Opinions on my list

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Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2020 8:09 pm

Opinions on my list

Post by Act2021 » Sat Jun 06, 2020 1:21 pm

I was hoping for some insight into my list of potential schools (first generation, plan to ultimately apply to 10-12). Chances, programs, selectivity, anticipated acceptance/rejection, additional schools . . .whatever you can offer.

I am a male (US citizen) rising senior at Penn State Schreyer Honors College, double majoring in Physics and Engineering Science. GPA is 4.0 and I my GRE scores are Q 170 V166 W5. I plan to take the PGRE in September. I am active on campus and have received several high end awards and scholarships. I have been involved with an on campus research project for 2 years (published once) and have completed a 10 week summer internship at a National Lab (published twice) and am returning (virtually) this summer. I plan to apply for my PhD in physics (undecided on specific area yet).

Stony Brook
Wake Forest
William and Mary
Virginia Tech
Penn State

Last edited by Act2021 on Tue Jun 23, 2020 7:41 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:10 pm

Re: Opinions on my list

Post by geekusprimus » Sat Jun 06, 2020 2:11 pm

Your list looks good. There's a nice mix of reaches, probable matches, and probable safeties. I did notice that all the schools, though, are on the East Coast. That's fine, and there's nothing wrong with the East Coast (I'm actually attending Penn State in the fall myself), but don't be afraid to look for schools elsewhere in the country. There are a lot of really fantastic programs elsewhere, especially if you're undecided. In particular, I'd recommend taking a look at UT, Michigan, UIUC, Stanford, Caltech, Washington, and some of the UC schools.

Now that I've just told you to double your list, here are my main tips for your list:
  • Narrow down your list a bit. You don't need to go to the extremes that I did (I only applied to five schools), but you probably don't want to apply to more than ten or so schools. Applications take a lot of time and money, especially if you want to write a good application tailored to the school.
  • You're undecided, but you should still apply based on people you might be interested in working with. Try to find at least three people in three different fields that look like they might make good advisors. If your interests narrow closer to the application deadline, you can trim that down to two or three people in the same field.
  • Try to get in contact with some of these people before you apply. Talk to graduate students and researchers in their field. You'll save a lot of time and frustration if you find out who's retiring, who's leaving, whose groups are full, and who's a royal pain in the butt to work with before you actually apply. This is going to be especially important in the next year; the exact effects of the coronapocalypse on higher education have yet to play out yet, but it's quite likely that grants and donations for research are going to be more competitive.
Last edited by geekusprimus on Tue Jun 23, 2020 10:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Opinions on my list

Post by Act2021 » Tue Jun 23, 2020 7:42 am

Thank you for the reply! I appreciate your input.

Last bumped by Act2021 on Tue Jun 23, 2020 7:42 am.

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