How do I get over my academic past?
July 27, 2007 2:49 PM   Subscribe

Is is a good idea to be blunt about academic missteps during my undergrad?

I'm applying to several BSN/MSN combination programs for Nursing and my undergrad GPA counts significantly. Many schools only consider your last 60/90 units and for me, that means we're looking at below a 3.0. Since then I've taken over 45 semester units of Bio, Chem, Epidemiology, Pharmacology, Pathophysiology etc. In addition to the undergrad GPA, they look at your science GPA (I have a 4.0), clinical experience and leadership experience (I feel I am covered in those areas as well).

Regaring my personal statement(s), how blunt should I be about how my undergrad GPA came to be so low? I really wasn't focused during that time academically and wasn't feeling at all motivated to do well. I honestly didn't think I'd be going back to college for quite a while for further education. Should I simply state that and elaborate why this time its a whole new ball of wax and I have a clear idea of my path and why I want it? Is it really that simple?

Note: I do not want to lie and make up some personal emergency/situation that distracted me, as that was not the case and although it might help me get my foot in the door I just wouldn't feel good about it.
posted by Asherah to Education (5 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Lack of motivation or direction is fairly common among students. What is most important is that your most recent marks, or marks in the area where you will be working, are strong, which means you are motivated now.

Most admission officers would look for a clear turning point on your transcript. Pointing this out can only strengthen your case. I think your instincts are correct. (don't lie)
posted by PercussivePaul at 3:01 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think it would be good to point it out briefly. If you start talking about it too much it might start to sound like you were making excuses, and that's a tone you'd want to avoid. Your recent grades and experiences will be convincing, though :)

Good luck!
posted by christinetheslp at 3:14 PM on July 27, 2007

I was in the exact same situation when I was applying to graduate school. I don't know if my explanation helped or hurt me, but I got in. Maybe write something like:

"In college, despite a great interest in my classes, my personal work habits were not stellar. As I developed my interest and acumen in the science classes I took post-graduation, my work habits improved, and my GPA of 4.0 for post-graduate work reflects that."

The point is just to explain how it's not an issue anymore, which can be proven by your more current GPA.

Good luck!
posted by tk at 4:27 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Similar situation. I had abysmal undergrad grades and wanted to get into a competitive grad program. Even though I wasn't accepted into the program, I could still take classes at the college. So I signed up for a couple of classes and aced them and proved myself to be a dedicated and driven student. I got to know the faculty. When I did go to apply for the program, I had several faculty members ready to vouch for me with letters of support. In my admissions essay I did acknowledge my bad undergrad grades by explaining that I was a first generation college student from a low income family who worked several jobs to pay for school. I explained that working full time took its toll on my grades.

I ended up getting into the program and also received full funding from the school.
posted by pluckysparrow at 10:22 PM on July 27, 2007 [4 favorites]

Be very blunt. Admissions people love applicants who have overcome adversity. If you went through a difficult time and your grades suffered, but then you went on to do a good job in a bunch of other classes, point that out to them. And explain why your grades were sub par.
posted by HotPatatta at 11:25 PM on July 27, 2007

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