lovefash67

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So, I am in the process of writing my personal statement and I was wondering if it is a good idea to discuss semesters that had bad grades due to death of my father and friend?
 

PsychScience

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So, I am in the process of writing my personal statement and I was wondering if it is a good idea to discuss semesters that had bad grades due to death of my father and friend?
Tricky issue. To echo MCParent, it matters when it happened and what your final undergrad gpa will be. If your overall gpa is above 3.5, and the grade dips occurred early in your academic career, you are probably better off not using your personal statement to address it. If below 3.5 or later in the academic career, it becomes trickier to handle.
 

PBCocce

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Share more details for better feedback...
It depends on when it occurred, the types of classes, and whether there were any extenuating circumstances.
 
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lovefash67

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I my undergrad gpa was 2.78 before my junior year my semester grade was a 3.5 .My senior semster I believed I had a 3.1 and graduated overall with 2.78

My junior/senior year of undergrad my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, helping him and family get the assistance that he needed affected my grades eventually chemo worked and he was good two years later he was diagnosed with it again but it was more harsh this time and in a manner of months he passed which again had an affect on my graduate grades. I explained my situation to my professors in my masters program and they seem opened to working with me but ultimately they really did not provide me with any supports so my grades went down.I am currently in process of taking the classes again.My advisor said that old grades will not have an affect on my gpa but my old grade will be on my transcript.
 
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I'm a little confused. So you are currently in a master's program? Let me see if I understood the timeline correctly- You had a 3.5 up to junior year, your dad got ill and it dropped significantly (to a ?), then you brought it up to a 3.1 during your senior year (or very last semester?) but due to the effects of your junior year, the 3.1 senior year only brought it up to a grand total of 2.78. Then you started a master's program, but your dad ultimately took a turn for the worse (so sorry you've had to go through that)... and due to the stress of his death your current GPA in your master's program is bad (but you didn't mention what it currently is). Did I get that all straight?

And what is the purpose of your question - are you hoping to apply to a PhD program in the future I assume? Or are you re-applying to a master's program?
 
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lovefash67

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Okay so,I'm currently in a masters program and will be graduating in january 2017. My father passed away 2 months ago and due to having to assist my step mom in taking care of him I fell behind on my school work.
My dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 2012, early-mid 2013-end 2015 he was good January 2016 he was told it cam back and it went down hill from there

Now for my undergrad my overall gpa graduating was a 2.78. I graduated two years ago so I cant really remember everything but before my junior year. My spring semester grade was a 3.5 .That was not my overall cumulative gpa just semester.I think my overall gpa was a 3.2 I believe. My junior year my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.That whole year I didnt really do well at all.My senior year things were because for me because beginning mid year doctors said my dad was cured and they got rid of the cancer.So, I was making less trips home to see my dad and assist him to his appointments


I am interested in applying to phd program for Fall 2017.

Sorry if I was not being too clear.
 
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Back to what people have said above, I think the extent to which I addressed it would hinge on how your masters' program has gone and what your GPA is for those classes. Those are most recent and, since they are graduate level, also more relevant than your undergrad GPA.
 
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lovefash67

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Back to what people have said above, I think the extent to which I addressed it would hinge on how your masters' program has gone and what your GPA is for those classes. Those are most recent and, since they are graduate level, also more relevant than your undergrad GPA.

Okay thank you!So my graduate level I have gotten all good grades As and B's gpa 3.5 .The two classes that I did not do well in I will be taking it over and so the old grades will not affect my gpa but the old grades would be on my transcript.Should I address it?Or only do it if they ask?
 

PsychPhDStudent

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Okay thank you!So my graduate level I have gotten all good grades As and B's gpa 3.5 .The two classes that I did not do well in I will be taking it over and so the old grades will not affect my gpa but the old grades would be on my transcript.Should I address it?Or only do it if they ask?
I'm so sorry about your dad.

