I'm going to be applying to graduate school in the next cycle, but I'm having doubts about my chances. I'm extremely interested in quantum information and quantum technology research (and topological QIS in particular). I've been looking at a lot of the places that seem to be doing really interesting research on these topics, and unfortunately they portray an extremely high standard in regards to their admissions, to the point that I feel quite deterred from running my self into massive amounts of debt applying, on the whim I might get accepted. Initially I wasn't so concerned because I looked at the APS listing of acceptance rates on gradschoolshopper, and places like USC looked promising. Then I went to their website and they said their statistics were completely different.
I have done research at my university for my entire time there, and I've done summer research at a qs world top 10 institution. I don't have any publications though, and my GPA is a 3.1. I started college essentially as a sophomore and wasn't quite ready for the big jump in the difficulty of coursework, and combining that with the many new distractions in college and my biting off much more than I could chew in terms of coursework (I tried to take graduate courses my first semester), I faltered quite severely. Since then I've continued to take a heavy course load, but have done much better, and have done quite well in some graduate courses.
I'm wondering if anyone has some good advice on lower tier institutions that would have good research output in the aforementioned areas of interest. Or if anyone has hope to offer for this situation. Sorry for the long post.