Applying to Graduate School-help/question

I’ve been unemployed for a bit and decided to apply for grad school for fall. I’m going for an MBA and I figure if I do manage to find a job, I can do the MBA part time and, if I don’t find a job, at least I’ll have something to show for my time off. I have a B.Sc and M.Sc in Electrical Engineering already. Now some of the schools I’m applying to are fairly competitive and they all require undergrad GPA and that could be a problem.

I went on Depo-Provera for three years of my education (last two years of undergrad and 1 year of grad) and it caused clinical depression. I wasn’t aware this was a side-effect and slowly things just became harder and harder until I finally reached the point of becoming suicidal because I couldn’t imagine going on like that. I didn’t know what was happening, my life was (otherwise) going well and I had never felt like this before.

My bf at the time (thankfully) forced me to go to a psychiatrist and, after a few visits, she concluded that I was a)clinically depressed and b)had no reason to be. So she put me on Paxil, it helped tremendously but every time she took me off of it, the symptoms recurred. She had assumed I was on the pill and when she finally asked about every medication I was on, I told her about DP and she started laughing and told me that clinical depression is a known side effect of DP. I stopped taking the DP and all my symptoms disappeared with it.

The problem is that over that time period (3 years) my grades slowly got worse and worse culminating in a semester where I didn’t pass a single class. Before that and after that my grades were very good but those three years were bad. Now all the applications have a space asking if you feel that your grades adequately reflect your capabilities and, if not, please explain why.

Should I attempt to explain what happened? Or should I just take my chances? I’m worried about the stigma that mental illness still seems to carry but my grades then were really bad and I think that an attempt to explain it would be needed.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Can you retroactively petition the instructors to give you a withdrawl or no credit, rather than a grade that drags your GPA down? It worked for my husband when he was applying to law schools.

You can also be honest that you had a severe reaction to a medication which adversly affected your academic performance for a short time, which thankfully has been resolved. They may not need anything else.

It’s hard not to feel like your whole previous life is on trial with these things, but good luck!


Why don’t you go part time? Part time status is much different from fulltime, and I do not believe you need to formally apply with transcripts and the whole nine yards…

I would also go to the registrars office and appeal to them, tell them your plight and they may be quite forthwith with information you may not know now? Either way they can not keep you from getting your MBA…

Is there an admission counsellor you can speak with about the process? That might also help.

Where are you? Or more precisely, where are you looking at schools? Maybe a Doper will have some expertise for you.

Also, I would hope that since you already have one graduate degree, that would make a difference, especially if your grade trouble was a whole degree ago. Or am I wrong?

EJ -good suggestion but I kept the whole thing so quiet-I was so confused at the beginning and so ashamed at the end-that my instructors had no clue what was happening. But that’s a good suggestion, as is your idea of how to approach the medication. I really think it is the fine line between too much info and not enough. Thank you! I think that should be sufficient with a good GMAT score and very, very good letters of recommendation from my work experience. And more good advice about talking to an admissions officer.

I’m in the Bay Area but my undergrad school was on the East coast and my grad school was in Oklahoma. And the grade trouble was the last two years of the undergrad and the first year of my grad school. I do hope that my last couple of years in grad school and my work experience turns the tide.

Coda-For all these programs the part time and full time requirements are the same.

Rocza I faced a similar situation last year while applying to law school. My undergrad GPA was a full point below the mean at most of the schools I was applying to, though my LSAT score was very very good, and several points above the mean. I wrote a small explination about why, due to family problems that required me to miss muchos class, my grades as an undergrad had been so bad, but emphasized that even despite the problems and a couple failed classes I had still graduated early, and had been working for two years in a very competitive enviornment. In short, I asked them to look more at my LSAT score and work history and less at my grades. I don’t know if it was the deciding factor or not, but I got into my first choice law school, and have done well while here.

I think when you have an obvious red flag, like a bad GPA you can choose to give an explination, or allow the admissions committee to use their imagination. Since your problem was a medical one, you might just offer the explination, indicate that medical records supporting your problem are available, point out that both before you began taking the medication, and after, your grades were good and that you have been working well since then. I think it is far better to give an explination, in fact, I would say it is crucial.