The goal is not to get as many acceptances as possible, but instead, to get acceptances at the school you really want to get into.
djh101 wrote:Be sure to consider other subfields as well. Since HEP is probably going to be the most competitive field wherever you go, applying for a less competitive field would make some of your safety schools even safer. Of course, don't do so unless you would be open to studying that less competitive field. If your heart is set on HEP, certainly don't settle for anything less.
In my opinion, there is no point having a long list of "match" schools and then only 2 or 3 reaches -- this generally results in getting into 0 or 1 reach schools and probably half of the match schools. The goal is not to get as many acceptances as possible, but instead, to get acceptances at the school you really want to get into. Unless a student was already applying to all top schools (where "top" is defined as best match for student, not necessarily by ranking), I think if a student gets more than say 60% acceptances then they probably could have aimed higher!
djh101 wrote:The goal is not to get as many acceptances as possible, but instead, to get acceptances at the school you really want to get into.
Of course, the more acceptances you get, the more choice you get in terms of location, stipends, etc. If you get accepted to 5 schools, you are now in a buyer's market and get to make choices based on trivial things like the weather (assuming, of course, that your preferences are otherwise equal). Plus there's nothing wrong with aiming low if you legitimately want to attend the lower ranked schools. I'll be applying to 7 schools and, other than Caltech and Boulder (and maybe Washington), they're all pretty safe, but they're also all schools that I would be very happy attending. I think that I will most likely get into USC so it's a pretty safe school for me, but given the strength of their Quantum Computing department, I don't think I'd really be any less happy there than at CalTech.
Additionally, I'd say the application fees are worth the trips to Oregon, Colorado, and Washington that I might get to take if accepted (note that I would gladly attend all of these schools and do not advocate applying to schools with the sole intention of harvesting cheap vacations).
wolfman29 wrote:@bfollinprm: I recognize that these are quite top-heavy. However, how likely is it to not get accepted into a single one of these universities? It may very well be the case that I need to reconsider. I may very well end up applying to 10-15 schools though - my grandfather was generous enough to leave me and my brother a substantial amount of money for our educations after he passed away, so application fees shouldn't be hugely problematic.
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