2011 Rejections

  • 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.

badphysicist
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by badphysicist » Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:14 pm

HappyQuark wrote:
badphysicist wrote:In response to an application inquiry.
Thank you for your interest in Graduate Studies at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UC Irvine. The admissions committee has reviewed all files and made offers of admission to 57 students with the goal to recruit a class of about 20-24 students. Unfortunately, you were not selected to be among this group. There are many possible reasons for this decision and we hope you understand that we cannot communicate to each student the particular reasons for our decision. Obviously, your academic record and letters of recommendation were very important to us. The accepted group had an average physics GRE at the 62% and an average undergraduate GPA of 3.7. We considered your chance of success in your area of interest; for example, students interested in particle or condensed matter theory are expected to have considerably better academic records to be admitted than the average scores. Likewise, students with an interest in experimental research should have demonstrated ability to work in a lab environment as evidenced through the letters of recommendation. We also considered how well your interests match with those of faculty in the department.
This letter should not be considered a formal rejection at this point, because it is still possible, though unlikely, that you may receive an offer of admission from us at a later stage. If an unexpectedly low number of students were to accept our offers, we would consider extending further offers at some point close to April 15.
If you have any special circumstances that require a more definite answer at this point, please contact our Chair of Admissions, Thorsten Ritz, tritz@uci.edu, directly.
Physics and Astronomy
I got that exact same email.
I'm still waiting on UCR to see what they have to say/offer. I'm likely to choose UCM either way.
Last edited by badphysicist on Thu Apr 14, 2011 2:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

CarlBrannen
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by CarlBrannen » Wed Mar 30, 2011 11:31 pm

U. Washington

P.S. Still doomed.

SPat
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by SPat » Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:49 pm

Columbia. meh.

hamadahoda007
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by hamadahoda007 » Fri Apr 01, 2011 3:40 pm

Perimeter Scholars International..

badphysicist
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Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2010 11:20 pm

Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by badphysicist » Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:55 pm

Does anyone else still see "Being Processed" for the status of their UC Riverside application? I emailed gophysicis@ucr.edu concerning it about a 10 days ago and still have yet to receive a reply.

bbsmitz
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by bbsmitz » Fri Apr 01, 2011 9:28 pm

SPat wrote:Columbia. meh.
Me too. This one hurts. :(

bfollinprm
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by bfollinprm » Tue Apr 05, 2011 4:13 am

NSF. Didn't get it, but GF did. Which is better b/c I was aleady funded, so very happy today.

t2kburl
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by t2kburl » Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:57 pm

NMT. Final score for me is 5 up and 7 down. Only one Physics acceptance. PGRE made sure of that.

swestrings
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by swestrings » Sat Apr 09, 2011 10:30 pm

Got rejected from

Harvard
Berkeley
Stony Brook
Univ. Pennsylvania
Columbia
MIT
Stanford
Chicago
Michigan, Ann Arbor
UC Santa Barbara
Princeton

Some of them hurt really bad, particularly Columbia, Stony Brook since they are not so good and I really don't know how they could reject me. Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara also, since I had particularly good applications there and also really, really wanted to go there. But all in all, what hurt the most was the total number of rejections. The feeling of rejection was not merely a sum of the individual rejections. I tried to reason with it a lot - I am an international student so they probably require a 900+ PGRE (a test I don't quite care for), but somehow it got to me and still gets to me.

Harvard, MIT and Princeton didn't hurt though - I think that even truly excellent people would get rejected from those places and it has a lot to do with capricious luck. But this is the first time I have ever felt (in academia) that circumstances and luck has worked against me... :cry:

Having Columbia and Stony say No was like getting rejected by a averagely-attractive woman - it hurts extra :(. I am, at 25, also a bit older than most US graduate applicants would be. All in all the outlook for 2012 is bleak - as I really can't see myself re-writing the PGRE!

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by WhoaNonstop » Sun Apr 10, 2011 2:33 am

swestrings wrote:Some of them hurt really bad, particularly Columbia, Stony Brook since they are not so good
Since when is Columbia not a good school in physics? Even Stony Brook. Although I don't consider Stony Brook to be as great as the other schools listed, it definitely isn't a bad school.

Personally, regardless of your age I think you should reapply, but this time you need to consider some lower ranked schools. It is very difficult to get into the schools listed as a domestic student, let alone an international student. Scan through some of the profiles here and you will see evidence of this.

-Riley

axiomofchoice
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by axiomofchoice » Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:54 pm

swestrings wrote:Some of them hurt really bad, particularly Columbia, Stony Brook since they are not so good and I really don't know how they could reject me.
(boldface added by me)

Hate to throw some cold water: there is absolutely no reason why you should feel entitled to an offer from any of the places you are rejected, including Columbia and Stony Brook, especially since you seem to be interested in doing string theory. I'm only randomly guessing, but I won't be surprised if your sense of entitlement (shall I say arrogance?), which probably showed up in your applications in obvious or subtle ways, contributes at least partly to some of your rejections.

A professor in hep-th typically have 2-3 students at any given time, which means even if a school have 3 professors doing string theory (a relatively large group already), they can't accept more than 1-2 students every year wanting to do string theory. To the first approximation, let's say all 11 schools you applied accept 2 people in string theory**. That's 2*11 = 22 people. I don't know how good you are, but it's likely not hard to find 22 people more qualified than you in one way or another***. Since you applied only to top places in string theory, you are directly competing against all those 22 people who are more qualified than you. Therefore you should feel lucky to get an offer, rather than blaming bad luck for not getting one. It's just simple math.

I agree with WhoaNonStop that you should definitely reapply and consider some lower ranked schools. Getting so many rejections suck, but if you can, get out of this whining mode as soon as possible. Spend some more time with PGRE preparation if getting into a top school is what you want, since this is perhaps the easiest part of your application you can improve.

** They will probably accept more to account for people declining the offer and possibly for people who eventually decided not to do string theory, but the assumption that all those accepted people are unique is obviously false since there are a few who are admitted to several places. So to the first approximation, these effects cancel each other.

*** You are also international. So an domestic student with identical qualifications will be more "qualified" than you for admission to an US grad school. Please don't bring up the argument of how disadvantaged you are as an international student... even if that's true, just accept that fact that the world is not fair inherently.

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by WhoaNonstop » Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:22 pm

axiomofchoice wrote:
swestrings wrote:Some of them hurt really bad, particularly Columbia, Stony Brook since they are not so good and I really don't know how they could reject me.
(boldface added by me)

Hate to throw some cold water: there is absolutely no reason why you should feel entitled to an offer from any of the places you are rejected, including Columbia and Stony Brook, especially since you seem to be interested in doing string theory. I'm only randomly guessing, but I won't be surprised if your sense of entitlement (shall I say arrogance?), which probably showed up in your applications in obvious or subtle ways, contributes at least partly to some of your rejections.

A professor in hep-th typically have 2-3 students at any given time, which means even if a school have 3 professors doing string theory (a relatively large group already), they can't accept more than 1-2 students every year wanting to do string theory. To the first approximation, let's say all 11 schools you applied accept 2 people in string theory**. That's 2*11 = 22 people. I don't know how good you are, but it's likely not hard to find 22 people more qualified than you in one way or another***. Since you applied only to top places in string theory, you are directly competing against all those 22 people who are more qualified than you. Therefore you should feel lucky to get an offer, rather than blaming bad luck for not getting one. It's just simple math.

I agree with WhoaNonStop that you should definitely reapply and consider some lower ranked schools. Getting so many rejections suck, but if you can, get out of this whining mode as soon as possible. Spend some more time with PGRE preparation if getting into a top school is what you want, since this is perhaps the easiest part of your application you can improve.

