Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

waht315
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Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:40 am

Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby waht315 » Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:49 am

Hello,

I plan to apply to Caltech and Princeton for graduate school in astrophysics. Do they ask for your major GPA in addition to your cumulative GPA on their applications?

TY

kronotsky
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Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:29 pm

Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby kronotsky » Sat Apr 20, 2019 2:33 pm

waht315 wrote:Hello,

I plan to apply to Caltech and Princeton for graduate school in astrophysics. Do they ask for your major GPA in addition to your cumulative GPA on their applications?

TY


Hey u/OptimalFalcon,

Try asking again when you apply in a few years. Until then, find some things you're passionate about (hopefully schoolwork can be one of them!) and try doing some astrophysics research. It's still not too late to ask someone at UCLA if you can work in their lab this summer! The department may not be "top tier," whatever that means (don't ask me, I'm not an astrophysicist... yet), but they certainly do research in enough areas that you'll be able to get a taste of what you like.

To answer your question, most schools will ask for your major GPA in addition to your cumulative GPA. I know for sure that Princeton does this for physics/plasma/astro; I did not apply to Caltech for physics or astronomy so I am not positive about their application.

waht315
Posts: 25
Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:40 am

Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby waht315 » Sat Apr 20, 2019 2:41 pm

kronotsky wrote:
waht315 wrote:Hello,

I plan to apply to Caltech and Princeton for graduate school in astrophysics. Do they ask for your major GPA in addition to your cumulative GPA on their applications?

TY


Hey u/OptimalFalcon,

Try asking again when you apply in a few years. Until then, find some things you're passionate about (hopefully schoolwork can be one of them!) and try doing some astrophysics research. It's still not too late to ask someone at UCLA if you can work in their lab this summer! The department may not be "top tier," whatever that means (don't ask me, I'm not an astrophysicist... yet), but they certainly do research in enough areas that you'll be able to get a taste of what you like.

To answer your question, most schools will ask for your major GPA in addition to your cumulative GPA. I know for sure that Princeton does this for physics/plasma/astro; I did not apply to Caltech for physics or astronomy so I am not positive about their application.


Hello Caltech student, I see that you applied to Caltech for planetary sciences. Did they ask for your major GPA?

I'm already in a research lab (not under a professor though) at UCLA. I'll ask a few professors to see if they'll accept me or not.

kronotsky
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:29 pm

Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby kronotsky » Sat Apr 20, 2019 2:49 pm

waht315 wrote:Hello Caltech student, I see that you applied to Caltech for planetary sciences. Did they ask for your major GPA?


Hmm, you know I thought they must have, but upon checking they did not. You ought to ask someone who applied for astronomy to get a clear answer, however. Also, I doubt this would be a point in your favor if you are worried about the difference between the two numbers - it means that they will read your transcript in detail (including your recent freshman grades). I would recommend not worrying about it - it's a waste of your time at this point.

waht315
Posts: 25
Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:40 am

Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby waht315 » Sat Apr 20, 2019 3:02 pm

kronotsky wrote:
waht315 wrote:Hello Caltech student, I see that you applied to Caltech for planetary sciences. Did they ask for your major GPA?


Hmm, you know I thought they must have, but upon checking they did not. You ought to ask someone who applied for astronomy to get a clear answer, however. Also, I doubt this would be a point in your favor if you are worried about the difference between the two numbers - it means that they will read your transcript in detail (including your recent freshman grades). I would recommend not worrying about it - it's a waste of your time at this point.


I believe that they will overlook those crappy freshman grades when I take those graduate-level courses (I wish to take around 10 of them) in astrophysics and mathematics and get all A's in them when I'm a junior and senior. It is too bad that my major GPA doesn't include the graduate-level courses since they would bring my major GPA up to about a 3.85 (in the likely event that I get all A's from now on). My transcript doesn't include the major GPA, but they'll probably ask for it anyway. I plan to have a 5th year as an undergraduate to win more awards, have more research, and increase my cumulative GPA to around a 3.93.

kronotsky
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:29 pm

Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby kronotsky » Sat Apr 20, 2019 3:29 pm

waht315 wrote:I believe that they will overlook those crappy freshman grades when I take those graduate-level courses (I wish to take around 10 of them) in astrophysics and mathematics and get all A's in them when I'm a junior and senior. It is too bad that my major GPA doesn't include the graduate-level courses since they would bring my major GPA up to about a 3.85 (in the likely event that I get all A's from now on). My transcript doesn't include the major GPA, but they'll probably ask for it anyway. I plan to have a 5th year as an undergraduate to win more awards, have more research, and increase my cumulative GPA to around a 3.93.


