Chances for HEP theory without research experience

Post Reply
lukewarm brainstorm
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2020 5:04 am

Chances for HEP theory without research experience

Post by lukewarm brainstorm » Tue Nov 24, 2020 9:23 am

Sorry if any similar situations have been asked about before, but I'm starting to get worried about my list of schools and am wondering if I'm aiming too high. I have a pretty solid academic record (3.94 GPA at a top US university, double major in physics and math, a few grad classes in each including QFT and GR, a top academic award, expecting double honors) but no real research other than a mostly independent thing I just started. How much will this hurt my chances, and does it matter at all that areas like string theory and quantum gravity are more removed from the sort of research options available for an undergrad? I've always been extremely focused on theory and mathematics and unfortunately was too stubborn to branch out and try to find research in other areas (after getting understandably shut down by HEP theory and math professors :) ) Oh well, too late for regrets. I want to cut several schools off this list (probably just lop off the top except the one I'm currently at) and am wondering what I should consider as a target. (And maybe what safeties I should swap in.)

Harvard
Stanford
Princeton
Berkeley
UC Santa Barbara
Chicago
UCLA
Michigan
Stony Brook
USC
Rutgers
UT Austin
Urbana
Boulder
Wisconsin
Maryland
Penn state
NYU

I'd really appreciate any feedback. Thanks!

HubbleBubble
Posts: 32
Joined: Tue Jul 07, 2020 7:06 am

Re: Chances for HEP theory without research experience

Post by HubbleBubble » Tue Nov 24, 2020 11:41 am

lukewarm brainstorm wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 9:23 am
Sorry if any similar situations have been asked about before, but I'm starting to get worried about my list of schools and am wondering if I'm aiming too high. I have a pretty solid academic record (3.94 GPA at a top US university, double major in physics and math, a few grad classes in each including QFT and GR, a top academic award, expecting double honors) but no real research other than a mostly independent thing I just started. How much will this hurt my chances, and does it matter at all that areas like string theory and quantum gravity are more removed from the sort of research options available for an undergrad? I've always been extremely focused on theory and mathematics and unfortunately was too stubborn to branch out and try to find research in other areas (after getting understandably shut down by HEP theory and math professors :) ) Oh well, too late for regrets. I want to cut several schools off this list (probably just lop off the top except the one I'm currently at) and am wondering what I should consider as a target. (And maybe what safeties I should swap in.)

Harvard
Stanford
Princeton
Berkeley
UC Santa Barbara
Chicago
UCLA
Michigan
Stony Brook
USC
Rutgers
UT Austin
Urbana
Boulder
Wisconsin
Maryland
Penn state
NYU

I'd really appreciate any feedback. Thanks!
If you have a near perfect GPA at one the top universities on this list I can’t imagine you having too much trouble. Yes, research experience really helps, but in a field like HEP theory that is hard to get and your grades are probably a strong signal that you could perform well.

The point of applying to a lot of schools is to get into a reach, and you should be confident that you will make it into at least one of these schools. So I would keep it as is.

Talk to your study adviser though - they can look at your list and confirm if you indeed have nothing to worry about, as well as let you know if your undergrad would consider your application (the HYPSM type schools tend to encourage students to try out a new environment).



Post Reply