Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

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Sats
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Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby Sats » Wed Aug 06, 2014 5:43 pm

Hello all, I was wondering what kinda schools I should be looking for with the following:

Interested in High Energy, Particles, and QFT programs.

University of Arizona - Currently Enrolled, Senior Year
Have not taken GRE or PGRE yet

3.2-3.4 Physics Major GPA
3.5 Math Major GPA
4.0 French Major GPA

3.5 Overall GPA

OOP experience - Service Testing at Ticketmaster
Minor Research Experience with CLS Limit Setting, 1 semester so far.

I realize my profile is very weak, but I was wondering what kind of schools I should apply to for graduate school. I am really interested in University of Washington at Seattle, or UC Irvine/UC Riverside.

What kind of schools should I apply to for HEP/QFT/PP?

Thanks very much in advance!

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Sats
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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby Sats » Mon Aug 11, 2014 6:54 pm

If it helps any, here are a list of schools I was thinking about, grouped by ranking by USNews Physics:

20-40:

U Washington Seattle
UC Davis
UC Irvine
UC Santa Cruz
Carnegie Mellon
Rutgers U

40-60:

UC Riverside
U Oregon
USC
U Southern California

60-100:

Tufts
U Delaware
Drexel U


Any ideas on which ones are in reach, and which ones are unlikely? Ideally I'd like to do better than my undergrad college, UArizona, which is #39, but any help much appreciated.

admissionprof
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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby admissionprof » Mon Aug 11, 2014 8:04 pm

It depends a lot on your GRE/PGRE. Also, the real question is your GPA in upper level (beyond freshman year) physics courses. Much depends on your ultimate goal. See my post about realistic chances at HET on the main page.

WIth a 3.2-3.4 and no C's in upper level physics, and a PGRE above, say, the 30th percentile, you have a fair chance at a 40-60 and a very good chance at a >60

djh101
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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby djh101 » Tue Aug 12, 2014 2:25 pm

30th percentile as in top 30% (>70%)?

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Sats
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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby Sats » Tue Aug 12, 2014 2:29 pm

Well, I did get a C in 2nd Semester EM, which is upper division. That's my only one, and I've gotten A's in QM and Nuc/Particle.
At UA, we rate upper division by anything more than 200 level. Since I'm unsure what you mean, I'll post my 'upper division' by different criteria. Admissionprof, do you know under what circumstances I could get into a 30's school? I appreciate your help!

GPA Upper division:
Level => GPA
(200+) => 3.18
(300+) => 3.27

How much will my C affect my chances?

admissionprof
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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby admissionprof » Tue Aug 12, 2014 8:12 pm

djh101 wrote:30th percentile as in top 30% (>70%)?


No, top 70%. Yes, schools in the 40-60 range will take people with those scores. They just don't post on this site very often. Naturally, one needs proportionately higher grades and better letters if the score is near the bottom of the range.

admissionprof
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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby admissionprof » Tue Aug 12, 2014 8:16 pm

Sats wrote:Well, I did get a C in 2nd Semester EM, which is upper division. That's my only one, and I've gotten A's in QM and Nuc/Particle.
At UA, we rate upper division by anything more than 200 level. Since I'm unsure what you mean, I'll post my 'upper division' by different criteria. Admissionprof, do you know under what circumstances I could get into a 30's school? I appreciate your help!

GPA Upper division:
Level => GPA
(200+) => 3.18
(300+) => 3.27

How much will my C affect my chances?


It will hurt, but a single C won't be lethal. A 30's would require a strong GRE, I think. But you shouldn't think so much about precise rankings. Many schools in the top 40 aren't very good in HE Theory, and many below that are better. It is all so variable, and considering a 40-50 to be "worse" than a 30-40 is silly. The biggest concern about the C is that HE Theory is very math-intensive, and students who don't do well in E&M will have much more trouble. I would tend to downplay HE Theory in your personal statement, and say that you are open to many areas (given the job market, that's probably wise in any event).

Catria
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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby Catria » Tue Aug 12, 2014 8:45 pm

A 70th percentile on the PGRE will help you at UWA, UCI/R...

Try William and Mary, Kentucky (if you're a QCD buff) as well.

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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby Sats » Wed Aug 13, 2014 4:20 am

It seems my fate rests on my GRE/PGRE scores...

