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Your chance of acceptance, your chancing factors, extracurriculars, how should i explain bad grades on my college application.

Hello everyone! I had a rough sophomore year, and my grades suffered due to some personal issues. How can I best explain this to colleges in my application? I want them to know that I have overcome these issues, and my grades have improved since then.

Hi there! It's great that you've overcome those personal issues and are now looking ahead at your college applications. When it comes to explaining your bad grades, you can do this in a couple of ways.

First, you could address the issue in your personal statement or essay, but be careful not to make this the entire focus of your writing. You want your essay to be balanced, and display your strengths as well, while briefly discussing the challenges you've faced and how you've learned from them.

Another option is to have your school counselor mention the circumstances in their recommendation letter. This can provide more context for your application and give admissions officers insight into how you've grown since that rough patch. You'll need to speak with your counselor about this to ensure they're aware of your concerns and can include these details appropriately.

Lastly, many colleges have an 'Additional Information' section on their applications, where you can briefly explain any extenuating circumstances that have affected your academic performance. Use this section to give an honest and concise explanation of your challenges during sophomore year and emphasize the improvements you've made since then.

Remember, colleges appreciate resilience and growth, so highlighting how you've overcome your struggles will demonstrate your determination and commitment to personal development.

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  • The World’s Worst Personal Statement: Why It Fails and How to Fix It

personal statement explaining bad grades

Writing a personal statement is never an easy thing to do, but some students fall so spectacularly short of the mark that their efforts can be a lesson to us all.

You should also read…

  • How to Choose the Right University for You
  • Common UCAS Personal Statement Issues and How to Resolve Them

Sometimes the easiest way to figure out how to write a personal statement is to look at someone else’s efforts and see how not to write one. In this article, we present to you a superbly bad (fictional) personal statement and show you just how many ways in which it misses the mark. We’ll also explain what our hapless fictional student should have done in order to write a personal statement that stands out for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.

The personal statement:

So what was wrong with it.

Let us count the ways!

1. The pretentious quote

Image shows a design for Cassandra Clare's 'Clockwork Angel' novel.

The personal statement opens with a pretentious-sounding quote, which, let’s face it, the student probably found from Googling “quotes about English literature”. It doesn’t even come from a great work of literature – it’s from a novel for young adults, which is unlikely to command the respect of the admissions tutors. The student then proceeds to say that this quote reflects their own “thirst for knowledge” (though they mistyped it as “thrist”) – but this doesn’t really relate to the quote at all. What’s more, starting with a quote is a bad idea anyway; it’s pompous, and the admissions tutors want to know what you have to say, not what someone else says.

2. The clichés, the controversial analogy and the Hungry Caterpillar

Image shows the eponymous caterpillar from The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

“Thirst for knowledge”. “From an early age”. The opening of this personal statement is littered with clichés that far too many students use and that admissions tutors have seen countless times before. This student goes a step further down the “loved reading from an early age” route by citing The Very Hungry Caterpillar as an early literary enjoyment. They probably think it sounds cute, but when said children’s book is a picture book with virtually no words, it’s hardly worth taking up valuable characters on a personal statement with. Later in the statement we hear clichés such as “one-trick pony”, “steely determination”, and even a rather embarrassing comparison between their determination to achieve the best grades in an essay and the determination of a hunter to slay an impressive beast. This singularly fails to impress in the way the student clearly wants it to. What’s more, you never know what the beliefs are of the person reading your statement, and it might turn out that they’re passionately against hunting – in which case this comparison with a hunter is going to go down especially badly.

3. Questionable motives

Image shows Marilyn Monroe reading Ulysses.

The student’s mention of James Joyce’s Ulysses reveals a rather questionable motive for wanting to read it: to “show off one’s superior intelligence” in front of other people. This sounds major alarm bells. It’s hardly going to tell the admissions tutor that the student wants to study the subject because they have a deep interest in it; they’ll pick up from this that they want to study English for the wrong reasons .

4. Mentioning texts and writers with no comment on them

The student has name-dropped a few novels and poets, but offers no insight into why they are interested in them or what they’ve got out of reading them. The mention of Ulysses seems calculated to make them appear clever for reading such an advanced text, but the fact that they offer no commentary on it has the opposite effect. The same goes for later in the personal statement with the list of poets – a random jumble of poets, modern and older, with no explanation as to why they appeal (and they misspelt Seamus Heaney’s name!). It comes across as a list of poets whose names the student happened to be able to rattle off, without any thought put into it. As for the novels mentioned, these are three incredibly famous novels that virtually everyone has read and loved. Leaving aside the fact that they haven’t said why they like these novels, it doesn’t show much depth or academic pursuit of knowledge to name-drop three very famous novels rather than demonstrating interest in or knowledge of less well-known literature.

5. Naming the course and university

Image shows King's College, Cambridge, at sunset.

The student has committed a huge faux pas in naming the course and university for which they are applying. This reveals that the only university they’re interested in is Oxford. They’re unlikely to be applying for just this university, but they’ve immediately alienated admissions tutors from all the other universities they’ve almost certainly put on their UCAS form.

6. Jokes and slang

The student jokes that they are partly applying for Oxford because of G&D’s ice cream, a famous ice cream parlour in Oxford. Quite apart from the fact that they shouldn’t have mentioned Oxford in the first place, the use of humour in this way does the student no favours. To make matters worse, they then add “Jokes” in brackets. Slang is a big no-no in a personal statement, and when combined with an attempt at humour, it’s frankly disastrous.

7. Hollywood inspiration

The admissions tutors are not going to be impressed that the reason you decided to study English at university because your friends commented on your similarity to a character in a film.

8. Unnamed awards

The student attempts to indicate their talent for poetry, stating that they have “won quite a few awards” for their own poems. However, this claim is too vague to be impressive. Which awards were they? “Everyone says how good” the student’s poems are, but how many people have actually read them, and was it just the student’s parents and grandparents who were impressed by them? These statements would have more weight if the student named the exact awards they’ve won and who has deemed their poetry to be good.

9. Downton Abbey and history

Image shows graves from the First World War.

