Astro student with 3.16 Overall GPA, 3.87 Upper Div GPA...

sippingjuice
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2018 6:39 pm

Astro student with 3.16 Overall GPA, 3.87 Upper Div GPA...

Postby sippingjuice » Sun Nov 18, 2018 7:19 pm

Hello, and thank you for taking the time to read my post (and perhaps lend me some advice).

I'm an astrophysics student who had a dismal start to college--I did poorly in my first institution, which led me to transfer out of it, spend a year in community college, and then transfer to the institution at which I am now. I got probably a 2.5 GPA at my first institution (where I studied for 2 years, it was a European university, though I'm a US student). I transferred to a local community college, where I retook most of the courses that caused me to have such a horrifyingly low GPA. I did well in them (A's, one B), and I have continued to improve since then. At my new institution, I've gotten A-'s and A's consistently for all of my upper division physics, astro, and math courses. My love for astrophysics (specifically observational, with focus in spectroscopy, stellar and that of larger scale structures and objects, i.e. AGNs, the ISM, etc.) has grown steadily over my rough academic journey, and I'd love to continue pursuing it as a PhD. I have three (hopefully) good letters from rather prominent researchers in my field, as I was lucky enough to connect with them in my search for research here. Do I have any chance at all at the top ten/twenty best grad schools? Also, I'm seriously struggling to find midrange schools that are working on my field of interest--my advisors are incredibly intelligent people and only seem to know about the best schools!! Any advice would be greatly appreciated, and thank you for taking the time to read my spiel.

AHipp
Posts: 16
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:54 am

Re: Astro student with 3.16 Overall GPA, 3.87 Upper Div GPA...

Postby AHipp » Sun Nov 18, 2018 8:47 pm

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.

sippingjuice
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2018 6:39 pm

Re: Astro student with 3.16 Overall GPA, 3.87 Upper Div GPA...

Postby sippingjuice » Sun Nov 18, 2018 10:11 pm

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!

AHipp
Posts: 16
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:54 am

Re: Astro student with 3.16 Overall GPA, 3.87 Upper Div GPA...

Postby AHipp » Mon Nov 19, 2018 1:18 am

Even if the paper isn't published yet, I would say it's worth mentioning that you have something in the works. As for the other research/poster session stuff, that will definitely look good! I'm in the same boat as you with not doing so hot on the PGRE. Also, it sounds like you're pretty set on spectroscopic astronomy, but I would recommend keeping an open, there's a lot of other really cool research happening that you may also enjoy! Good luck on your applications!




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