Out of curiosity, what do you think went wrong with your freshman grades thus far, and what is your plan to fix this problem in the next few years?

I don't mean to be critical. It seems that you're really set on this, even though many people have told you that you should perhaps be a little bit more open-minded about your future. If you are set on this, I think the best thing we can do to help you is to give you advice about how to get the grades that you want. The rest of the stuff (for example, about whether it really makes sense to go all-in on Caltech and Princeton and what your desire to do that says about you) you can learn for yourself. A lot of us on these forums have had to figure out through trial and error what strategies do and do not work, and collectively I think we're a good resource, but only if you get particular about what you've been doing and what about it isn't working for you.

waht315
Posts: 25
Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:40 am

Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby waht315 » Sat Apr 20, 2019 6:45 pm

kronotsky wrote:
waht315 wrote:I believe that they will overlook those crappy freshman grades when I take those graduate-level courses (I wish to take around 10 of them) in astrophysics and mathematics and get all A's in them when I'm a junior and senior. It is too bad that my major GPA doesn't include the graduate-level courses since they would bring my major GPA up to about a 3.85 (in the likely event that I get all A's from now on). My transcript doesn't include the major GPA, but they'll probably ask for it anyway. I plan to have a 5th year as an undergraduate to win more awards, have more research, and increase my cumulative GPA to around a 3.93.


Out of curiosity, what do you think went wrong with your freshman grades thus far, and what is your plan to fix this problem in the next few years?

I don't mean to be critical. It seems that you're really set on this, even though many people have told you that you should perhaps be a little bit more open-minded about your future. If you are set on this, I think the best thing we can do to help you is to give you advice about how to get the grades that you want. The rest of the stuff (for example, about whether it really makes sense to go all-in on Caltech and Princeton and what your desire to do that says about you) you can learn for yourself. A lot of us on these forums have had to figure out through trial and error what strategies do and do not work, and collectively I think we're a good resource, but only if you get particular about what you've been doing and what about it isn't working for you.


I didn't solve almost all of the problems from the textbooks and I didn't go to office hours to seek help. I also don't and didn't have any study groups because I am pretty antisocial. I did attend lectures, but not all of them. Also, I guess I had a prioritization issue in my first quarter where I mostly focused on my extracurriculars (contests) rather than on my classes because I thought that I could ace those classes with ease. I was wrong, and I will have to take the more advanced versions (the honors versions as opposed to the regular versions) next fall quarter to make up for it even though those bad grades will stay there. Do you think that if I take all of those graduate courses in astrophysics and math, my final GPAs and transcripts will be on a equal level to yours from the perspective of graduate schools? I heard that graduate committees and companies add .7 point to a Caltech GPA, because Caltech is difficult. I'd like to believe that I would have done well at Caltech through sheer hard work. I would have taken my education seriously because I'd be at Caltech, one of the best universities in the world for STEM. I could have had a lack of motivation towards my schoolwork as I tend to do things at the last minute. I think this may be due to me having a hard time deciding what to do at the moment. Coursework or contests or watch astronomy and physics colloquiums online or...

waht315
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Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby waht315 » Sat Apr 20, 2019 7:19 pm

I took courses that probably were a bit too difficult for me to handle, leading to bad grades. I didn't fulfill the prereqs for a few of them.

waht315
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Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby waht315 » Sat Apr 20, 2019 7:39 pm

I wish that I can remove those grades from my transcript, but, apparently, I can't. I still feel that it is possible though as they can just get rid of those grades in a blink of an eye.