The student goes on to talk about their other academic interest: history. The only problem is, it seems a bit out of place in a personal statement for English, making one wonder whether they might also be applying for an English and History course elsewhere. To make matters worse, they talk about Downton Abbey as the inspiration for their love of history, and in particular their interest in the First World War, commenting on the fact that it’s the centenary of the start of the First World War. The latter is hardly an insightful comment, while the mere mention of Downton Abbey is enough to discredit the student’s supposed interest in history. What’s more, they go on to say how much they love history, that it’s their joint favourite subject with English, and that they’d love to study it at university. This is inevitably going to make English Literature admissions tutors question the student’s commitment to their subject. What if the student changes their mind and wants to switch to history? It’s a big warning sign against this student.

10. Bragging

Nobody likes people who brag. The student claims to be “best in their class” and someone who’d “fit right in at Oxford” (that name again!) – though, judging by the poor quality of their personal statement, one wonders whether this could possibly be true. Later, they casually drop in “when I’m not winning poetry competitions”, a flippant remark that smacks of arrogance.

11. Negativity about one of their grades

Image shows a woman walking down a street reading a book.

The student attempts to explain a less-than-perfect grade by laughing it off with a comment about reading and writing too much poetry. One can see what they were aiming for here: they wanted to show that they’re so enthusiastic about English Literature that they get carried away and can’t stop reading and writing. However, it’s not going to look good to an admissions tutor, who’ll see someone who is unable to juggle their workload or apply themselves to succeed in all their subjects. What’s more, the student doesn’t attempt to explain what they’re doing about the bad grade – for instance, they could be taking on extra history lessons to bring the grade up, but there’s no such reassurance in their statement.

12. Boring interests

The student gives their interests as “socialising with their mates and going to the cinema”, interests that are so universal and boring that they are not worth mentioning at all. The point of mentioning interests in a personal statement is to demonstrate that there’s more to you than your academic interests. Proper hobbies and so on show you to be a well-rounded person with a range of interests, and those interests help develop skills that you can’t learn in the classroom, and that make you a good person to have around.

13. An unexplained gap year

Image shows a boat on a sea.

The student ends on a rather dull note by stating that they are taking a gap year. However, there’s no explanation of what activities they have planned for this. This would have been a good place to highlight course-related activities planned for the year out, which would have made them more suitable for the course (such as embarking on a writing workshop). This was also a lacklustre way to end the statement; a couple of sentences summarising why they want to study the course and why they’re so suitable for it would have been a good closing remark.

14. The smiley face

They’ve tried to look friendly by putting a smiley face at the end. There’s only one word for this: don’t!

15. General shortfallings

Image shows a book with its pages forming the shape of a heart.

In addition to the specific faults outlined above, there were a few general shortfallings worth highlighting.

  • Poor grammar – such as “its” when they meant “it’s”, and even an instance of double exclamation marks.
  • Typos – “thrist for knowledge”, for example.
  • Not long enough – the statement uses 2,289 characters out of an available 4,000. If you have that many characters to play with, it makes sense to use them by demonstrating even more reasons why you should be given a place.
  • Odd spacing – mostly with one sentence per paragraph, perhaps to make it look longer than it really is.
  • Very little focus on why they want to study English – which is, after all, the entire point of the statement.

Overall, it felt that very little effort had gone into writing this personal statement, leaving one questioning the student’s commitment to the course. Now that you’ve seen a disastrous personal statement first-hand, you’ll have a better idea of how not to write yours. Good luck!

Image credits: banner ; caterpillar ;  Clockwork Angel ; Ulysses ; Cambridge ; WWI ; reading ; boat ; love .

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personal statement explaining bad grades

How to Explain Exceptional Personal Circumstances on Applications

A person sitting cross legged, pointing to the text, with an abstract monitor behind them

Your GPA and SAT don’t tell the full admissions story

Our chancing engine factors in extracurricular activities, demographics, and other holistic details. We’ll let you know what your chances are at your dream schools — and how to improve your chances!

personal statement explaining bad grades

Our chancing engine factors in extracurricular activities, demographic, and other holistic details.

Our chancing engine factors in extracurricular activities, demographic, and other holistic details. We’ll let you know what your chances are at your dream schools — and how to improve your chances!

What’s Covered:

  • What Does “Exceptional Personal Circumstances” Mean?”

College Applications and Exceptional Personal Circumstances

  • Tips for Writing about Low GPA, Disciplinary Record, etc.

Maximizing Your Chances of Admission

Where to get your additional info section reviewed.

If you’re a student with a less-than-perfect academic, extracurricular, or disciplinary history, filling out college applications can often be a nerve-wracking experience. As all colleges (not just elite private institutions ) become increasingly competitive each year, having a rough patch or two on your academic record can be extremely discouraging. It’s easy to feel as if a below-average GPA for your dream school or a history of disciplinary action will totally disqualify you, but the truth is, they might not.

What Does “Exceptional Personal Circumstances” Mean?

“Exceptional personal circumstances” is an intentionally broad term. College admissions teams want to give you the chance to talk about anything that may have impacted your ability to perform academically, or something that stands out on your record as a negative, like disciplinary action. What the term does not refer to, however, is something you just didn’t have space for in your personal statement, or excuses for poor academic performance.

Common topics for exceptional personal circumstances essays include natural disasters, long illnesses or injuries, legal or disciplinary action, or personal events that significantly disrupted the applicant’s life. You might also write about circumstances that were not single events, nor a significant change, but did represent an additional challenge to completing or engaging with schoolwork. Examples of this might include a time-consuming job to support your family financially, or poor wifi that prevented you from completing homework. 

As you think about whether to write an exceptional personal circumstances essay, consider these questions. 