** They will probably accept more to account for people declining the offer and possibly for people who eventually decided not to do string theory, but the assumption that all those accepted people are unique is obviously false since there are a few who are admitted to several places. So to the first approximation, these effects cancel each other.

*** You are also international. So an domestic student with identical qualifications will be more "qualified" than you for admission to an US grad school. Please don't bring up the argument of how disadvantaged you are as an international student... even if that's true, just accept that fact that the world is not fair inherently.
This is exactly how I wanted to make my post. Regardless if you increase your PGRE and research, still limit yourself to only a few top programs and apply to lower schools, even those ranked between 50-100.

-Riley

swestrings
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by swestrings » Sun Apr 10, 2011 7:18 pm

WhoaNonstop wrote:[Since when is Columbia not a good school in physics? Even Stony Brook. Although I don't consider Stony Brook to be as great as the other schools listed, it definitely isn't a bad school.
Personally, regardless of your age I think you should reapply, but this time you need to consider some lower ranked schools. It is very difficult to get into the schools listed as a domestic student, let alone an international student. Scan through some of the profiles here and you will see evidence of this.

-Riley
What's "good" is relative, of course, I wouldn't mind attending either which is why I applied to both. However, I couldn't imagine going much lower than these. I was quite sure some of them would say yes, and going to Columbia would not feel so much as a losing-out-scenario. These schools are an entire tier lower than Princeton and Harvard, but I am sure that the quality of the education is still good, but the research that one will be capable of will suffer. I would most probably become a more renowned physicist working at Princeton than at Stony Brook.

I am considering re-applying, though I am sure age might work against me next time around.
axiomofchoice wrote:Hate to throw some cold water: there is absolutely no reason why you should feel entitled to an offer from any of the places you are rejected, including Columbia and Stony Brook, especially since you seem to be interested in doing string theory. I'm only randomly guessing, but I won't be surprised if your sense of entitlement (shall I say arrogance?), which probably showed up in your applications in obvious or subtle ways, contributes at least partly to some of your rejections.

A professor in hep-th typically have 2-3 students at any given time, which means even if a school have 3 professors doing string theory (a relatively large group already), they can't accept more than 1-2 students every year wanting to do string theory. To the first approximation, let's say all 11 schools you applied accept 2 people in string theory**. That's 2*11 = 22 people. I don't know how good you are, but it's likely not hard to find 22 people more qualified than you in one way or another***. Since you applied only to top places in string theory, you are directly competing against all those 22 people who are more qualified than you. Therefore you should feel lucky to get an offer, rather than blaming bad luck for not getting one. It's just simple math.

I agree with WhoaNonStop that you should definitely reapply and consider some lower ranked schools. Getting so many rejections suck, but if you can, get out of this whining mode as soon as possible. Spend some more time with PGRE preparation if getting into a top school is what you want, since this is perhaps the easiest part of your application you can improve.

** They will probably accept more to account for people declining the offer and possibly for people who eventually decided not to do string theory, but the assumption that all those accepted people are unique is obviously false since there are a few who are admitted to several places. So to the first approximation, these effects cancel each other.

*** You are also international. So an domestic student with identical qualifications will be more "qualified" than you for admission to an US grad school. Please don't bring up the argument of how disadvantaged you are as an international student... even if that's true, just accept that fact that the world is not fair inherently.
Lol, nonsense. Besides, my application was read by several people in preparation for sending them in. Its really silly to imply that an internet posting would have anything to do with the style or content of statements and application documents. Also, isn't "two new grad students doing string theory per year at a university" a bit little? I would imagine it is more like 3-5 for the good universities.

The problem with re-applying is that I would have to re-apply to pretty much the same schools, although I would also apply to Caltech next time around. The reason is simple: if it is going to be the US, then it has to be a good school. The number of good schools is pretty much fixed, there are 20-30 good universities in the US for theoretical physics, and THAT'S IT. There are simply too many 'state universities of nowhere' and thinking about the kind of money I would make in the private industry sector, doing research at, say, a top 60 but not top 40 university would simply be a waste of time. Personally I don't believe in working in something that one is not very good at, and surely working at state university of nowhere would make me into a mediocre physicist no matter how smart I am, so this means I would have to leave physics which would be slightly traumatic.

But the chances for next time around are slim, they will likely just look at my PGRE again and conclude that I am, being an international, too risky to accept without the 900+ score. Also, I don't think re-taking the PGRE would suffice. I am simply not that good at speed-runs. I mean, some people spend months doing this bachelor crap and I don't think I can compete with desperate asian students who prepare meticulously for months to memorize time-saving formulae. I haven't worked with anything less mathematical than manifolds for a long time, the last course which vaguely resembled "hands on physics" was relativistic quantum mechanics. The last bachelor-level course I took was several years ago. In my country, you do that simple crap early and then a string theorist is not required to know it again (except statistical mechanics, SR and QM - for which you can become a tutor - but never at the ultra-low level of the PGRE). I am scared that if I re-write I would waste my time, getting only slightly more than I got 2010, and frankly the test sucks and I cannot motivate myself into pretending that it really is important for a string theorist working with differential forms, calabi-yau manifolds, compactification, lie groups and supergeometry.

I don't know about international students from other countries, as there are in fact hundreds of countries with thousands of universities doing a myriad of physics preparation programs. But for my part I can definitely say that writing the PGRE here is much harder. I would have preferred to be at Berkeley or some place that prepares students for the PGRE. That the world is inherently unfair is, by the way, part of the suckage and part of the rejection. In other words, not too much avail at this point...
Last edited by swestrings on Sun Apr 10, 2011 7:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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HappyQuark
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by HappyQuark » Sun Apr 10, 2011 7:24 pm

swestrings wrote:
WhoaNonstop wrote:
swestrings wrote:Some of them hurt really bad, particularly Columbia, Stony Brook since they are not so good
Since when is Columbia not a good school in physics? Even Stony Brook. Although I don't consider Stony Brook to be as great as the other schools listed, it definitely isn't a bad school.

Personally, regardless of your age I think you should reapply, but this time you need to consider some lower ranked schools. It is very difficult to get into the schools listed as a domestic student, let alone an international student. Scan through some of the profiles here and you will see evidence of this.

-Riley
What's "good" is relative, of course, I wouldn't mind attending either which is why I applied to both. However, I couldn't imagine going much lower than these. These schools are an entire tier lower than Princeton and Harvard. I am sure that the quality of the education is still good, but the research that one will be capable of will suffer.

I am considering re-applying, though I am sure age might work against me next time around.
They may be a full tier lower than princeton but they are also a full tier higher than you are capable of being accepted to. Consider some lower ranked schools.

swestrings
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by swestrings » Sun Apr 10, 2011 7:44 pm

HappyQuark wrote:They may be a full tier lower than princeton but they are also a full tier higher than you are capable of being accepted to. Consider some lower ranked schools.
As I explained in the editted version, my choices are 1) go to a good school in physics and become a good physicist 2) drop out of physics and concentrate on something else that one can be good at. Right now, I am still enjoying the physics and the mathematics too much too whimsically leave. Lower ranked schools are however an insult to one's name. I have heard many professors speak lowly of some of the universities in the US which are touted, on this forum, as being "OK". So I am in general skeptical of lower-level universities in the US, they have to be really good or I won't have fun.

Naturally not everyone is in this situation, if you want to go to State university of Mid West then by all means, do so. Some people simply have lower demands and this is a good thing...
Last edited by swestrings on Sun Apr 10, 2011 7:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bfollinprm
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by bfollinprm » Sun Apr 10, 2011 7:45 pm

swestrings wrote:However, I couldn't imagine going much lower than these. These schools are an entire tier lower than Princeton and Harvard. I am sure that the quality of the education is still good, but the research that one will be capable of will suffer.


