What is considered a "good" GPA for grad school?
September 2, 2011 6:07 PM Subscribe
What is considered a "good" GPA for admission into graduate school? Extended beanplating and academic fretting inside.
posted by dialetheia to Education (13 answers total)
I'm a 28 year old senior undergrad, finishing my B.S. Environmental Science, focus in Ecology and GIS, minoring in Soil Science. I'm starting to think about graduate school, but I'm having trouble figuring out how competitive I would be and what my options are. I think I have a pretty good GPA (currently 3.84 cumulative with a 3.9 in my major, though it will decrease a bit after this term) but I find that I experience excessive anxiety about my grades, to the point that the anxiety hurts my work and makes me feel paralyzed and burnt out. I definitely have some impostor's syndrome going on, such that earning A's doesn't give me even a fleeting sense of joy anymore - just relief that I didn't screw it up this time (yet). I need your help to figure out how to reset my standards for myself at a more realistic level. A strategy of just doing my best isn't working, because I'm too relentlessly critical of myself for every little misstep. I feel like having an established "lower bound" for my expectations would really help me feel more secure in my performance.
Background: I had a pretty rough summer term because I took on way too much. I had been feeling a bit underchallenged, so I decided to challenge myself and took 13 credits of classes on top of a full-time paid research internship. This was a big mistake. Don't get me wrong, I loved the internship, had a very successful poster session, and the research I worked on looks like it might even make it into a publication! But the downside is that I was busy as hell, and I will probably end up getting a C and a B+ in two of those summer classes I tacked on. The C is in a general-requirements class unrelated to my major, the B+ is in the last term of a general chemistry for majors sequence. On the plus side, I learned a very valuable lesson that I should challenge myself by doing harder things, not just more things.
However, I find myself catastrophizing these bad grades because I had just barely started to get used to the idea of being competitive for upper-tier graduate programs. For example, I had recently been daydreaming about the Bren School's conservation planning program, but this summer has shaken me and made me worry that I've just Completely Destroyed my Whole Future by allowing my burnout and impossibly high standards affect my work and now the daydream isn't any fun anymore. I recognize that this is irrational and counterproductive.
Obviously I will buckle down and do better next term, but right now I would love some help re-establishing my "norms" about grades so that I can ultimately be more successful. So I ask you: what range of GPAs is considered "sufficient" for grad school in science, given some undergraduate research experience, decent writing skills, and good recommendations? Bonus question: does that change if I wanted to go straight into a Ph.D program instead of doing a Masters first?