  • Did the event or events in question affect your ability to attend school? Was school closed, or were you unable to go for any reason?
  • Were you unable to access the resources needed to fully engage with school? Perhaps at times you weren’t able to purchase books, consistently access wifi, or use a computer to research and write papers. 
  • You may have been able to attend school and access resources, but unable to focus and fully participate due to distress or distraction. This could be from events inside or outside the classroom. Perhaps you were grieving a family member or battling chronic migraines. 
  • Finally, are there negative items on your academic or legal record that are going to impact how colleges view you? While you shouldn’t deny or attempt to justify these events, this is a good chance to explain what happened, and how you’ve grown. For example, a student suspended for bullying should explain the events in her own words, taking responsibility and demonstrating that she understands the seriousness of the situation, as failing to address the suspension may show a lack of remorse

If your answer to these questions is “no,” don’t struggle to think of something that maybe could work. By definition, “exceptional personal circumstances” means most people won’t have anything to write about, so unless something immediately jumps into your mind, this opportunity probably isn’t relevant to you.

On the other hand, if you know your circumstances do require some additional explanation, we urge you to provide the admissions committee with all the context they need in order to fully understand your story.

What students often forget is that the admissions committee at your top-choice school is made up of humans — actual, real human beings — who know that the people whose applications they’re reviewing are humans, too. The admissions process at most private schools and many public schools is holistic — meaning they consider the candidate as a person, not as a set of numbers.

This year, the Common App offers 250 words to discuss how COVID-19 and natural disasters specifically impacted you, and 650 words to elaborate on any other circumstances that are relevant to understanding your high school story. Most other application platforms also provide about 500 words for you to provide any additional information you feel is important for admissions officers to have as they make a decision on your application.

It’s important, however, to keep in mind when choosing whether to write something in the additional information section that you should not simply be blaming your bad GPA on a particular teacher not liking you, or trying to downplay getting suspended for cheating. Whatever you choose to include should substantially enhance colleges’ understanding of you as an applicant, by offering a perspective on your record and you as a person that is not otherwise reflected in your essays.

Tips for Writing About Low GPA, Disciplinary Record, etc.

If you feel as though choosing to write a short essay for the additional information section would add significantly to your application, we have a few tips for how to make the most of this space and how to effectively describe exceptional personal circumstances on your college applications.

Firstly, it’s important to be candid and straightforward. For example, if you were subject to disciplinary action for cheating, it’s not in your best interest to try and downplay your own responsibility for your actions or divert the blame to someone else. This will likely strike admissions committees as a transparent attempt to avoid taking responsibility, and it’s doubtful they’ll be moved by that.

Instead, tell the truth about what happened (honestly and objectively), and emphasize what you learned from the experience rather than focusing on the negative consequences. Take the opportunity to draw a contrast between who you were when you made that mistake and who you are now, as that will demonstrate maturity and growth.

Reflect on Your Experiences

If you had several semesters where your GPA dropped below average, you may be concerned about whether this dip in your cumulative GPA will adversely affect your chances at your top choice schools. While grades are obviously extremely important, a 4.0 is not necessary to gain admission to a great school. If the dip was drastic enough that your chances of acceptance are likely to be substantially affected, however, the additional information section provides you with a space to assure admissions officers that you’re a strong candidate nonetheless.

Begin by trying to identify the reasons why your grades dropped. Did you have additional stressors at home that prevented you from doing your work, or from doing it as well as you could have? Did you suffer from an illness (physical or mental) that impeded your ability to perform to your highest ability at home and in class? If you can explain a clear and legitimate reason why your grades dropped, admissions officers will take that into account when considering your academic record.

Remember That Admissions Are Holistic

Although they are certainly not ideal, B’s and even C’s aren’t automatic disqualifiers from admissions, even at the most selective colleges, and the role of grades in admissions is not as black and white as some might assume. Your GPA, whether it is exceptional or less than stellar, is not the be-all and end-all of your application.

The holistic admissions process is personal to each applicant, and considers all dimensions of your application–including extracurriculars, essays, teacher recs, and, yes, exceptional circumstances–not just your academic performance. And admissions officers know some students are better set up for success than others. If you have had poor grades in the past, but there’s a legitimate reason why, providing a clear explanation can show maturity and resilience, two qualities admissions committees value highly in applicants.

Overall, what the holistic admissions process means is that schools aren’t looking for only academically strong candidates, but also those who will contribute to their overall campus environment. If you are able to characterize yourself as an applicant with the maturity to acknowledge past shortcomings and show how you’ve learned from your mistakes, it can work to mitigate poor grades or lackluster extracurricular involvement.

Show Your Growth

It’s also important to communicate how you’ve improved since your dip in grades/disciplinary action/etc., and how you plan to continue performing well for the remainder of high school and throughout college. If you have an upward grade trend, that can provide strong evidence to corroborate what you say in the additional information section. 

This advice applies to applicants who may have less-than-stellar extracurricular profiles as well. Maybe you struggled with untreated anemia early in high school, and the exhaustion you experienced prevented you from dedicating yourself to after-school activities. In that case, explaining how you’ve made an effort to become more involved in extracurriculars since getting your anemia under control with medication can help reassure admissions officers that you will do your very best to be an engaged member of their campus community.

Also remember that in general, it’s better to display stronger academic habits over time, even if you initially struggled, than to have straight A’s initially but allow yourself to become lazy in your last few semesters. Your more recent academic performance is more indicative of the student you’ll be in college.

Have Realistic Expectations

However, it’s important to note that to be admitted to top schools, providing an explanation and having an upward trend in academic performance won’t completely cancel out a relatively low GPA. While, as mentioned before, GPA is not an absolute determinant of whether or not you will be admitted, it is still among the most important aspects of your application.

To be a strong candidate for top schools, your reason for poor performance must be extremely compelling, such as a serious illness, the death of a family member, or other exceptional family circumstances. The same applies for disciplinary records: while minor infractions are more excusable, major instances of academic dishonesty or repeated offenses will harm your application, regardless of how eloquently you write about them in the additional information section.

Be Direct and to The Poin t

Finally, as you’re writing your exceptional personal circumstances statement, remember that this is not a second common app essay, nor a supplemental essay where you demonstrate your writing talent. It’s best to keep these essays short and specific, and to state your circumstances as plainly as possible. 

The admissions committee will not be thinking about the strength of your writing. Rather, they will be evaluating your story and its impact on your academic profile. With this in mind, it’s best to take some time to make sure you’re telling your story as clearly and effectively as possible, versus trying to flex your creative writing muscles.

If you choose to utilize the additional information section, it’s crucial that you highlight how learning from past actions has made you a stronger applicant, rather than focusing on the actions themselves and trying to excuse yourself for or otherwise diminish them.

So much of the application process is, essentially, self-marketing: presenting yourself in the best possible light, emphasizing your strengths, and demonstrating how your overall experiences, positive or negative, have made you into the person you are. A subpar GPA, disciplinary record, or lack of extracurricular involvement might seem like the death knell for your shot at admission to a top school, but this isn’t necessarily true. If you can frame that information in a positive way, its adverse impact on your application can be mitigated.

If you do have extenuating circumstances you want to explain, you’ll want to be sure your explanation is as clear and informative as possible. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of this essay, or any other, from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

Related CollegeVine Blog Posts

personal statement explaining bad grades

How to explain poor grades in Personal Statement

How to explain poor grades in Personal Statement

Explaining poor grades in a personal statement can be a challenging task, but it’s an opportunity to demonstrate your honesty, self-awareness, and resilience.

Table of Contents


Although a personal statement is an opportunity to showcase your academic background, professional experience, and personal qualities to the admissions committee you can also use it as a medium to explain poor grades you have had in your academics.

If you do not already know how to write a Personal Statement, read this guide “ Example Personal Statement for Graduate School ” to grasp the tips on writing a Personal Statement.

Here are some tips to help you explain poor grades in your personal statement:

Explain the circumstances that led to your poor grades. Did you have to work part-time while studying? Did you face any family issues or personal struggles that affected your academic performance?

Show self-awareness

Take responsibility for your poor grades and show that you understand the reasons behind them. Explain how you have learned from your mistakes and what steps you have taken to improve your academic performance.

Highlight your strengths

Use your personal statement to showcase your strengths and achievements in other areas of your life, such as extracurricular activities, volunteer work, or employment. This can demonstrate your ability to balance multiple responsibilities and overcome challenges.

Discuss any challenges you have overcome

If you have faced any significant challenges, such as a health issue or a difficult family situation, explain how you have overcome them and how they have made you stronger and more resilient.

Provide evidence of improvement

If you have improved your grades over time, provide evidence of this in your personal statement. For example, you could include your most recent transcript or highlight any academic awards or achievements you have received.

Sample: How to explain poor grades in Personal Statement

Let us take a look at this Personal Statement Sample where the writer explains his poor grades in school:

“During my first two years of college, I struggled to balance the demands of my coursework with my involvement in extracurricular activities and part-time work. As a result, my grades suffered, and I received several C’s and even a few D’s.

However, I didn’t let these setbacks define me. Instead, I took proactive steps to improve my academic performance. I met with my professors and sought their guidance on how to study more effectively and stay on track with assignments. I also made use of campus resources like tutoring and academic coaching to strengthen my understanding of difficult subjects.

As a result of these efforts, my grades improved steadily over time, and by my senior year, I was able to maintain a GPA of 3.5. I learned valuable lessons about the importance of time management, prioritization, and seeking help when needed, which I know will serve me well as I pursue further academic and professional goals.

While my early academic record may not be perfect, I hope that my dedication and growth mindset will demonstrate my potential to succeed in the future.”

The conclusion of the Personal Statement is very crucial and it must be concise, memorable and original. Read an article on “ How to Conclude a Personal Statement “.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your personal statement ends on a high note and stands out from the crowd.

Remember, the goal of explaining poor grades is to show that you are capable of succeeding in college despite past academic struggles. Be honest, take responsibility, and showcase your strengths and resilience.

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The Writing Center of Princeton

How to Explain a Bad Grade When Applying to College

I applied to college with a D minus minus in Algebra II on my high school transcript

Certainly, there’s enough material in that story to propel any little sister into therapy; nonetheless, there I was applying to college with a D minus minus on my high school record. There was nothing I could do but suck it up; after all, I had no excuse but my own negligence.

Some bad grades (like mine…) can’t be excused. Sometimes students just slack off in a course. But some bad grades are the result of situations beyond a student’s control. If that’s happened to you, it’s worth providing an explanation of the grade to the admissions offices at the colleges to which you apply.

personal statement explaining bad grades

BrightLink Prep

(Low GPA) Sample Personal Statement Oxford Computer Science

personal statement explaining bad grades

by Talha Omer, MBA, M.Eng., Harvard & Cornell Grad

In personal statement samples by field | personal statements samples by university.

Below is a personal statement written by an applicant who was accepted to Oxford university’s computer science program. He earned his undergrad in electrical engineering with a 2.2 GPA.

This example personal statement is also a great sample of how one can explain bad grades in a personal statement .

This essay demonstrates how, through failure, the applicant overcame his low GPA, despite suffering from multiple mental diseases and conditions. With sheer perseverance, he showed his sincerity in his passion for data analytics and computer science.

You might also be interested in reading this   Sample Cambridge University Personal Statement.

Here is the personal statement of the Oxford Student in computer science explaining low GPA

People often only see the tip of the iceberg when measuring a person’s success. Based on that, they presume that the person came from a fortunate background or got lucky. My recent achievements are a perfect fit for the preceding statement. It’s easy to assume that being a Software Developer and a Data Scientist working with multi-million-dollar startups and companies, I got lucky or was fortunate. However, my skills and expertise span many software and hardware platforms, culminating in years of hard work and resilience through failure. Hence it demands a peek into my humble beginnings.

I was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) at age 15. OCD is the kind of disease that can be misinterpreted by people’s presumption about being overly concerned with details. In reality, it is a disease that consumes a person. I started my psychiatric medication a few weeks after my diagnosis. Unfortunately, my medication came with a range of side effects and, at one point, necessitated a dose that crippled my brain. As a result, I gained 80 pounds over two months and was at a point where my parents thought I would be lucky to get through high school.