I am considering re-applying, though I am sure age might work against me next time around.
I understand that notion, though I think it means that physics might not be what you should be looking at. I had a friend who had a similar attitude and only applied to top 10 schools. If he didn't get in, he was going to go to engineering programs (fortunately for him everything worked out). If you're going to have such a hard-line stance (which I honestly don't think is justified), then you need to accept that things just might not work out.

One other thing: if you know what you want to do in grad school, the tiers matter a lot less. There are really quality people in every field outside of the top 15 schools. In my field of cosmology, for instance, Asantha Cooray at UC Irvine (ranked in the 40's) is a highly respected theorist, probably second or third behind Wayne Hu of Chicago and maybe Uros Seljak at Berkeley in terms of young, active researchers. Granted, there's a pretty big drop-off after Cooray @ Irvine, and not much of one at Berkeley, but if you're dedicated I don't see any reason why you wouldn't be able to work with him (or the equivalent in your field). It's just not as cut and dry as it might seem from afar.

swestrings
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by swestrings » Sun Apr 10, 2011 7:52 pm

bfollinprm wrote:I understand that notion, though I think it means that physics might not be what you should be looking at. I had a friend who had a similar attitude and only applied to top 10 schools. If he didn't get in, he was going to go to engineering programs (fortunately for him everything worked out). If you're going to have such a hard-line stance (which I honestly don't think is justified), then you need to accept that things just might not work out.
Yes, I might have to accept that things might not work out. That is exactly why I am writing in the rejections thread, isn't this where we lament all the *** these rejections cause? You are pinpointing the suckage, not solving it. I have never suffered academic setback, I have always been best. But those three hours of retarded bachelor questions didnt go so well, so here I am: princetonless :(


bfollinprm wrote:One other thing: if you know what you want to do in grad school, the tiers matter a lot less. There are really quality people in every field outside of the top 15 schools. In my field of cosmology, for instance, Asantha Cooray at UC Irvine (ranked in the 40's) is a highly respected theorist, probably second or third behind Wayne Hu of Chicago and maybe Uros Seljak at Berkeley in terms of young, active researchers. Granted, there's a pretty big drop-off after Cooray @ Irvine, and not much of one at Berkeley, but if you're dedicated I don't see any reason why you wouldn't be able to work with him (or the equivalent in your field). It's just not as cut and dry as it might seem from afar.
Nobel prize winners come from the top 20 universities, the most cited research I work with comes from the top 20 universities, the famous people I hear about come from the top 20, authors of the books I read in physics and mathematics come also from these universities. There are of course some French, British and Japanese researchers here and there who also contribute. But in the US, where I want to do graduate studies, its the top 20 that matters. For some people, making it big is not really necessary. For me, that is not the case. If you are totally fine with no-one using or needing your research in 20 years, then of course you should accept the offer to do graduate study at a top 100 university. But for me, I dont want to become another weird name on some professors "list of previous graduate students" (who, it is understood, didnt accomplish much, didnt get tenure at MIT and now work in private sector anyway, or worse, got tenure at totally shitty universities).

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HappyQuark
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by HappyQuark » Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:04 pm

swestrings wrote: Nobel prize winners come from the top 20 universities, the most cited research I work with comes from the top 20 universities, the famous people I hear about come from the top 20, authors of the books I read in physics and mathematics come also from these universities. There are of course some French, British and Japanese researchers here and there who also contribute. But in the US, where I want to do graduate studies, its the top 20 that matters. For some people, making it big is not really necessary. For me, that is not the case. If you are totally fine with no-one using or needing your research in 20 years, then of course you should accept the offer to do graduate study at a top 100 university. But for me, I dont want to become another weird name on some professors "list of previous graduate students" (who, it is understood, didnt accomplish much, didnt get tenure at MIT and now work in private sector anyway, or worse, got tenure at totally shitty universities).
Keep in mind that it is probably more likely that the best physicists are coming from the top 20 schools because the best physicists are going to the top 20 schools, not because the top 20 are turning average physicists into great physicists. If you are legitimately brilliant your research will likely be recognized as such regardless of whether or not you come from a school with rank 5, 15, 35 or 50.

What I'm saying is that there is a correlation between rank and success but it's pretty unlikely that the rank is the cause of the success.

TheBeast
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by TheBeast » Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:06 pm

swestrings wrote: I am considering re-applying, though I am sure age might work against me next time around.
You seem pre-occupied with your age. As long as you perform some research during the coming year, your age should be largely irrelevant when you re-apply. I know of people who are older than you that have gotten admissions to some of the schools on your list (not this year, but in the past).

The important thing is to improve your profile for the next application cycle with more research and a better PGRE. That's how I suggest "solving" your problem.

You also seem to have a pre-occupation with "the best." What happens if you get into one of these top institutions but don't get tenure at a top institution a few years after your PhD? What happens if you don't win a Nobel prize? Are you going to whine about that too? Will you consider yourself a failure?

I knew a guy once who thought he would only be happy at a top 10 institution. He applied, got rejected, and made the firm decision to leave science altogether. I think he got a sweet consulting job and makes a tonne of money. You might want to have a plan B available because it sounds to me that you don't care about doing quality research, but quality research that will be lauded and recognized. Unfortunately, no one can predict what that will be.

admissionprof
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by admissionprof » Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:10 pm

swestrings wrote: I haven't worked with anything less mathematical than manifolds for a long time, the last course which vaguely resembled "hands on physics" was relativistic quantum mechanics. The last bachelor-level course I took was several years ago. In my country, you do that simple crap early and then a string theorist is not required to know it again (except statistical mechanics, SR and QM - for which you can become a tutor - but never at the ultra-low level of the PGRE). I am scared that if I re-write I would waste my time, getting only slightly more than I got 2010, and frankly the test sucks and I cannot motivate myself into pretending that it really is important for a string theorist working with differential forms, calabi-yau manifolds, compactification, lie groups and supergeometry.
I don't know about others, but I'm at a school which is not top 20, and generally regarded (although it is field-dependent) as top 50. I can assure you that anyone who would make a statement like that is not a physicist, and wouldn't be accepted into our program, and I would rather take someone with a 650 GRE from a small state school than you. I suspect that anyone who would say that sort of thing would likely be rejected by most of the top 100. You are not a physicist. You are a mathematician. Apply to grad schools in math.

[aside]can you imagine this guy being a TA for freshman physics? And why would a program accept someone who couldn't?[/aside]

[edit]now that I think about it, with his attitude he couldn't teach freshman calculus either...[/edit]
Last edited by admissionprof on Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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midwestphysics
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by midwestphysics » Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:15 pm

All I hear is someone talking about their delusions of grandeur. You said you've never had a setback until the PGRE, well that says a lot, and not about the test. Reading your posts you don't want to be a physicist, you want to be a rock star. So just go pick up a guitar, you’re chances are probably better……. You'd figure rejections across the board might humble a person. :?

TheBeast
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by TheBeast » Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:17 pm

swestrings wrote:I have never suffered academic setback, I have always been best
There's a first time for everything.

