Hi! Does my school list seem too much of a reach for me?
I am: Asian male (Korean), from a somewhat well regarded school (at least in Korea), with physics QS ranking of 50~100
GPA: I got 4.35/4.5, with all A+ for physics courses except for the time I got all A (not A+) during an exchange student in UBC
Test Scores: General is Q:170, V: 163, W:4.5, with TOEFL: 117 (R&L:30/30, S:28/30, W:29/30) (i couldn't take the physicsGRE)
I got the Samsung Science Scholarship, which gives full tuition for four years (it was an entrance scholarship).
I also skipped one year of highschool.
In freshman, I got an award in a programming competition for writing a program that solves magic squares using a variety of methods and comparing the performance of each methods. Next year, I got another award (first place) for writing a rudimentary neural network to diagnose gastrological disease of someone based on their microbiome composition. However, both competitions were just 'inside the school' and not something that was international or anything...
I feel like in terms of scores and grades, it's not that bad, but there are two major shortcomings of me.
1. I haven't done much research. (I've worked as an undergraduate researcher for a total of about a year. However, during that time, all I did was read review papers and do a presentation in a group meeting, which is a far cry from what I see some people in here do). There is though, a research I am doing where I will be the second author, but that one would be submitted after the graduate school deadline... What's worse is that the research I am doing is more of an engineering than science (microfabrication of certain materials).
2. My interests in a certain area of physics is very recent. Since the beginning of the year, I became interested in physics used in neuroscience, where they use network theory and etc. However, all I did in that area of study was to just take one course related to it as an exchange student, along with interviewing some professors. (I haven't even taken a single biology course nor a biophysics course in my school). I want to apply to physics programs that has a professor that involves themselves in neuroscience. However, I'm afraid that the admissions committee would doubt my aspiration when they see that I haven't done much to learn the area....
With these shortcomings in mind, what do you think of the following school list? (I feel like I'm aiming too high)
University of Maryland
====the below schools don't have research fields that I want to do, but thought I could apply for a Masters Degree to learn nonlinear dynamics, which I've heard is closely related to the physics used in neuroscience, then apply for PhD in the research topics I want===
University of Toronto
Nanyang (I actually met the professors here when I went to Singapore with my professor)
NUS (here too)
Do you think that schools are too high for me? Also, are there any other suggestions you could give me?
Thank you so much for reading this! As a foreigner, I'm kinda totally lost right now as I don't have anyone who has applied to an American school recently. Thank you in advance if you choose to write a response! I hope you stay safe during this whole COVID crisis.
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