Three months before my high school exams, I decided I didn’t want to live this life anymore. From that day, I studied 12 hours a day. I did nothing except study because only a tiny portion of my brain was in working condition. I cleared high school, after which my health improved, and my medication was reduced. I lost 90 pounds, aced the SAT with 2370/2400, and entered Electrical Engineering at a premier college.

For once, I saw hope in my life. But that didn’t last long. I believed my brain wasn’t working at its full potential due to my medication’s side effects. So, I stopped taking my medication, and instead of getting better, I went into a severe relapse. I was naive to think I would recover from my ailment with sheer willpower alone. As a result, I ruined four semesters at college. Not just that, but I returned to square one and had to start my medication all over again.

It took me a couple of more semesters before my condition stabilized. I was on the verge of relegating to a junior batch when I was awarded 3 Fs in the 5th semester. It would have been easy to give up then, and the idea of quitting crossed my mind several times. But unfortunately, people prey on the weak. I realized that when a teacher ridiculed me in front of the whole class. He said he was fortunate not to have a child like me and that I was a liability to my parents.

But not all people are the same. At the time, the Associate Head of the Department, Dr. Kaneu, inquired about my situation. After explaining, he understood and encouraged me to start my Final Year Project. I don’t know how to describe his contribution, but he was a beacon of light when I was surrounded by darkness. I was always passionate about programming and drones, so I started Control Design of a Tri-copter as my FYP. With a bit of technical background at the time, I knew I would have to work very hard if that drone was to take a flight.

So, I worked tirelessly, often working days at a time without sleep. When I felt low on motivation, Dr. Kaneu was always there to support and guide me. Finally, after months of grueling and painstaking flight simulations and hardware designs, I completed my maiden flight. That was one of the happiest moments of my life as I had secured not only a flight but also designed a radically new approach to Master-Master control system design contrary to the traditional Master-Slave architecture. I did several other projects with Dr. Kaneu in key research areas, including Microcontroller development and IoT integration with Mobile Apps. I also designed the digital instrument cluster for the Shell Eco-marathon team. This equipped me with the skills to seamlessly integrate several hardware and software platforms.

Upon graduation, I had to leave for my hometown, and that’s when the reality of my GPA dawned upon me. I applied to several companies for job placement but never heard back due to the GPA cut-off criteria. When I explored the option of pursuing a master’s, I again faced GPA requirements that I couldn’t remotely fulfill. I once again felt nothing ahead of me, but I knew I was passionate about programming. That’s when I started freelancing as a software developer. Programming came naturally to me, and although I wasn’t a computer scientist, I realized that my strong foundations in Object Oriented Programming in C++ and Data Structure/Algorithm design were enough to get me started.

I learned platforms like Android and iOS through multiple online courses and secured projects with clients on Upwork. In the beginning, the financial reward was minuscule, and often I would spend the whole amount on my equipment and taking paid courses. To increase my professional credibility and improve my GPA, I started a master’s in Data Science at a local university. By this point, I had become proficient in Mobile App development and gained experience in Web development and backend frameworks such as Node JS and Firebase.

The turning point came when a client (Tom Martin) hired me for a Geolocation Proof of concept project. The project was for a university that required an end-to-end software solution. The solution mandated an iOS mobile app synced with a backend system like Firebase and a front-end Admin Panel made with Angular. In parallel, I also worked with Hauni GmbH, the leader in the German Tobacco industry. I brought their Digital Vape to life by resolving background data sync issues using Google cloud. In addition, my efforts turned their vape into an iBeacon transmitter that iOS devices could monitor in the background.

Once I completed the Geolocation proof-of-concept, Tom revealed that he had a background in Corporate IT with 20 years of experience in Big Data architecture. He also offered me to join his Big Data and Software solutions startup, IX Tech Global. I happily accepted the offer as the job description demanded a wide range of technologies like AWS, which I always wanted to learn but didn’t have the resources to incur Infrastructure costs.

At IX Tech Global, I asserted my position by learning AWS and developing decoupled Big Data Pipelines using Apache Kafka and Lambda functions. The pipeline ingested data from multiple sources such as Shopify, Google Ads/Analytics, Mintsoft, and Facebook Ads and stored them in the S3 data lake. After data preprocessing, I ran a wide range of Analytics, including revenue prediction using Random Cut Forest and other regression algorithms like Random Forest Regressor, Support Vector Machines, and Multivariate regression.

In addition, I co-founded the Jurassic Apps product, in which I developed Shopify Apps. In my work, I used React as the front end and AWS as the backend with apps like Geosaur, Stockosaurus, and Syncosaurus. My work on these apps has buzzed the Shopify App Store market. I also contributed to the Snagtights business, Tom’s leading venture, and boosted the revenue by engaging repeat customers using recommendation systems and integrated anomaly detection using ElasticSearch and Kibana Dashboards.

As part of my Masters’s Thesis, I developed the Control System Design of a UAV using Deep Reinforcement learning to bridge Data Science with Electrical Engineering and used a DDPG Agent to complete a successful flight of the Parrot Rolling Spider Minidrone.

For my Master’s, I graduated at the top of my class in Data Science. I became 2x AWS Certified and am currently working at IX Tech Global as a Full-stack Software Developer and Data Scientist. I am also developing products as an Independent Contractor for startups such as Seadog Fishing Solutions, where we are rolling out a Geolocation based App. This app tracks fishing activity, sends data to backend services, and provides real-time analytics to increase fishing output. This is achieved by learning correlations between Geospatial references and fisher-man activity such as catches, gear deployment, sales, etc.

I believe that I am at a point of starting a new chapter in my life and want to expand my skill set into innovation rather than mere application. For this reason, I believe a degree in Advanced Computer Science at Oxford will help me achieve my goals. Till now, I have been developing my academic projects on a shoestring budget and had to often self-finance these projects. I want access to world-class facilities and resources, such as dedicated GPUs at Advanced Research Computing at Oxford, so I can focus more on developing new algorithms rather than be constrained by computational power.

I believe that Reinforcement Learning can be applied to any system. Combined with the pre-training of models, the same algorithm can be used for multiple UAVs. I wanted to experiment with this idea, but due to the limited computational power at my disposal, I could barely run enough simulations to complete a successful flight of one system, i.e., a Quadcopter.

