Can I make it to a good school coming from "nowheresville"?

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Joined: Thu May 19, 2011 3:24 am

Can I make it to a good school coming from "nowheresville"?

Postby DMJZ » Thu May 19, 2011 3:37 am

I am currently a rising junior and have started to wonder about my odds of being accepted to a quality astrophysics/astronomy graduate program (Like Top 20 or so). I have an excellent gpa: 3.97, I was accepted to an REU last summer, and I am doing one again this summer (hopefully one more after my junior year too). My only fear is that because I attend a not-well-known liberal arts college my odds of being accepted to a top graduate program are slim. Of course, I have not taken the PGRE, and I realize that I am being preemptive in my question since I still have two years left; however, I want to know that I am on the right track. Any advice you guys/gals could give would be greatly appreciated.


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Re: Can I make it to a good school coming from "nowheresville"?

Postby bfollinprm » Thu May 19, 2011 6:41 am

There are plenty of examples of people who went to fairly no-name schools and got into great (top-20) programs. I got into UT Austin and UC San Diego from a top 40 liberal arts school, and my friend is attending MIT, after choosing it over Cal Tech, Harvard, and Berkeley. The REU's will help lots; realize that these will be your letter writers (ideally, at least one should be from outside your school and from a professor at a PhD granting institution). Loads of other major contributors from this site came from small no-name schools, and got in to places like Berkeley, Princeton, and Cornell.

One other thing: A lot rides on the PGRE for the top, top schools. Essentially the only difference between my friend and I were 2 B's in a math class, and 200 points on a PGRE. These two things (mostlly the PGRE) helped him overcome a less focused application, and lack of a top-tier letter writer. Having those two things did not get me into top schools (but did lead me to get into loads of good schools who were strong in my chosen focus).

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