What classes were they in? Also, you're doing your masters online, right? What type of thesis are you doing? I'm trying to get a full picture of your application package here.
 

PsychScience

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Back to what people have said above, I think the extent to which I addressed it would hinge on how your masters' program has gone and what your GPA is for those classes. Those are most recent and, since they are graduate level, also more relevant than your undergrad GPA.
Just a word of caution, this is not always the case. Graduate level gpa will not necessarily be weighted more heavily than undergrad GPA. This really does depend on a number of the other factors mentioned above, including type of program, classwork completed, previous work, solid grades in difficult courses, overall performance etc.... The doctoral program that I was in did not consider graduate gpa nearly as much as undergrad gpa, unless graduate gpa was low, which was a red flag. I'm not saying this is the case across all programs, but I would be cautious in making a blanket statement that grades in the master's program will matter more.
 

PsychScience

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Okay so,I'm currently in a masters program and will be graduating in january 2017. My father passed away 2 months ago and due to having to assist my step mom in taking care of him I fell behind on my school work.
My dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 2012, early-mid 2013-end 2015 he was good January 2016 he was told it cam back and it went down hill from there

Now for my undergrad my overall gpa graduating was a 2.78. I graduated two years ago so I cant really remember everything but before my junior year. My spring semester grade was a 3.5 .That was not my overall cumulative gpa just semester.I think my overall gpa was a 3.2 I believe. My junior year my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.That whole year I didnt really do well at all.My senior year things were because for me because beginning mid year doctors said my dad was cured and they got rid of the cancer.So, I was making less trips home to see my dad and assist him to his appointments


I am interested in applying to phd program for Fall 2017.

Sorry if I was not being too clear.
I'm still not sure that I understand the progression of your undergrad GPA, but it sounds like after your first two years your overall gpa=3.2. Junior year dad got sick, and your gpa suffered. Last semester senior year gpa was 3.5, but overall gpa ended up being 2.78. Is that correct?

A few more questions to consider. What type of clinical psych programs are you applying for? What is the rigor of your master's program? What types of course work did you take in undergrad?
 
Nov 4, 2015
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Ok, so, to answer your original question: I think in this case, you should probably mention the circumstances in your personal statement. If your junior year grades were low enough to pull a 3.2 down to a 2.8ish, and your overall GPA is lower than a 3.5 for undergrad, it's going to raise some red flags. Yes, having a higher GPA for your master's will help things, but your transcripts will still show the original grades for the classes you're retaking, so there's sort of red flags in both undergrad and grad. Given how competitive PhD program applications are, if you don't explain those, it's going to be really easy for schools to weed you out on the basis of GPA early on, and not give you a chance to prove yourself in other ways.

IMHO, I wouldn't just throw in "XYZ happened and my grades suffered because of it" into a statement; I would try to turn those experiences to show ways you've grown and improved over the course of your academic career. What did you learn about yourself, about balancing work and home life, about setting goals and priorities, etc. from those experiences? Schools are going to look more positively on the situation if you can show how you grew from it, rather than it being perceived as "making excuses."

As I'm rereading what I just wrote, I just want to note that I don't mean to make light of your really difficult circumstances - my dad died during grad school as well, and it was horrible, so I definitely understand how these things happen. I just think, since you're looking for advice and feedback, it's best to be honest about how grad admissions will look at your application (it's a hard process for everyone, but especially hard if you've got a more unique situation like this) so you can try to make the strongest application possible. Good luck, OP.
 
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lovefash67

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I'm still not sure that I understand the progression of your undergrad GPA, but it sounds like after your first two years your overall gpa=3.2. Junior year dad got sick, and your gpa suffered. Last semester senior year gpa was 3.5, but overall gpa ended up being 2.78. Is that correct?

Thank You

A few more questions to consider. What type of clinical psych programs are you applying for? What is the rigor of your master's program? What types of course work did you take in undergrad?
Before my junior year I had a 3.5. My senior year 3.2 one semster and 3.1 the next.
I did my undergrad at Penn state university and my major was psychology so I have taken all psych courses. I got an A in statistics and my psych courses some the grades were good and bad due to my junior year being the time where you take your major courses.