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midwestphysics
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by midwestphysics » Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:20 pm

admissionprof wrote:
swestrings wrote: I haven't worked with anything less mathematical than manifolds for a long time, the last course which vaguely resembled "hands on physics" was relativistic quantum mechanics. The last bachelor-level course I took was several years ago. In my country, you do that simple crap early and then a string theorist is not required to know it again (except statistical mechanics, SR and QM - for which you can become a tutor - but never at the ultra-low level of the PGRE). I am scared that if I re-write I would waste my time, getting only slightly more than I got 2010, and frankly the test sucks and I cannot motivate myself into pretending that it really is important for a string theorist working with differential forms, calabi-yau manifolds, compactification, lie groups and supergeometry.
I don't know about others, but I'm at a school which is not top 20, and generally regarded (although it is field-dependent) as top 50. I can assure you that anyone who would make a statement like that is not a physicist, and wouldn't be accepted into our program, and I would rather take someone with a 650 GRE from a small state school than you. I suspect that anyone who would say that sort of thing would likely be rejected by most of the top 100. You are not a physicist. You are a mathematician. Apply to grad schools in math.

[aside]can you imagine this guy being a TA for freshman physics? And why would a program accept someone who couldn't?[/aside]

[edit]now that I think about it, with his attitude he couldn't teach freshman calculus either...[/edit]
Now that's a serious shot to the chops. Bravo! :wink:

bfollinprm
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by bfollinprm » Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:23 pm

swestrings wrote:
bfollinprm wrote:I understand that notion, though I think it means that physics might not be what you should be looking at. I had a friend who had a similar attitude and only applied to top 10 schools. If he didn't get in, he was going to go to engineering programs (fortunately for him everything worked out). If you're going to have such a hard-line stance (which I honestly don't think is justified), then you need to accept that things just might not work out.
Yes, I might have to accept that things might not work out. That is exactly why I am writing in the rejections thread, isn't this where we lament all the *** these rejections cause? You are pinpointing the suckage, not solving it. I have never suffered academic setback, I have always been best. But those three hours of retarded bachelor questions didnt go so well, so here I am: princetonless :(


bfollinprm wrote:One other thing: if you know what you want to do in grad school, the tiers matter a lot less. There are really quality people in every field outside of the top 15 schools. In my field of cosmology, for instance, Asantha Cooray at UC Irvine (ranked in the 40's) is a highly respected theorist, probably second or third behind Wayne Hu of Chicago and maybe Uros Seljak at Berkeley in terms of young, active researchers. Granted, there's a pretty big drop-off after Cooray @ Irvine, and not much of one at Berkeley, but if you're dedicated I don't see any reason why you wouldn't be able to work with him (or the equivalent in your field). It's just not as cut and dry as it might seem from afar.
Nobel prize winners come from the top 20 universities, the most cited research I work with comes from the top 20 universities, the famous people I hear about come from the top 20, authors of the books I read in physics and mathematics come also from these universities. There are of course some French, British and Japanese researchers here and there who also contribute. But in the US, where I want to do graduate studies, its the top 20 that matters. For some people, making it big is not really necessary. For me, that is not the case. If you are totally fine with no-one using or needing your research in 20 years, then of course you should accept the offer to do graduate study at a top 100 university. But for me, I dont want to become another weird name on some professors "list of previous graduate students" (who, it is understood, didnt accomplish much, didnt get tenure at MIT and now work in private sector anyway, or worse, got tenure at totally shitty universities).
There's a professor at my undergraduate institution (which doesn't even grant PhD's) with 30 citations a year. Your stance is borderline ridiculous. Certainly, the MITs and Princetons have the majority of good researchers, and an even higher majority of Academy of Science and Nobel laureates retire at these schools. But to say that nobel prizes are only won in top 10 institutions ignores how research is really done. Sure, many (maybe a majority) do come from these schools, but what really happens is they're hired after they've won the award. And you don't want to work with a laureate, you want to work with someone who will eventually become a laureate.

List of places in the US winning a nobel prize in Physics or Chemistry:
UCSD
UC Irvine
Berkeley
UCLA
Santa Barbara
Chicago
Colorado-Boulder
Delaware
MIT
CalTech
CMU
Columbia
Cornell
Stanford
Harvard
Princeton
UMaryland
Northwestern
Purdue
Rice
Rockefeller University
UIUC
U Penn
UCLA
UT Austin
UT Dallas
U Washington-Seattle
VCU
Yale
Johns Hopkins University
source: http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/list ... ities.html

Sure, most of these schools had only one. But that just says top 10 schools are good at everything, while everyone else is only good at some things. If you know the research you want to do, you aren't taking a dive going to a lower-tiered school. If you want a good indicator of whether or not a person is a good research advisor to look for, you should be looking for CAREER award winners, not nobel laureates and book authors (they're from top 10 schools because top 10 schools can afford to pay them).

swestrings
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by swestrings » Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:31 pm

HappyQuark wrote:What I'm saying is that there is a correlation between rank and success but it's pretty unlikely that the rank is the cause of the success.
From researchers everywhere I hear that there is in fact a causal relationship. Why else would people bother? To pay the extra fees - cause its so much fun paying fees? I think the Chinese are the best example of what can be done with good brains given the right setting - 20 years ago they were a small force in physics - now they dominate many European and American universities since after having attended Western universities - their research is simply better!
TheBeast wrote:You seem pre-occupied with your age. As long as you perform some research during the coming year, your age should be largely irrelevant when you re-apply. I know of people who are older than you that have gotten admissions to some of the schools on your list (not this year, but in the past).
I will re-apply, but I probably wont rewrite the PGRE.
TheBeast wrote:You also seem to have a pre-occupation with "the best." What happens if you get into one of these top institutions but don't get tenure at a top institution a few years after your PhD? What happens if you don't win a Nobel prize? Are you going to whine about that too? Will you consider yourself a failure?
Failure can happen at any time, and there is no point in not proceeding in life just because it might happen to you. For personal reasons, I would not have fun in the US unless it was in a highly dynamic research environment, working with the best. In Europe, my demands would be smaller as I would change my mindset into defeat-mode and simply not care about the quality of my research. But the initial period would suck, and my demands are still pretty high.
TheBeast wrote:I think he got a sweet consulting job and makes a tonne of money. You might want to have a plan B available.
This is currently my plan B also, to make major loads of money through consulting.

t2kburl
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by t2kburl » Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:32 pm

So ends my illusion that only Americans have the "attitude of entitlement" issues. :roll:

swestrings
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by swestrings » Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:37 pm

bfollinprm wrote:Text with list of Nobel-prize winning universities
It is true that it can be done at other places, of course I know this. It is just that the general outlook is bleaker. I think we all know this, no-one here applies to worse universities just because "oh well I might also become a good researcher here too". A gifted friend of mine went down this sordid road when he realized he was not going to be a good physicist, it was terrible to see him reason this way and to see him make this kindergarten-level cop-out. Nobody says this until they are trying to work with their sense of defeat.
t2kburl wrote:So ends my illusion that only Americans have the "attitude of entitlement" issues. :roll:
I have not said that I am entitled to any position, I just thought my chances would be much better. Going into the process, my analysis was that I would get into a good university. Perhaps not MIT or Stanford, but something not too much worse. People with worse academic records have done this many times, so it was terrible getting all the rejections.
admissionprof wrote:I don't know about others, but I'm at a school which is not top 20, and generally regarded (although it is field-dependent) as top 50. I can assure you that anyone who would make a statement like that is not a physicist, and wouldn't be accepted into our program, and I would rather take someone with a 650 GRE from a small state school than you. I suspect that anyone who would say that sort of thing would likely be rejected by most of the top 100. You are not a physicist. You are a mathematician. Apply to grad schools in math.

