Please review my list

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starship_neutrino
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Dec 11, 2020 9:41 am

Please review my list

Post by starship_neutrino » Thu Nov 18, 2021 7:42 am

Hi, I am planning to apply to grad school in astrophysics. I am about to finish my undergraduate at a group of 8 university in Australia with a 3.7 GPA and 83 WAM and did double majors in maths and physics. I wrote a senior thesis this year in computational astrophysics (my supervisor is one of the founders of this computational technique and I got highest marks in his honours class despite having never done any astrophysics units before). I have previous experience of a 6 weeks project in astrophysics. I am about to start a 2 month research at another university in astronomy. I have a 12 week experience in particle physics thought it was not great. My current supervisors said that they will write me solid LORs. Due to COVID my grades fell last year but I averaged about 90% this year. These are the universities I am thinking of applying to-

1. Princeton
2. Caltech
3. UCLA
4. UC Santa Cruz
5. Cornell
6. Columbia
7. NYU
8. Ohio
9. UBC
10. Toronto
11. Brown
12. Rice

Can you please give me some review on my selection. Thank you!

truthchannel
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2021 7:23 pm

Re: Please review my list

Post by truthchannel » Thu Nov 18, 2021 11:47 am

You have only a 3.7 GPA with mediocre research experience in astronomy
In addition, you got no publication, nor research connection/experience in the United States
And you are applying to places like Princeton, Caltech, Cornell, Columbia, Brown, Ohio States
I can only wish you good luck:wink:

neutrinos
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2021 12:52 am

Re: Please review my list

Post by neutrinos » Thu Nov 18, 2021 7:55 pm

I think your school list looks a little on the competitive end of things, especially since you are applying to 12 schools and it does not look like you have any safety schools. I would try to narrow down the very top schools to maybe 1-2 because even with the best application its a gamble.

You might have done this already, but I would make sure that for every school on this list you have at least two professors you would like to work with, especially since astrophysics is generally a smaller department and you don't want to end up with an advisor you hate. You might be able to narrow down your school list a bit with this exercise as well.

I would also look into University of Arizona and University of Texas - Austin which might be slighlty less competitive, but are both great schools for astrophysics.

Also don't worry about not having a ton of research experience in the field you want to go into. It can be helpful, but as long as you talk about the skills you learned in your other research experience and can apply them to your field of interest you should be fine.

truthchannel
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2021 7:23 pm

Re: Please review my list

Post by truthchannel » Thu Nov 18, 2021 9:59 pm

You know someone is totally ***-talking if they tell you the University of Arizona and Texas are LESS COMPETITIVE.
Well, if you still would like to believe these words, good luck wasting your application fee :lol:

geekusprimus
Posts: 119
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:10 pm

Re: Please review my list

Post by geekusprimus » Thu Nov 18, 2021 10:33 pm

truthchannel wrote:
Thu Nov 18, 2021 9:59 pm
You know someone is totally ****-talking if they tell you the University of Arizona and Texas are LESS COMPETITIVE.
Well, if you still would like to believe these words, good luck wasting your application fee :lol:
Compared to Princeton and Columbia? Oh, yeah, they're way less competitive. When I was looking into schools a couple years ago, UT's average acceptance rate was in the neighborhood of 20% or so. A quick search says 2020's rate was about 25%. Arizona is similar, floating in the 20-25% range. They're not what I would call safety institutions (and the numbers are specifically for their physics programs, so the astronomy numbers may be somewhat different), but they're not lost causes, either.

