FALL 2008 acceptances

  • 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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will
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Post by will » Sat Feb 02, 2008 9:08 pm

How long does it usually take for the first round 'super star' candidates to decline?

I'm not even sure what would be the best approach, from the position of a school at say, the caliber of Ohio State, where a lot of people here say it's their backup school, but it's still a highly ranked program and quite possibly the top choice of many applicants. Of course you want to extend admission to the super stars immediately, knowing that many will eventually turn down the offer, but if they actually want in your program you can't pass them up... But since it seems such a common choice for a backup, it might be that all the first picks are destined for an ivy, and then what happens? Do most of these students respond with their intentions right away, or does the second tier of applicants have to wait in limbo until april?

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quizivex
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Post by quizivex » Sat Feb 02, 2008 9:13 pm

I know it's anyone's guess whether admission people firstly even know about this site, secondly take the time to read it and finally will actually go to the lengths to try to identify their applicants...

My point here is it wouldn't be hard if they wanted to. I doubt any two students out there applying to the same school will have the exact same GPA to two decimal places, same GRE physics and especially GRE general scores. One final look at their research experience and or type of school will complete the home run...

This site is HUGE. It has users from every school in the country and plenty around the world. It's hard to imagine that the forum is a secret to any department.

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grae313
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Post by grae313 » Sat Feb 02, 2008 9:17 pm

And here is post #300! I officially spend way too much time on this forum.

admissionprof: thanks for sharing a word from the other side :wink: . Since this site is one of the first google hits for searches such as, "physics GRE graduate school," I figured there were probably a number of profs aware of its existence. I can't, however, imagine them caring enough or having the time (especially during this time of year) to try and match up profiles with their application pool, and then go fishing around this site for those students' unsavory posts. Finally, even if we were matched to an applicant by a grad school admissions person, why would it matter?

So what if I let a cuss word slip out here and there, or if I admit that I like wine and will even drink enough to get tipsy every now and then? Are graduate schools admitting drones or real people here? My grades show that I'm a serious student and I always put my work first.

This forum is a place for us to share information that will help us be better students and better applicants. It is also a place to find moral support. This is a pretty stressful time for us, and it's nice to have people to "talk to" who share the common experience while we wait for news that will have a huge effect on our lives. If a graduate school would hold that against me, I'd have to seriously ask myself whether that is the sort of school I would want to attend.


My point: Everyone go post your stats in the stats thread!! :D
I would have loved to have this thread as a resource to me last summer, when I was trying to see what sorts of applicants got into what sorts of schools.
Last edited by grae313 on Sat Feb 02, 2008 9:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.

admissionprof
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Post by admissionprof » Sat Feb 02, 2008 9:33 pm

Will--

I suspect that a school as huge as Ohio State won't be greatly distressed financially if they go over their target by a bit, and so they probably admit somewhat more liberally at the early stages. As every scientist knows, when you deal with big numbers, fluctuations are smaller.

But a school with an entering class of 10-12 really can't afford to get 20, so they are more cautious. Schools with entering classes of 15-20 are a little less cautious, but still careful. By the end of February, we rank-order our waiting list, and contact those at the top to tell them the exact situation, and we keep them updated on the number we want, outstanding offers, etc. Students appreciate the candor.

Keep in mind that the chance of too small a class is not very high, since there are an near-infinite supply of highly qualified Chinese applicants (and they won't be visiting, so they can get offers quite late in the process).

BTW--I would hope that if someone has Ohio State as a backup, and gets into an ivy which is higher on their list, then they would withdraw immediately from OSU. The difficulties for admissions people occur when they hold the offer anyway, leaving us guessing.

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quizivex
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Post by quizivex » Sat Feb 02, 2008 9:53 pm

Has anyone heard of an admissions committee rejecting an otherwise strong applicant because of one phrase or sentence in his SOP that they don't like?

