How much emphasis to place on the C+?
December 7, 2012 7:20 AM Subscribe
How much focus, if any, on my "blemished" academic record, and my change of field, should I place in my personal statements for graduate school?
posted by anonymous to Education (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I am applying for master's degrees in urban planning and policy, in the US. I have an undergraduate degree from a US college in an unrelated social science, say Star Wars studies for instance.
I am working through my personal statements and was wondering how much emphasis to place on two things:
(1) My freshman year, I got a C+ in introductory economics; so, not the field I'm looking to enter, but definitely related, as economics is often a recommended prerequisite for these programs, and urban economics is obviously related to planning/policy anyway.
Including the C+, I averaged a 3.6 the rest of my freshman year, the rest of my grades ranging from B+ upward. My sophomore through senior years, I earned A and A- grades exclusively.
How much explanation, if any, do I need to devote to this C+? I'm not concerned about my freshman year performance in general, which I think is fairly obviously a "freshman year hiccups, shaped up after that" typical academic trajectory. Maybe I'm just paranoid about the C+, but I can't help thinking of it as a blemish on my record. I can speak to exactly why I got a C+ and the lessons I learned from it, but how much space -- if any -- is it worth devoting to this?
(2) As I mentioned above, I'm changing fields. I'm focusing most of my statements on my specific research interests in planning, to demonstrate specific focus and that I know what I'm talking about (especially because I'm changing fields). How much, if any, should I focus on the change of academic fields?
Possibly relevant information for either/both questions:
- I didn't take very many courses in college at all related to planning -- I didn't come to a realization that I was really interested in the subject until after college, although all the signs were there. (D'oh!)
- Very good GRE scores.
- I've done research and work/volunteering related to planning since college, though my main job (generic white-collar job) is not really related to it.