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Is there hope for me?

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Hey all, I am feeling really discouraged and need some other viewpoints. And I apologize in advance that this is long...and thank you for reading all the way through, if you do.


On Wednesday I started classes for my final semester of college. I am 27 and a returning student. When I dropped out I only had 25 hours to complete my degree, but I was fed up and my fiance had just moved accross the country and I was stupid and followed him. I don't regret marrying him (which I did a month after moving to Seattle), but I do regret leaving in the middle of my second-to-last semester, adding a line of "Us" to my transcript. A "U" means unsatisfactory...luckily I had changed the classes to credit-only so they did not affect my GPA, but 16 hours of Us don't look so hot either, especially with a transcript that looked like mine. By that point I was already a "super senior," over the usual four-year completion mark because I had changed majors multiple times, gotten involved in a series of unhealthy relationships, dealt with depression and anxiety, and generally been a lost mess with awful time management skills, no self-esteem, and I was fighting an uphill battle against a GPA I had pretty much utterly ruined in my first year. Yeah, great.


When I was assigned an advisor who is a professor I had four years ago, I was excited because I remembered liking her a lot. She and I arranged to have a phone "meeting" to discuss the best course of action for me.


One of the first things out of her mouth was, "Look sweetie, I am not trying to be mean, but I do want to be honest and you are NEVER going to graduate school, especially in anthropology." Ouch.


It hurt to hear, but I knew she had a pretty strong point...I just wasn't sure about the NEVER part. I asked her about performing up to my true potential for these last 25 hours (which would be As) and she said, "Well, let's assume something a little more realistic. If you get all B minuses, you can barely squeak by to graduate." I told her that I am capable of much better grades and I am so much more mature, having had four years to think about my life and goals and the importance of having a degree. But, she continued to opine that no graduate program would take me, even if I got straight As for the rest of my scholastic career. She did finally relent just a little bit and said that I might be accepted on a probationary basis, but she doubts it.


Now, this is very discouraging news. I don't necessarily want to do graduate work in anthropology, but I would be interested in working in historic preservation and perhaps archaeology (which is a strain of anthropology), and I would probably have to obtain further degrees to do so.


What do you guys think? Is my case absolutely hopeless? Even if I continue earning As? (I earned all As in the four classes I took this summer.) I feel confident about this semester, despite her disparaging attitude. And, I fully intend to take classes in historic preservation and art history as a non-matriculated student in order to exhibit further coursework and verify that this is indeed the professional route I want to follow. I REALLY want this, but I am scared that my stupid past mistakes have doomed me.


I am smart, artistically talented, extremely interested in anthropology, archaeology, architecture, art, etc., I am leaps and bounds more mature than I was when I left school nearly 4.5 years ago, I have found my passion, I am dedicated. What can I do? Oh, and, when I achieve "As" for this last semester, which I will, my GPA will be just at 2.5. Horrible, I know. But, I will do anything!


Thanks, -Erin

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Graduate schools want students that will succeed in their program and make contributions to academic knowledge... simple as that. GPA's are nothing more than weedout factors. A graduate admissions committee knows they cannot predict success, even with very high GPA's. So what this means is the moment they receive your application, they're already looking for something more than a number.


Assuming your GPA and GRE scores are at least average, the biggest factors in admissions are your personal statement and letters of recommendation. Good GPA's and scores come a dime a dozen these days, but the majority of those students have little more than that to offer.


My advice is to build relationships with your professors over these final 25 hours. Do some soul searching and find out what really attracts you to your chosen major. Every week or two, write some some things you discover as to why you have passion for what you're studying. This will help out a lot later when you go to write your statement of purpose. And the relationships you build will enable your professors to write truly personal letters. If you get a chance to go on trips to conferences or opportunities to do any field work, take it. Work on some independent research you may be interested in and share it with the faculty and ask for input. Anything that shows dedication is good.


If your grades are good these final 25 hours, if you don't tank your GRE's, and if you put some letters and a statement in the hands of the admissions committee that really stand out, you'll have a good chance. They'll take you over someone with a high GPA and 3 canned response letters of recommendation.


I know people that have got into graduate school with GPA's in your range. It's not as uncommon as an uninformed advisor may think.


In any case, regardless of whether graduate school is your goal, you should go for this and give it your all. I'm 100% certain.


Best wishes.

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