. Also, if your grades are higher the last couple of years of undergrad you can also play that up in your essay and point out that you did better in more difficult classes. The acceptance committees really liked well-written essays.

Post # 5
Member
1940 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2010

I went through the same questioning when I was applying for my Doctor of Pharmacy program.  At least in the pharmacy/medical school fields, they are interested in you as a whole person.  Grades and standardized tests (GRE, MCAT, PCAT, etc) are important, but I really found that other factors were extremely important.  They want to make sure you will succeed in the program and want to know what you will bring to the school.  When I went for my interview, they spent a lot of time just trying to get to know me – my strengths, weaknesses, interests, experience, etc.  They also wanted to discuss my commitment to the particular field I was entering – why was I interested, why I would make a good professional in that field, my commitment to the community (i.e. volunteering) – things like that.

 

When I was deciding whether to pursue a doctorate degree or a PhD, I found a lot of information that suggested skipping a MA if you know you want to pursue a PhD.

Post # 6
Member
208 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2010 - Claxton Farm

MissDW, I think it depends on your target PhD program, area of research, and other factors including letters of rec, GRE scores, writing samples, and statement of purpose. 

Grades are important (a lot of guides suggest a 3.5 or higher GPA), but if everything else is strong, you can explain your GPA in your Statement of Purpose. 

If you’re thinking of continuing directly from undergrad, the MA might be a good experience to gauge your interest in research and to demonstrate your aptitude for the material. 

If you go directly into a PhD program, you’ll probably want to clearly articulate your research interests and why you can pursue those research interests at the institution to which you are applying (faculty research, areas of specialization, etc.). You’ll also need strong writing samples.

For me, I taught four years between undergrad and grad school, and I got into two programs: one that was a PhD and one that was an MA/PhD. I went with the MA/PhD and I’m really glad I did b/c the writing expectations significantly ramp up on the graduate level. I had the MA cushion to polish my writing and develop strong research habits.

Hope that helps!

Post # 7
Member
348 posts
Helper bee

Do you also want the MA in Education?  And what are your long-term goals – do you want to teach education at the college level, go into educational administration, continue teaching at the primary or secondary level, or something else?  The answers to these questions are going to make a big difference in what choice you make now.

One advantage of going straight to the Ph.D. is that (although this varies) you may be more likely to get funding from your school.  In my program (in, surprise, history) we fund Ph.D. candidates but not masters students, and that is pretty typical, although education programs may be different.  But admissions for the Ph.D. will also be more competitive, and if you don’t want to teach at the college level, then the Ph.D. may not be necessary for you anyway.

Post # 8
Member
2767 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2009

I am the student admissions rep at my school so I have a pretty good handle on how the admissions process works for grad school now.  Granted, my program is for a science PhD, which might be quite different from the humanities.  A 3.4 GPA would be competitive at my school.  I’d say most of the applicants had GPAs around there.  A 3.2 would be acceptable, but if your GRE scores are low at all it might not look as good.  So try to get the 3.2 up a little if you can and do well on your GRE.

As for not feeling “smart enough”, that happens to everyone who pursues higher education.  Especially in grad school and in academia in general.  Those feelings will only get worse for you from here on out.  It’s a complex that everyone in grad school gets at some point or another. 

Post # 9
Member
637 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

Also, many programs don’t count MAs earned elsewhere toward the PhD (if that is what you are going for).  So, if the question is whether you should pursue your MA first and get the PhD, probably not–in most programs I’ve seen (altho Ed schools may be different) you get your MA while getting your PhD.  (The MA is really all the training…PhD is just defending your prospectus, etc. and writing your diss).  

Ditto that PhD programs are usually fully funded (although ed schools may be a little different than social sciences), while MA programs are not.  

Post # 10
Member
637 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

I also don’t know if it’s true for Ed school (I am in sociology, but I applied to also poli sci and communication programs), but having conducted a serious research project (like a senior thesis) and having good letters of rec from known faculty are equally, if not more, important than your undergrad grades.

Post # 11
Member
208 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2010 - Claxton Farm

Oh, yeah, I pretty much think I’m not smart enough every day. Like @amariem25 says, it’s really common. We call it “Imposter Syndrome”– you feel like you’ve somehow managed to fool everyone into letting you in and now they’re going to find out that you’re really not very smart. 