[aside]can you imagine this guy being a TA for freshman physics? And why would a program accept someone who couldn't?[/aside]

[edit]now that I think about it, with his attitude he couldn't teach freshman calculus either...[/edit]
This is equivalent to making the observation that modern string theory is mathematics, and in that you are very correct. Most of the research papers on the topic that I have seen deal with much mathematical formalism, and I have seen many mathematics professors write articles on the topic. Ed Witten has even been awarded the Fields Medal. It is very possible that some people might think that Mr. Witten is less of a physicist for working with so much math, and for winning the Fields Medal. I think he is great, wish I could be just like him. Am I a physicist? Am I a mathematician? The relevant answer is that I am a string theorist and that people like us would go to graduate school at a physics department. This is the way things are now, although you bring up a pertinent question. In my personal opinion, the string theorists of the future would probably be better suited taking undergraduate and masters degrees at mathematics departments - and then filling up with some physics - then doing the reverse.

And being a smart guy with top grades in all maths and physics courses, and having TA:d before, I would naturally make an excellent TA in the US. Most people would not like being judged on their field's expertise based on how well they spoke Latin, even if they dont hate Latin. For the same reason, I dont mind teaching some Mechanics or electrodynamics just because I feel the PGRE is obsessed with string-theory-unrelated simple speed-calculations based within these topics. I look forward to TA:ing if I get the chance, and I hope to inspire the students that more beautiful physics is on its way should they go on to do a Masters degree or PhD - they wont have to work with simple calculus and linear algebra all their life :)
Last edited by swestrings on Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by bfollinprm » Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:44 pm

swestrings wrote:
bfollinprm wrote:Text with list of Nobel-prize winning universities
It is true that it can be done at other places, of course I know this. It is just that the general outlook is bleaker. I think we all know this, no-one here applies to worse universities just because "oh well I might also become a good researcher here too". A gifted friend of mine went down this sordid road when he realized he was not going to be a good physicist, it was terrible to see him reason this way and to see him make this kindergarten-level cop-out. Nobody says this until they are trying to work with their sense of defeat.

WHAT?? Kindergarten level cop-out? Not going to be a good physicist? Seriously, dude, check the attitude. Maybe things are different in string theory, but in real science what matters is what you find where you go, not what number the US News puts in front of your PhD granting institution. I got into a top 15 school, and may end up going there, but it's essentially a wash between that and a top 40. And if I didn't hate the area so much (and get a few bad vibes) I would have ended up in a top 60 institution BECAUSE THE RESEARCH WAS BETTER THERE. I would have rejected MIT, CalTech, Princeton, Chicago, Cornell, and Columbia for UC Davis. You know what you want, find the string theorists and ignore the stupid top 10 moniker.

t2kburl
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by t2kburl » Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:57 pm

My advice is to look at it from the perspective that you will be the best physicist you can be regardless or where you go to school or any other external factor. Its up to you.

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HappyQuark
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by HappyQuark » Sun Apr 10, 2011 9:20 pm

swestrings wrote:
HappyQuark wrote:What I'm saying is that there is a correlation between rank and success but it's pretty unlikely that the rank is the cause of the success.
From researchers everywhere I hear that there is in fact a causal relationship. Why else would people bother? To pay the extra fees - cause its so much fun paying fees? I think the Chinese are the best example of what can be done with good brains given the right setting - 20 years ago they were a small force in physics - now they dominate many European and American universities since after having attended Western universities - their research is simply better!
I fully admit that there is a small but non-negligible advantage in attending a school that is better ranked than another. For example, when you explain to your friends that know nothing about the various graduate programs that you are going to Princeton, they are more likely to wet themselves in admiration than if you had said you were going to Stony Brook. Additionally, your parents will have better bragging rights and your "University of ________ Alumni" bumper sticker/license plate frame will be fancier. Joking aside, the ONLY advantage you get out of a university which is rank dependent is the number of fallback options will be higher in case you decide you don't want to continue with the research choice that originally brought you to the school.

The top 20 ranked universities have that rank because they have a wider range of good research, not the only good research. As I pointed out in the graduate profiles section, the University of Utah is ranked in the 60s but happens to have a fantastically good CMT department. The reason they are in the 60s is because CMT is the only thing they do especially well, although their CME is pretty decent too. It sounds like you've eliminated your choices down to the top 20 ranked schools and then picked out research that you are interested in which is precisely backwards.

As an example, I had a number of different research topics I was interested in and one of those was plasma physics. I looked into a number of schools, one of which was UC Berkeley who, if I recall correctly, has 3 faculty members doing non-linear dynamics research. In the end I didn't apply to the school because places like UCSD, UCLA, and UC Irvine all are way better at it. By your heuristic, I would have chosen Berkeley even though I was less interested in it and they were less strong in it.

bck2school
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by bck2school » Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:48 pm

swestrings wrote: Lol, nonsense. Besides, my application was read by several people in preparation for sending them in. Its really silly to imply that an internet posting would have anything to do with the style or content of statements and application documents. Also, isn't "two new grad students doing string theory per year at a university" a bit little? I would imagine it is more like 3-5 for the good universities.

The problem with re-applying is that I would have to re-apply to pretty much the same schools, although I would also apply to Caltech next time around. The reason is simple: if it is going to be the US, then it has to be a good school. The number of good schools is pretty much fixed, there are 20-30 good universities in the US for theoretical physics, and THAT'S IT. There are simply too many 'state universities of nowhere' and thinking about the kind of money I would make in the private industry sector, doing research at, say, a top 60 but not top 40 university would simply be a waste of time. Personally I don't believe in working in something that one is not very good at, and surely working at state university of nowhere would make me into a mediocre physicist no matter how smart I am, so this means I would have to leave physics which would be slightly traumatic.

But the chances for next time around are slim, they will likely just look at my PGRE again and conclude that I am, being an international, too risky to accept without the 900+ score. Also, I don't think re-taking the PGRE would suffice. I am simply not that good at speed-runs. I mean, some people spend months doing this bachelor crap and I don't think I can compete with desperate asian students who prepare meticulously for months to memorize time-saving formulae. I haven't worked with anything less mathematical than manifolds for a long time, the last course which vaguely resembled "hands on physics" was relativistic quantum mechanics. The last bachelor-level course I took was several years ago. In my country, you do that simple crap early and then a string theorist is not required to know it again (except statistical mechanics, SR and QM - for which you can become a tutor - but never at the ultra-low level of the PGRE). I am scared that if I re-write I would waste my time, getting only slightly more than I got 2010, and frankly the test sucks and I cannot motivate myself into pretending that it really is important for a string theorist working with differential forms, calabi-yau manifolds, compactification, lie groups and supergeometry.

I don't know about international students from other countries, as there are in fact hundreds of countries with thousands of universities doing a myriad of physics preparation programs. But for my part I can definitely say that writing the PGRE here is much harder. I would have preferred to be at Berkeley or some place that prepares students for the PGRE. That the world is inherently unfair is, by the way, part of the suckage and part of the rejection. In other words, not too much avail at this point...
I must say when I originally saw your post I felt that Riley and the others were being a little harsh, having been on the receiving end I know the rejections hurt... But DUDE you are living in a fairytale, wake up and smell the horse *** around you which btw is being caused by your verbal spewage.

If that asian kid (who just got into Princeton btw) got better GRE scores its because he recognized the importance of the test while you continued to scratch your ass and complain about the flawed system. I suggest you apply to schools in the rest of the world if you aren't planning on retaking the physics gre, unless you are about to receive that Nobel you keep talking about in your year off.

When your application is good enough to get into the "State Univ of Nowhere" then come back and talk ***.

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sphy
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by sphy » Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:40 am

swestrings wrote:Got rejected from

Harvard
Berkeley
Stony Brook
Univ. Pennsylvania
Columbia
MIT
Stanford
Chicago
Michigan, Ann Arbor
UC Santa Barbara
Princeton

Some of them hurt really bad, particularly Columbia, Stony Brook since they are not so good and I really don't know how they could reject me. Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara also, since I had particularly good applications there and also really, really wanted to go there. But all in all, what hurt the most was the total number of rejections. The feeling of rejection was not merely a sum of the individual rejections. I tried to reason with it a lot - I am an international student so they probably require a 900+ PGRE (a test I don't quite care for), but somehow it got to me and still gets to me.

