Who hath the admission gods not looked kindly upon?

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WontonBurritoMeals
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Who hath the admission gods not looked kindly upon?

Postby WontonBurritoMeals » Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:15 am

Who had the best rejections:profile awesomeness ratio from last year? I intend to give those that got the shaft (can you dig it?) and lament the randomness and madness of this whole process with.

jdhooghe- Good grades? Respectable PGRE score? Special undergrad. research award? My heart goes out to you, man.

LucasWillis- Top of your class (literally), and most of all, lots of great research experience. First author publication? 12 conferneces? I learned something cool about Euler just by reading your profile! What happen? Someone set up us the bomb!

kangen558- Publication, perfect GPA, great PGRE score, and several conferences. Maybe they don't like minorities...

___- You may think that ___ (not to be confused with ____) shouldn't make this list. ___ got into a lot of great schools. But ___ also got rejected by some too. First author publication, near perfect GPA, most prestigious undergrad. research award there is, great PGRE score. You shouldn't have been rejected from ANY of those.

Did you guys have a criminal record? Did the schools lose your applications? Or is God just a bastard? Who knows.

Why didn't *such and such* make my list? Well, maybe you did something crazy like only apply to programs in String Theory. Maybe you were an international student with a PGRE below 90 percentile. Think I missed someone? Post! Argue!

May the wind be always at your back,
-Wonton Burrito Meals

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quizivex
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Re: Who hath the admission gods not looked kindly upon?

Postby quizivex » Wed Aug 27, 2008 3:48 am

Haha, great post! These half serious/half silly threads are exactly what the forum needs to be at its best! Keep it up thru April 15, 2009, WontonBurritoMeals! (but don't forget to replace all references to "God" with "garden").

WontonBurritoMeals wrote:Did you guys have a criminal record?

Yes, that's the only possible explanation...

Indeed, LucasWills was written up for stealing bath towels out of several hotel rooms during his 12 conference trips...

And kangen558 was caught dropping hazardous waste into a volcano.
Last edited by quizivex on Wed Aug 27, 2008 4:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

a bucket
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Re: Who hath the admission gods not looked kindly upon?

Postby a bucket » Wed Aug 27, 2008 4:09 am

WontonBurritoMeals wrote:___- You may think that ___ (not to be confused with ____) shouldn't make this list. ___ got into a lot of great schools. But ___ also got rejected by some too. First author publication, near perfect GPA, most prestigious undergrad. research award there is, great PGRE score. You shouldn't have been rejected from ANY of those.


Don't scare the rest of us who haven't applied yet. :(

LucasWillis
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Re: Who hath the admission gods not looked kindly upon?

Postby LucasWillis » Wed Aug 27, 2008 3:35 pm

Well, I must say that I am flattered (?) that I made the list. My only crime (though there are many that I was never caught for...) seems to have been my school's name. After all, we've really only had a dedicated physics degree program for something like 8 years.
I was told straight up by admissions people at two of the schools that I did get into that my application was fished out of the trash pile, where it was placed due to the low likelihood that a good student would come from a place that they had never heard of.

I could have done much better on the PGREs, too.

Supposedly MIT has a PGRE cutoff, and I did send in many of my application materials late.

The way I see it, wanting to do atomic, I got into some of the best schools in the country. Really I had no business applying to Princeton, because they don't have much going on there. MIT and Harvard, well, I'm not bitter.

blackcat007
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Re: Who hath the admission gods not looked kindly upon?

Postby blackcat007 » Thu Aug 28, 2008 9:25 am

well its really unfortunate that these people coudn't make it to the top schools.. but i must say that i learned something important from this post.. even i was thinking of applying to only gravitational physics and string theory programs.. but now i will add more programs of 2nd preferences...

but i didn't get the concept of intl student and 90 percentile PGRE.. ? is there any such stipulations for intl students?

a bucket
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Re: Who hath the admission gods not looked kindly upon?

