Studying in America and Canada

Question: I am a BE (Electrical) 2nd year student in a reputed college. In my first year, I got a low score of 58%, compared to my 10+2 level. I have two reasons for that: 1) I was imposed with the decision of taking admission in electrical and so nowadays I am less interested in my studies. 2) Here the results given are very tough, which can be interpreted from the fact that we have distinction at 66% and not 70%. But I am sure that I will get scores at least higher than 2000 in GRE. So if I have very good GRE Scores against bad GPA, will it compensate that?

Answer: Before we comment on the GPA (Grade Point Average) and GRE (Graduate Record Exam, a standardized entrance exam) interplay, we wish to make some observations and express our views.

You say that the decision to pursue Electrical Engineering (EE) was imposed on you. We certainly recognize the encouragement, if not outright pressure, from family, friends, and peers in India because EE ranks high in the hierarchy of most valued education. We also recognize the lack of flexibility in the Indian education system which at least penalizes, if not prohibits, you from exploring and following a different path at this stage, should you so choose. Thus, let us stipulate for the purpose of our reply that you would continue your EE studies and graduate in about 3 years.

We must confess that we are a bit puzzled. You blame your poor performance in school on the fact that studying EE was not your choice - "they" imposed it on you. Yet, by asking about the GRE you are indicating that you want to continue the EE education beyond your Bachelor's degree. Either you are doing poorly in school because of your abilities, or you are doing poorly because you don't like EE. Which one is it? You can't have it both ways. You do not have to answer this question to us, but you should try to answer this to yourself. Then, face the reality for what it is.

At this stage in your life, you should be thinking about what you want to be, where you want to be, and what you want to do when you "grow up." Sooner or later, you will have to be responsible for your ambitions and actions. Education is a means to an end, not an end unto itself. Just because a graduate (Master's or PhD) degree in EE can be done, it does not mean you should to it, particularly when EE is not "your choice" so to speak. You can also consider an MBA or law degree, beyond your Bachelor's degree. You can consider working, while continuing to explore and evaluate your interests for further education.

Admission into the MS (Master of Science) in Engineering in the US is based on: the quality and reputation of your college, your academic performance (that is, GPA), and your GRE score. Your superior performance on the GRE, for which you seem rather hopeful, would offset your poor academic performance, but only to some extent. Your GPA does not become irrelevant because you scored well on the GRE; after all, GPA is an essential ingredient of the admissions criteria. As always, try to do your best in both your GPA and GRE. Playing if-then scenarios with your GPA and GRE score, although relevant, is not a particularly productive exercise. We have rarely seen cases where the GPA and GRE score did not reflect any correlation whatsoever; that is, a very high GRE score and low GPA, or vice versa. We suggest that you not bet everything on this scenario.

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