My changes to top grad schools

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Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2012 5:51 am

My changes to top grad schools

Postby Physix » Sat Jul 28, 2012 6:12 am

Im studying my undergraduate degree in a Scandivian uni. that is one of the best in Scandinavian area. Im planning to study phd in theoretical physics in US.

My stats:
I will probably be able to maintain my perfect gpa of 4.0/4.0 and if practising physics GRE tells anything I have good change is good change of scoring perfect 990 (950 atleast I think.) My general gre score will probably be more average, atleast excluding quantative section. I have won one Scholarship for gifted students in my school and I have been selected into a research club of my uni (a club for best students who are interested in research). By the time of my application in few years I will probably have 1-2 years of undergraduate research experience and if lucky, maybe one summer in CERN. My letters of recomendation should be fine too.

So I have too questions.

1. What are my chances to get into these schools (my top choices): MIT, Caltech, Princeton, Harvard, Cornell, Columbia and NYU

2. What would be so called safe schools for me where I could surely get in? (I would like them to be either in California or NYC)
Offcourse my home uni is my safe school number one, so Im not in trouble if I dont get into any US program. And because of that I wouldnt consider any programs with bad reputation.

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Re: My changes to top grad schools

Postby TakeruK » Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:30 pm


I think you have the best possible chance of getting into a top tier grad school in the US. That said, top schools are never a sure thing! I don't think anyone can give you a percent chance. But you should confidently apply to every program that interests you!!

As for safe schools, I would avoid public universities especially in California because they have a VERY LOW international student rate. I think the whole University of California system has an average of 10% international student population. For example, UC Berkeley accept < 10 people per year in astrophysics, so in my field, you really have to be the best international applicant in the last 1-2 years to get in! The numbers might be slightly better in physics? So if the UC schools are one of your top choices, then definitely go for it, but I wouldn't count on it as a safety school. Unfortunately, this is true for most California schools and their private schools are also top tier. However, my profs who worked in the US system say that the east coast is much better for international admittance. I don't know what schools would be good though, but hope that's helpful.

And finally, for many international students, our home university is our ultimate safety school. So it's common and good practice for us to only consider US schools that would provide a better opportunity than our home university!

Good luck :)

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Re: My changes to top grad schools

Postby Physix » Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:24 pm

Thanks Takeruk, that was good answer.

So how competitive is NYU? How likely I would be to get into there with my stats? I quess it would be the easiest one in my list, but probably pretty hard to get in still...

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Re: My changes to top grad schools

Postby bfollinprm » Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:36 pm

None of the schools you listed are a sure thing. Why New York over any other east coast state? If it's the city, any student in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, and Boston will have an easier time of getting to NYC than someone who lives in Ithaca. On that vein, think U Maryland, Johns Hopkins, U Penn, and Boston University.

For California, even considering TakeruK's true statement, you should be able to get into the second tier* of UC schools like UC Irvine or UC Davis pretty easily, and these school still have top quality professors (and would be more renowned than all but the very best schools in Europe). The competition for international spots decreases exponentially with reputation, because it's a big commitment to come over here and leave your country if the gain in reputation isn't clear.

Don't forget Stony Brook, which is the state school in NYC.

*For physics, this goes:
First tier: UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, (UCSD)
Second Tier: (UCLA), UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Santa Cruz.
UCSD and UCLA are really borderline, and could go in either category.

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