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Discussion Starter #1
I graduated with a BS in Dec of 06 and after working various jobs discovered that I like research the best. Unfortunately when I was doing research, I was a temporary employee and the company decided to drop the project I was working on. So obviously, I was dropped as well.

So long story short, I figure the easiest way for me to do what I want is going back to school. However, I have a horrible undergrad GPA since I never planned on furthering my education and had a "C's earn degrees attitude."

I took the GRE already and did pretty well on them. I want to get at least a masters in microbio and both California State Colleges that have programs only require the biology Gre subject test if you were a non bio major. I was a microbio major so technically I don't need to take it.

Now I'm wondering if I should take the bio subject test anyways to show the colleges that I know biology despite my low gpa. Would colleges look upon this favorably? Or would they see that I was a bio major and figure that I should do well on it regardless of what my gpa was? There is also the flip side that if I do poorly on the biology subject test then that would pretty much end my chances of getting in as I am a long shot to begin with.

Thanks guys

Oh and before you guys are telling me that his question is better directed to an adviser, I've already asked my grad school adviser but shes takes a while to respond to me, and I want as many opinions as possible.
 

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GPA will play a factor in the school decision making. It realy depends on the schools you are going to apply to. Some obviously will require a minimum GPA and others might not. The application process will also require you to write them an admission letter to sell yourself.

Grad school are also picky in terms of the students they accept...not the same process as Undergrad.

Yes you need to discuss your situation with a school adviser. Good luck.
 

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It's all about school ranking and where you want to go.......

Schools are increasingly operated as businesses. They need paying students. Regardless of your GPA, if you are willing to pay your way for an MS degree, some school somewhere will accept you. You just need to be willing to move.

With a C average, however, I would say you have zero hope of getting into a top program regardless of what you do on standardized tests. In that regard, you have to live with the track record you have earned.

Good luck!

For the record, I am a Professor in a well known school and have been on the graduate admissions committee and screened graduate applications for my department.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thx,

Yea, I've already been told by an adviser that I have no chance of getting into a University. My best chance is to go to a state school, get my masters and then, if I choose to, try to get a doctorate.

I know about the actual process and know what I want to say in my letter. I also have three people willing to write me letters of req affirming that I have changed my attitude, am a hard worker, etc.

My main question is should I take the bio subject test or would I just be wasting my time, money and possibly hurting my chances if I don't do well.
 

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I went through college with a "C's get degrees" attitude as well, and honestly, it was the BEST decision I've ever made. Whereas most of the students shooting for that 4.0 are just now starting out in the workforce, I have 5 years of work backing me, a good paying job, and property and investments to show for it. And let's face it, no one in the real world cares what your GPA in undergrad was.

In looking at graduate schools many of the individuals i've spoken to have stated they are steering away from the 4.0s because they want people with lives-- those that have experienced things and done things outside of the classroom. College teaches you to pass tests, your real education occurs outside of them.

BTW, you can do what a lot of people do trying to get into med school--take a whole bunch of electives. Yoga and ceramics work pretty well.
 

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Check out Find the Graduate School That's Right for You — PhDs.org Graduate School Guide
They have a lot of good advice.

Hit the books. There are a lot of books tailored to potential graduate students. Your library is a good source.

I suggest you broaden your interest and consider many schools. As suggested in this thread, different schools may have different approaches. You'd be surprised. I had no trouble getting accepted into a Ph.D. program in Veterinary Pharmacology at Cornell based on undergraduate biology/chemistry/biochem courses I took at Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern University, and Cornell, all as a nondegree student. What was critical was finding an advisor and a research subject.

Some of the schools may require the subject test, so you might as well prepare for it and take it.

I'm in favor of an angle you mentioned. Take graduate level courses so you can get recommendations and show that you're qualified. You can do that as a nonmatriculated student almost anywhere.

How did you do as an undergrad in biology? If your low g.p.a. was due to non-biology courses but you did well in biology, you're in better shape.

(My qualifications are I've been in 5 graduate programs, am finishing up an MSEE and considering graduate work, again, in Mathematics.)

Good luck!
 

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According to the extant data, the GRE subject tests are actually better predictors of graduate school (and later professional) success (at least in Chemistry and Psychology -- the two areas that have received attention). The GRE subject test tells the admissions committee a lot more about what you have learned in college about your subject area than does your GPA, especially if you have an unusually large or small number of completed courses in the area.

That said, a poor GPA (or GREs below the program's stated threshold) won't normally get your application past the secretarial screening and into the hands of the professors who make the decisions.