If you want something closer to safety schools with good astronomy and astrophysics programs, most large schools in the American southwest are usually a good bet. New Mexico, New Mexico State, and Arizona State all have quality physics and astronomy programs, partially because they're in the middle of the desert and are great for observational astronomy. More generally speaking, most public schools in the US with really large programs still tend to be very good, but because they have more spots available they won't be as competitive. Some lower-tier programs which may still be of interest to the right crowd include the Rochester Institute of Technology (mainly if you're interested in computational astrophysics), the University of Utah, and Texas A&M.

starship_neutrino
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Dec 11, 2020 9:41 am

Re: Please review my list

Post by starship_neutrino » Fri Nov 19, 2021 8:46 am

neutrinos wrote:
Thu Nov 18, 2021 7:55 pm
I think your school list looks a little on the competitive end of things, especially since you are applying to 12 schools and it does not look like you have any safety schools. I would try to narrow down the very top schools to maybe 1-2 because even with the best application its a gamble.

You might have done this already, but I would make sure that for every school on this list you have at least two professors you would like to work with, especially since astrophysics is generally a smaller department and you don't want to end up with an advisor you hate. You might be able to narrow down your school list a bit with this exercise as well.

I would also look into University of Arizona and University of Texas - Austin which might be slighlty less competitive, but are both great schools for astrophysics.

Also don't worry about not having a ton of research experience in the field you want to go into. It can be helpful, but as long as you talk about the skills you learned in your other research experience and can apply them to your field of interest you should be fine.
Thanks for the reply! Should I narrow down from 12 very top schools to 1-2? Or do I stand a chance at any of them?

neutrinos
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2021 12:52 am

Re: Please review my list

Post by neutrinos » Fri Nov 19, 2021 11:27 pm

It still might be difficult for you to get into the very top schools (Princeton, Columbia, Cornell, Caltech), even for those with a higher GPA it would still be a gamble. Usually at those schools its less about if you're qualified and more if you're someone that they need that year. Those types of schools I would narrow down to 1-2.

Then do 4-6 of slightly less competitive, but still good schools. I would include schools like UCLA, Ohio, Rice, Toronto, U of Arizona, UT-Austin, etc. This would still be competitive, but you're more likely to have a shot at these schools.

Then I agree with greekusprimus in terms of recommendations for some match and safety schools. Personally, my safety schools were the University of Tennessee and the University of South Carolina.

I will give the caveat that I applied specifically for physics programs (I do particle astrophysics), so astrophysics or astronomy programs may differ slightly. Twelve schools is also on the higher side of the number to apply to if money is an issue. I get it (I applied to 14 lol) but looking back I probably could have saved a bit of money.

starship_neutrino
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Dec 11, 2020 9:41 am

Re: Please review my list

Post by starship_neutrino » Sat Nov 20, 2021 2:13 am

neutrinos wrote:
Fri Nov 19, 2021 11:27 pm
It still might be difficult for you to get into the very top schools (Princeton, Columbia, Cornell, Caltech), even for those with a higher GPA it would still be a gamble. Usually at those schools its less about if you're qualified and more if you're someone that they need that year. Those types of schools I would narrow down to 1-2.

Then do 4-6 of slightly less competitive, but still good schools. I would include schools like UCLA, Ohio, Rice, Toronto, U of Arizona, UT-Austin, etc. This would still be competitive, but you're more likely to have a shot at these schools.

Then I agree with greekusprimus in terms of recommendations for some match and safety schools. Personally, my safety schools were the University of Tennessee and the University of South Carolina.

I will give the caveat that I applied specifically for physics programs (I do particle astrophysics), so astrophysics or astronomy programs may differ slightly. Twelve schools is also on the higher side of the number to apply to if money is an issue. I get it (I applied to 14 lol) but looking back I probably could have saved a bit of money.
Thanks so much Neutrinos for your advice! I am worried about getting in, so I was actually thinking of applying to about 20 places.

geekusprimus
Posts: 119
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:10 pm

Re: Please review my list

Post by geekusprimus » Sat Nov 20, 2021 11:01 am

That's a lot of applications. Not only is that really expensive, but it's a lot of work. Your statements of purpose will all be broadly similar for every school you apply to, but the slight differences in what the school wants from you and who you intend to work with all add up to a ton of work.



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