Suggestion on where to apply

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Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 11:13 pm

Suggestion on where to apply

Postby ekuphysics » Mon Feb 22, 2010 11:25 pm

I am currently a first go round senior with a dual degree in physics and math with actuarial sciences minor. I go to a small state school with no reputation in physics. 3.7 overall gpa, 3.6 math and science.

No research experience as of yet (still hoping for this summer), no publications, lots of extra activities (fraternity president, order of omega, student/alumni group, sigma pi sigma, society of physics students), good recommendations, classroom assistant/part time faculty for 6 semester when I graduate. I am hoping to score a 600-750 on the PGRE (historically students from my school do not do well). Here is the kicker, I would like to make a decision as to where I will go by early 2011 because I am engaged to be married over the summer with a fiance' who will move to where I attend graduate school.

I am hoping for astrophysics theory - fields, particles, cosmology. Right now our top choices are UIUC and Vanderbilt because of location mostly.

What are some attainable suggestions for me?

Also, would taking the Math subject gre be helpful? I think I could score 60 percentile in it which may help to demonstrate theory capabilities. Any advice would help!

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Re: Suggestion on where to apply

Postby geshi » Mon Feb 22, 2010 11:57 pm

Read these 2 Cosmic Variance blog entries by Sean Carroll (prof from CalTech): ... te-school/ ... ad-school/

Then start looking through programs using:

Also find programs by looking at people with similar profiles to your own on this website:
2008: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=975
2009: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1847
2010: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2824

It takes a lot of time and effort on your own part to find a list of programs to apply to. The advice I got from my professors was: pick your schools based on location first. You don't want to end up in some location you're gonna hate for the next 4 to 10 years.

I take it you go to Eastern Kentucky University?

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Re: Suggestion on where to apply

Postby noojens » Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:40 am

I wouldn't bother taking the math GRE; it won't make an impression on the AdCom unless it's an eyebrow-raisingly high score. It would be a FAR better use of your time to spend those hours studying for the physics GRE. For someone with a good (but not outstanding) GPA and no research experience, the PGRE score is pretty damn important. Like, make-or-break important. Do not take this test lightly.

With a solid PGRE score you should have a good shot at Vanderbilt and a fair chance at UIUC. Other suggestions (besides, to reiterate, studying your ass off for the PGRE):

- Decide who you want to write LoRs for you now, and make a point to cultivate strong relationships with them.
- Start brainstorming your statement of purpose now. Bounce ideas off of your recommenders so that (a) they know your interests, and (b) they can help you hone your essays and perhaps put you in touch with potential advisors at the schools you're applying to.

In a way, having constraints on locations is nice -- it makes it easier to narrow down your list of schools.

Anyway, good luck to ya.

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Re: Suggestion on where to apply

Postby mobytish » Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:02 am

What is your fiance's situation? Will she be employed or going to school as well? In either case, in what field? Since you should be considering your combined chances of success, this could make a difference.

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Re: Suggestion on where to apply

Postby ekuphysics » Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:14 am

I do go to eastern kentucky. Also, my fiance will be a registered nurse (associates degree) in December looking to work and get into a bachelors degree program sometime in the next couple of years.

I have started studying for the Physics GRE to a certain extent, but this semester is a pretty rough one as far as classes go (elctrodynamics, classical mechanics, modern algebra II, introductory analysis, statistics, and fortran programming.) This summer I should be able to devote a lot of time to studying.

The only reason I would take the Math GRE is that I took a practice test for fun and scored over the 50th percentile.

My LoR are coming from faculty that I've assisted in the classroom as well as the Physics and Astronomy Chair and Mathematics Department chair. But I will be studying my ass of for the PGRE.

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