All my research has been done on physics programs in general, I'm not really sure of any decent-ish programs in my reach for HE/QFT. Also I hope that them seeing a single physics C will show them that it was a bad professor-student match than a lack of comprehension :/.

I've also been considering Canada. The only ones that come up are Toronto and McGill, but both seem kinda reach for me. What do you guys think?

TakeruK
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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby TakeruK » Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:33 pm

For Canadian schools, UBC has a good high energy program too, I think. They have a cyclotron on campus (TRIUMF) and a lot of people at UBC work on the CERN collaboration (I know people everywhere work on CERN stuff, but still).

djh101
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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby djh101 » Wed Aug 13, 2014 7:26 pm

admissionprof wrote:No, top 70%. Yes, schools in the 40-60 range will take people with those scores. They just don't post on this site very often. Naturally, one needs proportionately higher grades and better letters if the score is near the bottom of the range.


Well, that's encouraging. 30% is certainly doable. 8)

Catria
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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby Catria » Wed Aug 13, 2014 9:36 pm

Sats wrote:It seems my fate rests on my GRE/PGRE scores...

All my research has been done on physics programs in general, I'm not really sure of any decent-ish programs in my reach for HE/QFT. Also I hope that them seeing a single physics C will show them that it was a bad professor-student match than a lack of comprehension :/.

I've also been considering Canada. The only ones that come up are Toronto and McGill, but both seem kinda reach for me. What do you guys think?


If what Tracy Webb (an astro prof at McGill) says is correct, a 3.5 in the last two years of undergrad is the minimum most people must meet to go to McGill in any subfield, even HEP-EX, let alone HEP-TH... with the latter being almost as hard as a top-20 in the US (some say top-10, although I'm not sold on that statement).

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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby Sats » Thu Aug 14, 2014 12:42 am

Oof, with my last year a 3.5 is within my reach, but it seems those schools are very selective. I'm really unsure where I should look. I mean, if I assume a 70th percentile on the PGRE/GRE, I'm not sure where I could get... Any ideas?

Are Toronto and UBC similarly selective?

TakeruK
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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby TakeruK » Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:19 am

Toronto, UBC, and McGill are the top 3 schools in Canada and I think they are all similarly selective.

UBC's Faculty of Graduate Studies university-wide minimum average to get admitted is an A- (80% in Canada) in the upper level courses relevant to your field of study (i.e. all math, astro and physics courses). They also generally prefer an Honours degree if your country offers it. In Canada, an honours degree requires about 10% more courses and a thesis project in your final year. However, individual departments can often petition the Graduate Studies office to waive these minimums for a student they really want to get.

These are university-wide minimums. I think competitively, you want to have averages at least 85% (A average) to feel confident about your admission. Note that Canadian grades are not awarded the same way as other countries (not even the US). For example, most Canadian schools do not have any quotas on the number of As to be awarded and the percentage-to-letter-grade is the same across the Faculty (if not the University), while I find that in the US, many schools set different percentage-to-letter-grade conversion for each class!! That is, at UBC, for most students taking honours level physics classes in their third or fourth year, the average grade is usually something like 80% (A-) because it's only the top students that take these classes.

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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby Sats » Thu Aug 14, 2014 3:01 pm

Seems they're pretty selective, unless I get straight A's in my physics courses, I'd not get to A- (3.5~). Well, at least I know now. Thanks for the help TakeruK and all.
Seems like Canada's a stretch for me.

Man, finding out what's within reach is really frustrating. Should I even bother contacting Canadian universities or should I just look for less selective programs?

TakeruK
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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby TakeruK » Fri Aug 15, 2014 12:10 am

Sats wrote:Seems they're pretty selective, unless I get straight A's in my physics courses, I'd not get to A- (3.5~). Well, at least I know now. Thanks for the help TakeruK and all.
Seems like Canada's a stretch for me.

Man, finding out what's within reach is really frustrating. Should I even bother contacting Canadian universities or should I just look for less selective programs?


Why not give it a try? Also there are more than just these 3 top schools.

As I said above, Canadian grades are different (well each country seems to have their own grading scale). Another way to look at it is if you think you are in the top 1/4th of your class, then I think it's worth applying to UBC et al.

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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby Sats » Fri Aug 15, 2014 2:21 pm

TakeruK wrote:Why not give it a try? Also there are more than just these 3 top schools.

As I said above, Canadian grades are different (well each country seems to have their own grading scale). Another way to look at it is if you think you are in the top 1/4th of your class, then I think it's worth applying to UBC et al.