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grae313
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Post by grae313 » Sat Feb 02, 2008 9:56 pm

lol, quiz, still worrying about your SOP? :wink:

sadpanda
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Post by sadpanda » Sat Feb 02, 2008 9:59 pm

So far in Vandy, OSU, and UW Madison astro.... wooot!!!


btw, any ideas on how we can kill ETS. They claim to be non profit yet I swear I've given them a grand of my money this semester....they need to go down!

admissionprof
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Post by admissionprof » Sat Feb 02, 2008 9:59 pm

Yes., quizivex. Someone last year said that they very definitely wanted to work in subfield XXX. We don't have anyone working in that field. So it obviously made a big difference.

Occasionally, people forget to change the name of the institution in their personal statement. We smile about it, but it doesn't really affect anything.

The funniest sentence in a personal statement came from a foreign applicant with poor English, who had discussed how his interest in physics grew. As a child, he had done various experiments with the beam of sunlight coming in his room (and pieces of glass, etc.). He then built a little lab in his room. Later in his personal statement he was discussing his desire to do experimental physics, and said "My bedroom experiments taught me a lot about the proper use of my hands".

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grae313
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Post by grae313 » Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:06 pm

"My bedroom experiments taught me a lot about the proper use of my hands".
Image

Image

Image

Image

sadpanda
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Post by sadpanda » Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:08 pm

hahaha that is priceless!!! :lol:

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will
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Post by will » Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:23 pm

ETS really claims to be non-profit?

That's almost better than the bedroom experiments.

astrorabi
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Post by astrorabi » Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:41 pm

Exactly. That applicant said:"My bedroom experiments..." people all over the forum laugh; ETS said:"We are non-profit." people all over the world laugh.

GaussianGoodness
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Post by GaussianGoodness » Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:42 pm

QUOTE (admissionprof): "My bedroom experiments taught me a lot about the proper use of my hands".

New Laptop: $1100
2 weeks in Europe: $6500
The aforementioned quote: Priceless!!!

I've sent it to everyone in my department...

CondMatProf
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another professor here

Post by CondMatProf » Sun Feb 03, 2008 12:33 am

another professor here - at top 20 department. I read the forums occasionally (but this is my first post) because I am trying to figure out what our yield rate is going to be (ratio of students who accept to the total number of offers we make).

In principle, yes, professors COULD try to match the name to the poster from the profile, but I can assure you - we have better things to do with our time. And while it's possible, it's still time consuming - and what are we going to do with this information? Our department gets 500 applications, and just sifting through them is extremely time consuming as is. Even if I know that poster123 is John Smith in real life, and I learned that he wants to attend Harvard or MIT, and Michigan or UCLA are John's safety school - so what? What exactly am I going to do with this information? It would still make sense to make an offer to John and hope that a visit to our campus can convince to accept our offer.

This forum is great in terms of providing some insight as to how a typical student makes their decision to attend a particular school.

Bottom line - some professors are interested in what they can do to make their selection process more efficient and precise - as admissionprof mentioned, we want to get not only the appropriate number of students (not much more, not much less), but also keep a certain proportion of students in a variety of sub-fields. Many schools have practical limitation in the number of foreign vs. domestic students they can accept.

We could make offers to about 80-100 students, and then see 30-40 accept. But it's a highly non-linear function of the number of offers - in other words if someone wants to increase or decrease the eventual class size by 10%, the number of total offers may need to be scaled differently than simply proportional 10% adjustment to the number of offers.

I would urge everyone to remain calm and patient, most faculty members realize how important these decisions are, and we take admission process very seriously.

My final message is to not rush to judgment based on US News and World Report or NRC rankings. There are many parameters that will affect your graduate experience, and reputation / pedigree effect is just one such parameters. Make sure you visit the campus and talk to faculty members and other students, go on lab tours - don't be shy, ask a lot of questions.
You need to find a perfect fit between you and the department (or more specifically, a lab or a PI that you want to work with). It's a bit like dating - physical attractiveness (ranking) is not everything - you need to find a "perfect match" in many other ways.

nvanmeter
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Post by nvanmeter » Sun Feb 03, 2008 2:36 am

thanks a lot to both of you professors for your information. i have an additional question for you: at your school, is it hard for a student to enter into a different field than the one he specified on his application? and is it easier to do so as long as one still stays within the broader designation of theory and experiment but only switches the subject?

trupti
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Post by trupti » Sun Feb 03, 2008 2:58 am

"My bedroom experiments taught me a lot about the proper use of my hands".