Postby a bucket » Thu Aug 28, 2008 2:01 pm

blackcat007 wrote:but i didn't get the concept of intl student and 90 percentile PGRE.. ? is there any such stipulations for intl students?


No. But a lot of international schools (especially those in India/China) have cirricula that emphasize memorizing equations. Therefore if you are an international student that scored < 90th percentile on the PGRE (which really tests how well you can hammer facts and equations into your head) you probably hadn't been paying attention in class during undergrad and are not very interested in the subject.

That's what I believe the rationale of the admissions committee is. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

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WontonBurritoMeals
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Re: Who hath the admission gods not looked kindly upon?

Postby WontonBurritoMeals » Thu Aug 28, 2008 2:44 pm

Well that part was mostly tongue and a little bit of cheek. There were a lot of profiles that almost made the cut but didn't. One person who didn't make it into any schools had a profile with really great scores in everything, but didn't make the cut because (s)he was an international student who applied only in HEP Physics and only to top schools.

Almost all of these profiles are from the second page, BTW. So for those who got tired of reading the first page, you are in for a scare.

May the wind be always at your back,
-WontonBurritoMeals

a bucket
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Re: Who hath the admission gods not looked kindly upon?

Postby a bucket » Thu Aug 28, 2008 4:17 pm

Does the field of physics matter that much? Even if it does I would think that the admissions committee would be more lenient on HEP than ridiculously difficult things like CM theory. Or does the difficulty of the field not matter that much?

Since we're on this topic... How does AMO fare in comparison (in terms of acceptance rates)?

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WontonBurritoMeals
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Re: Who hath the admission gods not looked kindly upon?

Postby WontonBurritoMeals » Thu Aug 28, 2008 4:58 pm

I've heard that half of the students go into grad. school as theorists but 90% come out experimentalists. There have been threads here where people have gotten letters back that say things like: We could only accept 9 theory students this year. It also probably varies by the institution. I've heard that MIT practically accepts students into specific groups while other places expect you to move around somewhat.

There is a very finite amount of positions open for schools. I would definitely expect them to only consider taking a certain number of different types of students, and for them to consider the number of groups they have etc.

Since AMO is experimental, I'd imagine it would be easier than other fields. One thing you might do is look how the faculty at your institutes are divided up. If the applications aren't divided in the same way, (I'd be very very suprised if there weren't a huge disproportionate amount of theory applicants), they'll probably be some extra difficulty for certain applications and less for others.

May the wind be always at your back,
-Wonton Burrito Meals

blackcat007
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Re: Who hath the admission gods not looked kindly upon?

Postby blackcat007 » Fri Aug 29, 2008 8:12 am

a bucket wrote:
blackcat007 wrote:but i didn't get the concept of intl student and 90 percentile PGRE.. ? is there any such stipulations for intl students?


No. But a lot of international schools (especially those in India/China) have cirricula that emphasize memorizing equations. Therefore if you are an international student that scored < 90th percentile on the PGRE (which really tests how well you can hammer facts and equations into your head) you probably hadn't been paying attention in class during undergrad and are not very interested in the subject.

That's what I believe the rationale of the admissions committee is. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.


now that is what i say the disadvantages of being an engineering undergrad.. i am from india and i will be writing PGRE next november.. and i have to specially study all the UG physics apart from my engineering course work. , thus although i will be at par with those students whose curricula don't emphasize on eqn mugging , but i will be having a stipulation of 90 percentile :( ....

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WontonBurritoMeals
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Re: Who hath the admission gods not looked kindly upon?

Postby WontonBurritoMeals » Fri Aug 29, 2008 2:54 pm

It probably depends on a lot of things. I bet that international students have more options than they usually realize. There are a lot of good schools in the U.S. But they are likely to be disappointed if they only apply to HEP Theory at top schools when their B.S. was in Engineering.

May the wind be always at your back,
-WontonBurritoMeals

kangen558
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Re: Who hath the admission gods not looked kindly upon?

Postby kangen558 » Fri Aug 29, 2008 4:04 pm

Coming across this made me chuckle. I really don't know what my crimes against the admissions gods were. I retook the general GRE because I didn't do as well as I should have on the quantitative, so that hiccup might have had something to do with it. I might also have been a bit too specific in wanting to pursue NLD theory.

Oh well, Maryland is a nice place, and the other grad students here are pretty agreeable. And quizivex, in my defense, it was only one barrel of spent reactor fuel, and the volcano was rather large...

Good luck with the applications everyone.

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quizivex
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Re: Who hath the admission gods not looked kindly upon?

Postby quizivex » Sat Aug 30, 2008 11:43 pm

LucasWillis wrote:I was told straight up by admissions people at two of the schools that I did get into that my application was fished out of the trash pile, where it was placed due to the low likelihood that a good student would come from a place that they had never heard of.

Did you directly ask them why you were admitted? I'm surprised that schools are willing to give such detailed inside information about the processing of a particular student's application, especially when it comes in such an uncomplementary way, "you were fetched out of the trash pile." A friend at my school called a few of the programs that denied him and they gave him very specific info... His dream school told him that he was very close to being admitted... they were intending to bring in another student of his race, and it came down to him and one other student, but the other student came from a better school and had a higher PGRE... My friend ended up going to a good program he was excited about anyway... but hearing that story only made the disappointment worse since he was so close. I don't see how he was able to get such a detailed story... I mean if I called a program and asked the same thing... what are the chances I'd get to talk to someone who was personally involved in making the decision and what are the chances they'd spill it all to me.

a bucket wrote:Does the field of physics matter that much? Even if it does I would think that the admissions committee would be more lenient on HEP than ridiculously difficult things like CM theory. Or does the difficulty of the field not matter that much?

It matters a lot for some schools, but not so much (or at all) for others, depending on how they review apps, whehter it's a central committee or they let each group of researchers make their own selections. Someone (nvanmater) learned at Harvard that they don't sort applicants into groups by research interest (unless you do something stupid like I did and list interest in "astronomy" which is a completely separate department at Harvard.) Caltech sent all their decisions at once and so they probably don't care either. But on the other hand, MIT for instance does group the applicants by interest... even their website, which is in all other ways useless, says "prior research experience is helpful, especially if it is in the applicant's area of interest."

After I submitted my apps, I came across this post by schmit.paul:
schmit.paul 2/20/07 wrote:Also found out from a professor I know at MIT that they didn't accept me to the physics program...kinda sucks, because to get admitted to do plasma physics, you have to appear absolutely committed to it or they won't even consider you. However, as it turns out, they had no money to accept a single plasma theory student, and of course it would have done no good to pass my application off to another physics subfield, because my app only talked about plasma (i would have been glad to mention my interest in particle theory if I would have known).

At that point I had no chance of being admitted there, since I listed more than one interest, and even if I had only mentioned plasma physics, I probably would've had no chance because the plasma people would give heavy (if not exclusive) preference to students with prior plasma experience. Looking back I don't give a *** about their plasma program anyway, but at the time it was scary since I hadn't been admitted anywhere yet.

So in short, it does help to know how each of your schools reviews applications. Anyone who's applying to a school such as MIT who groups the applications would be best off acting obsessively in love with whatever area you researched in undergrad, even if it's a complete lie... you can always switch once you get to the school.

WontonBurritoMeals wrote:I've heard that half of the students go into grad. school as theorists but 90% come out experimentalists.
Geez is that an estimate, an official statistic, or an exaggeration? I've been hedging towards theory lately but if it's really such a hopeless cause, I'd like to know ASAP so I can focus on improving my experimental skills. I've been starting my project at PPPL and been using light detector measurements amplified with a PMT and read with an oscilloscope. Our source is a high voltage device, so there are interference problems, I've covered lots of the equipment with foil cages to try to block it, and I found that when I touched one of the cages, the interference signal went to zero, which I thought meant that I'm serving as a ground wire... but when I hooked up a ground wire nothing happened... and I found that this interference signal is on or off depending on what spot on the floor I'm standing on. Strange...

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WontonBurritoMeals
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Re: Who hath the admission gods not looked kindly upon?

Postby WontonBurritoMeals » Sun Aug 31, 2008 4:50 am

No, it's not a statistic! It's just what a professor told me (a theorist no less). I made sure to qualify what I hear from the grapevine as something from the grape vine. I don't think it sounds completely crazy, though. The theorists grad. students say that they spend 90% of their time reading papers, desperately trying to comprehend them. I've also met a few grad. students that changed from theory to atomic physics, but that's mostly because I hang out with Atomic Physicists.

BTW- The story about the trash can is probably the scariest thing I've heard on these forums so far...

May the wind be always at your back,
-WontonBurritoMeals
Last edited by WontonBurritoMeals on Mon Sep 01, 2008 12:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

blackcat007
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Re: Who hath the admission gods not looked kindly upon?

Postby blackcat007 » Sun Aug 31, 2008 9:21 am

WontonBurritoMeals wrote:It probably depends on a lot of things. I bet that international students have more options than they usually realize. There are a lot of good schools in the U.S. But they are likely to be disappointed if they only apply to HEP Theory at top schools when their B.S. was in Engineering.

May the wind be always at your back,
-WontonBurritoMeals

ok i paid attention to your post, my primary interests are gravitational physics, string theory, field theories.. i have short listed some of the universities with these programs , i havn't selected any top schools like MIT, harvard, princeton or yale, coz just being an engineering ug without much research experinces its useless applying there..

duke (high profile i will get if i m lucky),
UMD (another high profile) ,
university of connecticut ,
purdue,
university of illinois urbana champagne,
columbia (high profile) ,
UC davis ,
florida state uni tallahesee,
louisiana state university..
can you please tell me whether i am being too specific ,

LucasWillis
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Re: Who hath the admission gods not looked kindly upon?

Postby LucasWillis » Sun Aug 31, 2008 11:30 pm

Quiz,

No, I did not directly ask why I was admitted. I was talking to a potential advisor at one of the schools, and when I introduced myself, the professor responded with something along the lines of "Oh! You're the guy from that school that I'd never heard of..." and continued to explain how I was saved from the reject pile when it was discovered by him. His explanation was that many people on the admissions committee were dismissing applicants by looking at the school name and whatever main items (presumably GRE and GPA) were most visible.

In my case, my PGRE score wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible. It is a 700. When viewed in conjunction with my 4.0 physics GPA from a no-name school, they may be inclined to conclude that the school really isn't that good. In fact, that isn't all that far from the truth! However, were they patient and interested in getting good students, they would carefully look through all profiles and weigh research experience and reference letters more than school name and PGRE.

Name snobbery definitely does exist.


Wonton,

I'm not trying to scare anyone, just explaining my crimes against the admissions gods. In truth, it shouldn't be all that scary. Applying to graduate school is a crap shoot in many ways, anyway. In the end it is a happy story, because after all, I was admitted to those schools. I won't know for sure why I was rejected from the others, although, as I explained before, I have my hypotheses.

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WontonBurritoMeals
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Re: Who hath the admission gods not looked kindly upon?

Postby WontonBurritoMeals » Mon Sep 01, 2008 12:13 am

Thanks for the info, LucasWillis.

blackcat007,

I definitely do not have the answers to your questions. In fact, the only admission information that I have are from rumors, a book on Physics Graduate Schools for '06, '07 which lists average PGRE scores, and of course from this web site.

I believe that international students generally have 3 problems, high cost to enter programs (maybe three times as much as for a domestic student), high competition from other international students, and often fewer research opportunities in their countries.

