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I could use some encouragement [Jun. 16th, 2009|10:38 pm]


[mood |worriedworried]

Has anyone here done a second degree to bring up their GPA in order to go to graduate school?

I'm going back to school because I screwed up my GPA badly the first time around. I have a degree in English and will be doing a second degree in World Literature this fall. I need to bring up my grades so I have a better chance of getting into grad school for Comparative Literature. I don't mind doing more school but two years is a big commitment, and I guess I'm just afraid that I might not be able to pull this off.

I was wondering if anyone has gone through or is going through the same thing. I guess I just need to know that others have tried and succeeded. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

[User Picture]From: gr_scott_jo
2009-06-17 06:26 am (UTC)
I'm doing something a little similar. It's not for boosting my grades, but it is to switch fields: I have a Physics undergrad degree, and am taking a bunch of Computer Science undergrads so that I can do a Masters (PhD?) in Comp Sci. Right now I'm between the first year and second year of taking nothing but Comp Sci courses (and between the second and third year of being out of my first degree, after taking a year off to unsuccessfully look for a job--so it's almost more like a three year commitment, but if it's what you want to do, so what? Would you really rather be in the real world?).

... It's no success story, but at least so far they haven't stopped me and say "Wait... actually, you can't do this." I'm sure you'll do fine! :-D
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[User Picture]From: kindlin
2009-06-17 06:46 am (UTC)
Thanks for sharing your experience! Yes, I've tried the real world thing .. didn't like it one bit. :)

I took three years off after I finished my first degree, first teaching English in Japan and then working as an administrative assistant here back home. After working at jobs that didn't interest me, I'm more than ready to go back to school. I'm just afraid that even doing a second degree isn't going to make me competitive enough for grad school. I owe it to myself to give it a try though.

Thanks for the encouragement. I'm sure you'll be a success story, and hopefully things will turn out for me too. :)
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[User Picture]From: rexlezard
2009-06-17 01:32 pm (UTC)

It's not what you know, it's who you know.

I would carefully consider this strategy, but also look for an alternate, less costly, more useful strategy.

Are you going back to get a second BA only to raise your GPA or do you believe that you need to learn more in this area to be adequately prepared for graduate level work?

Do you have a sound strategy in place so that you will achieve better performance at the MA level? Remember, Cs get degrees, but Cs flunk out of grad school.

Do you know which comp lit programme you want to do you MA or PhD in?

If you don't, figure that out. If you do, is you undergrad GPA higher than the absolute bare minimum required by the graduate school?

(This is not the same as the GPA they recommend to get in, but the absolute lowest possible GPA that they can accept. In most Unis this along with some other basic requirements, is set by the graduate school, and as long as you meet their minimums the department's admissions committee typically has complete discretion.)

Next, instead of going back for another BA, particularly one in a very similar field to what you already have - I point this out because if grad school doesn't work out for you, that second BA is useless, it doesn't show much more than the first - off you go to that department and you take graduate courses in one of two ways:

- As a paying, unmatriculated student

- As a non-paying, auditing student (but do all the work, and keep it and your grades

This has a few advantages - you get to try on a grad program, you may get to count classes toward your MA instead of toward another degree you're only getting in order to start the MA.

However, keep in mind you goal - your goal is to impress at least two professors at the university you wish to attend so much that they will write amazing letters of recommendation and get you in to their program in spite of your low GPA. These professors' letters are going to count for way more than GPA. GPA is the basic threshold, it's getting a ticket to the ball, the person who writes your letter is the one who is going to twirl you across the dance floor. Nobody cares if you got your ticket for half price or you snuck in the back door if you can impress them when you dance across the floor.

Finally - you need to be absolutely on top of your game. It's not about smart. PhD and MA students are smart people, yes, but smart only takes you so far. You need to work hard, you need to have adequate strategies in place, and you need to know how the game is played.

Good luck!
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[User Picture]From: kindlin
2009-06-17 05:46 pm (UTC)

Re: It's not what you know, it's who you know.

Thank you for the very informative comment.

To answer your question, I'm going back to school to both boost my GPA and get ready for graduate school. When I said I screwed up with my first degree, I meant it. I graduated with a C and a few failed courses, which pretty much excludes me from getting accepted into any master's program .. I think. I also have been out of school for three years. As it stands right now, I don't have confidence that I can do graduate level work. I guess doing another degree (and succeeding) is also a way for me to prove it to myself that I'm not delusional in thinking that an academic career is possible for me.

Your comment gave me a lot to think about though, especially with finding out which programme I'd like to do my MA/PhD in and coming up with a better strategy to achieve my goals. I'm ready to work hard, but I do need to be smarter about how I'm going to make it happen. I do have some backups in case this doesn't turn out, but what you said made a lot of sense, and I will be looking into the options you have mentioned.

Thanks again for the help!
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[User Picture]From: frog_songs
2009-06-17 09:43 pm (UTC)

Re: It's not what you know, it's who you know.

This may be the most useful thing I've ever read on livejournal.

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[User Picture]From: isthmus_nekoi
2009-06-17 11:03 pm (UTC)
I know this is a grad com and I don't want to be discouraging, but having a career in academia (meaning being a tenured prof - as there are other academic positions, usually with far less job security/pay) is incredibly difficult, and it is no insult to anyone's intelligence should they fail to achieve this goal.

I am in grad school so I'm not against furthering one's education in academia. I personally found this article very helpful:
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[User Picture]From: kindlin
2009-06-17 11:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the article. I think I read something similar before, so yeah I will be going into this with my eyes open.

Thanks for the info though. Anything helps. :)
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