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Craig V.W. Lewis cvl at gause.whoi.edu
Fri Oct 27 12:32:03 EST 1995

Remember that there are people out there who had bad years, changed
majors, and got 4.0's.  The fact that your last two years were 4.0 does
not necessarily make you a _better_  candidate than someone with four
years of 4.0, it merely implies that you have, in the last two years,
adjusted to handle the load.

The way to win the competition is to stand out.  Undergraduate research,
publication, and stellar recommendations, all make a difference.  Go talk
to faculty at your school of choice, they will be flattered that you
sought them out, and will definitely remember you.

As for the GRE's, they are a way of benchmarking your school.  If a
student has a great set of recommendations and grades but lousy GRE's,it
implies one of two things:

1) They don't test well.
2) They were a big fish in a small pond.  They stood out in a school
without academic rigor, or took the easy path.

I don't advocate absolute cutoffs in GRE, GPA or anything else, but if
your scores are bad, you DO need to explain why!  The admissions committee
honestly wants the best people, they (usually) don't hate you.  They just
want reassurance that you won't slip again.

They have a responsibility to select THE BEST of the available candidates,
and those low dimension metrics of student performance (GRE, GPA) are
strongly correlated with graduate performance.

Me?  I'd say that graduate school is highly overrated, but that's a story
for another day.

Craig V. W. Lewis (cvl at gause.whoi.edu) Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
ph: (508) 289-4814   fax: (508) 457-2169    Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543

"A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in
human history--with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila."
      - Mitch Ratcliffe, _Technology Review_, April, 1992

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