waht315
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Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby waht315 » Sat Apr 20, 2019 11:33 pm

kronotsky wrote:
waht315 wrote:I believe that they will overlook those crappy freshman grades when I take those graduate-level courses (I wish to take around 10 of them) in astrophysics and mathematics and get all A's in them when I'm a junior and senior. It is too bad that my major GPA doesn't include the graduate-level courses since they would bring my major GPA up to about a 3.85 (in the likely event that I get all A's from now on). My transcript doesn't include the major GPA, but they'll probably ask for it anyway. I plan to have a 5th year as an undergraduate to win more awards, have more research, and increase my cumulative GPA to around a 3.93.


Out of curiosity, what do you think went wrong with your freshman grades thus far, and what is your plan to fix this problem in the next few years?

I don't mean to be critical. It seems that you're really set on this, even though many people have told you that you should perhaps be a little bit more open-minded about your future. If you are set on this, I think the best thing we can do to help you is to give you advice about how to get the grades that you want. The rest of the stuff (for example, about whether it really makes sense to go all-in on Caltech and Princeton and what your desire to do that says about you) you can learn for yourself. A lot of us on these forums have had to figure out through trial and error what strategies do and do not work, and collectively I think we're a good resource, but only if you get particular about what you've been doing and what about it isn't working for you.


So what do you think? Was I being a total dumbass?

Whatever. I can't trust anyone these days. I don't know if everyone wants to backstab me or not. I've suffered through a lot of backstabbing in high school. What a shitty time. I would love to believe that I actually have a high chance in getting into Caltech and Princeton for graduate school. I'll have to find a way to make up for my GPAs.

waht315
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Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:40 am

Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby waht315 » Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:12 am

I feel ridiculously devastated because of my inaction in the last two quarters. It sucks when my grades had to suffer when it could have been avoided entirely. Now, I am panicking about my chances in getting into Caltech or Princeton for grad school since all of my competitors will have 4.0s and not me.

scytoo
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Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby scytoo » Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:32 am

kronotsky wrote:
waht315 wrote:I believe that they will overlook those crappy freshman grades when I take those graduate-level courses (I wish to take around 10 of them) in astrophysics and mathematics and get all A's in them when I'm a junior and senior. It is too bad that my major GPA doesn't include the graduate-level courses since they would bring my major GPA up to about a 3.85 (in the likely event that I get all A's from now on). My transcript doesn't include the major GPA, but they'll probably ask for it anyway. I plan to have a 5th year as an undergraduate to win more awards, have more research, and increase my cumulative GPA to around a 3.93.


Out of curiosity, what do you think went wrong with your freshman grades thus far, and what is your plan to fix this problem in the next few years?

I don't mean to be critical. It seems that you're really set on this, even though many people have told you that you should perhaps be a little bit more open-minded about your future. If you are set on this, I think the best thing we can do to help you is to give you advice about how to get the grades that you want. The rest of the stuff (for example, about whether it really makes sense to go all-in on Caltech and Princeton and what your desire to do that says about you) you can learn for yourself. A lot of us on these forums have had to figure out through trial and error what strategies do and do not work, and collectively I think we're a good resource, but only if you get particular about what you've been doing and what about it isn't working for you.


I'd second that suggestion: you really have to know where you went wrong the first few times around if you want to fix things. Good grades aren't just something that you can categorically state you're going to get, you have to work hard for them. You won't be able to have a 4.0, but you can probably improve it up to the mid-3's if you work really hard from here on out. Caltech/Princeton might be out of your grasp, but by the time you apply, you probably won't even want to go to either.

waht315
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Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby waht315 » Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:47 am

If Caltech and Princeton are out of my grasp, then I won’t be going to grad school then. I can’t accept anything less.

waht315
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Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby waht315 » Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:56 am

scytoo wrote:
kronotsky wrote:
waht315 wrote:I believe that they will overlook those crappy freshman grades when I take those graduate-level courses (I wish to take around 10 of them) in astrophysics and mathematics and get all A's in them when I'm a junior and senior. It is too bad that my major GPA doesn't include the graduate-level courses since they would bring my major GPA up to about a 3.85 (in the likely event that I get all A's from now on). My transcript doesn't include the major GPA, but they'll probably ask for it anyway. I plan to have a 5th year as an undergraduate to win more awards, have more research, and increase my cumulative GPA to around a 3.93.


