AHipp wrote:I think the improving trend in your GPA will at least look promising, given that you started off shaky. It's really hard to say how good of a chance you have without knowing other aspects of your application, such as PGRE, research, etc.. I do know that GPA isn't necessarily the most important factor, since GPAs between schools can't really be compared. I definitely think other schools are doing research in those fields! I would look at the US News ranking of physics programs and look at some of the programs ranked higher than about 40. Go to the sites for each and really look at what research each professor in the field of astronomy/astrophysics is doing and once you find one that's interesting, copy a link to their page and paste in a word document so you can refer back to it later. This will be a tedious process, but will result in you finding places that fit your interests.
Thank you so much, AHipp, for taking the time to read my post and respond. I will certainly follow your advice and look forward to improving my list.
My research experience, due to my rocky start to college, only began upon transferring to my current institution. I was lucky enough to find a wonderful mentor whose work completely enamored me with the study of spectroscopy. I have worked on two projects with him, the second project being the one to which I've devoted much of my time this past year. In my latest project, I've worked directly and alone with the three aforementioned experts in the field and learned a great deal. I've received a couple of awards since transferring here (one of which was a private grant to pursue my latest research) and also gained membership to a research-based diversity program at my school. I've only had one poster presentation so far, though I am registered for two more in the next month or two. A first-author paper is underway but will not be completed until probably March of 2019 at the latest, as we are working to snag a last bit of data for a well-rounded publication.
I sincerely don't believe my PGRE went too well...unfortunately I've yet to upper division Quantum II, so it was a bit of an adventure trying to memorize all of that information before the test.
Anywho, thank you again for your response. Your advice to browse the Top 40 list certainly helps. I wish anyone reading this all the best of luck in their graduate school endeavors!