Will I be competitive as an international applicant??

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Will I be competitive as an international applicant??

Post by umiwn » Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:05 pm

Hello all :D

Thanks for checking my first post!
I am an international student from Japan and planning to apply to U.S. grad schools this winter.

I saw in old topics that international applicants can be competitive only if they are the very best at their home universities, i.e. if they have quite high GPA and GRE physics scores.
But I still wonder what is expected for my case (which is shown below), so if there is anyone who have any idea whether I can be a competitive applicant, please leave a response.

My backgrounds are:

GRE Scores:
Verbal 380 (25%)
Quantitative 800 (94%)
Analytical 4.5 (52%)
Physics 920 (91%)

TOEFL Scores:
CBT 270/300 ( Reading 26, Writing 27, Listening 28 )

3.56 overall, 3.45 or so in physics (which is horrible...)

Summer research at UCLA on high energy experiment (while studying abroad, no publications)
Senior thesis on particle theory (no pubs)
One-semester TA experience (of E&M exercise class)
No awards :(

two average recommendations and one good one from an assistant professor who used to be a mirror fellow at UCB.

I am applying to:
UCLA (where I have studied abroad for one year)
Boston U.

and probably other back-up (i dunno if i can say this, though) universities like URochester, Northwestern, etc.

If you need more info to give a response, please ask me.
Thanks a lot!

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Post by cancelled20080417 » Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:12 pm

Frankly speaking, I don think you will have a chance at those schools you list there except for the few like NYU and Boston!
I am pretty sure about UC school! They only admit handful of international students!!! I can say with confidence that international students that UC's take are mostly from the States who have good test scores, GPA and research!! Ony if you had 4.0, 990, extraordinary research, you would have a "fighting chance" to those UC schools! ( UC =~bitch, not =~ beach).

Really sorry to say this, but 3.4 GPA in Physics is not going to help you at all!!

Forget about the awards! thats bullshit! It doesnot matter at all!

YOu have research experiences, so you might have fighing chances for Minnessota, NYU, Boston, but I am not quite sure since your are an international! I am too, but I am in the states!

Good luck, BUT you shud def apply to all those places and def keep some back ups too! who knows!
i din mean to discourage you or anything! JUST MY OPINION!

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Post by vicente » Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:44 pm

Drop your UC's except UCLA. Since you were there for a year, try to get some profs there to write you recommendations, that might help you get in despite being an international student.

There is really no point in international students applying to UCs. If you can get into one of them (UCSB, UCSC, UCD, etc), then you can be getting into a much better non-UC school. Unless you get into Berkeley, which doesn't have many schools better than it :wink: It really makes no sense for an international student to apply to a UC unless a.) it's UC Berkeley or b.) they really like a particular research group and are willing to go to a UC for it instead of a higher-ranked school on their list.

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Post by butsurigakusha » Tue Dec 04, 2007 11:37 pm

I am just curious how people know that the UC schools don't accept very many international applicants? Is this just "common" knowledge? Are there any reliable sources to back this up? I found myself telling people this, when I have nothing to back it up with besides things I have read on this discussion board.

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Post by grae313 » Tue Dec 04, 2007 11:41 pm


Go to "2006 Roster of Physics Departments"

posted by vicente in another thread

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Post by fermiboy » Wed Dec 05, 2007 12:31 am

I think for a lot of state schools, it is generally cheaper to fund a domestic applicant, even if they are out of state. Here's why: most schools have "in state" and "out of state tuition," and a domestic applicant is a US citizen and can become a citizen of the school's state after one year. After that the department only has to pay in state tuition for the remaining years.

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Post by phoenix » Sat Dec 08, 2007 8:54 am

well..i am an international from Hong Kong with similar background

GRE verbal: 410,34%(sucks..stinks..)
quantitative: 800, 94%
analytical writing: 4.5, 54%

GRE subject: physics, 990, 97%

TOEFL: Reading: 28, Listening: 27, Speaking: 26, Writing: 24, Total: 105

GPA overall: 3.55, physics: 3.53 (horrible too..)

Research experience:
One year research in experimental high energy physics
3-month summer research in nuclear physics, attended a Division of Nuclear Physics conference in Oct. 2007
Now doing quantum optics research (which is my true call)

3 letters, 1 from one year research, one from summer research, one from vice-president and professor of physics from my university who knows me well in person..(2 US professors, one from Hong Kong, the one from Hong Kong is Caltech Ph.D) they will write for all the schools i apply to..and another professor who taught me one senior level and one grad level courses will write for me for some schools, not all

No publication
the only thing i can think that makes me a bit more "advantageous" is that i am the minority: a female..
that's it..no special...also dare to apply to top schools...with few back-up's..

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Post by brothermalcolm » Fri Dec 14, 2007 6:27 am

@ phoenix

i think mit is having a pro-women physicist campaign atm

and if im not wrong you must have been involved in aberdeen?

am very envious of your perfect sub test score!

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Post by phoenix » Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:43 am


the aberdeen involvement, i guess you are talking about the aberdeen experiment which is related to the anti-neutrino experiment...many of my friends are working on that..i actually was doing the collaboration work in US for that year....i guess you know this experiment?..or you are actually involved?..that would be great to know...=)

and, about mit campaign, i actually don't know that...
curious whats that about...something to do with my gender?
is that kind of the activity that encourages women to go into physics?...

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Post by cannopy » Mon Dec 17, 2007 10:59 am

my scores are the following
GRE quant 750 (84percentile)
verbal 300
TOEFL 87 ( R- 20 , L- 24 , S -23 , W -20 )
GRE - PHY : 610 (38 percentile )
can anybody guide me over the choice of universities .
considering the fact that my scores are low how should i go about things now.

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Post by astroste » Wed Dec 19, 2007 8:05 am

I just want to make one point about applying UCs

I am now a first-year in one of the UCs and was an exchange student too.

The FACT is, I have 15 international classmates out of ~40.

Not all of them have been to america before, but I did meet one who was an exchange too.

So do not scare to apply UC schools, who knows if they get some extra funding and have more flexibility on the issue (asking prof and grad students there may help) =)

good luck guys~

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