Out of curiosity, what do you think went wrong with your freshman grades thus far, and what is your plan to fix this problem in the next few years?

I don't mean to be critical. It seems that you're really set on this, even though many people have told you that you should perhaps be a little bit more open-minded about your future. If you are set on this, I think the best thing we can do to help you is to give you advice about how to get the grades that you want. The rest of the stuff (for example, about whether it really makes sense to go all-in on Caltech and Princeton and what your desire to do that says about you) you can learn for yourself. A lot of us on these forums have had to figure out through trial and error what strategies do and do not work, and collectively I think we're a good resource, but only if you get particular about what you've been doing and what about it isn't working for you.


I'd second that suggestion: you really have to know where you went wrong the first few times around if you want to fix things. Good grades aren't just something that you can categorically state you're going to get, you have to work hard for them. You won't be able to have a 4.0, but you can probably improve it up to the mid-3's if you work really hard from here on out. Caltech/Princeton might be out of your grasp, but by the time you apply, you probably won't even want to go to either.


This is simply giving me too much anxiety. Even if I take graduate courses and get all A’s in them, I won’t be able to get into Caltech and Princeton? My major and cumulative GPA are currently trash. My cumulative GPA will be higher than my major GPA. Would taking all of those astrophysics graduate courses, which would not have any effect on my major GPA, and getting all A’s make up for a 3.79 Major GPA? I know what I have to do to get all A’s.

By the way, I think I know who you are on Reddit if you use it.

waht315
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Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby waht315 » Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:58 am

I am mediocre at everything. What the fk is wrong with me?

scytoo
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Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby scytoo » Sun Apr 21, 2019 11:33 am

waht315 wrote:This is simply giving me too much anxiety. Even if I take graduate courses and get all A’s in them, I won’t be able to get into Caltech and Princeton? My major and cumulative GPA are currently trash. My cumulative GPA will be higher than my major GPA. Would taking all of those astrophysics graduate courses, which would not have any effect on my major GPA, and getting all A’s make up for a 3.79 Major GPA? I know what I have to do to get all A’s.


Well there's more to grad applications than just grades, it's just that your grades kinda represent your aptitude in a big way. If you're struggling to do well in the foundational classes, you'll find the more advanced stuff (and the graduate courses) impossible to pass, so you have to go back and relearn the stuff you've missed if you want a good shot there.

And grades play a big role in getting research experience too, so it can be pretty limiting if you've done poorly early on. I got my first research gig in my first year, but there's no way that would have happened if I'd had a low GPA. It'll take you time to repair the damage, and that's valuable time lost.

waht315 wrote:By the way, I think I know who you are on Reddit if you use it.


I do have an account, but I mostly lurk these days. Have we talked on r/tattoos?

waht315
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Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby waht315 » Sun Apr 21, 2019 11:39 am

scytoo wrote:
waht315 wrote:This is simply giving me too much anxiety. Even if I take graduate courses and get all A’s in them, I won’t be able to get into Caltech and Princeton? My major and cumulative GPA are currently trash. My cumulative GPA will be higher than my major GPA. Would taking all of those astrophysics graduate courses, which would not have any effect on my major GPA, and getting all A’s make up for a 3.79 Major GPA? I know what I have to do to get all A’s.


Well there's more to grad applications than just grades, it's just that your grades kinda represent your aptitude in a big way. If you're struggling to do well in the foundational classes, you'll find the more advanced stuff (and the graduate courses) impossible to pass, so you have to go back and relearn the stuff you've missed if you want a good shot there.

And grades play a big role in getting research experience too, so it can be pretty limiting if you've done poorly early on. I got my first research gig in my first year, but there's no way that would have happened if I'd had a low GPA. It'll take you time to repair the damage, and that's valuable time lost.

waht315 wrote:By the way, I think I know who you are on Reddit if you use it.


