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Need advice for current profile

Posted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:31 pm
by DesperatePhysicist1
Hi, I am currently freaking out about my current stats and I don't know what my best route is. Can someone please help me?
I really want to get a PhD in Theoretical Physics, however, I was stupid and "lived in the moment" during college. And I'm totally regretting that.
Below are my stats:

Undergrad Institution: UC school ranked top 10 graduate physics programs
Major(s): Physics
GPA in Major: 3.0
Overall GPA: 3.15
Length of Degree: Graduated quarter early
Position in Class: No clue
Type of Student: Domestic, male, asian

GRE Scores : haven't taken yet
but I did take one practice test w/o prep for the PGRE and got a ~780

Research Experience:
School's Experimental Cosmology Lab for 0.5 yr (worked online with a Duke professor but didn't know him well)
National Lab research for explosives physics for 1 yr (3.5 mo full time, rest part time during school)

Special Bonus Points:
Taken entire graduate General Relativity Course set (First course for a grade, other 2 audited but still did hw and took exams). It is safe to say that I am proficient in GR at a Graduate level.
May have two famous references but their letters of rec will most likely be lukewarm, since they only know me as a student (from office hours and class).

Topics of Research That I hope to Study in the Future:
Holography, ads/cft, Blackholes and Entanglement Entropy, semi-classical approach to quantum gravity from ads/cft., H.E.P.T.

My stats aren't impressive and with my bare minimum GPA I'm starting to freak out about my future. My research has nothing to do with my intended field. From a competitive stance, it looks like a lot of other students out shine me. But I really do love physics. I love it to the point where I just watch graduate lectures (like the ones from the Institute for Advanced Studies) for fun. And it's the only job that I can see myself doing. I don't know how I can possibly get into any decent graduate school. Does anyone have any advice on how I should proceed?

Re: Need advice for current profile

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:40 am
by Nishikata
Do not regret “ living the moment”. Many grad students regret not living the moment when they had the chance.

When you are in doubt, ask for consultation with professors in your university. Find out what they’re looking for in grad students, and see where you can fit in. It is not always about GPA.

Plus, maybe polish your case a little bit. Being interested in theory needs more than just being interested in listening to advanced theory lectures. It is the process in carving the new theories, finding the flaws and perfecting them that matter. There are topics that i can stand listening for hours, but not in actually doing the work behind it.

What’s done is done. Your GPA stays with you. Your best chance, is perhaps getting a position in your current school. You have the advantage of being already in there, and thus you can start consulting professors in your school that you’re interested to work with.

Re: Need advice for current profile

Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:48 am
by rhmancil
There are a lot of people in the world who know enough about general relativity (GR). It is not impressive that you know GR. Also, there are a lot of people who take graduante courses when they are in undergraduate and get a great scores. Honestly, your GPA harm a lot your possibility. I mean there is direct relation between love for physics and your GPA, although there are always exception.

First step, you have to reach a physics gre over 900 or 950.
Second step, one of the most important thing for you is your personal statement or/and purposes statement. You have to give very good reasons to justify your poor GPA.
Third, perhaps even more important than the previous point, you have to show that you have enough academic skills in order to enter a graduate school. I mean, if I see someone with a bad GPA, I have two prejudice, one this guys is a bad physicist and two this guy does not have the right mindset or the necessary emotional stability to get a Phd. And in general, one or two of these prejudice are true.

Perhaps looking for an opportunity in your own university is a great idea. Quantum gravity is the most difficult area in order to obtain fund to study. You should consider to be more realistic with your chances and looking for another area with more fund considering your situation. Another great options is doing a master degree. Here you can get a normal score among the people who want to study quantum gravity, it means near 3.9 .