Standard "What are my Chances?" questions

  • 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: Wed May 04, 2016 2:19 pm

Standard "What are my Chances?" questions

Post by HannaGray » Wed May 04, 2016 2:42 pm

I'm applying to graduate schools in the Fall and I wanted to know if people think the schools I am applying to are doable.
I go to University of Maryland now. We have a pretty strong physics program (#14 on US News rankings). I have a ~3.55 overall GPA ~3.30 GPA- which doesn't sound too good. However, there is a really strong upward trend. I got all As and Bs my first three semesters, always getting more Bs than As each semester. In the 10 classes I have taken since then, I have received 9 As and 1 B. It looks like I will get all As in my current semester as well. It's also worth noting that I got Bs in like... all of my lower level physics courses but I have received As in all my upper level physics courses so far.

I also won an award for a poster about my semester long research project I did in my sophomore year. I have been LAing a physics class for two semesters (an LA is sort of like a TA- I just help students solve problems in their class.) It is an 'experimental' classroom in that it is based off of teaching research that has not been implemented for the majority of college courses. I also am part of the ACCESS network- a network seven of schools that have programs designed to foster diversity and inclusion in STEM. I am an assembly fellow for ACCESS, meaning I am part of the planning team for our may conference so I will be running workshops and giving presentations at the conference. I also think I will have at least 1 very strong letter of recommendation from the physics education group (this person really liked me and knows me on a fairly personal level and she writes pretty good LORs). I will be working with my schools quantum information systems group starting this Summer. I have yet to take my GREs but I am pretty confident that I will get at least 70th percentile. And I am an upper-middle class white woman, so I suppose being a woman will help me here.

Anyway, I do not want to go to any top tier schools. Ideally, I would like to go to University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Colorado-Boulder, University of Maryland-College Park. I feel like Boulder is kind of a reach for me, but the fact that UC Boulder is part of the ACCESS network might help my chances a little since I am working with people from that school. Additionally, it seems like that Boulder values diversity so my experience with ACCESS and the fact that I am a woman should probably help my chances.

Okay, this is a long post. Thanks if you stuck around long enough to read it all. :D Do you think it is feasible for me to get into these schools?

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Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:14 pm

Re: Standard "What are my Chances?" questions

Post by Catria » Wed May 04, 2016 3:51 pm

The one thing is that, when dealing with people that have 3.3-3.5 GPAs, it is better for an admissions committee to have an upward trend than constantly performing at that level. :D

If you want to go to CU-Boulder, Wisconsin or stay home at UMD, it would mean that you're mostly interested in condensed matter or AMO. (I'm not sold on CU-Boulder for quantum computing) One word of caution about Wisconsin though: they are going through severe funding issues and should no longer be regarded as a top-20 program either. That said, do you lean more towards condensed matter or AMO?

If you're more of an AMO lady, perhaps Rochester or Arizona, or Northwestern even, would be good fits. On the other hand, if you lean more towards condensed matter, UCSD, Rutgers and Minnesota would also be schools you would probably like from a CM standpoint, but Minnesota has no AMO whatsoever.

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