Yes I am doing graduate school online. My thesis is capstone or you might mean what concentration I am doing maybe but I getting a degree in Masters of Science Child Psychology so it not a research route.My masters is all psych courses research methods 1 and 2 using spss, developmental psychology ,abnormal and etc. I am currently a research assistant and I was also a research assistant as an under grad.

I am applying to 13 clinical psychology programs that includes psyd. Some of the schools are Howard University,Gallaudet University.Florida International University, Nova Southeastern University,LIU and etc. My research interests are mental health i.e schizophrenia, ADHD, and cognitive disorders in people with physical disabilities.

I really appreciate you guys helping me out.Sorry if my original post did not provide more information.
 

PsychScience

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Before my junior year I had a 3.5. My senior year 3.2 one semster and 3.1 the next.
I did my undergrad at Penn state university and my major was psychology so I have taken all psych courses. I got an A in statistics and my psych courses some the grades were good and bad due to my junior year being the time where you take your major courses.

Yes I am doing graduate school online. My thesis is capstone or you might mean what concentration I am doing maybe but I getting a degree in Masters of Science Child Psychology so it not a research route.My masters is all psych courses research methods 1 and 2 using spss, developmental psychology ,abnormal and etc. I am currently a research assistant and I was also a research assistant as an under grad.

I am applying to 13 clinical psychology programs that includes psyd. Some of the schools are Howard University,Gallaudet University.Florida International University, Nova Southeastern University,LIU and etc. My research interests are mental health i.e schizophrenia, ADHD, and cognitive disorders in people with physical disabilities.

I really appreciate you guys helping me out.Sorry if my original post did not provide more information.
Sorry if I misunderstood! Thanks for clarifying. I think it actually helps your case that your gpa was 3.5 before your dad passed. The A in statistics, which is often a challenging course for people, also helps. It shows you can do well in difficult course work. Some of the schools on your list are more competitive than others, I think, as the poster above recommended, your best bet is to write about the challenges you faced around your father's death from the perspective of a growth experience rather than as an excuse for your poor grades. This is a great way to incorporate it into your personal statement, without appearing to make excuses. Make sure you go through your list of school you are applying to and check to see that they do not have a minimum undergrad gpa required for applicants. You don't want to waste money on an application just to be screened out before they have a chance to read your story.

This site is a great resource www.clinicalpsychgradschool.org . I know you said some of your programs include PsyD and most of the programs on that page are PhD programs, but there is a lot of good information that is helpful across program types.

Best of luck to you!!!
 
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lovefash67

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Sorry if I misunderstood! Thanks for clarifying. I think it actually helps your case that your gpa was 3.5 before your dad passed. The A in statistics, which is often a challenging course for people, also helps. It shows you can do well in difficult course work. Some of the schools on your list are more competitive than others, I think, as the poster above recommended, your best bet is to write about the challenges you faced around your father's death from the perspective of a growth experience rather than as an excuse for your poor grades. This is a great way to incorporate it into your personal statement, without appearing to make excuses. Make sure you go through your list of school you are applying to and check to see that they do not have a minimum undergrad gpa required for applicants. You don't want to waste money on an application just to be screened out before they have a chance to read your story.

This site is a great resource www.clinicalpsychgradschool.org . I know you said some of your programs include PsyD and most of the programs on that page are PhD programs, but there is a lot of good information that is helpful across program types.

Best of luck to you!!![/QU

Thank You so much guys will do!
 

PsyDr

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Here's the problem:

All of the great schools are overwhelmed with applications. Except maybe Gallaudet. They have to use some technique to reduce the numbers quickly, or reading the full packet by the admissions committees would turn into an almost full time job. So they cut people on hard numbers like gpa and gre. Then they go through and read essays, CVs, etc.