Your best bet would be to find professors who do research in the area that you are most interested in, and contact them to see if they are taking in students next year, and express your interest in their work. Then, you can have your letter-writers contact the professor directly and see if you can't at least get your application reviewed. Otherwise, if you have the will (and the financial resources), you might try actually seeing if you can take a job in the professor's laboratory as a prelude to making the graduate application. If you work out well, you might get that extra edge in the admissions process.

If you think you will do well on the subject GRE, there is absolutely no reason not to take the test, and every reason that it might help you.
 

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I have a bit of knowledge about graduate school admissions (for engineering, Chem may be slightly different).

There are three numbers and one qualitative assessment that most universities look for.

#1) GRE score. YOU NEED TO TAKE THE BIO SPECIFIC EXAM. If you do well, it WILL separate you from the pack.

#2) Quality rank of your undergraduate institution. Every university in the US, and many abroad, are ranked from A to F in terms of the quality of your degree. This actually ranks HIGHER than your undergraduate GPA. If you went to an esteemed institution, a lower GPA won't hurt you as much.

#3) Your GPA. Anything under a 3.0 will immediately disqualify you from any top-tier graduate school. Look at second-tier universities and colleges. You can much more easily transfer into a top-tier program after a year or two of good work (and lab/intern experience) with a smaller program.

#4) Your personal essay(s), statements. This is going to make or break you in terms of getting accepted into the highest quality program possible. Take your time and do them to the best of your ability.
 

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Pla Time is correct, that is probably the best solution for you. Find a professor you want to work with and start contacting them. Having gone through the process, I know it is very competitive. You need to take the subject test, and do well on it. Prepare for it, don't just think that you will do fine. If you can establish a relationship with a professor you want to work with it will help you immensely, when your application crosses their desk, you will not just be a faceless undergraduate. My advisor actually fought for me when the committee deliberated and it got me in. There are many individuals with similar characteristics as yourself and to get in you need to set yourself apart from them. Pick up the phone and call them or email them. I preferred email at first. Read their journal articles and become knowledgeable about their research. It is very important to be a good "fit" in the program, as well as with your advisor.
 

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Your best bet would be to find professors who do research in the area that you are most interested in, and contact them to see if they are taking in students next year, and express your interest in their work. Then, you can have your letter-writers contact the professor directly and see if you can't at least get your application reviewed. Otherwise, if you have the will (and the financial resources), you might try actually seeing if you can take a job in the professor's laboratory as a prelude to making the graduate application. If you work out well, you might get that extra edge in the admissions process.
+100000

Graduate school admissions are hugely influenced by the professors. If a professor says that I want XXX then XXX will be admitted as long he/she meets the most basic academic criteria (usually just need an undergrad degree). This is especially prevalent in smaller schools/departments which have to decide from smaller applicant pools (i.e. not CS at Stanford). Working with professors will also help you get yourself some funding which can usually pay your way through gradschool - I went through that route got a full tuition waiver along with a monthly stipend for the duration of my masters.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thx for the advice everyone. I never thought about working for a professor and trying to get in that way. I guess I'll use that as plan B since the only two state school that offer micro are 7 hours away and I tied down to my lease till next august.

I talked to my adviser and she advised me against it because the damage done by doing poorly on the test outweighs the benefits of doing well.

Even so, based on the advice here and the fact that her answer sounds like it was read from a book and not applied to my specific scenerio, I think I'm going to take it.
 

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I talked to my adviser and she advised me against it because the damage done by doing poorly on the test outweighs the benefits of doing well.
Are the subject GRE scores listed on the report of the regular GRE scores as well? If not you could just take the test and then decide if you want to send in the scores.
 

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Are the subject GRE scores listed on the report of the regular GRE scores as well? If not you could just take the test and then decide if you want to send in the scores.
You should probably check the latest from ETS. I do know that the College Board has announced a new policy with the SAT (starting next year), where the student can pick which administration date's scores are sent to the colleges (but they have to take all the scores from that date, not pick and choose the verbal from one date and the quant. from another date). It could be that ETS will allow you to pick and choose where the general and the subject test scores go independent of one another.

However, I would add that your best bet, if there is any uncertainty (and actually anyway, because it would be good practice) is to take a practice test before you take the real test. You can probably buy a study guide that has both a review and practice tests, but you can also get a copy of practice test (which is probably a 'disclosed' copy of a recent real test) and find out how well you are likely to do when you take it. These are available for free download on the ETS website.

Here's the link:

http://www.ets.org/Media/Tests/GRE/pdf/gre_0809_biology_practice_book..pdf
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I'm going to take a Kaplan course. They have practice tests included which are remarkably accurate.

