My question was closed as a duplicate and I was told that it's too personalized to be a helpful question to the community. Where can I find an answer to my question? Does it not belong on SE at all? If so, that is fine, just want to be clear/

Is it possible to overcome poor undergrad performance with a masters at a much lower ranked institution?

1 Answer 1


The trick to getting duplicate questions reopened (in my opinion) is to edit away all the detail that might obscure the fundamental difference between your question and the existing questions. Otherwise, it can come across as "I know my situation is really similar to existing questions, but I just want highly individualized advice" (which is off-topic per the help center - see "Can I ask about my specific situation"). What you really want to convey is "Here is a general question that may help many others, that isn't addressed by the current questions and answers on this site."

So, if you believe that answers to existing questions on the site do not apply to your situation, you should edit your question to focus on what is different about your situation, and to reflect what you've learned from reading related questions. Then, it might be reopened. This means not just adding a paragraph to the end explaining why you believe your question is different, but really editing the entire question to focus on the part of your situation that is different and remove the part that is already addressed in existing answers.

If your question did remain open in its current state, you would probably just get more answers telling you what you already know (that recent performance counts more than past performance), because the title and most of the body of your post is about that issue.

My suggestion would be to rewrite your question as follows:

I have browsed extensively on academia.se and generally understand from similar questions (e.g. Doing bad in undergraduate but good in a masters program and How does the admissions process work for Ph.D. programs in the US, particularly for weak or borderline students?) that Ph.D. admissions committees care most about an applicant's most recent performance.

Is this still true even if the poor undergraduate grades were at a highly ranked university, and the good masters grades were at a much less competitive program?

I am interested in applying to top statistics PhD programs, but I have very poor undergraduate grades (2.8 GPA, 3.3 major GPA in math/stats) from a top 15 department. My grades in the masters program are good (>3.9 GPA), but at a state university that is not so highly ranked.

If the grades from the less competitive masters aren't enough to overcome the poor undergraduate grades, is the quality of my masters thesis likely to help me secure admissions to a top PhD program?

This version is concise, still captures the essence of your situation (I think), but distills it in a way that makes it helpful to others as well. It also emphasizes that you have a real, new, question and you're not just looking for more reassurance that recent performance matters more than youthful mistakes.

The question title "Another poor undergrad grades strong MS grades applying to phd next year question" suggests that even you think it is a duplicate of existing questions. Perhaps an edit to the title is in order, too. How about:

Is it possible to overcome poor undergrad performance with a masters at a much lower ranked institution?

Note that these edits will automatically push the question into a review queue where users of the site can vote to reopen. (You're probably familiar with this if you're an avid user of other SE sites.)

  • Nice explanation, but I'm not sure even the proposed edits will be enough to get the question reopened, since I still don't understand how we could say anything in answer other than "Maybe, it depends."
    – jakebeal
    Jan 27, 2016 at 10:11
  • thanks your edits are clear and concise, I will change it in that manner.
    – grayQuant
    Jan 27, 2016 at 19:30
  • @jakebeal I am hoping some people will have more insight into this situation. For example one user already said that he does see this happening in my current situation.
    – grayQuant
    Jan 27, 2016 at 19:32

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