Astronomy Grad School Profile: too ambitious?

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Joined: Wed Nov 29, 2017 12:19 am

Astronomy Grad School Profile: too ambitious?

Post by gradschoolshopper22 » Wed Nov 29, 2017 12:42 am

Major: Physics (B.S.)
Concentration: Astrophysics
Minor: Mathematics

Year: Senior (5th year in 5-year program)

GPA Overall: 3.65
GPA in Major: 3.72

School Details: Low-radar private university ranked ~90s nationwide.

Research Experience: 21 months full-time (15 of which are relevant to astronomy) research experience, 18 months part-time (during classes)

Letters: Each of my three letters is from a professor I have done over 6 months of physics research with

Extracurricular: Good community involvement, good role model in the department, selected for various in-house awards, Society of Physics Students (ex-President)

Presentations: Given two scientific talks in addition to 7 poster presentations at various events/regional and national conferences.

V: 154 (65%)
Q: 165 (89%)
W: 4.5 (82%)

770 (64%)

Applying to: Physics/Astro Departments for Fall '18 enrollment in pursuit of a PhD in astronomy with a focus on doing observational/experimental/computational research on stellar/planetary dynamics/evolution of some sort

In somewhat of a particular rank, below are my probable schools to apply to. I realize these are difficult schools, but it's important to me that I get into a program good enough to make the PhD in Physics/Astronomy worthwhile.

Boston University
Columbia University
New York University
University of Pennsylvania
University of Maryland - College Park
Penn State University
Stony Brook University
Dartmouth College
University of Colorado - Boulder
Cornell University
Rutgers - New Brunswick
And thinking about throwing a dart at either Princeton or MIT

Any advice based on knowledge of the schools/programs or your experiences? Thanks!

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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Astronomy Grad School Profile: too ambitious?

Post by TakeruK » Wed Nov 29, 2017 12:19 pm

If you want to, tell me more about your research experience. Your overall profile is good and your research experience is going to make a big difference. Also, tell me more about your interests and goals in grad school. What you've currently said ("observational/experimental/computational research on stellar/planetary dynamics/evolution of some sort" is really vague and covers a ton of things.

The reason I ask is that you have a profile strong enough to get into any astronomy graduate program in the USA. But admissions is not just about having the best stats, it's really about finding a great match between your interests and what they have to offer. Your stats tell me that you're a decent student, just as good as the students I've met in top 10 programs. You have way more research experience than the typical astronomy graduate student. So if you've done well in research and have a good overall application package, I don't think you need to worry about being "too ambitious", you just need to have the right focus and apply in the right way.

(P.S. If you want to discuss more details but don't want it in the public forum, I'm happy to chat via PM too.)

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