I do have an account, but I mostly lurk these days. Have we talked on r/tattoos?


I’m currently in a research lab (though not under a professor but at least it is research). I didn’t need to send in a transcript so I basically lied about me having a 4.0. I doubt they will figure it out.

It seems that we did not talk on reddit. You seemed so familiar though.

I believe that I can still handle the graduate courses. I just need to ask for help whenever I need it. I will take the harder versions of some of the classes that I didn’t do well in. For the other classes, take the next courses in the sequences and get all A’s.

scytoo
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Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby scytoo » Sun Apr 21, 2019 11:44 am

waht315 wrote:I’m currently in a research lab (though not under a professor but at least it is research). I didn’t need to send in a transcript so I basically lied about me having a 4.0. I doubt they will figure it out.


You shouldn't lie about your grades. You do realise that any professor can access your transcript at any time, right? If you drop the ball and disappoint them for even one second, or if they have absolutely any reason to doubt you, if they so much as speak to a single person who has ever taught or taken a class with you, they'll find out and they'll be super pissed. That's such an incredibly stupid move. You can get into serious trouble for that kind of bullshit, and *when* you get caught, you're not just going to lose out on Caltech and Princeton, you'll lose out on the career as a whole. Liars and cheats aren't tolerated dude. That's disgraceful.

waht315
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Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:40 am

Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby waht315 » Sun Apr 21, 2019 11:53 am

scytoo wrote:
waht315 wrote:I’m currently in a research lab (though not under a professor but at least it is research). I didn’t need to send in a transcript so I basically lied about me having a 4.0. I doubt they will figure it out.


You shouldn't lie about your grades. You do realise that any professor can access your transcript at any time, right? If you drop the ball and disappoint them for even one second, or if they have absolutely any reason to doubt you, if they so much as speak to a single person who has ever taught or taken a class with you, they'll find out and they'll be super pissed. That's such an incredibly stupid move. You can get into serious trouble for that kind of bullshit, and *when* you get caught, you're not just going to lose out on Caltech and Princeton, you'll lose out on the career as a whole. Liars and cheats aren't tolerated dude. That's disgraceful.


Ah crap. I don't know what to do. I don't think any professor is associated with the group that I'm currently in. I've joined it just last week. If they do find out, whatever. I need the research experience, damn it. As long as I do a great job in the group, they probably won't even care one bit.

waht315
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Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:40 am

Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby waht315 » Sun Apr 21, 2019 12:03 pm

scytoo wrote:
waht315 wrote:I’m currently in a research lab (though not under a professor but at least it is research). I didn’t need to send in a transcript so I basically lied about me having a 4.0. I doubt they will figure it out.


You shouldn't lie about your grades. You do realise that any professor can access your transcript at any time, right? If you drop the ball and disappoint them for even one second, or if they have absolutely any reason to doubt you, if they so much as speak to a single person who has ever taught or taken a class with you, they'll find out and they'll be super pissed. That's such an incredibly stupid move. You can get into serious trouble for that kind of bullshit, and *when* you get caught, you're not just going to lose out on Caltech and Princeton, you'll lose out on the career as a whole. Liars and cheats aren't tolerated dude. That's disgraceful.


I've seen plenty of cheaters beat me when I was in high school. It was absolutely BS, but I guess it is how you win at life. If they do find out, then I'd probably have to change my name, which I want to do anyway. They can't be mad at me forever just because I was depressed? Even if they do stay mad, then I'd make sure that I publish better research. Even high school kids can publish groundbreaking research, why can't I?

waht315
Posts: 25
Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:40 am

Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby waht315 » Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:47 pm

scytoo wrote:
waht315 wrote:I’m currently in a research lab (though not under a professor but at least it is research). I didn’t need to send in a transcript so I basically lied about me having a 4.0. I doubt they will figure it out.


