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answering if academic record reflects capabilities

Discussion in 'Pre-Physical Therapy' started by krissybear, Jul 1, 2015.

  1. krissybear

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    Hey all,

    This may seem like an obvious answer, but I'm not sure how to explain my GPA situation in the PTCAS section where it asks 'Does your academic record reflect your capabilities?' ... If say you feel that your academic record does NOT reflect your capabilities because you messed up in some classes early in your freshman year but are now retaking these to improve those grades, how should you explain this? just as simple as explaining what I just mentioned?
     
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  3. rl91

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    I have this same question, lol.
     
  4. ptmonster

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    Im also wondering about this question, and does GRE also part of academics?
     
  5. davidtheusername

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    My take on it, and others may disagree, is that I'd only mention it if there was something major that affected things. For example, if you ended up with a serious illness that caused your grades to drop or something. Having a bad year then retaking classes to do better is fairly common and obvious from your transcripts without talking about it. I'd be nervous that admissions people would look at it like I was making excuses unless I really did have some major excuse that most people don't have. That's just my take on it though. I could be totally off base.
     
    Azimuthal likes this.
  6. davidtheusername

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    ptmonster, most schools I've seen take your highest GRE anyways so if something happened to make your score not really reflect you there's no harm (aside from cost) of just taking it again and proving the bad score is a fluke.
     
  7. krissybear

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    that's what I was considering as well... because my "excuse" is not exactly comparable to a death or illness in the family... thank you for your input
     
  8. camiosyz

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    I've also always read that unless it's really some kind of extenuating circumstance, you shouldn't mention it by way of sounding like you're making excuses. I considered it because I had no direction or idea of what I wanted to do in undergrad years ago and therefore performed semi-poorly, but that was on me and not something else that prevented me from doing better. I still got in on my first round of applications, so try not to stress about it too much. Do awesome in your current classes/retakes, and just be sure your cum gpa is at least above the minimum. Being selective with your applications will helps also since some schools place more emphasis on grade progression/prereq or last 60 hour gpa. Good luck!
     
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  9. allywally15

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    I've taken my last 60 hours in the past twelve months, therefore my last 60 hours GPA is not as great as it could be (lower than my overall). Is this worth mentioning?
     
  10. Kuhdaytee

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    That's not an excuse though...you could have potentially taken more time to get higher grades. Unless there was anything outside of your control that affected your grades, then you shouldn't say anything. They may see how rigorous your courseloads were, but chances are they'll look at the numbers first.
     
    BiffTheFlashRogers likes this.
  11. starrsgirl

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    Eh, I might not use it. I was on the edge with mine too. I ended up writing in this section on mine. I was applying with a 3.1 cum GPA and a similar pre req GPA which is pretty low obviously. I just pointed out that I had received straight As over the last 5 years, all of the classes that were pulling my GPA down were more than 10 years old and that every class I took and got an A could only raised my cum GPA by .01. (I wrote this much better but just pointed out that the pure numbers did not reflect my work over the past decade. Also I was a reapplicant and everyone told me to take more classes to boost my GPA so I felt I had to address that I did take many more classes but it didn't budge my GPA).
     
    #10 starrsgirl, Jul 1, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2015
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  12. 89bogues

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    If you use it, I would keep it simple, and refrain from excuses unless they are extremely legit.

    Your GPA is what it is. As another person who turned it around, I essentially stated that while my cGPA was reflective of my performance as a whole during undergrad, I felt my grade trend and recent coursework GPA was more indicative of my ability, desire, and potential to do well in PT school.

    I don't think there is much else you can say that will further your cause.
     
