Any chance for grad school?

  • 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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Any chance for grad school?

Post by invidia » Thu Nov 02, 2006 1:39 am

Ok, here's my story..... I'm a 5th year senior who changed my major to physics just a year ago (in the middle of my 4th senior year). I have about a year to go before I may graduate.

My current OVERALL GPA is 2.35, but my GPA in my physics coursework is 3.75. I have a low overall gpa due to my goofing off during my 1st, 2nd, and half of my 3rd year, which forced me to switch from chemistry to physics. Now, I've shapen up and been getting straight A's in all my physics courses.

If I do good on my physics GRE, at least a 900, and in the general GRE, do I even have a shot at grad school? Should I even bother trying to applying for grad school due to my low overall GPA? I'm not planning on applying to Ivy league grad schools.

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Post by Quantum » Thu Nov 02, 2006 7:40 pm

Well, it certainly depends on which schools you are applying to.

An overall GPA of 2.35 may scare some admission commitee members away... that is quite low. And I'm guessing when they see the grades for your first, second, and third years, they will be a bit hesitant. But a 3.75 for physics is definitely nothing to laugh at.

If you do really well on the GRE general and subject... and you can get good letters of rec... AND perhaps include in your personal statement a bit about your new found determination and academic success in physics... I'd say you'd have a good shot of getting into a variety of decent schools. Just make sure you take the rigorous undergrad physics classes... and not only the required ones. Most admissions committes are concerned that you have a solid background in all areas of physics (especially, of course, mechanics, E+M, thermo, QM, relativity, and nuclear/particles).

Well hope this helps. Don't get discouraged... it's still definitely worth applying. ^_^

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Post by invidia » Thu Nov 02, 2006 9:22 pm

Thanks for the feedback. But I still have room to improve my overall GPA, as I have 2 more semesters left after this one. Right now, I'm attending one of the top 20-25 public schools in the U.S.

The school I want to go to is in another country (University of Waterloo in Canada) because I have a strong interest in quantum computing. Although there are some other schools in the U.S. that offer quantum computing, the one I'm currently attending doesn't.

Since I'll be an international student, will they judge me on a higher standard criteria? Just curious, because I always hear international students getting perfect GRE scores and American students don't, so some schools have 2 different standards for them.

Wanna Be Physicist
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Never Give Up

Post by Wanna Be Physicist » Fri Nov 03, 2006 2:03 am

Never Give Up

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Post by jrrtook » Fri Nov 03, 2006 4:31 pm

if you get at least a 900, you will get in a lot of places

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Post by Quantum » Mon Nov 06, 2006 8:45 am

Yes, but it's difficult to pull up a GPA substantially that already has been set by lots of previous semesters (damn law of averages)... tho of course, any amount would help.

As for international vs. national schools in terms of their selection criteria... I'm really not sure... but I would suspect they may demand more from foreign applicants only because they might admit relatively few compared with non-foreigners. Then again, this really depends on the school. Of course, if you're the only applicant applying from your country, that could actually help you if recruiting and maintaining a geographically representative student body is important to them. But I'm guessing you won't be the only applicant from the US. Ah well... it's still worth a shot. Might be a good idea to talk to other grad students from the school to get a good feel about the statistics of their grad student body... their origin, undergrad GPA, GRE scores, etc. Heck, some of it is most likely published on their website. =D (I'm sure you already checked.)

At this point, I think it's probably best to work your hardest for the remaining of your undergrad courses... get the GPA up as high as you can... and apply to several schools that specialize in QM computing... not only the best one or few. You need to have back-ups. Just put yourself out there and see what happens... and don't get frustrated. ^_^

And yeah... quantum computing is mad interesting huh? dang...

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Post by invidia » Fri Nov 10, 2006 3:26 pm

What if that undergrad student is an American applying to a Canadian grad school? I've looked at some schools in the U.S. that offer quantum computing as a research field and none of them are attractive, in terms of school/location.

The ones that are appealing IN the USA are Ivy league schools, which I can't even get into due to my GPA. I want to go to caltech but there's no way I can get in unless I suddenly publish a paper that solves all of physics problems. Even with that, my GPA would just balance me out into a medicore physics student. It's like having a criminal record and nothing you can do will wipe it away.

The people I have talked to have like 3.85< GPAs, near perfect GRE Scores and like 5-6 years of undergrad research in a 4-year program, which doesn't seem possible. Does anyone know anyone that got into known grad school with less than a 3.0?

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Post by artist » Mon Nov 27, 2006 3:33 am

i'm in almost the same boat you are, except i'll be graduating in the spring. i got kicked out of my university for having a low GPA (~1.99), but raised my GPA somewhere else, came back, and have maintained >3.8 since then, in mostly physics/math courses. for my own sake, i hope you have a chance.

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Post by ms_phd » Sun Dec 24, 2006 6:48 am

try in my chances section

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Post by tj_wants_in » Tue Dec 26, 2006 2:36 pm

One thing I've noted is that some schools ask for your junior/senior GPA. So pay close attention to the details.

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Post by imagine » Sat Sep 01, 2007 5:19 am

Hi Quantum, you said " Might be a good idea to talk to other grad students from the school to get a good feel about the statistics of their grad student body... their origin, undergrad GPA, GRE scores"

How do you get to contact with grad students in the school you want to enter??

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Post by wheezy » Tue Nov 13, 2007 1:37 am

I was caught in the same situation as you - I even went to a couple Canadian universities before moving south. (U of Guelph GPA = 1.9; Western GPA = 2.1)
Currently I have a 3.82 GPA; I graduate the end of this semester, and am looking forward to grad school. Here's how I fixed the abysmal GPA:

Transfer to a new school. Most schools will transfer "D's" as college credit hours completed, but won't let it count towards your degree. It'll suck if some of those D's are in required courses - you'll have to repeat them - but if you take the majority of your credits required for graduation at the new school, that'll be what your GPA for graduation is based on. The school I'm attending requires 84 credits (132 needed to graduate) be taken at this school for the transfer GPA problem to go away.

One additional note: since you are currently attending a US school, have more credits than you need to graduate (for example, have 160+ credits if you only need 132 to graduate) - this is assuming that your transfer credits are included in this total- then petition your registrar to remove the bad grades since you no longer need them to meet the minimum credit hours required to graduate.

Good luck, and don't worry - the folks looking at your application love to see a letter or SOP that shows you made some mistakes in your past, but that you've learned your lesson, and how you made restitution for those mistakes.

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Post by MSU_fizz » Sun Nov 25, 2007 3:43 pm

You should definitely address your GPA in your SOP. Even a criminal record can be explained away in a good SOP. Michigan State has professors working on quantum computing although it isn't always advertised.

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