:mrgreen:
... I am an international student and we are forewarned by our seniors about making such statements making such in our SOP..but a very funny thing happened with me...
My sister has an American friend and her dad is in the admission committee of a non- physics department of a university which has a highly ranked physics department...so I emailed her my CV to just see if her dad could help me get in touch with a physics prof there..
She tried to americanize my CV (as we use british english) and in the process added a couple of spelling mistakes and a very slight but unwanted stuff in my CV :lol:

admissionprof
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Post by admissionprof » Sun Feb 03, 2008 7:34 am

nvanmeter-

At our school, the choice of subfield is really not relevant unless it is something that we don't do at all. And it is easy to change, most students do.

But other places do care---at some, theorists are less likely to get picked than experimenters, and at some, it is difficult to change groups. So it's variable.

The other professor is right about not paying attention to ratings. I had a choice between a school that was then rated about 50th and a school that was top three (maybe top one). I chose the lower-rated school since I liked the location, the atmosphere and the friendliness of the department. It just fit better. Sure, it might have hurt a little bit in getting future jobs, but I was very happy for 5-6 years, and that made it worthwhile. It was the best decision I've ever made (and the higher rated school's admissions person was stunned....)

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quizivex
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Post by quizivex » Sun Feb 03, 2008 11:26 am

@ admissionprof

I appreciate you spending some time on this forum and I'd hate to inundate you as if it's a Q&A session, but I'm quite nervous now and would at least like some excuse to relax. So my question is, if a 4.0/990 American student does not get in anywhere and still somehow wants to do physics, would any schools in the top 50 range be willing to accept him after March 15 (if there's room) without having applied?


@ grae313

<deleted>
Last edited by quizivex on Thu Feb 07, 2008 9:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

admissionprof
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Post by admissionprof » Sun Feb 03, 2008 11:35 am

Quiz:

If a 4.0/990 American student were to e-mail the admissions persons at practically any school in the 20-50 ranking on March 15th, explaining the situation, they would very likely be admitted. A formal application would still be required (that's federal law, I believe) at some point. The only exceptions might be if one of your letter writers talks about your ax-murder conviction or other such issues.

I wouldn't worry as much about the comment in your SOP. Some eyebrows mght be raised (depending on what your undergrad institution is), but I don't think it's that big a deal.

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quizivex
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Post by quizivex » Sun Feb 03, 2008 11:35 am

THANKS :)

cancelled20080417
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Post by cancelled20080417 » Sun Feb 03, 2008 8:48 pm

Do Professors have to be anonymous on a form like this?
I think sometime even students do not mind revealing their identities( eg. nvanmeter, who even gave me the link to his paper on arxiv) and i do not think there is any harm doing so( unless we have spoken and/or championed some utter crap and littered the forum everywhere, like me, :lol: ). (a very respectable Math Prof. once told me, if you love pure math or theoretical physics and do not know how to crack a joke, then that is a mark of insanity)
All I am saying is why do Professors have to be anonymous on the forum? I still think some one has a lot of time parodying a Professor and having fun talking to students.

EDIT: I would consider myself blessed if I get a chance to know and meet a Professor who takes his/her time out of the busy schedule to come to the forum and discuss with students about the application process at such length and detail and inform us to be patient. (sometime even our parents do not make time to come see how our soccer/football match was, because of their 'busy schedule'! I am not trying to dimystify somebody's intention on above posts, neither am I trying to religate someone's generosity. All I am saying is : Some one respetable like a Prof. do not have to be anonymous, if they really want to help students who are in a dilema)

I have been accepted from UCSB, Cornell, UCSD, and The Ohio State. Cornell is high on my ranking, but if there is a Prof at The Ohio State who takes his\her time off the busy shcedule to visit this forum and guide students, then I would be interested in going to OSU instead of Cornell. By the way, I am interested in Condensed Matter and it looks like we have a Prof. here from Condtmatt dept of top 20 U. I am looking forward to reading other posts from you.
:roll:

It is bit of mystry to me that how suddenly fermiboy realized that he was talking to a Prof. once the person who claimed himself/herself to be a Prof. posted another post with his/her Professorial majesty, none of which are the tangible evidences sufficent to give me the same realization or a shock wave as it did for fermiboy!!!
Last edited by cancelled20080417 on Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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dlenmn
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Post by dlenmn » Mon Feb 04, 2008 10:54 am

@ shouravv

The thread is called "Admission selection process"... not sure if it'll be a useful read.

