Low GPA/Randomness

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Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:16 pm

Low GPA/Randomness

Postby phy6ftw » Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:32 pm

Hi, I've been following this website for a while but never actually posted.

Here's what I got:

I will be graduating this fall from a top 10-15 Physics program with degrees in physics and astronomy. My undergraduate tenure took me 6 years to complete with 3 failing grades (all in upper division math) and 2 q drops. My GPA is a 3.1, I have had ALL A's in upper division physics and retook all of my failing grades and recieved A's in those. I have had 4+ years of Research with 2 publications(ASP) and 2 weeks of actual observing time at an observatory gathering spectra. My physics gre was ok (75 percentile) and I feel I have had very strong letters of rec since I have had so long to cultivate my reputation with my professors.

First of all, should I even bother applying to a phd program or see if I can get into a masters program and work my way up from there? If not, what kind of schools should I be applying to? I'll probably apply to 2 top 20 schools just for the sake of applying (one being my undergrad uni) but after that I don't know how deep in the barrel I should go looking for schools. I feel like my publications and research experience provide some leverage for my application but my low gpa/failing grades/long degree time make me wonder where I should be applying.

Thanks in advance.

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Re: Low GPA/Randomness

Postby nathan12343 » Tue Dec 15, 2009 10:35 pm

You don't say if you are applying for astronomy or physics, which is it? Either way, you should definitely be applying to graduate school this year.

I think with the upward trend in your grades, you shouldn't have too much trouble. You should certainly talk about it in your SOP (this is one of the big reasons they get people to write SOPs) while also highlighting your research experience. Can you get any of your recommendation writers to talk about your GPA? Hopefully they will also be able to help you out.

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Re: Low GPA/Randomness

Postby geshi » Tue Dec 15, 2009 11:20 pm

75th percentile is very good PGRE, especially if you're a domestic student. I have a friend who applied last year with something like 37th percentile and go into a couple top 20 programs. You have plenty of good points to your application. Your GPA is slightly low, but it's not AWFUL. You're still above the minimum for most school. I'm sure you'll be able to get into a decent program. I agree with what nathan##### said.

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Re: Low GPA/Randomness

Postby phy6ftw » Wed Dec 16, 2009 2:36 am

Thanks for the replies guys

nathan12343 wrote:You don't say if you are applying for astronomy or physics, which is it?

I was hoping to go into astro, particularly supernovae/GRB's because that was what my research has primarily been in, although I really don't have a huge preference. I love both, thats why I am getting undergrad degrees in both. From what I can tell, if you lean towards the theoretical side of physics it is tougher to get into schools b/c so many people want to go into that. I don't know if that holds as true for astro but I imagine its probably the same. Either way, I have a little time to decide what is in my best interest since I won't be applying until next fall but its looking closer to astro than straight physics.

Do either of you know what a few good safety schools for me would be? Or anyone in general for that matter? I always hear people say to have a couple safety schools lined up if your bigger schools reject but I really have no idea what the schools are for me, if there are any lol.

Thanks again

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Re: Low GPA/Randomness

Postby grae313 » Fri Dec 18, 2009 2:04 pm

You should definitely be applying to top 20 graduate schools with some safeties thrown in. You have all A's in your upper-division physics classes so spin a story in your SOP on what you learned through your undergrad trials and highlight your research accomplishments.

Theory doesn't necessarily have more students wanting to go into it, it just has no money so there is always more demand than funded spots.

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Re: Low GPA/Randomness

Postby kedar » Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:59 pm

I HAVE A QUESTION ON LOW GPA's : Does explaining low GPA's due to medical reasons require some supporting documents to be sent?

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