Help figuring out what schools I should apply to

keffect
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2014 4:12 am

Help figuring out what schools I should apply to

Postby keffect » Wed Nov 05, 2014 4:54 am

Hello never thought I would make one of these, but I'm getting nervous vetting my list and deciding what to add.
Currently I'm in a gap year working as a tutor and learning more about programming or whatever interests me in my own time.

Undergrad is a well-known/respected state school for physics (about 10-15 would make an A- in class size of ~60)

GPA ~3.2
Physics GPA ~3.3 (2 C's upper division but regardless upper division grades better than lower division)
GRE Q:166 V:160 W:4.0
Physics GRE: 780

First letter is from professor I worked for a little over a year. I didn't get much of a chance to write any papers, but I did contribute to 3 papers that will have my name on them. Wrote most of the scripts our 5 person group needed during this time period, since I was the only one who enjoyed it (outside of stuff done in mathematica or done by a group we worked with focused on computation). Research involved x-ray spectroscopy and thermoelectric crystals.

Second letter is from professor I did well with and whom I had several classes with.

Third letter is a wash. Waiting on guy whom I did well in class, hasn't responded for a month now. Asked a professor I didn't do as well with, but whom knows me better to fill in.

Currently thinking about applying to a few schools in top 20 rankings, such as UCSD, boulder, UCB, U chicago. Don't expect to get in but I'll apply to a few for fun. My GPA is low so I'm really just not sure what schools I should expect to get into. I think I can reasonably expect to get into UCD, but I don't really know. I'm seriously considering applying to San Francisco State University for a masters, in order to reapply to other schools with a better GPA.

PathIntegrals92
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:42 pm

Re: Help figuring out what schools I should apply to

Postby PathIntegrals92 » Wed Nov 05, 2014 4:11 pm

First, have you checked out these? Below are all the profiles. Dig through to find profiles similar to yours and see where they applied.

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3421 2011 Applicant Profiles
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4274 2012 Applicant Profiles
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4669 2013 Applicant Profiles
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=5203 2014 Applicant Profiles

As for suggestions: I think you should mostly include schools from top 40,50 and 100. What are your research interests? Is it the same as what you have done in undergrad? That would make it easier to suggest more specific schools. ALso, have some reach schools, you never know how things will turn out. So have hope for those too! Keep the ones you listed , because you may regret not applying.

If money is a problem, 1-2 reaches, 3-4 matches, 2 safeties (or just matches/safeties) would be my suggestion. If not, then apply to many as you can. If you look at the profiles above, some people have done just that.

I also heard that it may be better for your recommendation letter writers ( one of them) to explain your C's than you doing it. You can then focus on all the other awesome things in your SOP.

keffect
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2014 4:12 am

Re: Help figuring out what schools I should apply to

Postby keffect » Thu Nov 06, 2014 1:19 am

Yes research interests are pretty much the same as undergrad. I'm also interested in CFD, but condensed matter physics I find to be particularly fascinating. Any schools you recommend I'll obviously look into. Definitely becomes more difficult to find good schools as you go down the rankings but I do know a few within the 40-100 range.

Both C's are from the same professor. I have a less than stellar relationship with him. One was in QM, but I did very well in the much more difficult optional QM course which covers the second half of Griffiths book. Basically having him explain my C's would probably not be helpful.

PathIntegrals92
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:42 pm

Re: Help figuring out what schools I should apply to

Postby PathIntegrals92 » Thu Nov 06, 2014 1:32 pm

To be honest I am not too familiar with condensed matter physics. Did you look through the profiles? I am sure there are people with stats similar to yours who have applied and were accepted to schools with good condensed matter programs.

After doing some google searches I have come across:

Iowa State University (top 50)
University of Maryland (top 20)
University of Florida (top 40)
University of Southern California (top 60)

The ranking that matters is the one you will make. Look for programs that have at least 3 profs in the field/research area of your interest and look at their publications and decide from there. You might also want to ask your profs for some advice too.

You don't need the professor that you got Cs in to explain your low marks. You can explain it one of your main writers and ask them if they feel comfortable enough to write it. They will strongly emphasize your research and your capabilities of being a successful grad student despite low marks in two courses. My peers who have gone on to some very good schools despite a few blemishes in their records. They had their LOR writers explain the low marks so they can focus on other things in SOP. It's up to you though.

Good luck!

zhuk
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2014 4:45 pm

Re: Help figuring out what schools I should apply to

Postby zhuk » Thu Nov 06, 2014 2:32 pm

SF State has a great masters program. Most of the professors are top notch instructors and there are research possibilities in photonics, optics , astro and theory.
Also the admit deadline I think is in May.
I recommend this program, it helped me learn physics again with a deeper understanding of material

keffect
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2014 4:12 am

Re: Help figuring out what schools I should apply to

Postby keffect » Thu Nov 06, 2014 11:05 pm

zhuk wrote:SF State has a great masters program. Most of the professors are top notch instructors and there are research possibilities in photonics, optics , astro and theory.
Also the admit deadline I think is in May.
I recommend this program, it helped me learn physics again with a deeper understanding of material


I'm definitely considering it since my gpa is by far the weakest aspect of application. The area is great for research opportunities. My only worry is funding it. I've heard that it can be much more difficult to get funding for terminal master's programs. Are my worries justified?

Thanks for your help PathIntegrals92. I haven't looked at Iowa state university yet. I need to look into University of Florida more, but at least in Gradshopper they are listed as requiring a minimum GPA of 3.3. I have looked through the profiles before, but since the organization is a little haphazard I just wanted to hear someone else's opinion of relative standing.

zhuk
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2014 4:45 pm

Re: Help figuring out what schools I should apply to

Postby zhuk » Fri Nov 07, 2014 8:26 pm

The funding is an issue. If you don't live here already the cost of living is insane. Some students live in the East Bay for a better deal. You have to find ways to pay for school on your own in this masters program. Some are lucky enough to do research with a professor that can cover the tuition and even pay a small stipend, but only a few. Being a TA pays a little but not enough to survive on




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