Matching a school to my profile

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Joined: Thu Oct 17, 2019 11:23 am

Matching a school to my profile

Post by iquark » Thu Oct 17, 2019 11:36 am

I'm a physics master student, specializing in theoretical condensed matter, and I study in Israel but my intention is to do my phd at the US.

My grades -
- ~85/100 (a bit higher in the master's classes- taken QFT, GR, particle physics, graduate StatMech and others). Bsc major in physics, minor in CS. This is about average, slightly above the median.
- General GRE: 90% for verbal and quantitative, score 4.5 in the essays part.
- Physics GRE: %67, but I'm going to retake it.

I want to continue to work in CMT, or maybe quantum information, things of that sort. My thesis advisor is quite known in the field (and also studied in top American universities), I will also have a reference letter from my advisors at my CERN internship, and at least one more letter.
I also worked as a research assistant in a CS research group (worked a bit on machine learning). No published work.

So my question - how high should I aim? I will likely apply to 10 or so universities. Is it reasonable to target top 10 universities?

I know how to estimate whether a school is a good match for me content wise (or recommendations on such schools), since I know my interests and can read papers and judge for myself. I just hope for a realistic estimation of my prospects.

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Re: Matching a school to my profile

Post by geekusprimus » Fri Oct 18, 2019 12:10 am

For figuring out your odds of getting in, has admission statistics on a lot of schools. There's a lot that goes into an application other than grades and GRE scores, but it at least gives you an idea of where you might be competitive. You can also read through the admission profile topics from the past few years on this forum and look at people with similar profiles to you to see where they got in.

Someone who has actually finished the admissions process might have better tips.

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Re: Matching a school to my profile

Post by Nishikata » Fri Oct 18, 2019 1:32 am

For international student, you can either:

- check the international students' profile from previous cycles in this forum
- check the profiles of your physics seniors from your university who also applied to the US.

When an international student applies to a top 10 school, usually the universal profiles (GRE, GPA, papers, research fit) are equally stellar in some way.
Then the ballpark changes to the recommendation, reputation of your school, affirmative action, etc.

Hence, if you have seniors from the same lab, he/she's a good benchmark. Where did he/she end up in? that's the league that you should expect to be. Whether you can top that, is based on small differences in your profiles that can otherwise be generalized as luck.

Of course, don't just compare with 1 person. Have a few seniors to get a feel on where you stand.

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