A Quadcopter has four rotors, and a Tricopter has 3 with a servo motor that equates to the same number of control surfaces. This means that a model trained for a Quadcopter and a Tricopter will contain the same number of Observations and actions, and a model pre-trained on one system can be fine-tuned on another. A graduate degree in Advanced Computer Science will also give me the ability to understand computational complexity in-depth, and I will be able to design Neural Networks that can exponentially reduce CPU utilization in microcontrollers or iOTs.

These systems are constrained in CPU power due to their size. In Data Science, I learned the applications of different kinds of Machine Learning models but didn’t get the opportunity to design new models. I don’t consider techniques like bagging and boosting to improve accuracy as something novel. Still, things like Random Forest Regressor or Google’s Bert that change these domains forever are the ones that matter. I would also like to understand Artificial Intelligence and its enhancement through Quantum Computing. Given the extensive research at Oxford in this domain, I will be able to not only enhance my knowledge of this subject but also contribute to this field upon graduation.

My clients and professors have told me several times that I am an extraordinary individual who has learned several technology stacks that can take years to master. I would like to disagree with them respectfully. What separates me from others is that no matter how often I get knocked down, I keep getting back up and never give in. This attitude has helped me in turning my life around. It holds for everything I have and will experience. From my first 10-mile run to graduating at the top of my class in my Master’s when I graduated at the bottom in my undergrad, I want to be remembered for my innovation.


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How to Get Accepted Into College With a Low GPA

Students with a low GPA may want to consider community college or alternative admissions programs.

How to Get Into College With a Low GPA

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Experts recommend students with poor grades on their transcripts apply during regular admission and use the extra time to take challenging courses and improve their GPA.

As a high school student in Tennessee, Austin Herrera knew he wanted to go to college . But with grades ranging from A's to D's, he also knew his options would be limited. 

Understand College Admissions Algorithms

Josh Moody Sept. 30, 2020

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Herrera says he was too distracted in school, and his reputation as a class clown, participation in extracurricular activities and lack of interest and effort led to a low GPA . Dyslexia, he says, was another hurdle that affected his grades and confidence. 

"I doubted myself and sort of gave up on myself when I saw the grades that I had because I would work hard and study, but I still came out with a low grade," he wrote in an email. 

Herrera switched high schools his senior year and used the new atmosphere to change direction and focus on the future. Realizing that his past academic problems would affect his college admission chances, Herrera used his personal statement to acknowledge his grades, discuss his learning disability and show his interest in studying business and film. 

"I explained dyslexia – what it was and how I learned. I just explained that I'm a very hard worker and passionate," he says.

Herrera was accepted into two of the five schools he applied to and went on to study film at Columbia College Chicago  several years ago.

For students who struggle academically in high school, the college application process can be especially stressful. A low GPA can prevent teens from getting accepted into top universities – like the Ivy League schools – and other selective colleges, but there are still options. 

Admissions experts say high schoolers can explain an academic dip in their college applications and spend the rest of their senior year making their applications more appealing. Another piece of advice: Students should discover the root cause of those academic shortcomings.

"I think they need to explore what is getting in the way. Are they not studying? Are they not studying efficiently? Is there an unidentified learning or attentional issue? Is there an emotional problem? Is something getting in the way that they're not sharing?" says Janet Rosier, a former admissions consultant and author of "May 2: Practical Advice for College Freshmen and Their Parents."

Students should talk to a counselor to examine all their options, but the following six strategies can help those with bad grades strengthen their college applications:

  • Take responsibility and offer an explanation for the low GPA.
  • Get recommendation letters from teachers and counselors.
  • Get good standardized test scores.
  • Wait to apply and improve your GPA.
  • Consider alternative admissions programs.
  • Start at a community college.

Take Responsibility and Offer an Explanation for the Low GPA

There are many reasons a student's grades can drop, including family issues, illness, a switch in teachers during the year or a lack of maturity. And now the coronavirus pandemic, which prompted many schools to shift classes online and disrupted the in-person educational experience for millions of high school students, can be added to that list.

Admissions officials recognize that an applicant's GPA isn't always an indicator of capability, but students need to write an honest explanation about their grades, experts say. 

"Everybody makes mistakes; there's not one perfect person out there. But how do you learn from those mistakes – if you can explain it thoughtfully and in a mature way, oftentimes a college is going to understand that," says Kat Cohen, CEO and founder of IvyWise, an educational consulting company based in New York. 

Students can discuss poor grades in a college application essay, also called a personal statement, or in the additional information field on the Common Application . 

"Anything that the student can provide to explain that (GPA) would be helpful," says Monica Brockmeyer, senior associate provost for student success at Wayne State University in Detroit. "They should be transparent, because (GPA) is already visible to admissions officers through their transcripts. Colleges already know, so they're looking to understand the situation and circumstances better."

She adds that admissions officials understand that "every learner is on a journey."

The coronavirus pandemic may have blown some students off course in 2020. Rosier advises those who struggled to explain the challenges they faced on the new optional section added to the Common Application, which asks about the personal effects that COVID-19 had. Students can use this section to explain the absence of test scores, a dip in their GPA or other areas that may require additional context, such as explaining why they took pass-fail classes and why those appear on their transcript.

"It is crucial that students explain to the colleges any drop in grades, whether this was COVID-19 related or because of other issues. Colleges understand that COVID-19 has been disruptive for many students and in various ways," Rosier says.

Get Recommendation Letters From Teachers and Counselors

A good word from a high school counselor or teacher who knows a student well can go a long way in college admissions, experts say. 

"Sometimes a great letter of recommendation can come from a teacher who has seen a student greatly improve their grade and go from very low to very high, even if the student has higher grades in other classes," Cohen says. 

High school students should develop close relationships with counselors and teachers and have an explicit discussion about what they would like addressed before a letter is written, experts say. This is another area where students can touch on challenges prompted by COVID-19, including a slip in GPA.

Get Good Standardized Test Scores

High ACT or SAT scores won't cancel out a low GPA, but in addition to a good explanation and recommendation letters, high test scores can help students show that they have the ability to succeed in college.