CondMatProf
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to RG

Post by CondMatProf » Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:20 pm

RG, even in replying to emails of perspective students who are interested in joining my group, I have to constantly remind myself to be careful not to create a moment of miscommunication where the student misinterpret my comment as an official acceptance by the department's admission committee.

While I think some transparency in how admission process works is useful to you guys, I don't want to be on record disclosing "trade secrets" so to speak.

And to answer the question from a domestic student with 990 score on GRE, high GPA and research experience - I am willing to bet you WILL get acceptance at most schools you applied to.

CondMatProf
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Post by CondMatProf » Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:42 pm

to nvanmeter - you can switch fields and the department cannot do anything about it - as long as there is a PI willing to pay for your research assistantship.
So if you wanted to switch from, say, condensed matter theory to quantum optics or atomic physics, all you have to do is find an adviser who is looking for students and willing to take you into his or her group.

cancelled20080417
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Post by cancelled20080417 » Mon Feb 04, 2008 1:41 pm

Hello CondMatProf:

Immediately after reading your post, I performed a simple thought experiement and the result says: do not trust!


and for this sentence:

"RG, even in replying to emails of perspective students who are interested in joining my group, I have to constantly remind myself to be careful not to create a moment of miscommunication where the student misinterpret my comment as an official acceptance by the department's admission committee. "

It did not fit any where on my thought experiment. What did I do wrong/

CondMatProf
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Post by CondMatProf » Mon Feb 04, 2008 2:25 pm

RG, you are welcome to contact me privately via PM for any questions.

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fermiboy
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Post by fermiboy » Mon Feb 04, 2008 5:29 pm

RG,

admissionprof's quick response to my post is what made me think he/she was for real, and the quality of the writing.

pika
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Post by pika » Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:03 am

...just found this forum. hooray for freaking out about decisions :)

geomar, if you've got time to write all this, surely we can hang out more. Space party?

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twistor
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Post by twistor » Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:27 am

"I will rather go to a mediocre school and be a class topper there, than going to a top school where everybody is bright and I may end up being last in my class".
Your friend has the right idea. In 10 years it will be better to say that you were first in your class in a mediocre school than last in your class at Harvard.

If you figure your friend's intelligence is fixed, why shouldn't he go somewhere where he looks better among his peers? In any case, if I were reading a resume and I saw that someone did a really shitty job at a prestigious university I would never hire that person.

For graduate school IT DOES NOT MATTER what school you attend. What matters most is your advisor and his/her contacts. That's what is going to get you your next job.

Stop playing into the rich elitism that these schools thrive on. The only reason they can be so selective is because so many people apply. The only reason so many people apply is because they have had a long time to become adept at marketing themselves to a certain class of people. For every one of us who gets in because we are smart there are many others who get in because they are rich, because they are legacy admits, or because mommy & daddy have a library named after them.

So if there is a good advisor doing great work at a university that's not exactly top ranked, why not go there anyway? The program itself doesn't really matter for graduate school; you're only taking classes for two years. After that you'll never see the inside of a classroom again unless you're teaching.

I think the school you attend as an undergraduate makes far more of a difference than your graduate school. After all, that's where you are going to learn the bulk of material you are going to have to apply after you graduate. A strong program here will help you later on, but a strong graduate program will not make-up for a piss-poor undergraduate program.

Rant over. We now return you to your regularly scheduled posts.

tnoviell
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Post by tnoviell » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:05 pm

If a high school student told me he/she wanted to get a degree in physics, I think I would tell the student to find a balance between cirriculum, school name, and the program's reputation. Sometimes I look at some school's cirriculums and am surprised.

