Undergraduate transcripts are a fundamental part of any graduate school application – and many grad school applicants have something on their transcripts that worries or embarrasses them, such as a poor or failing grade for a particular class or an ‘incomplete’ that was never resolved.

“The best way to address these grade concerns is to make sure you follow any specific instructions from the school you’re applying to,” says Senior Consultant Heather Macneill. “Many schools include a section in their application to provide additional information or an optional essay that will allow you to address this subject.

“The best way to present information about a problem in your transcript is to be honest. Don’t make excuses for the grades. Take responsibility for your performance and make sure to convey confidence in your ability to succeed academically at the graduate level.

“If you can honestly do so, tell the admissions committee about the positive things that resulted from your experience – for example, did you develop better time management skills or study methods?

“Keep in mind that your grades and GRE scores alone are not what will not get you admitted to a graduate program. Your overall application needs to show your motivation and preparation for graduate study and to tell the admissions committee how your past experience has prepared you for a graduate program and how you discovered the passion for your area of focus. The essay, especially, should tell your story and detail your qualifications and unique qualities.

“Provided you include these elements in your application and are honest about the blemish on your academic record, you shouldn’t have to worry about past minor failings keeping you from gaining admission to graduate school.”

– Contributed by Senior Consultant Heather MacNeill, former Assistant Director of Graduate Admission at Pacific University.

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