Harvard, MIT and Princeton didn't hurt though - I think that even truly excellent people would get rejected from those places and it has a lot to do with capricious luck. But this is the first time I have ever felt (in academia) that circumstances and luck has worked against me... :cry:

Having Columbia and Stony say No was like getting rejected by a averagely-attractive woman - it hurts extra :(. I am, at 25, also a bit older than most US graduate applicants would be. All in all the outlook for 2012 is bleak - as I really can't see myself re-writing the PGRE!
I share my condolence with you. You should have included some safeties as I can see from your list of schools and being an international student.

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sphy
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by sphy » Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:53 am

swestrings wrote: I would most probably become a more renowned physicist working at Princeton than at Stony Brook.

...
Are you trying to be a celebrity or something? Then let me tell you, all of them are busy in giving public lectures and public appearance and they are doing less physics. Check research list.

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sphy
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by sphy » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:19 am

swestrings wrote: ..... I don't think I can compete with desperate asian students who prepare meticulously for months to memorize time-saving formulae. ...
And you think you'll become Reknowed Physicist and of Winning Nobel Prizes!
You know Nobel Laureates don't come from US only.

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sphy
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by sphy » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:24 am

swestrings wrote: This is currently my plan B also, to make major loads of money through consulting.
Our Physics Community don't need a bunch of cloned swestrings, so give up that option.
Physicist's aim should be Physics not Nobel. I think you underrate S. Hawking. Don't You?

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by WhoaNonstop » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:06 am

swestrings wrote:Naturally not everyone is in this situation, if you want to go to State university of Mid West then by all means, do so. Some people simply have lower demands and this is a good thing...
Wonderful. You're associating going to a state university in the midwest as a failure? You're a real cupcake.
swestrings wrote:I haven't worked with anything less mathematical than manifolds for a long time, the last course which vaguely resembled "hands on physics" was relativistic quantum mechanics. The last bachelor-level course I took was several years ago. In my country, you do that simple crap early and then a string theorist is not required to know it again (except statistical mechanics, SR and QM - for which you can become a tutor - but never at the ultra-low level of the PGRE).
I find it hilarious how my preparation in physics is probably much worse than yours is. I did not go to a school where I could propel myself beyond the usual coursework, but I can guarantee you if I did, I would have broken 900 on the PGRE. Your knowledge on SM, SR, and QM alone would help you immensely on the PGRE, where my lack of all three courses before the test was a huge hindrance. Even if you had forgotten some of the basic concepts in the ultra-low level years, how long would it have taken someone as "talented" as you are to go back and relearn those concepts for the test?
swestrings wrote:I would have preferred to be at Berkeley or some place that prepares students for the PGRE.
Again, blaming something else than your own motivation for your lack of score.
swestrings wrote:That the world is inherently unfair is, by the way, part of the suckage and part of the rejection.
You did not get accepted to these universities because you were not one of the most qualified applicants. Nothing unfair there.
swestrings wrote:I have never suffered academic setback, I have always been best.
I am better than you and I came from a midwest state university.
swestrings wrote:I will re-apply, but I probably wont rewrite the PGRE.
Please re-apply to these same places without retaking the PGRE. Be sure to post your results on here again next year.
swestrings wrote:This is currently my plan B also, to make major loads of money through consulting.
No amount of money will ever be able to fill that hole in your heart where your "nobel prize" should have been.
swestrings wrote:The relevant answer is that I am a string theorist and that people like us would go to graduate school at a physics department.
Do you have any published papers on the topic?
swestrings wrote:I would naturally make an excellent TA in the US.
Icing on the cake here. You obviously do not understand how students in the United States should be taught or how they prefer to be taught. There is no doubt in my mind that you would not be an excellent TA. Your attitude and outlook towards graduate school alone sets up a personality that will generally be hated by most introductory level physics students. There is a higher chance that you will get accepted to a top 10 university than become the most regarded TA at any school with more than one teaching assistant.

-Riley

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sphy
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by sphy » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:15 am

swestrings wrote:...The number of good schools is pretty much fixed, there are 20-30 good universities in the US for theoretical physics, and THAT'S IT. ...
And I am pretty sure that your girlfriend comes from FHM's top 20 or People's top 20 out of their top 100 list.
I always say of changing the prospective by changing your frame of reference and there is no single way to view this world and if you do then the world will look very fair and beautiful indeed.

bfollinprm
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by bfollinprm » Mon Apr 11, 2011 7:07 am

swestrings wrote:...The number of good schools is pretty much fixed, there are 20-30 good universities in the US for theoretical physics, and THAT'S IT. ...
A list of places outside of the top 15, having noted string theorists on faculty.

UT Austin
City College of NY
UNC Chapel Hill
Rutgers
USC
Brown
U Penn
NYU
Irvine
UF
Baylor

EDIT: Though I agree. If you wanted to continue in string theory, there is no need to come to the US unless it's Princeton, Harvard, or a few others. The only good reason to come to the US is funding, and you never get funding for string theory anyway. Where you're going wrong is assuming that it's a mistake, settling, or failure to go somewhere else. You can do great work in other places. It probably isn't worth leaving Europe, though--you can find great work in the EU, especially the continent (theory is cheap, so the less well-funded unis have a lot of theorists). And the prestige of Irvine et al. isn't enough to justify the hassle of coming to the states (though most of those on the above list are more prestigious than even some flagship European institutions), unless the professor is someone who is really close to your own HET experience.

But to say you can't make it, or are sliding towards mediocrity, is a stretch. Many graduates from top 40 institutions have extraordinary research careers, and there are many reason to choose a lower-ranked school other than being forced to settle (more relaxed work atmosphere, less fight for spot in a research group, location...). I just met a HET/CMT student transferring from Berkeley to UVA after passing his quals and finding a research group--he was more excited about the research at UVA.
Last edited by bfollinprm on Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:40 am, edited 3 times in total.

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satyad18
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by satyad18 » Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:23 am

@swestrings: You know, determination is good if it doesn't turn into arrogance!
Check this site: http://www.staff.science.uu.nl/~hooft10 ... stbad.html
If you're sane enough, you'd understand. :|

swestrings
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by swestrings » Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:09 am

Oh dear, some people here are really taking this rejection thread to silly heights...
WhoaNonstop wrote:Wonderful. You're associating going to a state university in the midwest as a failure? You're a real cupcake.
One thing I should clarify here is that SUinM might be a great place if you are a US national, the situation is different if you are an international. My preferences are different to those I would have if I were born in the US, of course. I did, however, consider applying to Minnesota (that is Midwest right?).
WhoaNonstop wrote:You did not get accepted to these universities because you were not one of the most qualified applicants. Nothing unfair there.
Out of context, the unfairness to which you referred was not the rejections themselves, but the whole national vs. international ease-of-writing-the-PGRE etc. Look at your original post and you will see that what you brought up has nothing to do with the decisions themselves, unless I completely misread you.
WhoaNonstop wrote:I am better than you and I came from a midwest state university.
That may very well be the case, I have said nothing about the relative performance of any other forum member. For all we know, you might be the brightest star in here. It changes, however, nothing of my original post. It still sucks aiming for top 20 and missing that goal.
WhoaNonstop wrote:Please re-apply to these same places without retaking the PGRE. Be sure to post your results on here again next year.
I see where your sarcasm is going, and I agree the chances are bleak. This is what I said earlier. The chances of re-applying are slim, this is part of the suckage. Ergo the writing in the rejection thread... nothing strange with that?
WhoaNonstop wrote:No amount of money will ever be able to fill that hole in your heart where your "nobel prize" should have been.
This again may very well be the case, ergo the suckage... although I have not said that my goal is to get a nobel prize? I only mentioned this in explaining to people why the top 20 is more than just a number, a score, an arbitrary ranking. The top 20 means something and as one example, I mentioned the nobel prize. How this equates to having it be my personal goal, is beyond me. Why did three people assume this??
WhoaNonstop wrote:Do you have any published papers on the topic?
No, I would imagine many accepted graduate students do not have publications in any big journals, in the topic of string theory. I dont know about other fields, but in THEP and string theory it is a long, long way to the research front since so much has happened the past 20 years. I mean, the way the standard model has been reformulated in terms of fiber bundles and characteristic classes (I can by the way recommend http://arxiv.org/abs/0908.1395 ) makes it a big job just to learn what has already been produced. I hope to publish in future!