I appreciate the information! I'm glad I at least have some options now if things go well.

Something I was wondering about was the language at certain Canadian universities. I heard that at McGill many people are francophone, are there other universities that are the same way?

TakeruK
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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby TakeruK » Fri Aug 15, 2014 4:27 pm

Universities outside of Quebec mainly use English as their only language of instruction. New Brunswick is the only bilingual province and their schools might offer both? Not sure.

In Quebec, most Universities are francophone, except for McGill, it is an English language institution. Montreal (where McGill is based) is a unique place in Quebec, because while the rest of Quebec is primarily francophone (in fact, French is the only official language of Quebec), Montreal is a diverse mix of English, French and other languages.

I would say that if you are English-only, you'll totally fit in at McGill--as it's an English school, everything is in English and most students come from English speaking places. If you have a spouse that would like to work in Canada though, it might be tough to find work in Montreal and Quebec if he/she does not speak French.

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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby Sats » Fri Aug 15, 2014 4:50 pm

TakeruK wrote:Universities outside of Quebec mainly use English as their only language of instruction. New Brunswick is the only bilingual province and their schools might offer both? Not sure.

In Quebec, most Universities are francophone, except for McGill, it is an English language institution. Montreal (where McGill is based) is a unique place in Quebec, because while the rest of Quebec is primarily francophone (in fact, French is the only official language of Quebec), Montreal is a diverse mix of English, French and other languages.

I would say that if you are English-only, you'll totally fit in at McGill--as it's an English school, everything is in English and most students come from English speaking places. If you have a spouse that would like to work in Canada though, it might be tough to find work in Montreal and Quebec if he/she does not speak French.


That's very interesting. I'm semi-fluent in french, so I was just wondering haha.

Does the location of your undergraduate degree make any difference to graduate universities? I'm finishing up at Arizona, so I'm unsure if that's a detriment in any way.

TakeruK
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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby TakeruK » Fri Aug 15, 2014 11:52 pm

It doesn't matter where your undergrad was located. But the reputation of the physics program at the undergrad school matters a bit. For example, if you have A+ from a school that is known for grade inflation, the admissions committee will take that into account. In addition, although not directly related to reputation, generally higher ranked schools are higher ranked because they have more science/resources going on, so a student from such a school might have an advantage since they would have had more opportunities/exposure etc.

But these are pretty weak effects I think--I wouldn't worry about this very much and just focus on putting together the best application!

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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby Catria » Mon Aug 18, 2014 10:19 pm

Sats wrote:That's very interesting. I'm semi-fluent in french, so I was just wondering haha.

Does the location of your undergraduate degree make any difference to graduate universities? I'm finishing up at Arizona, so I'm unsure if that's a detriment in any way.


You may want to email Claude Leroy at the University of Montreal if you're interested in HEP-EX... although you might want to take graduate-level coursework in any three of EM, quantum mechanics, classical mechanics or statistical mechanics if you think Leroy is the advisor you want.

If you do well in the graduate coursework, both in Arizona and in Montreal, then you might have a chance for a PhD back home.

But it is precisely because of the execrable state of HEP-TH/cosmology funding in Canada that led me to turn to the US for a PhD; the US situation is far from perfect but still better than what I have access to at home (curse you, NSERC for cutting theory funding in such a substantial manner :evil: )...

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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby Sats » Mon Oct 13, 2014 3:16 pm

Hello all.

I guess just updating this thread with my progress to help some other lesser-GPA students out.

I just took the GRE a few weeks ago. My score is:
Q: 164 (88 percentile)
V: 159 (81 percentile)
W: 4.5 (80 percentile)

I'm set to take the PGRE in 2 weeks. I'm a little worried since I'm kinda sitting at the mid-600 range on my scores.

Any thoughts on how this might affect applications to UW, UIrvine, UOregon, Drexel?

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Re: Lowish GPA Undergrad: Where should I look?

Postby Sats » Fri Oct 31, 2014 6:40 pm

I recently took the PGRE. Looking at around ~50% if my practice tests were any indication.

I'm gearing my applications towards some different schools now, (unless my PGRE went super bad).

I was thinking U Ohio and U Michigan Lansing. I'm interested in HE Theory, but since my scores ain't super high, and it's so competitive, I don't think I'd have much a chance. Was thinking maybe Nuclear or Mathematical Physics if it's there.




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