3.0 GPA, 3 REUs, industry experience, not sure where to look

pinkfishegg
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Aug 15, 2015 10:41 am

3.0 GPA, 3 REUs, industry experience, not sure where to look

Postby pinkfishegg » Sun Aug 16, 2015 10:42 am

Hi everyone,
I've been working in industry for a year and am thinking of going back to grad school next fall for a physics PHD program. I got 3 REU's as an undergrad, one in astronomy, and two in condensed matter physics. For the latter both were in thin film growth, one in hydrogenation of thin films, one in spintronics. I've been working at two lab tech jobs, one 6 month for 3m and just starting working at HB Fuller. So I'm great on the experimental side and can get good letters for recommendation but my gpa is only a 3.04 (physics gpa a bit lower). I am not quite sure where that places me or what schools I should be looking at. I'm taking the PGRE in October so that should finish my profile. I'm looking into condensed matter physics and AMO programs but am not sure where to start when i'm not looking at top-10 programs. I'm considering going industry-phd-industry so my skills will matter than my degree, but I still want someplace with an actual program. Narrowing down what I want to focus on in condensed matter physics is also difficult because the field is so huge (and so ingrained with chemistry.)

BTW I'm a Female, American student

astroprof
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:47 pm

Re: 3.0 GPA, 3 REUs, industry experience, not sure where to look

Postby astroprof » Sun Aug 16, 2015 11:55 am

For an American student (and often for international students), I recommend starting this discussion by talking with those who will be writing letters of recommendation for you. Not only will this mean that they will write letters that are appropriate for the schools you apply to, they are also in the best position to judge your record and give relevant advice. In terms of your stated record, you meet the minimum requirements for most US graduate programs (GPA above 3.0, an undergraduate degree in a relevant field, and research experience). However, the admissions decision will also be based on your apparent motivation and whether you have the skills to succeed in their program (as evidenced by letters of recommendation, a high GRE score, an eloquent and compelling personal statement, etc).

If you want to narrow your list of schools before talking with your former professors and your current research supervisor, I highly recommend gradschoolshopper.com, which is run by the American Institute of Physics. You can search by research area or by geographic area. If you are not looking for top-10 programs (as should be the case for most prospective graduate students!), a geographic search for schools near you, or schools in the area of the country you would like to live, can narrow the field significantly.

Finally, if you are already employed in industry and want to return to industry, you may want to look into what options are available through your company. Many organizations will pay for additional training at the local university, including masters programs (and sometimes doctorates). While the expectation is that you will continue to work at the company during the degree program, and for many years afterwards, earning a masters degree will also give you the opportunity to show your ability to succeed in a graduate program, thereby making admission to a PhD program more likely in the future. Thus, I suggest that you talk with your direct supervisor, or with the HR department, to see if they have any well established connections with the local university.

pinkfishegg
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Aug 15, 2015 10:41 am

Re: 3.0 GPA, 3 REUs, industry experience, not sure where to look

Postby pinkfishegg » Sun Aug 16, 2015 3:24 pm

Hi Astroprof. Thanks for the advice. I'm been looking through gradschoolshopper but am having trouble navigating through this
http://www.gradschoolshopper.com/gradsc ... rad+school

in order to start my search when I'm not intending to go to top 15 schools. I would prefer to live in an urban area and a temperate/cooler climate (like PA or above), but could be flexible if its someplace I'd really want to live. My REU's were at Tulane and U of Utah but I'm not sure how good their programs are since they aren't ranked. I'm also lost on actually figuring out my research interests. I went to a lot of talks at school and found a lot of topics interesting, but am looking to where my experimental and theoretical interests match up. For example, I enjoy astronomy talks but found I don't like the work of a astronomer. I enjoy hands on lab work and liked thin film research because of that but didn't like the chemistry parts of that. What would you suggest reading now that I'm not in school? Physics today, Nature Magazine? Should I go to the closest public university and start reading articles?




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