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Hi everyone, I need advice!

Discussion in 'Introductions and Welcomes' started by Aqua, May 8, 2018.

  1. Aqua

    Aqua New Member

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    So hi, I'm a rising senior studying communication with a minor in film studies. I had no intention of ever going to grad school but recently found myself with 10 tabs open of different grad sites and lists of grad programs through the US.

    So yea, I'm kinda worried because my first two years of undergrad were not the best, I was struggling and juggling through majors and STEM classes I had no interest in and found myself in a rut, GPA wise. I've since found a program I love with great professors and it sucks that I've become a better student during my last leg. Even if I get straight As for the next 2 semesters, I won't get a 3.0 which is crazy considering the "star-4.0" student I was years ago during HS. Anyway, I know HS doesn't matter and what matters is what I've done since freshman year and what I do until next spring when I graduate. (or sooner considering I think I'm applying to grad school)

    Ok so I've been rambling, my questions/concerns are: I have what is considered a low GPA. I want to apply to film grad programs, I've been looking at the big dogs (USC obvi), but with my GPA is it even worth it? would it make a difference to wait a year and then apply after I've graduated? A lot of programs don't require the GRE so should I take it? I've seen a couple threads that say I should if my GPA is lower than what the school requires. Any recommendations on good grad programs that don't focus on GPA? do my creative supplements matter more? I am asking A LOT but any answer would help. thanks, everyone and good luck in your endeavors!!
     
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  2. Chris W

    Chris W Get Busy Living Staff Member

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    USC actually doesn't require a certain GPA.

    Check the tracking sheets and see the GPAs of those who got accepted. I believe at least one was a 2.9. What really matters is your skills as a storyteller.

    Taking the GRE can't hurt that's for sure. I'm sure other regulars like @IndecisiveElle and @sharkb8 will chime in soon with their own take.

    Welcome to the site!!!
     
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  3. sharkb8

    sharkb8 iAmB84AshRk

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    I feel ya on that. I originally had no intention of going back to school. I hated classes and I was certain I was done with school forever once it ended, but I've been out for 4 years and I've just never felt like I fully got where I was trying to go, and it hit me over the last year that I have the capability to get where I want to go, I just need further training, experience, and motivated people around me, so I got excited about the idea of film school and also had like 10 tabs open trying to figure out what to do and where to go.

    I've been hanging around on this forum for a few months now so I'll give my suggestions based on what I've found in talking to people.

    K so, GPA is actually not particularly important to most film schools. I think that schools do look at GPA, but it's not a dealbreaker unless your GPA is really bad. If you look at the spreadsheet for last year, there are quite a few people with 2.8 or 2.9 who got into top schools like AFI, USC, NYU, Chapman and I even see a 2.8 who got in at Columbia, which surprises me since they're an Ivy League school so I'd have thought they'd be more stringent.
    Graduate Film School Applications 2018

    Film Schools tend to look more at who you are as a person. They want to know that you have a drive for film, and that your individual voice as a filmmaker is worth developing. They believe they can teach you the technical aspects, but they want to know in advance that you have a unique voice that that will emerge once they train you. So the most important thing that I've heard from people who get accepted is that their personal statement really showcased who they are as a person and explained why they are now pursuing this degree. If the school feels like they know who you are as a filmmaker, and they believe you're someone with potential, they'll take you.

    That being said, if you have a GPA below 3.0, I'm sure that'll raise some eyebrows with the admissions team so you'll have to make up for it elsewhere. It's not a dealbreaker, but it just means you'll have to be especially strong in some other part of the application.

    As far as waiting a year and applying next year, that will probably give you some increased life experience and it might help some of your applications, but I'd still apply to the schools this year and see what happens. Use this year's cycle to figure out how the application process works. Write some scripts for the admissions offices. Get some feedback on those scripts and your personal statements. Do some interviews with schools, and overall grow as a filmmaker. Worst case scenario, you learn a lot, and you'll be fully ready for your applications in 2020. Best case scenario, you might actually get in at one of your top schools a year early.

    As far as the GRE, figure out which schools you want to apply to. I'm considering applying to University of Texas (because their financial package is amaaaazing) and also LMU, both of whom require (Texas) or desire (LMU) that the applicant has taken the GRE. But outside of those schools, it seems like it's mostly a waste of time. If ya look at the spreadsheet, it appears like basically nobody took the GRE and it doesn't seem to have affected their chances. I mean, perhaps if your GPA is gonna be awful and you think you can get a killer score on the GRE it might help, but otherwise it doesn't seem like it'll help you much, since film schools don't seem to care as much about academic performance as they do about creative potential.

    And yes, I think you should absolutely focus on the creative supplement. Showcase that you have your own creative voice, and that you have the ability to tell a story in a way that can be meaningful and moving. If you do, then any film school will want you.
     
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  4. Aqua

    Aqua New Member

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    Thank you both so much for replying! I've been scanning this site for a while and found useful information that's made me feel a bit better about my situation. And yeah I found the excel sheet and that definitely made me feel better also.

    I'm going to have to do more research and figure myself out and figure out how to make something worth submitting for a creative supplement. My major is more editorial and writing so I don't have a lot of directing or video experience but oddly enough it's something I've always found fascinating but I've just found myself not as outgoing when it comes to creating something. I'm going to take this summer to pull something together and see where my talents lie, the more I research the more I find myself wanting to apply.
     
    #4 Aqua, May 9, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: May 9, 2018
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  5. Aqua

    Aqua New Member

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    I'm also trying to figure out how to comment and reply and I don't think I replied correctly lol, sorry about that.
     
  6. Chris W

    Chris W Get Busy Living Staff Member

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    No worries. Just fixed it. If you have any questions on the site please let me know.
     
  7. IndecisiveElle

    IndecisiveElle Active Member Contributor

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    Lets back track a little bit-
    Why are you interested in grad school?
    I don't want to make any assumptions about you, however, I do work with undergrad communication and film students and give them advice frequently about what to do after graduation because I'll be honest, graduation is scary! There's safety and security in pursuing grad school instead of leaping out into the world and trying to start your career.

    Why you want to go to grad school is the most important question to ask yourself. Whether you are still in undergrad or already out in the world and going back to school. Why is this the path you want to take. Your application process will be much more clear, your essays will be better, and you will present your best, most qualified, and passionate self if you can answer this question. You probably won't have an answer right away. But keep asking yourself. Maybe do some free writing on the topic. But ask yourself that question on a regular basis during your senior year.

    Sharkb8 did a great job answering your other questions so I will do my best not to repeat him.

    Some schools will care more about grades than others. UT Austin for example - they are also the only school that requires a GRE. If you want to take the GRE to apply there, do it while you're still in classes and the information is fresh. For MFA programs, state-funded schools are often care more about GPA than private schools. UT Austin, UCLA, University of Michigan, FSU will put slightly more emphasis on grades than Columbia, Chapman, USC, AFI and so forth. This has to do with funding and their admissions process with the grad office and the film office. The umbrella graduate admissions office also has to approve your acceptance, not just the film program. But your creative work, personal statement and interview will carry the most weight. So, grades are not a deal breaker for most schools, but an MFA in film is still graduate school. All schools have requirements for maintaining a minimum GPA during their MFA programs. They will look at your academic record, but you have ample opportunity through your personal statements and interview to convince them that you will be successful in their program because of your passion for filmmaking.

    The single most important factor is in film school admissions will be how you present your passion for storytelling and motivations for pursuing an MFA. Don't forget that how you present yourself includes how to work with others - while all schools value teamwork, conservatory programs like AFI and Chapman will put a particular emphasis on how you fit into the class because of the small program. The smaller the program, the more concerned they will be about right 'fit' so do your homework about what you want out of a program, figure out what your needs and wants are in terms of structure of the program, length of time, access to LA, collaboration, faculty, etc etc. You have a lot of time to think this over and you'll want to be clear about your intentions when you apply.
     
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