Under academic cut-off, should you apply, postgrad

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cleanstart
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Hi guys, I would like to make this short and clean. I have been searching for a PhD to pursue after med school, and to be honest, Cambridge University is something I would never consider due to its ranking. I come from a small country and my University is not well ranked. I managed to have a 8,4/10 average, but Cambridge requires 9/10 for my country. I regret not studying harder, but the reason I want to apply for this is also the reason that partially prevented me from getting better grades. It's a stem cell PhD for recovering spinal cord, and that is literally my dream. The reason for this is because my boyfriend suffered from SCI and we've been battling it my entire University. It's not something that is easy because my country doesn't provide support or anything so we had to do everything ourselves. I wanted to ask whether putting this on my letter would be cheesy, or lame, as that is the last I want to seem (you know Me before you movie cheesy), but this is the way it is. Also do you think being under academic cut-off for Cambridge is even worth trying to apply ? I have to note that it is fully funded PhD offer, so I understand it is going to be insanely competitive. I have always been highly promising student, went to competitions in high school (and won) etc., but I am not sure how could I provide the evidence that I have necessary potential for this PhD since I don't have THE grades.
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FloralHybrid
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(Original post by cleanstart)
Hi guys, I would like to make this short and clean. I have been searching for a PhD to pursue after med school, and to be honest, Cambridge University is something I would never consider due to its ranking. I come from a small country and my University is not well ranked. I managed to have a 8,4/10 average, but Cambridge requires 9/10 for my country. I regret not studying harder, but the reason I want to apply for this is also the reason that partially prevented me from getting better grades. It's a stem cell PhD for recovering spinal cord, and that is literally my dream. The reason for this is because my boyfriend suffered from SCI and we've been battling it my entire University. It's not something that is easy because my country doesn't provide support or anything so we had to do everything ourselves. I wanted to ask whether putting this on my letter would be cheesy, or lame, as that is the last I want to seem (you know Me before you movie cheesy), but this is the way it is. Also do you think being under academic cut-off for Cambridge is even worth trying to apply ? I have to note that it is fully funded PhD offer, so I understand it is going to be insanely competitive. I have always been highly promising student, went to competitions in high school (and won) etc., but I am not sure how could I provide the evidence that I have necessary potential for this PhD since I don't have THE grades.
Contacting them is your only option, asking whether they’d consider you as a candidate. Explain why you’re passionate and feel you’d be academically able for the course. It’s harsh to say, but do bear in mind, the “sympathy card” won’t get you far in terms of getting in, but it’s worth a mention.
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artful_lounger
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It's possible they may accept that as extenuating circumstances, and if you have excellent research credentials (final year project/dissertation, other potential research you may have done over summers etc) they may be more inclined to relax their criteria. However, they get many applications every year from those who do meet and exceed the minimum stated criteria, and the Stem Cell Wellcome Trust group is quite popular I believe.

Just because you can't pursue that research topic at Cambridge, doesn't mean you can't pursue it elsewhere - Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine is a very active research area. You may want to consider to for example UCL etc.
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cleanstart
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
It's possible they may accept that as extenuating circumstances, and if you have excellent research credentials (final year project/dissertation, other potential research you may have done over summers etc) they may be more inclined to relax their criteria. However, they get many applications every year from those who do meet and exceed the minimum stated criteria, and the Stem Cell Wellcome Trust group is quite popular I believe.

Just because you can't pursue that research topic at Cambridge, doesn't mean you can't pursue it elsewhere - Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine is a very active research area. You may want to consider to for example UCL etc.
Thank you for this useful information. I think that UCL also requires minimum of 9/10, but will do more research on that.
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by cleanstart)
Thank you for this useful information. I think that UCL also requires minimum of 9/10, but will do more research on that.
UCL was just an example - there are many more. Most large universities with medical schools and/or major biomedical sciences departments will probably have a stem cell group
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cleanstart
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(Original post by FloralHybrid)
Contacting them is your only option, asking whether they’d consider you as a candidate. Explain why you’re passionate and feel you’d be academically able for the course. It’s harsh to say, but do bear in mind, the “sympathy card” won’t get you far in terms of getting in, but it’s worth a mention.
I don't think it is harsh to say, I mean there are other great students who managed to do extracurricular work on the side that took them as much time as this took for me. So you are right. Still I will not apply for this, as I believe many A students probably will. Thank you for your reply. It was very useful.
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Doones
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And tagging threeportdrift
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by cleanstart)
I don't think it is harsh to say, I mean there are other great students who managed to do extracurricular work on the side that took them as much time as this took for me. So you are right. Still I will not apply for this, as I believe many A students probably will. Thank you for your reply. It was very useful.
Cambridge are very good at taking into account all factors in an application, but a fully funded PhD is a highly competitive process everywhere, and even more so at Cambridge. It's really up to you to weigh up how much effort you will need to put into an application versus the wondering 'what if' if you don't apply and never now if you'd have been rejected or got an offer.

Personally, I'd say if you are in the application making groove, why not let the professionals decide.
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