Jeffrey Baylor, executive director of admissions at West Texas A&M University , says that a holistic review of an applicant will factor in test scores, GPA, class rank, recommendations, extracurricular activities and the high school curriculum.

For students with a low GPA, one option he suggests is to retake the ACT or SAT and invest in a study guide.

However, 2020 ACT and SAT cancellations due to coronavirus concerns made it impossible for many students to take the test even once. Fortunately for applicants, colleges have proven flexible on this point, with many temporarily shifting to test-optional admissions . "Due to COVID-19, the ability to take the standardized tests was out of the control of many students and colleges understand that," Rosier says.

Wait to Apply and Improve Your GPA

Early admission is extremely competitive, so experts recommend students with poor grades on their transcripts apply during regular admission and use the extra time to take challenging courses and improve their GPA. 

"Focusing on your grades now is critical. There are lots of different ways to improve your grades," Cohen says. 

Students should use their teachers as tutors, visiting them frequently to discuss what to focus on and what weaknesses to address, she says. 

Consider Alternative Admissions Programs

For those eyeing a four-year college, an alternative admissions program may be the way in. If a student's GPA is below the school's standards, he or she may still be admitted under certain conditions. As part of the program, students receive additional academic support in their first year of college and beyond, depending on the curriculum.

One such example is Academic Pathways to Excellence at Wayne State, which focuses on sharpening students' academic skills as they enter college.

"It provides them a transition period between high school and college to really understand how college learning is different from high school learning, to get extended support or even some remediation of writing skills or mathematics skills or other barriers like that," Brockmeyer says.

Brockmeyer did not comment on the lowest accepted GPA at Wayne State. But students looking for colleges that accept a 2.0 GPA or similar may be well served by looking into alternative admissions programs.

Start at a Community College

For students without the academic background needed for a four-year institution, admissions officials recommend attending a community college . That's especially true if students need to catch up on developmental coursework. 

Baylor says West Texas A&M advises underperforming students to consider attending community college in the summer after high school graduation and completing six hours of college-level credit while earning a C or better in those courses.

He also says students should consider attending a community college in the fall or spring semester, earn 12 hours of college-level credit with a 2.0 minimum GPA and then apply to a four-year college as a transfer student . That time in a community college can help demonstrate that a student is ready for university-level coursework.

Admissions officials want to make sure applicants will be able to thrive in college. Students with a bad GPA will need to prove that their past poor grades aren't indicative of who they are now and their capabilities as college students. 

"I think that a lot of students don't understand how much all of what they do in high school impacts their overall GPA," says Samantha Taylor, director of admissions operations at the University of North Texas .

"And I have seen students who had a bad semester or two really turn it around and come back, particularly if they did poorly in their freshman year and then got more serious with their sophomore, junior and senior years," she says. "But students who have obviously been consistently performing poorly over quite a bit of time, it's difficult to turn it around."

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Explaining Bad Grades in Personal Statement Writing Help

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All You Need to Know about Explaining Bad Grades in Personal Statement

Medical schools are usually very selective when they choose their students. That is why, in case you happen to have bad MCAT grades on your transcript, you may be asked to address this in your medical school personal statement.

Writing your medical school personal statement will need time, effort and efficiency, unfortunately, some does not have the luxury to create one in time for submission. There are a number of custom writing online that will give you the high-quality services that you need for a greater possibility of admission. Remember that these medical schools are selective when choosing their students and every opportunity should be utilized in order to ensure getting those coveted acceptance letters.

Medical school personal statement writing service is sure that, if explained properly in your paper, bad MCAT score won’t prevent you from getting the desired position. Our writers know how to explain poor grades in personal statement and how to make the committee buy into your explanation and will tell how to do it.

Addressing Poor MCAT Performance in Your Medical School Personal Statement

Applicants who have low MCAT are usually asked to write personal statements thus giving you an equal chance of still getting in despite your low overall scores. Personal statement low MCAT will help you explain properly factors that affected your poor MCAT score and this is highly essential as to give you still a window for your desired position. How to address bad grades in personal statement?

When reading your statement of purpose, the admission authorities will already have your test scores in front of them, thus, according to medical school personal statement writing service, it is a good idea to explain why such situation occurred at the beginning of your paper.

  • One of the best ways to address bad grades is to actively explain your deficiencies which lead to such outcome. Our service is sure that medical school admissions committees are more likely to appreciate a candidate who addresses his own deficiencies rather than one who attempts to hide or ignore them.
  • Another way to address your poor performance is to compensate it by emphasizing your positive experience. This will show that you keep a positive attitude no matter what which is a good quality for a doctor, and Medical school personal statement writing service is sure that the committee will appreciate that. Moreover, it would also speak in your favor if you explained what you have learned from this situation. This will show that you tend to control the situation rather than be a victim of the circumstances.
  • Let the admission board know that you have learned your lesson well and, therefore, know how to prevent this from happening again.

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  1. How to explain low GPA in Personal Statement? (with Examples)

    The Statement of Purpose (SOP), also known as the personal statement allows you to give a deep insight into your ambitions and motivations to pursue a particular course at a university. Bonus Article. Sample Personal Statement that explains a low GPA. Credentials like Grade Point Average (GPA) and Standardized tests like the GRE and GMAT only tell about your aptitude or academic excellence.

  2. Explain Bad Grades in Personal Statement?

    68. Reaction score. 19. Jun 2, 2013. #4. Do if you have a good reason that works well with your overall message. For example my statement reflects how I was distracted and depressed through freshman and sophomore year from my mother passing away from cancer, this implies the bad grades, but then talked about my desire and growth as my grades ...

  3. Should You Explain a Bad Grade When Applying to College?

    If you have received a series of grades in the range of B- and C+, explaining a C or a C- won't affect your application much. Instead, the bad grade or grades need to significantly differ from the grades you normally achieve. Explaining a C or C- will be much easier if you normally pull a perfect GPA. At the same time, the grades you're ...

