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Should I try for the top ones?

Posted: Fri Oct 25, 2019 5:02 am
by erik94
Hi everyone, I'm an Italian student and I am applying for the PhDs 2020.
I would like to hear some suggestions about my school list, as I think that I have a strong profile in some areas but some catches.

28.4/30 in Bachelor of Physics (which from a previous post I got it should be around 3.6-3.7) BUT with a downward trend (actually an awful last semester, before which I was around 3.9-4). However I have reasons for such semester.

29.7/30 ~ 3.95 in my Master of Physics
29.8 ~ 3.95 in my second master in Applied Math

V167 Q169, but AWA 4.0
no problem with English, 115, well above any threshold here
I am applying to applied science, so not required for the most. However, I will give it one shot tomorrow o.O
Especially in the hope of "compensate" my poor grades (is that really a thing?)
I was thinking to send it only if >94o-ish (too low maybe?)

1 poster with invitation a conference
1 article but unfinished (probably on ArXiv but not published at the time of application)
Some internships both in Italy and Europe. Part time but constant (~2 years) research job during the second master and an internship at Max Planck Institute, which should be very well known in the US too (?) and one summer internship at a minor university in Denmark.

Excellence program in my department (basically some more courses and projects)
Some scholarships (do these count?) for thesis projects, ERASMUS and residential scholarship in a college in Italy

worked as editor of a journal for an association of physics students, science divulgation blog (are they really relevant for a PhD?)

Should I try for top schools like Harvard, MIT etc or would it be a waste of money? I am especially concerned with the GPA issue (I definitely don't reach the - apparently magical - 3.8 all those schools indicate in their websites) and the lack of many scientific results: with quite much research time, would I be supposed to bring in more than just a poster and a paper?

Re: Should I try for the top ones?

Posted: Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:59 am
by Nishikata
Go for it. Nothing disastrous from your application. Hopefully the pGRE is excellent too.

Nevertheless, an application costs about 100 dollars, there are only a few “top” universities that you are hesitating to apply to. At most it costs you 1000 dollars, less than a month’s stipend at grad school (or even less compared to working salary). Consider it a bet that could perhaps win you the jackpot prize. Because you already have a masters, this is also your final shot. At least, even if it doesn’t happen, the money will buy you closure so that you will never be asking yourself “what could’ve been” in the future.