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2009: Preparation for Graduate School

December 29, 2008

During 2009, I will be preparing for graduate school applications. My copy of Kaplan GRE Exam 2009 Premier Program arrived the day before Christmas. And thanks to a Barnes and Noble gift card that I received for Christmas from my brother, I purchased the Kaplan GRE Exam Vocabulary In A Box flashcard set. I plan to schedule an appointment to take the GRE in June. According to the Kaplan book, you should take a diagnostic test and then focus on improving on your weaknesses for the first half of your study time. Then, for the second half, focus on improving on your strengths. I am sure my weakness will be on the verbal side, so that’s why I purchased the vocabulary flashcards. 

Back in November, I emailed the director of the Georgia Tech City Planning program, Dr. Bruce Stiftel, to get information on their admittance standards. I asked how competitive it is to get admitted and how much weight is placed on undergraduate GPA vs. the other non-quantitative criteria. This is his reply:


In the Fall 07 cycle we had 149 applications, accepted 86 and enrolled 46.  I don’t have final numbers for Fall 08 easy to hand, but they were in the same general ballpark. 

We use nominal minima of 3.0 undergrad GPA; 550 V, 550 Q and 4.5 AW GRE scores; but we consider a wide variety of factors in our decisions, including the content of your personal statement, the letters of reference, past work experience, and any portfolio materials or writing sample you send us. 

The effects of the non-quantitative factors cut both ways.  So, it is not unusual for the committee to recommend admission for an applicant whose scores fall below one or more of our minima if they have outstanding promise as suggested by the non-quantitative portions of the application.  It is also not unusual for the committee to recommend denial of someone whose scores are above the nominal minima if the non-quantitative factors are weak.    

I should add it is quite rare for the committee to recommend admission if both the GPA is below 3.0 AND the V+Q GRE is below 1000. 

I hope this information is helpful.  Please let Ms. Blackwell or me know if we can help in any way as you move toward your graduate studies.


Since my undergraduate GPA was below 3.0 (2.57), then I am going to put alot of effort into acing the GRE. Plus, my work experience, the fact that I am a registered professional engineer in Georgia and Tennessee, and my personal statement should help. I hope that they are enough to compensate for the low GPA. However, I’ve been told that undergraduate GPA is not as important for those of us who have been out in the working world for several years. It’s more important for someone who is applying for graduate school right out of undergraduate school, since that is the only piece of information the admittance committee has to evaluate the applicant’s potential.


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