Prospective students: please read this instead of truthchannel's comments

  • This has become our largest and most active forum because the physics GRE is just one aspect of getting accepted into a graduate physics program.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

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geekusprimus
Posts: 140
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:10 pm

Prospective students: please read this instead of truthchannel's comments

Post by geekusprimus » Mon Dec 13, 2021 7:01 pm

Seeing as the aforementioned individual posts exclusively on here, I thought this would be the most appropriate place for this. Seeing as truthchannel is also entitled to his/her own opinion and hasn't technically violated any rules, I also thought this would be more appropriate than simply reporting him/her. Finally, seeing as there are only a few of us who frequent this forum to provide advice, I thought this would be more effective than attempting to reply to every single one of his/her blatantly false and overly negative posts.

The admissions process is a complicated process. You can go back throughout all the years of this forum and see that there are plenty of people with excellent profiles who don't get in anywhere. Similarly, there are people who have fairly apparently substandard profiles who get into some fantastic schools. The only general rules are as follows:
  • More is (usually) better. More research, more grad courses, more service activities, etc. That being said, there are plenty of students getting into great schools whose only undergraduate research experience was a summer REU or a couple semesters of unpaid research a few times a week.
  • Grades do matter, but they're still a single data point. You can have something below a 3.9 and still be competitive for all but the most prestigious schools (and your shots aren't blown there, either). Below a 3.5, you probably won't be competing for top-tier programs, but you can still get into some good schools.
  • The PGRE is mattering less and less as time goes on. Between COVID changing the availability of the GRE and PGRE and research showing that the PGRE is a rather poor indicator of graduate school performance, more schools are placing a lower emphasis (sometimes dropping them altogether) on PGRE scores. Obviously a good score is still important for places that want it, but there are plenty of excellent schools that don't even want to see your scores.
  • You do not need published papers to get into grad school. Most undergraduates, particularly those doing theoretical research, don't have enough time or make enough contributions to land on big papers. Those that do are rarely lead authors.
  • Your letters of recommendation do matter. Try to do good work and build good relationships with people who can attest to your ability as a researcher.
  • Your personal statement/statement of purpose matters. This is the one thing that you can control this late in the admissions process, so take the time to make it good.
There's no reason to panic if your profile is below average in one or two areas, especially if you're well above average in others. It's also very possible to transition from another field (i.e., engineering, math, etc.) to physics as long as you're willing to put in the extra work to prepare. Be realistic about your odds, talk with your current professors and prospective PIs at schools you're interested in, cast a broad net, and apply away. It's not life or death; the worst that can happen is you just don't get in.

If any moderators left on this place see fit to remove this and/or ban truthchannel, so be it.
Last edited by geekusprimus on Tue Dec 14, 2021 12:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

occamsshaver12
Posts: 29
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2020 6:52 pm

Re: Prospective students: please read this instead of truthchannel's comments

Post by occamsshaver12 » Mon Dec 13, 2021 7:48 pm

Thanks for posting this! I feel bad for the students applying this year and are going through this site for help, but end up reading half truths posted as absolutes. To anyone who is applying and is reading this, yes, if you have a weakness in your profile it is relatively harder to get admitted, but you obviously know that and have decided to seek help from people who have gone through the same thing and have succeeded. There is no need for people to point out your weakness all the time. So keep doing what you are doing, be realistic with a little bit of optimism but keep yourself detached from the outcome. If you get in, good! If you don't, you will try again or figure something out. But please don't let anyone tell you are not worthy enough of even trying.

idkwhatimdoing
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Dec 10, 2021 11:29 pm

Re: Prospective students: please read this instead of truthchannel's comments

Post by idkwhatimdoing » Mon Dec 13, 2021 9:06 pm

Thank you for posting this! They commented on one of my posts and were super negative, their comment almost sent me into a panic attack. Luckily I had the thought to check out their other comments and figured out pretty quickly that they were trolling and commenting negative things on a bunch of different posts. I'm happy to see that most users actually care about providing constructive advice, and it looked like they may have been banned or something because their comments are gone.