You shouldn't lie about your grades. You do realise that any professor can access your transcript at any time, right? If you drop the ball and disappoint them for even one second, or if they have absolutely any reason to doubt you, if they so much as speak to a single person who has ever taught or taken a class with you, they'll find out and they'll be super pissed. That's such an incredibly stupid move. You can get into serious trouble for that kind of bullshit, and *when* you get caught, you're not just going to lose out on Caltech and Princeton, you'll lose out on the career as a whole. Liars and cheats aren't tolerated dude. That's disgraceful.


I've resent the application without including the GPA. Happy now? I think that they would still take me since the person who heads the research group had already accepted me. After thinking about it, I thought that I'd be fucked if my application stayed the way it was before. They can always ask for my transcript without my knowledge.

kronotsky
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Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby kronotsky » Sun Apr 21, 2019 4:50 pm

waht315 wrote:I didn't solve almost all of the problems from the textbooks and I didn't go to office hours to seek help. I also don't and didn't have any study groups because I am pretty antisocial. I did attend lectures, but not all of them. Also, I guess I had a prioritization issue in my first quarter where I mostly focused on my extracurriculars (contests) rather than on my classes because I thought that I could ace those classes with ease. I was wrong, and I will have to take the more advanced versions (the honors versions as opposed to the regular versions) next fall quarter to make up for it even though those bad grades will stay there. Do you think that if I take all of those graduate courses in astrophysics and math, my final GPAs and transcripts will be on a equal level to yours from the perspective of graduate schools? I heard that graduate committees and companies add .7 point to a Caltech GPA, because Caltech is difficult. I'd like to believe that I would have done well at Caltech through sheer hard work. I would have taken my education seriously because I'd be at Caltech, one of the best universities in the world for STEM. I could have had a lack of motivation towards my schoolwork as I tend to do things at the last minute. I think this may be due to me having a hard time deciding what to do at the moment. Coursework or contests or watch astronomy and physics colloquiums online or...

scytoo has given good advice on the other things in this thread, so I'll just respond to this point by point.
Okay, so it seems like there are some pretty clear, concrete things you can do to improve your performance. You need to go to class. You need to prioritize your homework - you don't have to start seriously working on the day that it's assigned (although I do recommend doing that), but you should at least look at the questions and spend some time thinking about them. If you can, read (or at least skim) the relevant sections of the textbook before you go to class. That way you will get double exposure (scientifically proven to be an important component in learning!), and hopefully the lecturee can clear up some things you found confusing in the book. Go to office hours if you are stuck, but make sure you have made a serious attempt on every problem first. This will make life a lot easier for both you and the TA.

These things are not hard in a vacuum, but sticking to them and refusing to procrastinate can be a serious lifestyle change. Don't use the fact that you will sometimes fail to do all of these things be an excuse to not do them again. If you persist in trying to build these habits, they will eventually stick, and your understanding of the material (and consequently your grades) will improve.

Unless these things work for you 100%, and you are now doing well in your classes with ease, seriously consider finding people in your major to study with. Try to treat it like office hours lite - don't rely on other students, but collaborate with them on the things that have you stumped. Many study groups leave stuff until the last second - if you end up part of one, that's okay, but really try to finish the homework before meeting with them if possible. Don't let studying interfere with your sleep if you can help it even a little bit.

The main advantage of being part of a study group, however, is that it's a great way for you to stop being antisocial. Science is a social activity, often best enjoyed with others, and no scientist is an island in this day and age. Also, I think if you get to know people with different perspectives, you may gradually realize that there are things in life at least as important as getting into Princeton or Caltech for grad school. Don't worry; realizing this typically makes it easier to succeed as a grad student, not harder. And if there are hard times where your prospects look bleak, then you will have people to commiserate with, which is really invaluable.

Grad classes can look good on your transcript, but most schools are looking at it to figure out whether you've demonstrated mastery of undergraduate physics, so they won't "make up for" bad grades in your undergraduate courses. Also, if you take a grad class and are not prepared for it, it could be just as bad for your transcript as Bs and Cs in your freshman classes. Then you will have had a large time and stress investment blow up in your face. For this reason, I recommend not taking a grad class unless you just really want to learn the material, and even then it might be better to audit.