  4. Do I explain bad grades in Masters personal statement? : r/UniUK

    My final grade for my bachelors is 2.1,which is the entry requirement of many of my masters choices, although some require 2.2 only. However due to bad mental health problems during uni (which are sorted now this is all in the past as of 3rd year, hence why i managed to get a 2.1) my 2nd year grades were shit. As in, average 54 for the year.

  5. 7 Tips for Addressing Shortcomings in Your PA School Personal Statement

    Your personal statement is a great place to address any shortcomings or weak points in your application. After all, you have 5,000 whole characters to let your personality and experiences shine. Here are seven tips to successfully addressing your personal shortcomings in your personal statement: 1. Take Responsibility

  6. [SEEKING ADVICE] How do you address your bad/mediocre grades ...

    My undergrad grades are very varied - I have As, Bs, Cs, and unfortunately even some Ds. There are 2 classes I failed in undergrad which I retook and passed. 1 is an important one for my major. My current draft of my personal statement is quite strong though it does needs several edits, and my portfolio and references are strong too.

  7. How should I explain bad grades on my college application?

    It's great that you've overcome those personal issues and are now looking ahead at your college applications. When it comes to explaining your bad grades, you can do this in a couple of ways. First, you could address the issue in your personal statement or essay, but be careful not to make this the entire focus of your writing.

  8. How to Deal with Bad News in Your Personal Statement

    Don't panic. Here's how to reframe those negatives on your CAPA application as positives. So, your life hit a rough spot or two on the way to this moment in which you find yourself writing a personal statement to get into PA school. Maybe your journey has included a couple of plot twists. You're wonderingDon't panic. Here's how to reframe those negatives on your CAPA application as positives ...

  9. Q&A: Should I Explain Bad Grades in my College Admissions Essays

    So, you got a C- that one semester and you're asking yourself, "should I explain why in my personal statement?" Here are my thoughts. ~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~...

  10. The World's Worst Personal Statement: Why It Fails and How to Fix It

    1. The pretentious quote. Not exactly highbrow literature. The personal statement opens with a pretentious-sounding quote, which, let's face it, the student probably found from Googling "quotes about English literature". It doesn't even come from a great work of literature - it's from a novel for young adults, which is unlikely to ...

  11. How to Explain Exceptional Personal Circumstances on Applications

    The holistic admissions process is personal to each applicant, and considers all dimensions of your application-including extracurriculars, essays, teacher recs, and, yes, exceptional circumstances-not just your academic performance. And admissions officers know some students are better set up for success than others.

  12. How to Discuss Poor Academics on Medical School Applications

    Applicants should consider the following pointers when explaining poor academics in their medical school application: Only address major weaknesses. Don't blame others. End on a positive note ...

  13. How to explain poor grades in Personal Statement

    BUY 2023 WASSCE RESULTS CHECKER HERE. How to explain poor grades in Personal Statement. Be honest. Show self-awareness. Highlight your strengths. Discuss any challenges you have overcome. Provide evidence of improvement. Sample: How to explain poor grades in Personal Statement. Conclusion.

  14. Should I explain a single bad grade in my personal statement?

    Overall, I have always maintained a good standing in all of my undergrad classes. Most of my grades are either As or Bs. With only one Junior level course with a D. Is it worthwhile to explain this one bad grade? I am afraid that since all my other grades are good, I will only be highlighting that one bad grade by talking about it.

  15. Explaining bad grades in application: SOP or separate letter

    The statement of purpose is a fairly important and somewhat haphazardly scrutinized document, so anything tangential that interrupts your flow or the optimism and enthusiasm you express for your present and future work is likely to detract from the cohesiveness your message, the consistency and positivity of your tone, and the room you have to ...

  16. Explaining bad grades in personal statement?

    Messages. 4. Reaction score. 1. Jun 24, 2017. #13. I also had a slew of bad grades in undergrad. I didn't mention them in personal statement, but actually asked a professor to mention that despite subpar grades I was an enthusiastic learner in his recommendation. In all my interviews (and for MSTP there are a lot of people interviewing you ...

  17. How to Explain a Bad Grade When Applying to College

    Instead, use the area in the Common Application that offers you space to add information on " [a]nything else you want us to know.". That's where you want to provide the context for poor grade (s) if the context is not going to be provided by a counselor. Remember, if a poor grade results from negligence on your part, leave it be.

  18. (Low GPA) Sample Personal Statement Oxford Computer Science

    Below is a personal statement written by an applicant who was accepted to Oxford university's computer science program. He earned his undergrad in electrical engineering with a 2.2 GPA. This example personal statement is also a great sample of how one can explain bad grades in a personal statement. This essay demonstrates how, through failure ...

  19. 5 Myths About Grad School Personal Statements

    Myth #4: People With Creative Writing Experience Write Better Personal Statements. This is wrong! In fact, professional writers and people with creative writing skills often struggle more with the personal statement than those who don't. This is because the personal statement is not a memoir or a piece of art.

  20. How to write about your low GPA in your personal statement?

    I too had a lower GPA applying to grad schools but was still accepted. The important thing I think is to not make your GPA the focus of your personal statement. Talk about your experiences and really highlight the things youve done well. If you struggled at first, mention that, but always finish with a positive tone.

  21. How to Get Accepted Into College With a Low GPA

    Early admission is extremely competitive, so experts recommend students with poor grades on their transcripts apply during regular admission and use the extra time to take challenging courses and ...

  22. Explaining bad grades in personal statement : r ...

    Explaining bad grades in personal statement. About me: I'm graduating with my Bachelor's in Biology this semester. I have a cGPA ~3.1 and sGPA ~3.0. I am an EMT and have 2000+ hours doing a mix of IFTs and 911. I shadowed nurses in high school for ~36 hours and have shadowed PAs for 12 hours. I volunteered at a hospital and gained ~200 hours in ...

  23. Poor MCAT Scores: Explaining Bad Grades in Personal Statement

    That is why, in case you happen to have bad MCAT grades on your transcript, you may be asked to address this in your medical school personal statement. Writing your medical school personal statement will need time, effort and efficiency, unfortunately, some does not have the luxury to create one in time for submission.