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Should I apply to more 'safety schools'?

Posted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:25 am
by jihoon
Hello.
I am an international student studying U.S. I would appreciate it a lot if I could get some feedback on my school choices. Being in the stage of writing statements of purpose and resume, I am not quite sure where I am quite at.

Undergrad University: California, Big state school. Undergrad physics not ranked, graduate physics one of the top.
Major: Physics
GPA in major: 3.87
Overall GPA: 3.88
Length of Degree: (2?) +2.5 years
-My high school was some weird magnet school from which I got an associate of science degree along with my high school diploma. A lot of credit transferred, so I counted as a transfer student when I came here. I'm not quite sure if I should talk about this in length in my SOP or not...
Position in Class: Have no clue.
Applying for: Physics Ph.D in Condensed matter experiment/Theory

GRE scores:
General: verbal 165(95%) Quant 170(98%) Writing 4(54%)
Pgre: 990(94%)

Research Experience:
Worked in condensed matter group for 1.5 years. One paper submitted to some big journal (as 5th author- you know, made samples)

Letter of Recommendations:
Prof 1: Went to office hours a lot, and got A+ on his class.
Prof 2: He gave us some class challenge, and me and my friend got it(after several weekends of labor!) getting A+ on class
Prof 3: My PI/Faculty advisor. Took some classes and worked with his post-doc for 1.5 years. He saw me working without life for 1.5 years, but not sure if he sees anything other than diligence from that.

Awards: N/A
Relevant work experience: Worked as undergraduate grader for physics lower division honors sequence for 1 year.

Applying for: Harvard, MIT, UChicago, Princeton, UCB, UIUC, UCSB, UCLA, Cornell, Columbia.

I feel like score-wise I don't have too much to be worried about. However, I'm not sure if my research experience or recommendation is strong enough. Should I be applying to more safety schools?

Re: Should I apply to more 'safety schools'?

Posted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 8:33 am
by Arbitrary
I actually knew a person that submitted applications last year with stats comparable to yours (if not somewhat below yours). He applied to most of the schools you mentioned and got accepted by most of them.
I do not know much about your reseach experience (except the mentioned paper), but I have a feeling that your stats would land you a position in at least 6/10 of the schools you mentioned. I'd probably not bother with more applications in your place.

Re: Should I apply to more 'safety schools'?

Posted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:34 am
by WhoaNonstop
Profile seems fine. 990 is needed for most international applicants to high end schools. Whether your research experience is as good as other students applying for these schools (internationals), may be the only problem. But looks fine to me.

jihoon wrote:He saw me working without life for 1.5 years


What is working without life mean? This sounds horribly depressing. OH! You'd make the perfect PhD candidate!

-Riley

Re: Should I apply to more 'safety schools'?

Posted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:43 pm
by jihoon
Thanks for the feedback!
I was worried because I didn't have too much awards and stuff, but I guess I can try to cover that with SOP and hope it works.
Hope my PI sees a quality of good ph.D student in my 'working without life' like Riley said...