HELP!!! What can I do now? Applying for European programs?

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Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 12:45 am

HELP!!! What can I do now? Applying for European programs?

Post by ivorchen » Fri Feb 10, 2017 9:19 pm

Hi everyone, application season is practically over for me. I'm looking for remaining options. Any ideas are very welcome. I will put my personal profile below. Please help me. Thanks a lot!!!

Personal Profile

Undergrad Institution: Berkeley
Major(s): Math (So far I've finished 20 math classes and 20 physics classes; I'm not a physics major because I didn't do experiment class.)
GPA in Major: 4.00
Overall GPA: 3.95
Length of Degree: (Are you graduating after 3, 4, or 5 years?): 4 years
Position in Class: (No numbers needed, but are you top? near top? average? struggling?): Top (Judging from Dean's list)
Type of Student: (Domestic/International, male/female, minority?) Chinese

GRE Scores : (revised or old version?) Revised
Q: 170
V: 165
W: 5.0
P: 990

TOEFL Total: (if applicable, otherwise delete this)

Research Experience: (At your school or elsewhere? What field? How much time? Any publications (Mth author out of N?) or conference talks etc...) Polarbear experiment on gravitational wave (this is a lesser known gravitational wave experiment, looking for B mode.). Perimeter Institute summer research: Topological phases; Reading program with math professor in Riemann surfaces; Reading program with math professor in 2D topological field theory and Frobenius algebras. Currently working with my supervisor at Perimeter Institute on some string theory stuff (well, still learning about string theory)

No REUs, since a lot of those require Green card with I don't have.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: (Within your school or outside?) Dean's list

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: (Such as tutor, TA, SPS officer etc...) Grader for two math classes: differential topology and complex analysis

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points: (Such as connections, grad classes, famous recommenders, female or minority status etc...) O(20) grad classes, half of which in math; half of which in physics. Math training focused on geometry (differential topology, algebraic topology, algebraic geometry, Riemannian geometry, complex geometry, symplectic geometry, dynamical system: I've taken classes in all of the above areas with A and A+).
The letter from my supervisor at Perimeter should be good, although he's just a postdoc researcher.

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: My proposed research direction is to study geometric aspects of entanglement entropy, mainly inspired by "It for Qubit" conference, which was held during my stay at Perimeter. I'm very interested in AdS/CFT correspondence, which via ryu-takayanagi formula gives a holographic derivation of entanglement entropy. I talked about this in my essay.

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Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:06 pm

Re: HELP!!! What can I do now? Applying for European programs?

Post by physicsf » Sat Feb 11, 2017 12:56 am

It is very difficult for international students to get into physics phd programs these years... There is some master programs in the US with "rolling admission" you might want to consider. There should be a list of these schools in a thread...

Your gre and grades are really impressive. I think the relative "weakness" of your profile is that you are not a physics major. Is that possible to stay in Berkeley for another semester or a year to finish those lab classes? A physics BS might help you in grad school admission.

If you are planning to apply again next year but graduating now, another thing you might consider is to apply for OPT (Optional Practical Training) before you graduate. Then you can legally work in the US for up to 3 years. You can find research related positions and build a stronger research profile. You mentioned one of your rec letter from a postdoc at Perimeter. Some discussion in the forum concludes that the letter from postdocs or doctoral students are usually not as effective as a letter from a PI.

I think people might be able to give you better advice if you can share more about your circumstances. Are you planning to apply to physics next year? Which schools did you apply to this year?

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Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 10:39 am

Re: HELP!!! What can I do now? Applying for European programs?

Post by gendf » Sun Feb 12, 2017 12:57 am


There are some Canadian schools which still accept applications. In particular, I am pretty sure about U Alberta (you will compete in the second and subsequent rounds), McMaster (formal deadline for international students is 6th February, but it seems just to secure funding), U Waterloo.

It seems that you aimed only for top schools, and your profile looks very strong. In my humble opinion, there is nothing bad if you take a year off and try one more time. However, I can not judge about advantages being at top school vs not being at top school (other schools).

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Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2017 4:58 pm

Re: HELP!!! What can I do now? Applying for European programs?

Post by hzzz » Sun Feb 12, 2017 1:33 pm

Your profile looks good. Would you like to share with us which schools you have applied?

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Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 12:45 am

Re: HELP!!! What can I do now? Applying for European programs?

Post by ivorchen » Sun Feb 12, 2017 4:17 pm

Thanks for the reply. Here's more information.

The schools I applied: Rejected: UMichigan, Stanford, MIT
Almost Rejected: Harvard, Princeton (No official letters yet, but since they've already sent out acceptance, I think it's only a matter of time before I got rejected.)
I haven't heard anything: Berkeley, Chicago, Cornell, UCSB

Now you might think I shouldn't panic since there're schools that haven't made up decisions yet, but judging from current situations, I think it's better for me to get prepared for the worst.

Thanks again for the help.

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