With the GRE, the bio subject test is taken separately from the GRE.

About sending scores, what happens is after the test is done the first thing they ask is if you would like to cancel your score or not. If you choose not to, then you choose what schools you would like your scores sent to. After that they then tell you your score. If you choose to send your score to a school later, then they charge you and send all your scores for that particular test.
 

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According to the extant data, the GRE subject tests are actually better predictors of graduate school (and later professional) success (at least in Chemistry and Psychology -- the two areas that have received attention). The GRE subject test tells the admissions committee a lot more about what you have learned in college about your subject area than does your GPA, especially if you have an unusually large or small number of completed courses in the area.

That said, a poor GPA (or GREs below the program's stated threshold) won't normally get your application past the secretarial screening and into the hands of the professors who make the decisions.

Your best bet would be to find professors who do research in the area that you are most interested in, and contact them to see if they are taking in students next year, and express your interest in their work. Then, you can have your letter-writers contact the professor directly and see if you can't at least get your application reviewed. Otherwise, if you have the will (and the financial resources), you might try actually seeing if you can take a job in the professor's laboratory as a prelude to making the graduate application. If you work out well, you might get that extra edge in the admissions process.

If you think you will do well on the subject GRE, there is absolutely no reason not to take the test, and every reason that it might help you.
What are your goals? Are you trying to become a doctor, a researcher...?

Agree with the above...sad as it is to say, in the real world, connections are everything. If you can do research with a well-renowned physician, and ultimately get a strong letter of rec. from him/her - that will get you further than a 4.0. In the field of medicine, research and publications are key...so I would try to work that angle.

Since your GPA is not helping you, it may behoove you to also take some equivalency tests to show that you do indeed have the educational knowledge in the field of biology.

If you are working towards being a physician, now-a-days, med schools are looking for well-rounded people with extracurricular activities (volunteer work, #1 in tennis, etc...).

But in the end.....it's networking and who you know....
 

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But in the end.....it's networking and who you know....
I wouldn't go that far. Essentially there are two routes to graduate school. The traditional one includes high grades from a high-reputation collge/university, undergraduate research experience, high GRE scores, letters from reputable advisors, and a good match between the applicant's interests and the faculty who are taking on new students. This one involves relatively little 'networking.'

The other path is the nontraditional one. If you want to get a Ph.D., there are several ways to do this to (e.g., getting a master's degree at a lesser institution and working your way up). The recommendations I made were on the basis of lower undergrad grades and a significant amount of time outside the academy.

It isn't always about who you know, but if you don't have the stellar qualifications, it does require a different path.
 

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I'm going to take a Kaplan course. They have practice tests included which are remarkably accurate.

With the GRE, the bio subject test is taken separately from the GRE.

About sending scores, what happens is after the test is done the first thing they ask is if you would like to cancel your score or not. If you choose not to, then you choose what schools you would like your scores sent to. After that they then tell you your score. If you choose to send your score to a school later, then they charge you and send all your scores for that particular test.
Then just choose to send the scores to some random schools and if you like the score you can pay to send it to the schools you realy care about. At just $50 a pop I'd think its worth it to pay to send them separately. :shrug:
 

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Then just choose to send the scores to some random schools and if you like the score you can pay to send it to the schools you realy care about. At just $50 a pop I'd think its worth it to pay to send them separately. :shrug:
+1. You might also get away with making a scanned or Xerox copy of the score report, and send it with your application. If you get accepted pending an "official" score report (or if they ask for confirmation), you can always order the report from ETS for that school. Some schools are more strict about getting official score reports than others, while the selection process is going on. But I don't think any school would issue a final 'admissions' offer without the official report.
 

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FWIW, when I decided to go to graduate school I didn't go looking for schools. Instead, I went to the journals and found professors doing work that interested me. When I had a few, I sent some emails. They all mailed a huge stack of papers, some of which I read. Based on that I made a couple of phone calls to the ones doing the most interesting work.

The reason this worked really well is that lots of people get into grad school with no clue as to what they want to do. In my field grad school means a ton of research hours. You've got to be really committed to what you're doing. Lots of people drop out or fail out. Many change groups (and lose time). I started right where I wanted to be.

The other advantage to this is that my (soon to be) advisor hand-walked my application through the process. I didn't even bother writing an essay when I applied (I put one sentence in the essay section of the app.).
 

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What a great site. One can get good advice about almost anything.

Back in the 70s, I took my friend's GREs for him. He's very smart, but not good @ this kind of test apparently.

I got "us" in the 98th or 99th percentile and he went to the London School of Economics. ;)

He did very well......better than I.
 
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