Grad school app sunk by half-time undergrad experience?
April 8, 2012 1:01 PM Subscribe
My girlfriend has been going through undergrad half-time. Adviser keeps telling her that grad schools will not look upon this favorably. True?
posted by wires to Education (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My girlfriend matriculated the same year as me, 2002. After 3 majors in three years, she settled on chemistry (none of her other majors were hard sciences). She had always liked that subject best in high school but had been discouraged by family from taking difficult courses in college. There's a whole history of her immediate family being convinced she's stupid and treating her as such. But after meeting a charismatic professor who encouraged and challenged her, she fell in love with chemistry and committed to it as a major. However, due to clinical depression, family issues and the rigor of the hard-science courses she had never experienced before, she all but failed out of school and took a hiatus.
After a couple of years off working boring jobs she's started university again, and is now finishing her second year back. The whole time she's been back, she's been attending half-time. This has allowed her to do much better grades-wise--she's getting above a 3.0 for the first time in her life. During all but the first semester she's also been doing research; last summer she worked full time in a lab and for the last three semesters she's worked in that same lab about 5 hours a week for class credit. She expects to publish a paper this summer.
She tends to struggle with material and spends hours in office hours and study sessions every week. Her half-time classes take up about the same amount of time as a full load for other people. Her research is suppose to be for only 5 hours a week, but she usually does between that and 10 hours, so that doesn't take her up to full time by itself. She does not have a job outside of her research responsibilities, she's living off of loans.
Her class adviser is a bit of a general ass, so when he told her that grad schools would really question why she's been going half-time, she entirely disregarded his concern. He's a guy who went to Yale, for reference. Anyone familiar with the application process to hard-science PhD programs think her past will be a show-stopper? That same charismatic professor who got her into Chemistry said that she shouldn't worry about it, and she is counting on a stellar letter of recommendation from him and a solid one from her current Primary Investigator.
I'm concerned admissions committees would question her ability to adapt to the workload of graduate school if she needs to take her undergraduate experience half-time. Obviously everyone's experience is individual and there's quite a lot more to consider than her habitual half-time status when considering her chances of getting into grad school. But will the half-time status, in and of itself, sink her application to the decent state universities she's starting to eye?