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

Re: Prospective students: please read this instead of truthchannel's comments

Post by gaugeinvariance » Mon Dec 13, 2021 9:54 pm

geekusprimus wrote:
Mon Dec 13, 2021 7:01 pm
Seeing as the aforementioned individual posts exclusively on here, I thought this would be the most appropriate place for this. Seeing as truthchannel is also entitled to his/her own opinion and hasn't technically violated any rules, I also thought this would be more appropriate than simply reporting him/her. Finally, seeing as there are only a few of us who frequent this forum to provide advice, I thought this would be more effective than attempting to reply to every single one of his/her blatantly false and overly negative posts.

The admissions process is a complicated process. You can go back throughout all the years of this forum and see that there are plenty of people with excellent profiles who don't get in anywhere. Similarly, there are people who have fairly apparently substandard profiles who find get into some fantastic schools. The only general rules are as follows:
  • More is (usually) better. More research, more grad courses, more service activities, etc. That being said, there are plenty of students getting into great schools whose only undergraduate research experience was a summer REU or a couple semesters of unpaid research a few times a week.
  • Grades do matter, but they're still a single data point. You can have something below a 3.9 and still be competitive for all but the most prestigious schools (and your shots are blown there, either). Below a 3.5, you probably won't be competing for top-tier programs, but you can still get into some good schools.
  • The PGRE is mattering less and less as time goes on. Between COVID changing the availability of the GRE and PGRE and research showing that the PGRE is a rather poor indicator of graduate school performance, more schools are placing a lower emphasis (sometimes dropping them altogether) on PGRE scores. Obviously a good score is still important for places that want it, but there are plenty of excellent schools that don't even want to see your scores.
  • You do not need published papers to get into grad school. Most undergraduates, particularly those doing theoretical research, don't have enough time or make enough contributions to land on big papers. Those that do are rarely lead authors.
  • Your letters of recommendation do matter. Try to do good work and build good relationships with people who can attest to your ability as a researcher.
  • Your personal statement/statement of purpose matters. This is the one thing that you can control this late in the admissions process, so take the time to make it good.
There's no reason to panic if your profile is below average in one or two areas, especially if you're well above average in others. It's also very possible to transition from another field (i.e., engineering, math, etc.) to physics as long as you're willing to put in the extra work to prepare. Be realistic about your odds, talk with your current professors and prospective PIs at schools you're interested in, cast a broad net, and apply away. It's not life or death; the worst that can happen is you just don't get in.

If any moderators left on this place see fit to remove this and/or ban truthchannel, so be it.
Finally, an encouraging post! I was so panic when reading his/her comments.

I would like to ask one question though
When you said grades matter, do you mean the overall grades or only major gpa?

P.S. I know plenty of students with major gpa less than 3.9 getting into the most prestigious school

occamsshaver12
Posts: 29
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2020 6:52 pm

Re: Prospective students: please read this instead of truthchannel's comments

Post by occamsshaver12 » Mon Dec 13, 2021 9:55 pm

idkwhatimdoing wrote:
Mon Dec 13, 2021 9:06 pm
Thank you for posting this! They commented on one of my posts and were super negative, their comment almost sent me into a panic attack. Luckily I had the thought to check out their other comments and figured out pretty quickly that they were trolling and commenting negative things on a bunch of different posts. I'm happy to see that most users actually care about providing constructive advice, and it looked like they may have been banned or something because their comments are gone.
Not OP, I am so sorry that happened to you. I know how emotionally exhausting this process is, just a year back I was in your place. It is a difficult process and there are always people like this person making unnecessary comments. I am glad that you didn’t let it effect you. All the best with your applications!

geekusprimus
Posts: 140
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:10 pm

Re: Prospective students: please read this instead of truthchannel's comments

Post by geekusprimus » Tue Dec 14, 2021 12:38 am

When you said grades matter, do you mean the overall grades or only major gpa?
Depends on the school. Typically a program cares more about your major GPA, but it will depend on a lot of factors.

revelent
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2021 11:58 pm

Re: Prospective students: please read this instead of truthchannel's comments

Post by revelent » Tue Dec 14, 2021 7:55 pm

Thank you so much for this



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