in dire need of grad school help

  • 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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Posts: 36
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 5:12 pm

in dire need of grad school help

Post by maxwell200 » Thu Jul 26, 2007 6:30 pm

Well, I guess as application time is looming I need help figuring out which tyoes of schools would be safe schools and which types would be schools I have a "good chance" but not "gauranteed.

My over all gpa is 3.3, my physics gpa is 3.6; I'm expecting my physics grades to rise to A- average by the time I graduate. Specificially, half my physics major grades were A or A-, the other half B+'s. Quantum mechanics was the one advanced physics course that brought me down for my major gpa, plus I had an unusually hard combe of classes. I had one quarter where I was doing quantum, E/M and biochemistry and research one quarter, another where I was doing quantum, E/M, upper level microbiology, a fourth class and research in one quarter. In fact, all quarters where I did not get all A's in my physics classes were quarters where I was taking physics concurrently with upper level chemistry and microbiology classes. Partially because of this, partially becuase I have a tougher time staying mentally organized than others, and for other reasons my physics gpa is not quite where I wanted it to be. Obviously, I am pretty disappointed with my physics grades, esp quantum, and do feel I had the ability to do a lot better. It was at Ohio State University undergrad, which i do believe is recognized for being increasingly tough in physics and other areas.

As for research, again I am unfortunately not very strong in that area either. I started research during my autumn of my junior, and plan on continuing the smae project through my senior year with a possible publication/recommendation from a very highly repsected professor in his field of particle physics.

Now, I would like to think I'm not completely out of touch with reality. I'm aware that fro me getting into a school like stanford, MIT, Caltech, Princeton, Columbia, Berkeley, etc would basically be like winning the lottery, regardless of how well I do on my physics gre. However, the grad studies chair in physics said, when i asked him abvout my grades, he said,

"Your grads look good. Based on these grades I would say you would have a
good chance of being accepted into a strong physics graduate program of
the level of OSU or possibly higher...your grades look very good".

I would hope thaty serves as good news, but I don't really know. I was wondering if anyone could help me determine, as dependent on my physics gre score, my chances of getting into these types of schools:

Rice University
Penn State
Rutgers State
University of Minnesota
University of Rochester
Texas A&M
University of Arizona
University of Virginia
New York University
Brown University
Georgia Tech
Stony Brook
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin-Madison
University of Texas-Austin
Ohio State University
Michigan State
Carnegie Mellon

Basically, I wanted to know if anyone could tell which of these schools would be schools I have a good chance of getting into and which would be "safe schools" and which would be more difficult for me to get into. Again, I have not taken the physics gre and don't really know how well I'll end up doing.

Thanks for any help you can provide.

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Joined: Sat Feb 03, 2007 6:35 pm

Post by baksiidaa » Thu Jul 26, 2007 7:42 pm

I'm guessing you've posted this 3 times because no one is responding. The truth of the matter is that not too many people are on the board this time of year, so it may take a day or two before you get a first response from someone, if anyone cares enough to answer your questions.
The best things you can do to know if you can get in somewhere are talking to professors (who probably know a lot more about admission procedures than we students do) and looking at for average admittance info and for some profiles of people who got in at the places you want to go. Keep in mind, however, that averages can be skewed by international students, and there's more to getting admitted than meeting the averages--research and publications can help a lot, or hurt, if you don't have experience.


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Post by jdhooghe » Wed Aug 01, 2007 5:13 am

Hey Maxwell, I am in the exact same boat as you except I didn't double major in Chemistry. I am applying for Graduate School also and my stats are:

3.3 overall and a 3.6 physics

As for research, I have none whatsoever. I applied to five internships this summer but didn't get into any of them :( . I come from a relatively known school but not in a good way(California State University, Chico) I have also constructed a list comparable to yours so I am very interested in these replies also. Sorry I don't have more information.

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Joined: Fri Aug 03, 2007 3:45 pm

Post by Admiralrewd » Fri Aug 03, 2007 3:59 pm

I am in a similar boat, however I can offer some advice. Talk to the one guy you did research with. For me, he is a pretty well known guy, and after talking to him, he suggested that his reccomendation would carry a lot more weight at some places than others. People forget how much politics there is, even in research. Reading a reccomendation from a person you know (and respect) means more to you if you are on an admissions board. I came up with a list of my schools based both on my preferenced, and his reccomendations, both in what schools I can get into, and also since I want to continue studying what I worked with him on (cosmology). If you have a decent relationship with the guy, and he's nice, it can help a lot.

That being said, most posts on these forums for rankings of schools, or "what school can i go to" or similar always make me giggle a little. I can tell you for certain there is a lot of subjectivity to getting into grad school (which isn't to say that it's random in the least, just that you might be suprised at some reasoning behind admitting certain people). I know someone who was in the 30% range on his physics gre and got into a tier one school with only a small quantity of reseach. But if you asked him to explain it, he had a pretty good reason which I would rather not go into here.

My second suggestion, if talking to your professor/advisor doesn't help, is that you try to apply to a broad selection of schools. That same guy who got into a tier 1 school got rejected from all his other schools (including some pretty poor ones). I have heard from lots of grad students here that lesser schools rejected them while tougher schools accepted them.

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