Hey, I'm a senior year physics major and I'm looking to apply to groups in theoretical/computational physics (my prime choice is the non linear dynamics group at U Maryland). That said, my GPA is not great (3.29) - I don't really have a good reason for it, I just got a lot of B's in my core classes - my senior year electives are generally better. I have decent research experience: I'm working with a computational plasma group and have added relativistic particle sampling modules to existing plasma codes - I don't have a publication yet, and probably won't till the end of Spring. I also have independent class projects that my adviser thinks might impress the graduate committee (basically parallelized simulations - one of them is a raytraced Schwarzchild BH that does exact geodesic computations on CUDA. They're not really industry or research standard though, just code I put together for different CS classes). I also work part time as a system administrator for the university's supercomputer (Does this matter?). I wrote the PGRE in September and got a 990. I was wondering if you have any advice on how I can optimize my chances for getting into a decent graduate school. (Read: How do I convince the graduate committee that my GPA does not reflect my true potential?)
Thanks! (And please be brutally honest with your feedback)
EDIT: I am a bit wary about highlighting my class projects or supercomputer work simply because I get the impression that the kind of research that universities seem to recognize is the formal honours thesisy kind (which I can't get into because the university I'm in has a hard cutoff of 3.3 to even attempt to defend a thesis). Am I wrong about this? Have personal projects helped any of you significantly with graduate admissions?