GCS
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Post by GCS » Tue Feb 05, 2008 6:54 pm

sorry but I'm forced to bring this thread back on topic :wink:

So after over a week of absolutely no mail (not even junk mail!) I open my school mailbox and see a little white slip telling me to go get a package from the bulk mail room, obviously I was nervous/excited as hell...

and sure enough it was an acceptance package from CU-Boulder Astro!! 8)

Hopefully there will be a flow of acceptances like last week.

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dlenmn
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Post by dlenmn » Tue Feb 05, 2008 6:57 pm

About time someone else got accepted. Congrats!

geomar
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Post by geomar » Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:47 pm

And now I will move away from my bad precedent of 1 page long posts that take too much time and really achieve little.

I got a phone call from a professor at MIT (who I had explicitly mentioned in my SoP), and I am accepted w/ fellowship. It woke me up from a nap and and I had no idea how to respond ... I am pretty happy right now.

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grae313
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Post by grae313 » Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:50 pm

OMG I GUESS SO! :P

First MIT acceptance on the board. CONGRATS GEOMAR! That's fantastic.

cancelled20080417
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Post by cancelled20080417 » Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:22 pm

geomar, congrats! you r the man !

MIT is my dream school. Oh well, I already have very good options at my hand.

Congrats again.

geomar
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Post by geomar » Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:02 am

I recommend thinking about what to say to a professor (especially a potential advisor) that calls you up to inform you that you have been accepted to a school. Perhaps a question or two to ask. I have no idea what impression I made on him: my mind was racing a mile a minute and I could barely speak.

From my conversation it very much sounded like that he had picked up my application, looked at my previous research experience (which is very very close to exactly his specialty) and liked the sound of my application. Just simple as that ... I don't think my application is any different (in fact, it is less impressive) than a lot of yours, I think someone just thought I would specifically be a good fit.

Honestly, I told myself that I would not rush to conclusions about dream schools and rankings within my list. But having a professor call me personally has seriously bumped up going MIT up in my book. In many ways, I think of it more of "joining the XXXX's group" rather than simply going to MIT. Certainly I will tour other labs and chat with other professors, but I had the most interest in joining this one group when I applied and the interest has only gotten stronger...

Great explanation, Q. I'd like to think that most people are genuinely interested in their clubs/sports from high school, and that admissions people can see through otherwise. But that is too idealistic. Deserving students can't all get in, I admit that. Plus, with the factor of money - things get messy.
Lastly, I personally think I get stereotyped when I tell people I study physics at XXXX University, thats what I don't like about it.
Last edited by geomar on Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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quizivex
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Post by quizivex » Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:08 am

I recommend thinking about what to say to a professor (especially a potential advisor) that calls you up to inform you that you have been accepted to a school. Perhaps a question or two to ask. I have no idea what impression I made on him: my mind was racing a mile a minute and I could barely speak.
Sounds like very valuable advice...

However, I personally don't want to jinx myself by thinking about that life changing phone call... so I'll just get caught off guard and endure whatever awkward conversation comes, lol! :lol:

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grae313
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Post by grae313 » Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:09 am

I am also accepted nowhere :cry:

agonizomai
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Post by agonizomai » Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:16 am

@grae313 - ditto. *gulp*

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will
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Post by will » Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:51 am

Still no acceptances... but no rejections, either. That's good.

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grae313
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Post by grae313 » Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:56 am

yeah I keep telling myself it's way too early to get worried, especially if 990 american students haven't heard back because I know you guys will get in somewhere.
Last edited by grae313 on Wed Feb 06, 2008 1:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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butsurigakusha
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Post by butsurigakusha » Wed Feb 06, 2008 1:08 am

I wish I had your confidence. I am not so sure. I had a pre-screening interview with a company today. The possibility of not getting accepted seems real, so I am already looking for a backup. Getting a job actually doesn't sound too bad.

