How many schools to apply to?

LastStar007
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2016 6:04 pm

How many schools to apply to?

Postby LastStar007 » Wed Nov 23, 2016 6:22 pm

Academic background:
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
Engineering Physics major
GPAs: 3.77 overall, 3.71 in math & physics
General GRE: 167 Verbal, 167 Math, 4.5 Writing
PGRE: 730 (57%)
1 REU in physics, 1 REU in CS
First author on paper from my CS REU work

I'm interested in high energy theory. I know it's a dense field.

My problem: I'm considering 20 schools, to varying degrees of interest. 20 applications seems like a lot, but there are a lot of top-tier options on the list and I don't think my numbers are that strong. How many is too many?

List, from most interested to least interested:

Princeton
Stanford
CalTech
U Wisconsin
Cornell
U Michigan
Johns Hopkins
Harvard
UC-Berkeley
MIT
UChicago
Yale
UCLA
Rutgers
SUNY Stony Brook
UCSB
Columbia
U Washington
UT Austin
Penn State
Last edited by LastStar007 on Sat Nov 26, 2016 3:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

LovePassion
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2016 5:05 pm

Re: How many schools to apply to?

Postby LovePassion » Fri Nov 25, 2016 10:19 pm

Hard to say for sure without the physics GRE, but your application seems fairly competitive and the school choice you have selected certainly seem reasonable. The scores are up, share your score and I will reply with my personal (non expert) input.

LastStar007
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2016 6:04 pm

Re: How many schools to apply to?

Postby LastStar007 » Sat Nov 26, 2016 3:07 am

Edited. Got a 730 (57%). Mostly I'm looking for how many of these schools to apply to, because 20 seems like too many.

LovePassion
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2016 5:05 pm

Re: How many schools to apply to?

Postby LovePassion » Sat Nov 26, 2016 11:49 am

LastStar007 wrote:Edited. Got a 730 (57%). Mostly I'm looking for how many of these schools to apply to, because 20 seems like too many.


Well, if you are applying into high energy theory and got a 730 PGRE (good but not too competitive for high energy theory), it is best to apply to 20 schools, especially since your list is full of top heavy tier schools, given of course your goal is to get into a top tier school. If you are more interested in mid tier universities (I mean, who is though?), I would take a couple of the top tier schools out for a mid tier university to increase safety. I know it is a lot of money but I think your hunch is right. If you go look at all of the past acceptances and rejections in high energy theory, you will see that it is quite competitive for the top tier schools. You will probably

But I can only draw conclusions from the limited sample of data in this forum, take my words with a grain of salt. Maybe someone else with more experience can give their input.

Edit: It is safe to bring it down to 15 schools if you knock out some top tiers. Otherwise, I wouldn't change the list as high energy theory, unfortunately, has a reputation for cutthroat competition. Better safe than sorry. But if you don't mind the prospect of a gap year and do not want a mid tier university, you can you can bring the list down to 15.

I don't want to sound too pessimistic, your application is good overall but it is the subfield you are applying to that you ought to be careful for. Positions are limited and competition is high, so they may weed people out based on a PGRE score (I know, not a fair predictor of ability but life isn't fair either lol).

LastStar007
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2016 6:04 pm

Re: How many schools to apply to?

Postby LastStar007 » Mon Nov 28, 2016 7:22 pm

Thanks for the advice. I know I'm up against some stiff competition. I could graduate this spring, having only spent 3 years in college, but it's looking more and more like I should take the extra year.




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