Coming from France, what are my chances?

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Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 7:56 am

Coming from France, what are my chances?

Post by Oliver » Mon Aug 04, 2008 9:35 am

Hello everyone,

I found it useful to use your profile-template. This should help you to determine my chances.

Undergrad Institution : Small French "Grande Ecole" (Great School), very good reputation in Engineering
Major(s): Engineering (mainly Mechanical and Electrical)
Minor(s): No minors in France
GPA in Major: 15/20 = A (I don't know how to convert to GPA)
Overall GPA:
Length of Degree: Normal length for a Master's Degree in France (5 years)
Position in Class: Near top (top 10% for sure)
Type of Student: Domestic (Americano-French) White Male

GRE Scores: Not attended yet.
Q: ?
V: ?
W: ?
P: ?

TOEFL Total: Not attended yet, but should not be a problem (my English is not perfect but still OK).

Research Experience: Research on a linear motor, research on a hovercraft (University of Manchester, UK), experience in industrial R&D (big nuclear energy company).

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Top in physics, top of class in the first two years.

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Not right now. See below.

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: Computer skills. Not a "real" international applicant.

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: I will probably be teaching some physics undergrads in France next year. I've been working for a big nuclear energy company in the Corporate Research & Development department with some of the big neutron/energy physics international experts.

Applying to Where: I don't know yet. I'll probably try to get into the big ones (Berkeley -my dream-, Stanford, MIT, Princeton, Caltech, etc). Since I'm quite sure I'll get a PhD here in France in a world-class University, I do not want to go overseas if I don't face the opportunity of my life. Favourite topic: quantum optics.

The only two big problems in my application are:
_ My Major which is Engineering, but I'm getting into a Physics Undergraduate Program at Paris VI/ENS (the most famous University for physics in France with Paris XI) next year. This should provide me with another Master's Degree with associated grades... could be very useful.
_ My lack of publications, which should be solved very soon since I'll be doing some research next year... it might lead to a publication.

As for GREs, I should be able to get a ~900 by April (I am working on it very hard right now).
My reference letters should be good but not amazing (it depends on the professors I'll meet next year).

What do you think of my profile? What are my chances for UC Berkeley?
What should I work on to improve my application?
Have you heard on such situations before?
Could you provide me with any advice regarding the application process for internationals?

Thank you very much for you help! Have a great day.


Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 7:56 am

Re: Coming from France, what are my chances?

Post by Oliver » Thu Aug 14, 2008 5:55 am

Could someone give me a piece of advice?


Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Nov 30, 2007 12:51 pm

Re: Coming from France, what are my chances?

Post by octavian » Wed Aug 20, 2008 10:59 am


I studied in France for 5 years at INSA Lyon, INSA Toulouse, the University of Toulouse and the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, I was in the top 10% like you with 15/20 averages and I applied to 9 Universities last year for the PhD : Harvard, Santa Barbara, Boston U, Washington, Miami, Northeastern, Oregon, UPenn, and another one I don't remember :) I had 109/120 at the Toefl, 900 at the Physics GRE and 800 in Math and 550 in Verbal. I had 2 recommendations letters from Toulouse, where I was in the top 5% and one from Italy, where I did an internship. I got accepted at Miami, Northeastern and Boston U and I chose Northeastern because they are one of the best in biophysics (they even made the cover of Nature in June), from my experience, I would say that it is not so easy to get in the States. Perhaps they are put off by the grades we get in France, 15/20 is converted to 3.0/4 and that is not good for the top Universities... I remember that once I got a 20 at an exam and the guy who was in charge of the Master's lowered it to 16.5 because "20/20 is way too much" while in the US it is not uncommon to get a 4.0 ... good luck, apply to all the schools you want to get into, but be warned not to get your hopes too high ...

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