It's the thick of grad school application season, and I'm nowhere close to finalized on the schools I want to apply to. To me, the strength and prestige behind the program is more important than the fit for various reasons that I will not go into. Anyhow, I just wanted an opinion on how competitive I am, and whether or not I am a decent pick in the 1-10 range, 11-20 range, and so on. I am looking to apply to HEP Theory and mathematical physics where applicable, but I'll mention on my application that I enjoy experimental as well. Here are my stats:
Tufts University (international student from Nepal)
Cumulative GPA: 3.89, Major GPA: 4.00 (Math + Physics, with 8 A+s and 10 As, but they don't count A+s as higher)
General GRE: 166 V (96%), 170 Q (98%), 6.0 W (99%)
Physics GRE: 950 (91%)
One summer of independent research testing the efficiencies of data classifiers in classifying data with different numbers of features and different spreads. Wasn't ridiculously intensive, but taught me plenty about programming, statistical methods, and experimental physics. We are looking to get this published soon, but it won't happen before the application deadline.
Ongoing senior thesis on the possible quantization of interaction fields in the formalism of principle fiber bundles. This one is very intensive on the physics and math theory, and is co-advised by one physics professor and two math professors. Furthermore, it is teaching me a lot more about differential geometry and quantum physics than my undergraduate courses ever did. I will be working on this throughout my last two semesters, and I will have written a thesis that will go into Tufts archives and potentially get published somewhere if we find anything significant.
Potential work on another experimental project that looks at theories beyond the standard model and seeks to simulate data for them. My friend works for this professor and they worked on leptoquark simulations over the summer. I think I would do something similar with him. Details to come on this.
A prize scholarship for doing well in the intro level physics courses.
A grant for doing the aforementioned project on data classifiers over the summer.
Other misc information:
I have been a resident assistant at Tufts for 3 years now. This would showcase skills in: responsibility, people management, leadership, time management, and all the rest that come with being a peer leader for that long.
I think my letters of recommendation will be fairly good. I am very close to one of the professors who is writing for me and fairly close to the other two. The first advised my thesis and my independent project, the second is co-advising my thesis, and the third is the one I am trying to do the last project with.
My long-term research interests are in studying geometric formulations of physics, but I am also interested in learning string theory.
Currently my list of prospective colleges is as follows (in order of desired acceptance):
UC Santa Barbara
All of them are reaches because I would much rather take a gap year if I don't get into these schools and apply again after bolstering my application. Also, as I said before, the strength and the prestige of the programs matter quite a lot to me for various reasons.
Please let me know how you think I fare, and if there are any other good schools that you recommend for my interests. If there is any information that you think is missing from here, please let me know and I will add them within reason.