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Ideas for gap year projects to strengthen my application

Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:44 am
by dsr12
I am not sure if this is the right forum topic for this question, but here goes...
I am wondering if anyone here has good ideas for a gap year between my bachelors and PhD application? Some info about me:

I am graduating this year (4 year degree) with a Physics major and Math minor from a large state research university.
I have a 3.7 overall and 3.9 physics GPA.
Work experience as mathematics tutor for the university tutoring center for 2 years. Physics TA for one year.
I have taken several graduate courses with A+ results.
I have worked in a condensed matter research lab for the past 1 1/2 years, and have presented research at an APS conference.
My dream would be to study relativity/gravity, but I also really like quantum theory and my condensed matter research is becoming more and more interesting.
I am 21.
I am tri-lingual (if that matters).
I love physics. It is my ONLY career objective.

So... I have applied to 13 PhD programs but am starting to really fret (read: paranoid) that I will not be accepted anywhere (heard from one with a rejection, which I expected and don't really care about, and no word yet on others). If that happens (I need a plan B), I want to plan a year to polish my application and improve my PGRE (750 for now - only took it once). Anyone have suggestions? It seems that most large national labs either have internships for an undergrad or graduate positions. I seem to be in the middle.
Any ideas/experience greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Re: Ideas for gap year projects to strengthen my application

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:38 pm
by histoscienology
What programs did you apply for? I feel it's probably easier to apply for experimental internships at national labs. Did you apply for your own undergrad institution? It is possible for you to stay with your current advisor and get more results over the year?

Re: Ideas for gap year projects to strengthen my application

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:55 pm
by dsr12
Thanks for your reply... I have pretty much come to the conclusion that I am being paranoid, and to wait it out a bit more. I received one rejection thus far from Michigan (a reach school - I really didn't want to live in Ann Arbor!), and I am waiting on the rest. I have had some meaningful contact with several professors at four other schools. My spread of schools was 3 reach, 3 match on the higher side, 4 match, 3 safety. I likely have excellent letters. Most of my schools have not really posted many results, with the exception of Washington, which has posted both acceptances and rejections, so I figure my application either has not been reviewed, or I am on a wait list.

As far as my current university, I do have a position in a CME lab that I could continue, as well as several professors that have mentored me and would likely help me get into other positions. I was just thinking that if I really was forced into a gap year, I would truly want something different, in relativity/gravity if possible.
I appreciate your answer. This waiting game does feel like purgatory :oops: