I did a search on this topic and I was surprised to find that no one had asked this question before. I can find numerous lists of the best programs, but I was wondering if anybody had advice about safety schools. I find it hard to differentiate between anything that isn't considered top tier.
For a bit of background, I have 3 research projects, 1 publication, and 1 AAS poster. My interests lie primarily in astrophysics. I took the PGRE last year and did REALLY poorly, but I retook them again Nov. 7 and am feeling fairly optimistic. I did apply last year and got rejected from every program, so I think I need to shift gears a bit. I'm still aiming for Berkeley, but a professor recommended that I look into a couple more safety schools. I have a fairly low GPA (3.15 physics, 3.19 overall), but only because I worked full-time as an undergrad in addition to being a full-time student due to financial hardship.
My list this year is: Berkeley, UCLA, UC Santa Cruz, UW Seattle, CU Boulder, Arizona State, Oklahoma U
I consider ASU and OU to be safety schools, but I'd like to throw one more in there for good measure. If anybody could recommend a few programs, it would be a big help!