I seriously dont have energy for this, the response in the rejection thread is unbecoming of a rejection thread...

axiomofchoice
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by axiomofchoice » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:54 pm

Let me make this clear, swestrings. The rejections you get across the board is not because bad luck. If you apply again next year with exactly the same application, I bet you will still be rejected from the same places. Your age has nothing to do with the rejections either. Face the fact: your application is simply not competitive at the schools you applied; therefore you are rejected.

If you do want to get into a top / semi-top place, I'd suggest you retake the PGRE and spend some time (> 1 month) seriously studying for it. That's the easiest part of the application to improve between now and next December. You can either be a genius that you just score 990 on the PGRE on the first try, or you can just a mere mortal and study for the PGRE. That's just as fair as it can get. Everybody of the top-10 or top-20 caliber is capable of getting a really good score on the PGRE given enough preparation. If you value yourself so much that studying for the PGRE is beneath you, then obviously doing physics at a US grad school is not important enough for you.

To be honest, if you are not willing to take, let's say, only 2 months of your life to study for an exam in exchange for a place in a good grad school to spend the next 5-6 years, I don't see why any grad school would want you. You think grad school is the land of honey and butter once you get in? Getting a good score on the PGRE is only a small obstacle when compared to other hurdles that you will have to jump over in grad school. If you can't or unwilling to get over the first (small) one, why anyone would trust you to get over the rest? Rethink your attitude, or go and make a million now instead of going to grad school, because I can bet that you will fail out grad school sooner or later if you don't change your attitude.
bck2school wrote: I must say when I originally saw your post I felt that Riley and the others were being a little harsh, having been on the receiving end I know the rejections hurt... But DUDE you are living in a fairytale, wake up and smell the horse *** around you which btw is being caused by your verbal spewage.
If you saw this guy's posts about the unfairness of the PGRE and hardship of being an international from last year, you will see we are not harsh for no apparent reason. ;)

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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by bfollinprm » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:07 pm

axiomofchoice wrote:Everybody of the top-10 or top-20 caliber is capable of getting a really good score on the PGRE given enough preparation.
I would venture to say that anyone able to pass PhD qualifiers anywhere is capable of getting a 990 on the PGRE given enough preparation. The latter is certainly harder and requires more work/intelligence. It may be that it's fresher in your head, but that's irrelevant when talking about one's capacity.

The question, as axiomofchoice pointed out, is how much a top school matters to you. I could have backdoor-ed a top 10 if I would have worked hard enough on the PGRE (the rest of my application was certainly strong enough), but I wasn't much interested in the intensity there--it wasn't for me. So, I spent about an hour a day for a month studying, got a 770, and rejections from places I probably wouldn't have gone to anyway. For most of us this is all just really a matter of (admittedly very intense) effort, assuming an excellent GPA and a decent research record.

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sphy
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by sphy » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:34 pm

bfollinprm wrote:..... rejections from places I probably wouldn't have gone to anyway.......
Then why you apply anyway, wasted your valuable time and money and their time.

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HappyQuark
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by HappyQuark » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:50 pm

sphy wrote:
bfollinprm wrote:..... rejections from places I probably wouldn't have gone to anyway.......
Then why you apply anyway, wasted your valuable time and money and their time.
I'd assume it was to keep the options open. I don't know about you but my perspective on the whole application process and, in general, my priorities did a fair bit of movement before, during and after my applications went out.

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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by bfollinprm » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:04 pm

sphy wrote:
bfollinprm wrote:..... rejections from places I probably wouldn't have gone to anyway.......
Then why you apply anyway, wasted your valuable time and money and their time.
What HQ said. I did something similar as an undergrad, and that time actually got into the top school (Princeton) and rejected it for a more intimate atmosphere (plus, I admit, a scholarship). I was pretty sure I was never going to Princeton, but wanted to (1) see if I could, and (2) see if my opinion changed once I actually HAD to make the decision. It was a tougher choice than I thought it would be, but I ended up making the decision I thought I would at the beginning.

At the moment, I'm facing a similar decision between UCSD and UC Davis. San Diego is a much more prestigious place (and the researcher--Brian Keating--is a PECASE award winner). But I really like the atmosphere of Davis. It's all a continuum (berkeley-UCSD-Davis), and it's good to be as open as possible. I'm not 100% sure what I'd find at Berkeley, for instance, so applying was worth the $70 just in case; I had some non-negligible chance of being accepted anyway, and if Bill Holzapfel or Adrian Lee were hurting for students and made me feel wanted it could become really attractive.

As regards their time, I paid for it so I don't care about wasting it. They got a really good deal off of my application (must have taken 30 minutes to work through, so that's $150/hr). My time was negligible; I put together a general application and just tweaked a few things. The money was worth it because, with 10ish places having the kind of research I wanted to do, it made sense to apply (almost) everywhere the research existed (I even applied places without a strong CMB group). The 400+ hours on PGRE studying it would have taken for me to ace the test, however, was non-negligible (I value my time at around $25/hr, so that's over $10,000).

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sphy
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by sphy » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:14 pm

bfollinprm wrote:......I even applied places without a strong CMB group.
Thanks for all the maths and detailed explanations but then again you made a sequel question in the above sentence of yours.

Perhaps just to have some sure shot (safety) if things don't go right on track. Or something else?

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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by swestrings » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:18 pm

I wanted to clarify some things after receiving a PM which confirmed a suspicion I had had earlier. I want to make one point extremely clear, even though this has been emphasized in my previous posts: I personally aimed for a Top 20 school, for personal reasons related to me being a foreigner with an otherwise bright future in my home country (there are other reasons though), but this does not in any way make me look down upon those wishing or willing to go to a top 40, top 60 or even top 200 school. It's none of my business, really, other people's success and/or failure does not affect me. So why did I even bother responding to people who had misunderstood my sense of defeat as an across-the-board assault on lower ranked universities?? Well, the answer is that the only thing I objected to was having other people's life outlooks imposed upon me.

In other words, when people told me that I should be happy with universities much lower ranked than, say, Columbia, I objected. I did not object on behalf of other people, only for myself. I said "no" for me, whereas as for other people: they are welcome to attend any university they wish. If you have always been totally fine with a top 60 university, does not mean that every other physicist in every other part of the world also is this. Moving to another country, separating from family, friends and girlfriends - and many other things in life that may or may not be unfinished - is a big process for a young man. A graduate program is about 6 years, its a long time - but most importantly - it is a long time during the most productive, dynamic and eventful years of a man's/woman's life. All in all, without going into too much detail, my opinion was that a long move to the US would only be warranted, for me personally (I stress), if it were a top 20 or perhaps top 30 university. Staying in my home country would make me a mediocre physicist but would for other reasons be to my personal liking. I hope you see that the above reasoning makes zero reference to 1) others 2) forum members on the internet 3) physicists who are better/worse than me.

