Have I already screwed myself in my junior year?

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madeamistake
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2021 3:48 pm

Have I already screwed myself in my junior year?

Post by madeamistake » Mon Nov 29, 2021 4:10 pm

I currently attend a very large state school which is one of the best physics schools in the state, and I'd say ~top 50 in the USA, and I am working towards an honors bachelors of science in physics. I am in my 5th semester, which at my university means E/M I, CM I, Math Methods II, as my core classes.
My current predicament is I will very likely be getting C's in both E/M I and Math Methods II. Basically, I did so poorly on the first exams in both of the classes that I couldn't possibly get an A, and despite performing at or above average on all other exams/assignments, a C will almost definitely be the best that I can manage. I know how much upper-level classes matter in applications, so have I basically screwed myself? I know it may be unlikely, but let's say I was able to pull an A in E/M II next semester, as well as achieving A's in all my other courses which honestly seems likely, will that be enough to make up for the C?
With my projected grades for this semester, I am looking at a cGPA 3.53 and a mGPA of 3.51, which can increase to a max of 3.68 and 3.74 respectively. Next year I plan to complete my undergrad thesis as well. I have been doing research for 3 semesters, a winter, and a summer (and will continue through graduation meaning 6 semesters, 3 winters, and 2 summers), I've given one presentation at an APS conference, listed as an author on 3 papers, and I am confident I could get a great rec letter from my research advisor who is a well-known and respected member of his sub-field.
I am cognizant of the fact that I am already eliminated from the top-tier PhD programs in the US, but how about second tier?

gaugeinvariance
Posts: 58
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2020 6:33 am

Re: Have I already screwed myself in my junior year?

Post by gaugeinvariance » Mon Nov 29, 2021 4:40 pm

madeamistake wrote:
Mon Nov 29, 2021 4:10 pm
I currently attend a very large state school which is one of the best physics schools in the state, and I'd say ~top 50 in the USA, and I am working towards an honors bachelors of science in physics. I am in my 5th semester, which at my university means E/M I, CM I, Math Methods II, as my core classes.
My current predicament is I will very likely be getting C's in both E/M I and Math Methods II. Basically, I did so poorly on the first exams in both of the classes that I couldn't possibly get an A, and despite performing at or above average on all other exams/assignments, a C will almost definitely be the best that I can manage. I know how much upper-level classes matter in applications, so have I basically screwed myself? I know it may be unlikely, but let's say I was able to pull an A in E/M II next semester, as well as achieving A's in all my other courses which honestly seems likely, will that be enough to make up for the C?
With my projected grades for this semester, I am looking at a cGPA 3.53 and a mGPA of 3.51, which can increase to a max of 3.68 and 3.74 respectively. Next year I plan to complete my undergrad thesis as well. I have been doing research for 3 semesters, a winter, and a summer (and will continue through graduation meaning 6 semesters, 3 winters, and 2 summers), I've given one presentation at an APS conference, listed as an author on 3 papers, and I am confident I could get a great rec letter from my research advisor who is a well-known and respected member of his sub-field.
I am cognizant of the fact that I am already eliminated from the top-tier PhD programs in the US, but how about second tier?
Your research experience looks quite good! And honestly speaking, your chance of getting into top-tier programme is not really dead yet! I know someone with a mgpa of < 3.7 getting into CALTECH.

neutrinos
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2021 12:52 am

Re: Have I already screwed myself in my junior year?

Post by neutrinos » Mon Nov 29, 2021 6:09 pm

A lot of schools look at the trend of your GPA, not just the number, so if you are able to improve your grades in the second semester of these courses, it will look better to application committees. Having a C on your transcript is a red flag for admissions committees, but if it is just an off semester, then I wouldn't count yourself out.

The very top ranking schools are a gamble to get in even with a perfect GPA, so while I wouldn't totally count yourself out, your GPA does put you at a disadvantage in an already competitive applicant pool. If there were extenuating circumstances (a death in the family, health issues, etc.) that affected your studies, briefly mention that in your statement of purpose. With that being said, your research experience looks good and you should be able to get into a perfectly good program.

I would also talk to your professors if the poor grades were on your first exams and there has been an upward trend. In my undergrad, I had a few professors who would weight the final more heavily if students asked, because it would more accurately show what they learned in the course.



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