As to your indecision about what to do right now, don't be indecisive. Focus on coursework. You are in a hole right now, and digging yourself out of it will be a good thing even if you "go insane" (or maybe "go sane") and decide not even to try for grad school. Try to work over some of the material from your intro courses over the summer before you take the honors version.

Also, scytoo already said this, but never lie again. It's both wrong and not worth it. That stuff will stick with you forever.

kronotsky
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Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby kronotsky » Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:22 pm

waht315 wrote:I've seen plenty of cheaters beat me when I was in high school. It was absolutely BS, but I guess it is how you win at life. If they do find out, then I'd probably have to change my name, which I want to do anyway. They can't be mad at me forever just because I was depressed? Even if they do stay mad, then I'd make sure that I publish better research. Even high school kids can publish groundbreaking research, why can't I?

Okay, first, don't make excuses for cheating. You may not fully appreciate this now (I didn't fully when I was a freshman), but there is serious value in being an honorable person. Then you don't have to hate or lie to yourself; at least you have the option not to.

Second, I was depressed for large chunks of college, and on occasion during those times had a strong desire to cheat. Because of my school's honor system, it would have been easy. But I didn't, and neither did my depressed classmates. If you try to blame your bad behavior on depression, people will rightfully be pissed off.

Third, high schoolers don't publish good research. Sometimes the very bright ones will make a solid contribution to a multi-author paper which is worthy of an authorship, but anything with a high schooler's name in front is not likely to be worth reading.

Fourth, cheaters can get away with it sometimes and in some places (lookin at you, Mr. President), but academia is set up in such a way and with such a strong stigma against cheating that you cannot expect to cheat even occasionally and get away with it. Leaving morals aside (and you should be persuaded by morals!), it is not even worth trying once, lest you risk making a habit out of it. And no one will ever forgive you. You could be the next superstar and they would still happily banish you to a different career. The system needs to be this way, because if any sort of deliberate cheating were allowed then the integrity of science would collapse, and enormous amounts of time would be wasted disproving false claims.

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Nishikata
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Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby Nishikata » Mon Apr 22, 2019 1:27 am

Whoa, slow down there.

First, let me point out that there is an "edit post" button. That button's purpose is for adding more details or afterthoughts after we clicked the "submit" button too fast. It is better to keep the thread concise.

Second, do not underestimate who you are trying to cheat. The people in academia are arguably the smartest, most meticulous people on the planet. And as the others have mentioned, if you get caught, your career is over. I do not think it is worth it, but up to you. Also, scytoo and kronotsky are successful applicants who are doing you a favor by reminding you of the risks of cheating. Do not reply them with something like, "Happy now?". They do not know you in person and there is no benefit for them to shape your application in a specific manner. That's just rude to their kind feedback.

Third, I too believe that successful application should be specific and focused, but it is also critical that the application materials to sound positive and confident. From the way your posts are written, I have slight worries that the negativity and worries might diffuse to your statement of purpose or other materials that might work against you more severely than the difference in your GPA. Nevertheless, it is your application so you have the full decision on it. I am not going to be happy or sad whether you take this advice or not. :|

Finally, this is just my personal curiosity, why only Caltech and Princeton?
I've heard many times that some people want to accept only Harvard/MIT/Stanford. I've not heard such strong preference for Caltech/Princeton and not anywhere else. Well, maybe it's just me. Have you heard about it before, Kronotsky/scytoo?

waht315
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Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby waht315 » Fri Apr 26, 2019 2:01 pm

GPA doesn’t matter in the process of attaining a research position under a professor. It shouldn’t anyway as long as you have interest. It is sad how lots of college students only want the high grades and not the learning. Toxic.

waht315
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Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby waht315 » Tue May 07, 2019 2:32 am

kronotsky wrote:
waht315 wrote:Hello,

I plan to apply to Caltech and Princeton for graduate school in astrophysics. Do they ask for your major GPA in addition to your cumulative GPA on their applications?

TY


Hey u/OptimalFalcon,

Try asking again when you apply in a few years. Until then, find some things you're passionate about (hopefully schoolwork can be one of them!) and try doing some astrophysics research. It's still not too late to ask someone at UCLA if you can work in their lab this summer! The department may not be "top tier," whatever that means (don't ask me, I'm not an astrophysicist... yet), but they certainly do research in enough areas that you'll be able to get a taste of what you like.

