GPA - how much does it matter?

Thunderbird
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GPA - how much does it matter?

Postby Thunderbird » Tue Apr 08, 2008 1:18 pm

I study physics in Germany (University of Duisburg-Essen) and plan to apply to grad school to spend one year in the USA as an exchange student.

I read thru some of the GPAs you guys posted on here and I am a little worried. Altrough I am among the upper third my class all I got in exams were like 3s and 4s (espacially in the theoretical physics classes) on a 1(best) to 4 (passed) scale. So I guess if you converte that I would get a GPA <2,5

Besides that I worked as a teaching assistant in math for physics majors (class size of about 30 students) and worked in a research group of a professor for semiconductors (but just did basic stuff in the labs PhD candidates like refilling LN2 and He, assisting them in their experiments and helping out at the grad students labs classes) soldering some things - thats not the "research experience" some ppl over here talking about - is it?)

I plan to do the GRE General and Physics - can I even condider getting into grad schools like UCSD? A professor I talked to (he was a PostDoc at Stanford) and a Post-doc from my research group (he got his PhD at UCSB) said I should definitely try it and my chances are quite high - but I dont really know what I should think about that

___
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Re: GPA - how much does it matter?

Postby ___ » Tue Apr 08, 2008 1:56 pm

As far as I can tell, there are five things that matter when applying to school: grades, recommendations, GREs, research experience, and being a reasonably good fit for wherever you're applying. The order of these is very difficult to ascertain, as their relative weights change on a case-by-case basis. If you feel that you're at least a semi-strong candidate I wouldn't hesitate to apply schools like UCSD. At worst, you waste some time, an application fee, and hurt your ego. At best, you get a really good choice for where you'll spend the next five years of your life.

Thunderbird
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Re: GPA - how much does it matter?

Postby Thunderbird » Tue Apr 08, 2008 2:17 pm

___ wrote:As far as I can tell, there are five things that matter when applying to school: grades, recommendations, GREs, research experience, and being a reasonably good fit for wherever you're applying. The order of these is very difficult to ascertain, as their relative weights change on a case-by-case basis. If you feel that you're at least a semi-strong candidate I wouldn't hesitate to apply schools like UCSD. At worst, you waste some time, an application fee, and hurt your ego. At best, you get a really good choice for where you'll spend the next five years of your life.

well, its a little more I would loose - the fees for GRE, application, the effords to get something like a fullbright scholarstip would probably get into 1000$.
But the other options I have are the UK, cuz I could get into U of York for free w/o any admission progress - but I just wanted to save that as a safe school.

Btw, I not a millioniare - I just wanna spend one year over there and then get my diploma in Germany. But AFAIK I still have to go thru the whole grad school application stuff...

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dlenmn
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Re: GPA - how much does it matter?

Postby dlenmn » Tue Apr 08, 2008 5:24 pm

Thunderbird wrote:Btw, I not a millioniare


Given the exchange rate, you might as well be one...

I wasn't aware that grad schools did such one year exchanges. Seems like going though the whole admissions process is a lot of trouble for just one year.

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grae313
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Re: GPA - how much does it matter?

Postby grae313 » Tue Apr 08, 2008 5:54 pm

Your GPA matters a lot (there have been several excellent threads on this topic that you could find with a little searching). If your GPA is poor but you are doing very well compared to your class, you should have your letter writers mention this. Have them say what the class average is and how you are ranked approximately in your class. However, the UC system does not admit many international students due to how they are funded (international students cost them a lot of money). The percent of international students they admit is very low, and without a very good GPA, excellent GRE scores, and solid research experience (the type you would get a publication or conference presentation out of), it may be pretty tough. There was a link to a document showing the percentage of international students at various institutions posted here somewhere. You may want to try and track that down. Good luck!!

vroomfondel
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Joined: Thu Dec 07, 2006 9:47 pm

Re: GPA - how much does it matter?

Postby vroomfondel » Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:29 am

i work with a dude who is from ilmenau. he just asked his prof if he could do his phd work in the US, and prof said yes. said prof hooked him up with Prof here and he is getting paid by his home dept.

I think he was here for one year during his diplom also.

vicente
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Re: GPA - how much does it matter?

Postby vicente » Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:50 am

If he's only going to be coming for one year, he's not going to be finishing a degree so perhaps he would qualify as a non-degree student or at least some special "exchange student" category and not have to go through a long-winded admissions process.

See if your school has formal exchange programs with any U.S. schools, it will probably be easier to go through these channels than to try to negotiate something on your own. In that way you'll be sure that the courses you take will count for your degree back in Deutschland. I know that Würzburg sends tons of graduate exchange students to North America, not sure about your school.

If you want to go it alone, then try contacting private universities, they don't get as much funding from the state so may be more likely to hire international students/scholars. You could also ask research groups if they want some part-time help during the year, in this way you can get paid and study at the same time.

Also contact the international office of the universities you're interested in. Some universities have more regulations than others. Also, look up the U.S.'s J-1 "Exchange Visitor" visa, that might interest you.




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