Low GPA, dual degree in Computational Neuro and Physics, chances of getting a good grad school?

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Ds1998
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:33 am

Low GPA, dual degree in Computational Neuro and Physics, chances of getting a good grad school?

Post by Ds1998 » Thu Sep 19, 2019 2:06 pm

Hi,

I am pursuing a dual degree in Physics and Computational Neuroscience. I have a cumulative GPA of 2.62 and in major physics 3.23.
I am in my senior year and I am taking my core physics classes this year and will be staying an extra semester.

I plan to get in the industry and work in data science for now. I want to be able to earn some money and take off the pressure from my parents.

I have done a good amount of bio-physics research over the course of three years. One paper is in review and I am working on another paper as a first author. So I am hoping to get a recommendation letter.

I have been an SPS officer for two years. I have also done a few internships here and there over the course of my studies.

I am really passionate about physics and I want to do some research that integrates neuroscience and physics later on.
I am trying my level best to work hard my senior year and raise my gpa as much as I can. I will give my gre after I finish my undergraduate and try to score very well.

I have also taken up a research project on my own with my CS peers which is machine learning based and we are in the process of developing a website and mobile application that helps in analyzing dream data.

I am an international student so it has been hard for me to be able to pay tuition here in the United States, so I have tried to do part-time jobs here and there to be able to pay my rent and food necessities. I think mostly my freshmen and sophomore grades have been terrible which decreased my overall gpa.

I am unsure how to work on my gpa since the max I can it up to is 3.0 and that is if I get all straight As and B+s here and there.

If I apply to a masters program (something computational biophysics related) will my work experience be given more importance than my low undergrad gpa? Or do you think I should apply for grad school straight after college?
I am planning to email professors in the schools that I would apply to for grad school talk about their research and let them know that I would like to work with them.

I have been really stressed about this and have been trying to talk to professors and peers to help me out of this. I am trying to see what I can do to get into a good grad program and I would appreciate any advice regarding what I can do now or later to do so.
I would be happy to answer any questions you may have for me.


Thanks in advance.

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Nishikata
Posts: 140
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2018 6:37 am

Re: Low GPA, dual degree in Computational Neuro and Physics, chances of getting a good grad school?

Post by Nishikata » Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:32 am

I don’t understand...
I plan to get in the industry and work in data science for now. I want to be able to earn some money and take off the pressure from my parents.
I am really passionate about physics and I want to do some research that integrates neuroscience and physics later on.
So you want to work first or go to grad school first?

Graduate school stipend will not be much, but enough to take you out of your parents’ expense list. Is that okay?

Work in the industry and you’ll earn more to be able to support your parents, but your qualifications and achievements will devalue over time. The grad school options aren’t getting better the longer you are away from school.

(Maybe they might be in the field like public policy, but in physics... rarely)

If your current institution is good enough, maybe talk to your professors if they have an opening. Talk directly, emails are not very effective for stress relief.

TakeruK
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Low GPA, dual degree in Computational Neuro and Physics, chances of getting a good grad school?

Post by TakeruK » Fri Sep 20, 2019 3:13 pm

I have a few questions for you:

1. Why do you want a graduate degree? It sounds like you are talking about a PhD in physics eventually. So, what are your career plans after your PhD? And 3-5 years after that PhD?

I ask this because I think it's really important to be realistic about your long term career goals and whether the work (time, energy, opportunity costs) invested in a graduate program will actually help you improve your chances of achieving your goals.

2. Do you have student debt from your undergraduate degree? What is motivating the reason for the industry/data science route?

Something I didn't learn until late in undergrad is that graduate school (at least American PhD programs and most Masters and above programs in Canada) are fully funded. You don't pay any tuition and you also get a stipend for your living expenses. It's not much but it should be enough for you to not have to rely on loans or other people to pay for you to survive (some places have very low stipends for the cost of living....I'd say to avoid those!). So if you don't have any debt, have no interest in industry/data science and didn't know about funding in graduate programs, I would say there's no reason to automatically think you need to earn money first.

3. Do you have any interest in industry/data science positions?

If you are interested in a career path that doesn't involve a PhD program, then this sounds like an excellent time to try something else out first. Sometimes people burn out from academia and taking a break between undergrad and graduate school is a great idea. It sometimes makes people realise what they miss about the academic environment and helps them through the tougher times that grad school will bring. Sometimes people find that they really love their life in industry and no longer have a need to do a PhD at all.


Overall, I also want to point out that if your main concern from your undergrad is your GPA, then more time between your undergrad and your grad school applications is going to help. At the grad school admissions stage, they are looking for people who can show that they are able to complete the PhD program requirements as well as the potential to really thrive and do great research in their department. For an "inexperienced" applicant right out of their undergrad program, what that applicant did in school matters most because it's the most recent and the only relevant experience they have. However, if you are applying a few years later, your undergrad profile doesn't matter as much as you have developed and grown as a person since then. Your task/goal, if you choose to wait a few years for grad school, is to show the graduate program that you have grown and developed in the ways they are looking for!

Ds1998
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:33 am

Re: Low GPA, dual degree in Computational Neuro and Physics, chances of getting a good grad school?

Post by Ds1998 » Sun Oct 06, 2019 5:18 pm

Thank you so much for your responses.
Yes, I am thinking of going for PhD program in the long run. My ultimate goal is to do research preferably at a corporate level. I want to start my own firm to do so, but that's something for later on. I also do have a lot of student debt and that is my main motivation to go into the industry.

I am just a bit confused with the conflicting opinions on whether or not spending time in the industry would help my physics graduate school pursuit.

It makes sense to believe that my undergraduate performance wouldn't matter as much then, but unless I have job experience in physics, how would computer science related stuff help my physics grad application?
So should I focus on getting a job that is purely physics-related (which don't exist unless it's teaching?), or pursuing data science (which would help me in my research later on) seems like an equally good option.

Thank you once again for your help.



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