My lab mate from this summer, from France, says that they don't have advisors or anything. Everyone takes the same classes and the only way to distinguish oneself is by having awesome testing ranks.

We should have some threads on what international students can do to improve their chances, but I don't know what they are. It seems like Grad. school is a more complex issue for international students than for domestic students because it involves a lot of commitment both timewise and financially, is very difficult, and often international students have a higher amount of expectation on their shoulders.

Information on some of these topics could be useful for me if I wanted to persue graduate studies in a foreign country (like Canada which seems to have a lot of Quant. Info. or England). I don't know how funding works at all, for instance.

If anyone has any suggestions, I suggest starting a new thread! I haven't seen too many threads for international students specifically.

May the wind be always at your back,
-Wonton Burrito Meals

trupti
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Re: Who hath the admission gods not looked kindly upon?

Postby trupti » Sat Sep 06, 2008 3:09 am

Hi
What Wonton said is absolutely correct!! International students defintely have tougher time applying than domestic students. Not only expectations are higher for international students but many times there is relative lack of information amongst internationals regarding graduate schools in US and the whole application process.

Also the education system in US and native countries can be very different. Students may not know what is exactly expected from them by US universities. For example, here in India the admission procedure even for post graduate courses is very deterministic. Most of the time you have to give an enterance exam. If your marks are above a cutoff limit you get admitted or at the most you maybe called for an interview and that's it!! No need to write any eassy or submit so may documents. So the rigmarole of applying to US may faze some of the students.

Again as far as research is concerned not only the opportunities are fewer but generally students are not even aware of the importance of research experience for getting an admit. Like, in India there are some really good REU programs by government and with some amount of effort, motivated students can do some undergrad research. I was lucky to know about this early during my UG years and could take some benefit of these REUs.

Another difference is that, many students in US know very early in their UG years that they want to go for MS or Phd and so work towards it during all their UG years. Contrastingly, in my college I found that most of the students decide to go for a MS in US only in the later half of their pre-final year or in final year. So this gives them less time to study for their GREs and exploring options in various universities.

Also for US admission committees most of the international students come from unkown colleges. I have heard that some top ranked universities in US will take Indian students only from IITs. Even if you are a good student from some other college getting in admitted will be almost impossible unless you have things like international publications.

For some students couple all this with poor english and unawareness of US culture, and they have a real tough time.

But after all this, thanks to internet and such forums and groups. If an international student starts planning early and surfs the net enough; some really valuable info can be found by interacting with peers and seniors over net. Especially on this forum as there are so many Americans, reading the threads has given me a real good insight about how american students percieve the whole admission process. Also many of the students here are aiming for the best universities in US and even getting there!! so one gets a good idea about what makes a good application for getting into top notch places.

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jdhooghe
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Re: Who hath the admission gods not looked kindly upon?

Postby jdhooghe » Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:59 pm

Wow, thanks for the sympathy! Anyway, to reply to this post! The admission committees gave me the shaft because I had a "laser" pointed at Washington from my secret moon base(and no, Dr. Evil got the idea from me). In all seriousness, I was given the shaft because:
a)I came from a party school(California State University, Chico) even though I was a very attentive student
b)I did not have patience for General Education even though I knew it would bite me later
c)My verbal GRE score(460) made me look light a gibbering idiot and my math score(680) made it look like I was an equation memorizer.
d) No research experience except for the project we did my senior year in which we got the SPS national grant.
e)My anxiety can get quite bad and it affected my performance on those satanic tests.
f)My dog ate my lucky rabbit's foot.
g)Dr. Evil blackmailed the schools because he was jealous.

Ok, maybe not the last two. Even though I was admitted off the waitlist, I am extremely thankful that the admission committee was able to look past my faults. I plan to prove that, as I have said before on this board, I am worth a damn and that I am very competent student. I hope all of you are having a blast at your grad schools! Davis doesn't start until the 22nd and then I have three days of TA training before classes start.




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