To answer your question, most schools will ask for your major GPA in addition to your cumulative GPA. I know for sure that Princeton does this for physics/plasma/astro; I did not apply to Caltech for physics or astronomy so I am not positive about their application.

How did they ask you for your major GPA? By transcript, on the application form, etc.?

sphonino
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Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby sphonino » Sun Jun 16, 2019 11:48 pm

waht315 wrote:
kronotsky wrote:
waht315 wrote:Hello,

I plan to apply to Caltech and Princeton for graduate school in astrophysics. Do they ask for your major GPA in addition to your cumulative GPA on their applications?

TY


Hey u/OptimalFalcon,

Try asking again when you apply in a few years. Until then, find some things you're passionate about (hopefully schoolwork can be one of them!) and try doing some astrophysics research. It's still not too late to ask someone at UCLA if you can work in their lab this summer! The department may not be "top tier," whatever that means (don't ask me, I'm not an astrophysicist... yet), but they certainly do research in enough areas that you'll be able to get a taste of what you like.

To answer your question, most schools will ask for your major GPA in addition to your cumulative GPA. I know for sure that Princeton does this for physics/plasma/astro; I did not apply to Caltech for physics or astronomy so I am not positive about their application.

How did they ask you for your major GPA? By transcript, on the application form, etc.?


Hi there, I first was going to just give friendly advice, but seeing as you've been pretty rude to some of the nicest contributors to this forum, I'm feeling reservations about trying to help frankly. Kronotsky and Scytoo for example has been very helpful, and their warnings to you about lying to professors were given with more kindness than I think was deserved.

So here's what I'll add. I got admitted to Caltech with a 3.73 cumulative GPA, 3.89 GPA in Physics if that helps you judge your position.
1. The Caltech application asks for only your cumulative GPA, given in a textbox, and your transcript. You do not input your major GPA.

2. GPA definitely matters in the process of attaining a research position with a professor. Just because you have interest doesn't mean you can understand everything, unfortunately. The professors at Caltech and Princeton are looking at students who clearly all show interest, otherwise they wouldn't be applying to graduate programs. So they have to pick students based on their skills and comprehension of the material, the latter being judged by GRE and GPAs.

3. GPA isn't the only thing that matters, but it is a factor. Grades can reflect the amount of work a student is willing to put into a course to learn. They also reflect material understanding. But they're not the only thing that matters, otherwise graduate schools wouldn't be asking for rec letters or SOP etc.

4. You seem to think that unless you get into Caltech or Princeton, you are mediocre. Getting into a physics graduate school is not that simple. I have a problem with you thinking like this frankly because it diminishes yourself but more importantly it is an attitude that diminishes everyone at other fantastic graduate schools. I don't get your fixation.

5. You've described problems in your attitude towards classes during your undergrad that you are now aware of. Good for you for recognizing them, I hope you work towards remedying them given the advice from other contributors. Will you get into Caltech or Princeton if you take their advice? Who knows. There are a ton of factors that happen during the acceptance process that are completely independent of your performance, like research interests of the university, whether a professor has enough openings in their group to take you, whether the department has enough funding, whether their expanding or shrinking subfields... All before they even open your application. At some level, it becomes a crapshoot.


I sincerely do wish you luck in your studies and future. You seem very anxious and very fixated on a specific, extremely high goal. I don't want to discourage you from aiming high, but it's not worth the cost of your own mental wellbeing. While Caltech and Princeton are obviously top schools, there are tons of other fantastic schools, and depending on your research interests, other schools may be even better than those two. There is no need to be so nihilistic about this process - it's definitely draining but you shouldn't be questioning your self-worth this much over grades.

waht315
Posts: 25
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Re: Do Caltech and Princeton astrophysics departments ask for major GPA for undergraduates?

Postby waht315 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 7:30 pm

I agree. I apologize for the disrespect; hopefully you will all respect me from now on.




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