As for the calculation that I would get in to perhaps some Top 20 university, this was based on a large number of factors - mostly experience from friends and other students. However, I did know that, sending 10-15 or so applications - only perhaps 1 or 2 would accept me. And that it would not be Harvard, MIT, Stanford or Princeton. But I did think one or two missiles would hit target. I did not feel that, when my application was finished, that I had bad luck. The bad luck I believe happened before. It was during the PGRE. For reasons which could make another thread (and there are enough ranting I-got-bad-PGRE-score threads, so I wont care to write one): it is simply my personal opinion that the PGRE didnt reflect my ability as a string theorist but it would have the same impact as if it did reflect my ability. It just didnt go well, I scored about 100 lower than planned. For many reasons I was astounded at my somewhat average score. Some of you may, based on your enormous databank of personal and academic information about me (yes, note the sarcasm), that this could not be the case, and that the PGRE reflects, for me, my ability perfectly. Here I simply don't agree, and I might say that I possess more information to make that judgment. But simply because there admittedly are some people who do in fact arbitrarily blame bad luck, when their defeat is simply and mundanely a result of non-stellar intelligence, I was confused for the same. Thats all fine, but as for the less stubborn and more open-minded people, I felt I needed to defend myself from this silliness.

Obviously I could just be a raging lunatic with a somewhat average capacity for physics and string theory, and that this became clear to me first during my PGRE test, the score of which precipitated a glorious ego-meltdown resulting in angry posts on the internet. Pff, dream on. Those who believe this are welcome to do so, I posted in the rejections forum not to attract and sate these types. I am not in the least questioning of my ability. I will never become an astronaut, placed in highly stressful multiple choice situations. But I will still become a kick-ass epic string theorist of doom :).

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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by bfollinprm » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:23 pm

sphy wrote:
bfollinprm wrote: As regards their time, I paid for it so I don't care about wasting it. They got a really good deal off of my application (must have taken 30 minutes to work through, so that's $150/hr). My time was negligible; I put together a general application and just tweaked a few things. The money was worth it because, with 10ish places having the kind of research I wanted to do, it made sense to apply (almost) everywhere the research existed (I even applied places without a strong CMB group). The 400+ hours on PGRE studying it would have taken for me to ace the test, however, was non-negligible (I value my time at around $25/hr, so that's over $10,000).
Thanks for all the maths and detailed explanations but then again you made a sequel question in the last sentence of yours.

Perhaps just to have some sure shot (safety) if things don't go right on track. Or something else?
Do you mean the PGRE? I worked as hard as I needed to in order to get into the schools I thought I wanted. The rest was just icing. Thanks in no small part to this website, I knew beyond a doubt I'd get into places like Pitt, Case, and Davis with a score in the 750's, and knew I'd be happy there. If the cost was lower or I wanted Berkeley more, I'd have worked harder. But the cost was enormous, and I wasn't even sure I would like Berkeley, so I didn't.

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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by sphy » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:51 pm

swestrings wrote:I wanted to clarify some things after receiving a PM which confirmed a suspicion I had had earlier. I want to make one point extremely clear, even though this has been emphasized in my previous posts: I personally aimed for a Top 20 school, for personal reasons related to me being a foreigner with an otherwise bright future in my home country (there are other reasons though), but this does not in any way make me look down upon those wishing or willing to go to a top 40, top 60 or even top 200 school. It's none of my business, really, other people's success and/or failure does not affect me. So why did I even bother responding to people who had misunderstood my sense of defeat as an across-the-board assault on lower ranked universities?? Well, the answer is that the only thing I objected to was having other people's life outlooks imposed upon me.

In other words, when people told me that I should be happy with universities much lower ranked than, say, Columbia, I objected. I did not object on behalf of other people, only for myself. I said "no" for me, whereas as for other people: they are welcome to attend any university they wish. If you have always been totally fine with a top 60 university, does not mean that every other physicist in every other part of the world also is this. Moving to another country, separating from family, friends and girlfriends - and many other things in life that may or may not be unfinished - is a big process for a young man. A graduate program is about 6 years, its a long time - but most importantly - it is a long time during the most productive, dynamic and eventful years of a man's/woman's life. All in all, without going into too much detail, my opinion was that a long move to the US would only be warranted, for me personally (I stress), if it were a top 20 or perhaps top 30 university. Staying in my home country would make me a mediocre physicist but would for other reasons be to my personal liking. I hope you see that the above reasoning makes zero reference to 1) others 2) forum members on the internet 3) physicists who are better/worse than me.

As for the calculation that I would get in to perhaps some Top 20 university, this was based on a large number of factors - mostly experience from friends and other students. However, I did know that, sending 10-15 or so applications - only perhaps 1 or 2 would accept me. And that it would not be Harvard, MIT, Stanford or Princeton. But I did think one or two missiles would hit target. I did not feel that, when my application was finished, that I had bad luck. The bad luck I believe happened before. It was during the PGRE. For reasons which could make another thread (and there are enough ranting I-got-bad-PGRE-score threads, so I wont care to write one): it is simply my personal opinion that the PGRE didnt reflect my ability as a string theorist but it would have the same impact as if it did reflect my ability. It just didnt go well, I scored about 100 lower than planned. For many reasons I was astounded at my somewhat average score. Some of you may, based on your enormous databank of personal and academic information about me (yes, note the sarcasm), that this could not be the case, and that the PGRE reflects, for me, my ability perfectly. Here I simply don't agree, and I might say that I possess more information to make that judgment. But simply because there admittedly are some people who do in fact arbitrarily blame bad luck, when their defeat is simply and mundanely a result of non-stellar intelligence, I was confused for the same. Thats all fine, but as for the less stubborn and more open-minded people, I felt I needed to defend myself from this silliness.

Obviously I could just be a raging lunatic with a somewhat average capacity for physics and string theory, and that this became clear to me first during my PGRE test, the score of which precipitated a glorious ego-meltdown resulting in angry posts on the internet. Pff, dream on. Those who believe this are welcome to do so, I posted in the rejections forum not to attract and sate these types. I am not in the least questioning of my ability. I will never become an astronaut, placed in highly stressful multiple choice situations. But I will still become a kick-ass epic string theorist of doom :).
That being said, We all are now pretty sure that string theorists like you are guaranteed to score 990 this time.

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sphy
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Re: 2011 Rejections

Post by sphy » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:55 pm

bfollinprm wrote:
sphy wrote:
bfollinprm wrote: As regards their time, I paid for it so I don't care about wasting it. They got a really good deal off of my application (must have taken 30 minutes to work through, so that's $150/hr). My time was negligible; I put together a general application and just tweaked a few things. The money was worth it because, with 10ish places having the kind of research I wanted to do, it made sense to apply (almost) everywhere the research existed (I even applied places without a strong CMB group). The 400+ hours on PGRE studying it would have taken for me to ace the test, however, was non-negligible (I value my time at around $25/hr, so that's over $10,000).
Thanks for all the maths and detailed explanations but then again you made a sequel question in the last sentence of yours.

Perhaps just to have some sure shot (safety) if things don't go right on track. Or something else?
Do you mean the PGRE? I worked as hard as I needed to in order to get into the schools I thought I wanted. The rest was just icing. Thanks in no small part to this website, I knew beyond a doubt I'd get into places like Pitt, Case, and Davis with a score in the 750's, and knew I'd be happy there. If the cost was lower or I wanted Berkeley more, I'd have worked harder. But the cost was enormous, and I wasn't even sure I would like Berkeley, so I didn't.
Great man, hope you'll enjoy in California for the next 4-5 years.



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