During a “surviving the dissertation” meeting, one of the most senior scholars in my field of research opened with “So, you know when you’re thinking ‘My work is crap <only he used the more explicit term> and everyone hates me?…'” and he’s written at least ten books that have had a major impact on the field! 

 

Post # 12
Member
637 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

oh…By The Way…I have spoken on a few panels for people who are interested in getting their PhDs, and I always tell them DON’T DO IT!!  LOL

Okay, maybe i don’t say that, but I do suggest that you REALLY be certain that you want to do something with your life that requires you getting a PhD.  It is a HUGE time commitment, and it is very self-directed, so unless you have the motivation to pull yourself through it, it will be nearly impossible to get through, and will be a very painful process along the way.  I have basically traded in my entire 20’s for grad school.  Granted I did a joint degree program, but I will probably be graduating with other people from my cohort, so my experience will not be so much different from other students.  Watching other friends have kids, and buy homes, and have jobs, and be able to afford to do things in their life and have things called “retirement plans” (that is such a foreign concept to me, I can’t even understand what it is!), during the time I have spent just being a student is really frustrating.  It would be totally worth it if I knew I was doing it b/c it’s the only way that I can get where I want to be in life, but unfortunately I realized that wasn’t the case about 5 years in. :-/  So, just be certain that this is the decision you want to make, and not that its just something that you are “thinking about.”

Last comment–this is an exchange from a Simpsons episode last week (crazy that I even caught it).

Bart (holding ponytail to the back of his head): “Look at me, I’m a grad student! I’m 30 years old and I made $800 last year!”

Marge: “Bart, don’t make fun of grad students!  They just made a terrible life decision.”

Undecided 

It’s funny….’cus it’s true.

Post # 13
Member
348 posts
Helper bee

Oh yeah, I also give everyone the don’t-get-a-Ph.D. speech.  But education is a really different field (or at least that’s my impression) so take that advice with at least a small grain of salt.

Really, though, don’t get a Ph.D. in the humanities! It’s not worth it and there are no jobs at the end!  I sound much more bitter than I am…I’ve enjoyed getting my degree, but really, there were better things I could have done with the last five years of my life.

Post # 14
Member
637 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

So, also let me clarify a little bit–I’m getting my JD & my PhD.  I started the PhD first and finished 4 years before I started law school.  I really enjoyed law school & am enthusiastic about what I will be able to do with my law degree, but if I had started that first, I would not have bothered with the PhD.  I had a plan when I started but I realized that was not what I really wanted to do.  

I mostly regret getting the PhD b/c it is only necessary in order to do a very small subset of jobs.  For a lot of jobs that people say they want to do, and are therefore considering a PhD in order to get them, they really don’t NEED the PhD, but could get to the same place by actually working in the field that interests them.  If you DO want to work in an occupation where a PhD is ACTUALLY required, then, by all means, go for it!  If you have not fully decided whether to get a PhD yet, I think that you should talk to people that work doing the things that you are interested in doing and see what their advice is and what strategies they would suggest for you to get there.  

Post # 15
Member
216 posts
Helper bee

I think work experience is very important. Since you are just graduating how do you know you know will you even like teaching? Better to find out sooner than later, after having completed a PhD in education. Your GPA isn’t very high and without any teaching experience, I am not sure if you will be accepted right away. I don’t mean to discourage you, but I do think you working and going for a masters first would be a much better option for you. Not only will you have work experience (and money) but you can bring up your GPA in grad school and a PhD program will be much more likely to admit you. How about going for a masters in education at a university with a PhD program? You will be able to transfer your credits for sure and having recommendations from professors in the graduate education department will be very favorable for you.  

Post # 16
Member
1336 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2010

I definitely had my doubts when applying for grad school, and I had a 3.2 GPA from my undergrad so I was really regretting the early freshman year.  But as it turns out they really also look at what classes you took and what grades you received in those specialty classes.  I found that in my field, educational psychology, they also wanted some experience within the schools, and any extra areas of study that pertained to the subject (for example electives, conferences, professional organization memberships, etc.) that also helped the application process. 

Good luck, don’t doubt yourself and I would suggest to apply to both.  Each program is so different so once you have your options laid out for you, you can decide what’s best for you at the time.  

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