  13. Hopeful_DPT_2016

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    Actually just made an account because of this thread. I was planning on using the explanation to say that my university is very competitive, with rigorous courses/professors. My GPA is not bad, but I believe it would be higher had I gone to another school. It also does not reflect how hard I work in every class I take! For example, I made a B in Chem II. What the transcript does not say is that my class average was a C. Secondly, a B+ in physiology when the average was much lower. These are examples of grades that receive no explanation from looking at my transcript. I almost feel like I have to say something since I will be competing against people with a 3.7-3.9 GPA (mine is something like a 3.53). Sure, there is nothing wrong with my GPA, but I feel very average when I want to stand out.

    However, I have taken classes such as physics I at another 4-year state school and received an A+. So would having this other transcript demonstrate my academic ability in light of my primary school? Should I let it speak for me, rather than utilize the background statement? I feel that it can't hurt me to speak my peace.
     
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  14. allywally15

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    I feel the exact same way. I'm not sure if stating these things will help our chances (I also have a similar GPA with similar complaints) or just make us come across as whiny. Trying to figure out the best way to spin things is tough!
     
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  15. starrsgirl

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    ^^^ I would absolutely NOT say anything like the above. You will likely only alienate your readers and insult their judgement. I understand what you are saying....I went to an Ivy League undergrad and I had to work to even get a C in chem. I tutored my sisters through chemistry at their state schools to As. The classes were light years apart. When I retook the courses at state schools, I got As too. So what, I get it. But don't say it. You live and learn and pave your own way. You can't make excuses for your work or put value only on comparison to others. The best thing you can do is retake anything that is a C or lower. It's a little bit of eating humble pie but I think it's a better route. Let the admissions committee decide on how rigorous they think the school was. It's likely they've had students from your school before and know how well or not well the curriculum prepares you. And/or, they may be connected and understand the load from a faculty perspective.

    It sucks, I know. If I had to do it over again I would advise anyone to go to a straight public school (maybe with the first 2 years at community college to save money) and get the highest grades possible. But it is what it is. I just don't want you to come off sounding like a jerk in your application.
     
  16. starrsgirl

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    Check out Malcolm Gladwell's "David and Goliath". I believe it's chapter 2 (maybe 3)....he addresses this exact situation....science courses are very rigorous schools versus others and the impact of people going into science. Fascinating.
     
  17. Hopeful_DPT_2016

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    Oh none of that was in my explanation at all! I posted that as background info and examples for the forum. What you are saying is exactly what the other half of me is thinking. I'm hoping my school's rep will speak volumes for me compared with other school applicants who have straight A's. I obviously have many other great extra involvement activities, however, it is unnerving to hear how much weight goes to the GPA/GRE in comparison to experiences like research.
     
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  18. davidtheusername

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    It's true that some school's are harder, but depending on the school the admissions people will know that without you saying that. Even aside from the school being hard, one teacher in a department can be vastly harder than another. That's just unfortunate, but how it is. It's a situation that many applicants face so I don't think it could help you to explain it, and it would be really easy for it to come off badly. This is where the GRE is good though. It can help to show people who have more abilities than their grades show (or conversely someone who just got all A's because the classes were easy.)
     
  19. DesertPT

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    Any statement for which there is any posibility that anyone could perceive it to be excuse-making, even to the slightest degree, is inadvisable. No adcom will give you the time of day if they think you are trying to excuse past behavior.

    If you are owning your mistakes and describing what you legitimately learned from them without pandering, that's another story. But I would leave that for the interview, and otherwise let your application tell the story. I would think long and hard about including a statement in the "does this reflect your capabilities" question.
     
  20. jnllvllnv

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    Can anyone tell me if this situation would be acceptable to put in this section? These aren't the exact words I'll use in the application.

    I was a dance major and required to take a certain dance technique classes every quarter. Initially as a freshman, the class only counted as 2 units, but by the time I was a junior, the dance department altered its policies and this same class counted as 4 units. I did well in this class and if it was weighted as 4 units throughout my academic career, it would've raised my cGPA by 0.2.
     
  21. davidtheusername

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    I don't see how that would help you. Barring some really dire situation, this section runs the risk of sounding like you are making excuses (for anyone not just you). While most people don't have the exact situation, most applicants could think of some equivalent explanation to that for something in their GPA so it isn't that unique. It's not worth the risk.
     
