The subject has shifted away from rankings since I last check in, but I'll post this anyway because it was on my mind.
fermiboy, I'm going to make some observations on your data. I'm only picking on your data because you've posted both a profile and an admissions algorithm. I hope this isn't taken the wrong way -- I don't mean any insult and I don't mean to say that your algorithm was anything other than what you said. In anticipation that I might have failed in my goal, I preemptive offer to buy you a beer (or your beverage of choice) should we ever meet in person (I offer the same, not presumptively unfortunately, to twistor). I promise that I'm not such a bad person in real life.
fermiboy wrote:The rankings meant nothing to me
That said, you could have had the same results if you had chosen the following strategy: let's go for 8-10 schools. I'll apply to ~2/3 in US new's top fifteen (you applied to 6 -- 5 in the top ten). I'll pick the other 1/3 from out of the top fifteen as safeties (you applied to 3). So even though you did not rely on the ratings, most of you choices were from highly ranked schools. I don't know what strategies other people used -- but the strategy I outlined would fit the choices of many people who posted profiles. If other people, like you, didn't rely on the rankings, then this could provide evidence that rankings are, to first order, of some use since people tended to end up with personal rankings similar to published ones.* That said, I think your safeties were more imaginative than they might have been if you had relied on the rankings.
fermiboy wrote:I'm wishing I would have applied to some more schools in the 20-30 range.
I used rankings in that way. I don't see why there's anything wrong with it.
twistor wrote:I applied to Chicago and Wisconsin for medical physics. I may yet apply to Purdue.
If I don't get in then to hell with graduate school.
Medical physics is a fairly small field. In that case, I agree that looking at all the options probably is a fine idea. You seem to know exactly what you want -- you were able to narrow it down to 2-3 schools -- and would not be satisfied with less. That is even more reason for doing very thourough research.
My situation is very different. For people like me who don't have a good idea what subfield of physics they want to specialize in and are fairly easily satisfied, I maintain that rankings can be a fine way to narrow down the field (because we lack such a sharp personal metric for doing so) and to choose a good spread of schools to apply to.
I hope that I haven't made too many more enemies by writing this. As other have observed, we're all pretty irritable right about now (perhaps we all have worms in our brains
-- sorry that I couldn't link directly to the Mimi Herald's website; they're giving me trouble).
EDIT: I forgot to say, I'm going to pass out. Goodnight everyone.
* EDIT 2: I edited this sentence to clear up the thought process a bit.