Am I Wasting My Time?

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Am I Wasting My Time?

Post by Elephants » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:17 pm

Dear Forum,

I am currently a 4th year undergraduate at UCLA with a GPA of 3.05. I recently changed my major from Biochemistry to Biophysics. My goal is to apply for a PhD program either in Physics or Astrophysics, preferably astro. I was premed but I fell in love with physics and astronomy, and switched majors at the end of my 3rd year. I wanted to change my major to astrophysics but the physics department here would not let me because they said I would surpass the unit cap. The physics coordinator then told me that I could switch to Biophysics but that I had less of a chance of getting into a physics/astro PhD program over someone who actually majored in physics or astrophysics. I told her I would do it anyway because it was something I really wanted to study. So here is my dilemma, my gpa is obviously on the lower end. This is due to a C average in the math classes I have taken. I understand that physics is completely based on math but for some reason I really hate taking math courses and I can't do well in them. That being said I have a 3.7 GPA if you look at my physics classes only. For some reason I can teach myself the math when I'm applying it to physics. I am currently studying for the physics GRE which I will take this summer, and I have no letters of recommendation as of yet. I am going to start research this quarter so I will have a year and a half of research because I'm going to graduate in the spring of 2011. I also did a summer of research in the department of medicine at UCI. I would really love to go to school somewhere in California but I know the UC's here are very competitive. So my question is, how good of chance do I have in getting into a PhD program at one of the Universities of California (Berkeley, UCLA, UCI, UCSD, etc.)? Did any of you currently in a graduate school have similar grades in your undergraduate? Say if I score a little above the average on the PGRE, and my overall GPA is 3.1, majoring in Biophysics with a year and a half of research, and keeping in mind my C average in math, will I be able to get into a UC PhD program? Or what would my options be because I really want to stick with this.

Thanks so much.

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Re: Am I Wasting My Time?

Post by grae313 » Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:09 am

I don't think you're wasting your time. Your physics gpa is good, and if you get some good research and letters I think you'll be fine for at least the lower end UCs.

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Re: Am I Wasting My Time?

Post by mobytish » Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:40 am

Given your lower GPA and the fact that your major is only semi-related to your field-of-interest, I'd say you need a bit more than "slightly above average" on the PGRE. Berkeley seems highly competitive, so I'm not sure about your chances there. The fact that you have research experience at all, even though it's not Physics, will definitely help, though. See if you can get a little bit of experience in something astro related. Maybe you can convince a professor to let you help in their lab or something.

Keep in mind that there are plenty of good programs out there; as long as you have a few back-up schools, you should do fine.

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