  22. starrsgirl

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    No I would not put this in at all. This wasn't something unfair to you or a mistake that drastically altered your Gpa. Your grades were calculated fairly based on policies at the time.
     
  23. PTHOPEFULL7066

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    It seems like someone must have a drastic situation to answer this question.

    I automatically answered it because I had appendicitis my first semester that kept me from class for over a week and then my second semester I had a triple hernia repair which kept me out for almost 2 and half weeks.

    I don't want to make excuses for my poor grades my first year, however I feel that these are legitimate circumstances. What do you all think?
     
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  24. davidtheusername

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    That seems fairly legitimate to me.
     
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  25. starrsgirl

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    Yep, I would say that's exactly what this section is for!
     
  26. redrose424

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    Does anyone have any insight into if mental illness is considered a "legitimate" reason. I'm worried about coming off as weak/whiney when I truly think I was captive to my depression and GAD through my earlier years of school (I just got a hold on it this past year when I sought therapy and medication and my entire grade trend has taken a 180).
     
  27. 89bogues

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    I definitely think mental illnesses/disorders are legit reasons for poor performance in school, and having a grade trend that shows you have a handle on it is great.

    However, in the game of making yourself look like the best candidate possible, I don't think it will help you, and it could definitely hurt you. I think letting your strong grade trend speak for itself is probably your safest bet. YMMV
     
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  28. davidtheusername

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    I think metal illness is a legitimate excuse, but I think it has a really high risk of being taken wrong by the adcom. I wouldn't take the risk.
     
  29. redrose424

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    So you guys think it would be best to just leave the section blank?
     
  30. redrose424

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    I'm having such a hard time because I definitely don't think my beginning year or two are reflective of my capability as a student, but i understand this is a subject that could be taken many ways.
     
  31. somo47

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    From what I understood from the description of this section is that it should only be used for extreme circumstance - I would think there are very few acceptable reasons to use it outside the realm of a serious health problem or family emergency.

    I used it because I had a severe brain injury a month before starting my freshman year - though I did have smaller issues pop up during my college career that affected my GPA, I found that only my injury was truly something out of my control and could in no way be seen as simply an attempt to make an excuse for any poor grades. I wrote a few short sentences explaining the date of the injury, how it affected my health and subsequently my grades, and to what date I felt that the injury posed a large obstacle for retaining school work.

    It seems most people understand what to put or not put in this section, but for the few who are on the fence I thought I'd add in my two cents!
     
  32. cvc29452

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    I also had a question about this, and spoke with an admission representative at an open house about it. I'm a second career student, with an abysmal undergrad GPA, but high pre-requisite GPA since I have taken them recently, and a high GPA in my masters degree program. The representative told me to write a short paragraph about just being "unfocused" in undergrad and to let them know that my more recent course grades are more reflective of my capabilities. I am not going to go into huge detail to elaborate or make excuses, but she did tell me that writing a small explanation for that section could give some direction to admissions committees.
     
  33. katelly

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    I like what cvc says. And was going to play a little devils advocate anyway.
    To acknowledge that we all have had short comings in our past and recognize them doesn't mean that we are trying to make excuses for ourselves. I think it is reasonable to say something to the effect of 'look at this trend- I was under achieving in my early years of school- that is clearly not the best I have in me; as I matured my grades steadily improved. Now, as an post-grad working on pre-reqs for something that I really am passionate about my grades are better then ever.'
    I don't think that admitting something like this is inherently going to make you look like you are making excuses. I think it can be an opportunity to show admissions that you aren't a one dimensional person and have had your own internal struggle to get to this point; where you are ready to apply.
    To be clear, I will have several people read this part of my application to make sure that it doesn't come across as whiny or as if I am trying to make a lot of excuses. But I will probably write a short statement in this section.
     
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