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Any advice on safeties?

Posted: Mon Sep 08, 2014 12:18 am
by Macch
Hello everyone,

Based on my profile, do you guys have any advices on what schools I should apply to as safeties? I was thinking about applying to 2 or 3 of them.

Undergrad Institution: Big public school, one of the best known in my country
Major(s): Nanotechnology/Physics (though officially only nanotechnology, I have taken basically all of the courses required for a physics degree, plus a lot of chemistry, biology and materials science)
Minor(s): No minors in my country
GPA in Major: 7.8/10 (don't know how to 'translate' to 4.0 scale, but it's a pretty good grade here)
Overall undergraduate GPA: 7.8/10
Length of Degree: 4 years
Position in Class: Top (one of only three out of 30 on my major that graduated on time, best grade out of the 3)
Type of Student: International (south america)

Q: 166
V: 159
W: 4.0
P: Will take by the end of this month, but I expect a reasonably high score (900+), which is what I have been getting at my practice tests

TOEFL Total: 110

Research Experience: - 3 years theoretical condensed matter/statistical mechanics, transport theory etc. Article published in PRE, another one in preparation and several oral presentations in some conferences in my country (nothing very big though), and a lot of oral presentation in research group meetings.
- One semester in a biology lab, doing experimental work on nanocapsules of ascorbic acid. (my degree required this, but it was actually fun)
- One semester quantum chemistry/molecular physics, calculating energy levels and electronic structure of simple molecules (H2+, H2, benzene, etc)
- One semester materials science/experimental condensed matter doing synthesis and caracterization of high Tc superconductors

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Scholarship since my 2nd semester of research on theoretical condensed matter. Some prizes for best presentation/work in some conferences.

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Helped organizing some events in my university

Special Bonus Points: - Taking grad courses on QFT, solid state theory and differential geometry (in the mathematics department), recommenders know me very well and have connections at the schools I'm applying to.
- Know a lot of programming (does this even count?). Had to use extensive computational tools in my research, including using clusters to run simulations.

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: Had a bad grade in Quantum Mechanics 2 due to personal problems (death in the family near test date). Even though I didn't fail the class, it was close (one of the reasons I'm taking QFT is to show that even though I did bad in QM2 I got to recover from this). One terrible grade (5/10) in a materials science course because the teacher gave up on the class by the end of the semester and gave everyone this grade, although she only emailed us to inform this 4 months later (, I know).

Schools I've already decided to apply (theoretical condensed matter/statistical mechanics):

UC Berkeley
U of Maryland, College Park
Johns Hopkins
U of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Thanks everyone for the help :)

Re: Any advice on safeties?

Posted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 11:39 pm
by Macch
Decided to also apply to Boston U and U of Chicago (not a safetybut turned out I had overlooked their research and It's pretty interesting lol). Maybe I'll still throw in another safety until December. :)