Chances at 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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Joined: Fri Jun 27, 2014 1:24 am

Chances at grad school

Post by monstrous_moonshine » Fri Jun 27, 2014 1:40 am

Hey all,

It's about that time when thoughts about grad school start ambushing your mind... just wanted to see if I could get some peace of mind on here. I've been looking at a lot of really impressive profiles and am getting a bit worried, since I sort of more recently started focusing on physics. I wanted to gauge my chances at getting into at least one of the following schools (listed sort of in order of preference): Princeton/Stanford, Caltech, Berkeley, MIT, Harvard, UCSB

Here are my stats:
Undergraduate institution: UChicago
Major: Math
Minor: Physics
Relevant grad courses: GR, QFT, Particle Physics, Cosmology, planning on taking others. Have most of the undergrad curriculum down
Major/minor gpa: 4.0
Overall GPA: ~3.98
GRE: Haven't taken yet, but hopefully should score reasonably high
Honors: Dean's list, phi beta kappa

Research experience:
~1 quarter so far, but expecting to dedicate a lot of time this summer and in the fall: Project with a pretty renowned theorist on monstrous moonshine. If everything goes well, might result in a paper, but am not expecting it. He'll probably write me a pretty good recommendation.
~3 years in computational neuroscience lab. PI knows me well and should write me a stellar recommendation. Couple of talks and a paper in the making.
~1 year doing a project in computational topology with a grad student in the math department. Paper in the making, should be released by the time I apply.
Summer 2014: Doing an internship at Argonne in accelerator physics (might result in a small technical paper)
Summer 2013: REU in computational neuroscience at home institution.
Summer 2012: Worked at IBM in the magnetic devices group

Leadership: ~3 years: Cofounder, vice president, and director of committee on development of education in a pretty big neuroscience RSO. Then worked for a non-profit on education (teach high school students lesson plans that I developed with my club on neuroscience)
Senior class president in high school

Hobbies: Played piano competitively in college, amongst other things that I can't really put on an application.

My main concern is that I started physics too late, and don't have enough research experience under my belt. I'm primarily interested in theory (HEP, gravitation/cosmology, quantum gravity, condensed matter) but also experiment (condensed matter/plasma physics/quantum information). My dream is to be in the same building as Leonard Susskind, but I'm not too hopeful. :P Just want to prepare myself for the worst if my resume is not at the level expected at some of these top institutions. Also, what are the chances that I'll even get a faculty position after grad school/post doc?

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Re: Chances at grad school

Post by twistor » Fri Jun 27, 2014 5:02 am

If your goal is simply to work in the same building as Susskind I'm sure they're always looking for hard working folks to mop floors and clean toilets.

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Joined: Fri Jun 27, 2014 1:24 am

Re: Chances at grad school

Post by monstrous_moonshine » Fri Jun 27, 2014 5:16 am

Already applied... didn't get the job. :/

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