If I don't get accepted, my plan is to get a computer science minor this summer and look for some sort of programming job.

doom
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Post by doom » Wed Feb 06, 2008 1:19 am

Got another acceptance today! Granted, it's Indiana, which is another one of my backups, but it's still good to know I'm in. And, with IU I have gotten my financial package (see profile page if you want details).

Now, let's hear from some of my higher-choice schools!

Oh, and speaking of the profile page, is there any way we can get that upped so that it'll appear on the front page? I think that will help us attract more people to post their profiles. Just a thought.

hg
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Post by hg » Wed Feb 06, 2008 5:06 am

Congrats Geomar. :P Can I ask you what area you'd applied for?

geomar
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Post by geomar » Wed Feb 06, 2008 5:57 am

Physics phD
My research interests fall under experimental condensed matter physics.

hg
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Post by hg » Wed Feb 06, 2008 7:10 am

Good luck with your future studies.

I still haven't heard from any of the unis in the US.

hpharty
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Post by hpharty » Wed Feb 06, 2008 10:38 am

@butsurigakusha

I got a job and so far it has not even come close to meeting my expectations. Of course, that would all depend on what job you find and what field you're looking at. My advice to any physics students wanting to get a job straight out of college: learn to program. Seriously, learn to program in any and every language you can. Do it now.

Personally, if I do not end up in graduate school next year I am going to go back to my undergrad institution and get a teaching certificate. Being a high school physics teacher doesn't sound half bad.

Now please go back to learning to program.

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twistor
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Post by twistor » Wed Feb 06, 2008 11:26 am

I agree and I think it's terrible that so much modern physics revolves around programming. The US is already outsourcing many programming jobs to countries like India and China, see, for example:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=pr ... gle+Search

If this trend continues, and I suspect it will, then your physics degree will be meaningless in 10 years. That's because you will have spent your years in graduate school and post-docs in front of a computer, programming. When you are done you will be qualified to be a programmer. When you go to look for a job in programming (because that's what you're equipped to do) you will find that they have been outsourced to countries where wages are substantially lower. Only one person in the lab really needs to be a skilled physicist. The rest can simply be programmers implementing that person's ideas. If the future of physics lies in programming computers then it is a sad future I don't want to be part of.

I'm looking for a position in medical physics. I originally wanted to do imaging but when I talked to the imaging personal at various schools I found out that if you cut out all the technical jargon they basically wanted me to be a programmer. C, C++ and Matlab.

I think this is bullshit. If I wanted to become a programmer I would have spent 4 years getting a CS degree and that would have been the end of it.

cancelled20080417
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Post by cancelled20080417 » Wed Feb 06, 2008 11:26 am

hey butsu.....


I can GUARAN Dam TEEEEEEEEEE that you will get into UCSD. You may also get other very good offers,which I cannot guarantee, but UCSD is a piece of cake for 990 with GPA above 3.7 and some research which you have it all.

Last year UCSD accepted 140 students and I think tht is a record high acceptance compared to any other grad shcool in the US.

you don have to look around for jobs. chill out, drink, dope and get laid cuz, you wont have this freedom in grad school. have fun.

hahahha
TC

cancelled20080417
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Post by cancelled20080417 » Wed Feb 06, 2008 11:39 am

Twistor don be afraid, Physics will remain alive and new rigorous mathematial techniques will develop and programming will remain as an auxiliary tool like we have them now in the future too. There is no way that physicists(at least theoretical physicists) are gonna rely on computers and say that, ok people lets not calculate, lets simply put data on the computer and get the result. This is simply not going to happen.

Look at cond matt for instance, back in the days, every body thought strongly correlated systems are not precisely solvable, many body problems are also not solvable, but in the 80s Wilson came up with a brilliant idea of RG( although part of it requires computation, but it does not take over the pure mathematical derivations of the result) and now we have tools to exactly solve many body problems. So new rigorous tools will develop and we will never have to COMPLETELY rely on computers and sit back and see what computers do.

I have seen at least one grad school, UCSB( and there are many others too), where cond matt theorists do not emphasize computational and hard core programming. It is true that we need them all, but like I said above it is NOT going to take over physical insights and mathematical rigor. Period.



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