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 Post subject: Average GPA (4-5 sciences per term), high CHEM+PHYSICS GREs?
PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 7:36 pm 
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Hello,

I know this is annoying but I would really like feedback. I'm getting multiple ulcers over this. I'm an art-turned-science major and I recently transferred to a smaller school (Emory) because of my major change. My last school delayed me severely because of a lack of class offerings so I'm playing a delightful game of catch-up.

I have had to take 4 sciences + 2 labs per semester so far and will be looking at 5 the next two semesters (senior year). The workload has left me with at lowest a B- with some higher grades, but not as many As as I'd like. I'm to blame mostly but I've had 3 ridiculous chem, physics, and math classes where I've had to completely self-teach. I'm talking 20+ chapters and very little guidance, and the department acknowledging and revising said courses.

I've done okay before with initial classes around 3.7 and this newly-born onslaught had brought me to a 3.4. With summer I've had a chance to study ahead and am confident in a 3.8-4.0. I'm doing very well with GREs and plan to take both chemistry and physics.

I'll have reccs from reputable professors and some general research experience. I have an extensive volunteering record. I adore what I study and would live to pursue interdisciplinary theory but I feel like none of this will come through with average stats. Simply put, what are my chances at a top school?


Last edited by Rnth12 on Fri Jul 08, 2011 10:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Average GPA (4-5 sciences per term), high CHEM+PHYSICS GREs?
PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:28 pm 
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Unfortunately the small school isn't probably very well known and this has some effect on decisions. If you're look at a "top school" as in Top 20 it would be fairly unlikely in Physics. You have to realize the type of people you're competing against to get those positions. Your GPA, Physics GRE, and research background have to be fairly well polished, just like most people getting accepted at those schools. However, don't let this be discouragement not to apply to graduate school in general. It's still worth it even if you get in a top 50 school!

-Riley


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 Post subject: Re: Average GPA (4-5 sciences per term), high CHEM+PHYSICS GREs?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 1:02 am 
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Sorry, but I disagree with Riley. A good PGRE coupled with a 3.5 (get A's next semester!) gives you a shot at almost any school. Grad schools will value your self-starter attitude and your determination and diligence. Basically finishing a degree in 2 years shows commitment and an ability to handle a grad courseload.

Caveat: getting a so-so (less than 800 PGRE) definitely precludes the top 10, and probably the top 20. But don't let the schools you can get into discourage you (like Riley said). Loads of people in top 100 schools shouldn't have done grad school--their heart isn't really in it, and their determination and ability aren't up to par to work in the field. It sounds to me that you don't have this problem, so you have the potential to be a great physicist no matter where you end up (especially in an interdisciplinary or nontraditional sub-field).


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 Post subject: Re: Average GPA (4-5 sciences per term), high CHEM+PHYSICS GREs?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 3:04 am 
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bfollinprm wrote:
Sorry, but I disagree with Riley. A good PGRE coupled with a 3.5 (get A's next semester!) gives you a shot at almost any school. Grad schools will value your self-starter attitude and your determination and diligence. Basically finishing a degree in 2 years shows commitment and an ability to handle a grad courseload.

Caveat: getting a so-so (less than 800 PGRE) definitely precludes the top 10, and probably the top 20. But don't let the schools you can get into discourage you (like Riley said). Loads of people in top 100 schools shouldn't have done grad school--their heart isn't really in it, and their determination and ability aren't up to par to work in the field. It sounds to me that you don't have this problem, so you have the potential to be a great physicist no matter where you end up (especially in an interdisciplinary or nontraditional sub-field).


Sorry, but I disagree with bfollinprm and agree with Riley. Even with good scores, good grades and research experience, coming from a smaller and unknown school will negatively impact you. You are an unconventional student and despite how much you spin it, at the end of the day a school is taking a bigger risk by bypassing a predictably solid choice for a potential but unknown benefit.

Take CarlBrannen for example. He had great scores (94% or higher on all General and Subject GRE), Reasonable GPA (3.5 both overall and major), a bunch of grad school experience, truck loads of research experience and publications (at least in relation to most other applicants), and lots of other experiences. So, how many of the top 20 schools did he get into? Not a damn one. Why not? because he was an unconventional applicant and the top 20 have more than enough solid applicants which means they don't ever need to take any unnecessary risks when choosing students.


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 Post subject: Re: Average GPA (4-5 sciences per term), high CHEM+PHYSICS GREs?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 3:09 am 
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 11:34 pm

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I've gotten the impression that the interdisciplinary programs are easier to get into, provided you have the backgrounds in the various disciplines.


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 Post subject: Re: Average GPA (4-5 sciences per term), high CHEM+PHYSICS GREs?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 9:08 am 
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bfollinprm wrote:
Sorry, but I disagree with Riley. A good PGRE coupled with a 3.5 (get A's next semester!) gives you a shot at almost any school. Grad schools will value your self-starter attitude and your determination and diligence. Basically finishing a degree in 2 years shows commitment and an ability to handle a grad courseload.


I feel this applicant is coming from a similar situation that I was in. To the original poster: As you'll be able to look up on this forum, I had a 890 PGRE, a 3.97 GPA and "some general research experience" as you have had. I had solid recommendations from two professors I worked with in research as well as a "classroom professor". I came from a small, unknown school as well and I was rejected from the top 4 schools I applied to (all ~Top 30). Even though I was slightly disappointed with this result, when you really think about it, it makes sense for a school not to reach for prospects from unknown places. When I look back at it, I'm fairly surprised I was accepted to Brown! Of course there are many other factors that matter here as well... gender, nationality, race, etc. but in general I would say it is difficult even with a "good" GRE and a "good" GPA to get into a Top 20 school (There are some easier ones to get into that I didn't apply to).

Of course, as I've said before, you shouldn't be discouraged to apply and as Carl says, I do believe interdisciplinary schools are easier to get into, I just wouldn't guarantee anything in the Top 20.

-Riley


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 Post subject: Re: Average GPA (4-5 sciences per term), high CHEM+PHYSICS GREs?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 10:08 am 
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2011 7:05 pm

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Wow, guess I should name the school. It's Emory University. Not unknown but not an ivy.

... But I'm assuming that's still not good enough?


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 Post subject: Re: Average GPA (4-5 sciences per term), high CHEM+PHYSICS GREs?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 12:43 pm 
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Rnth12 wrote:
Wow, guess I should name the school. It's Emory University. Not unknown but not an ivy.

... But I'm assuming that's still not good enough?


Nah, that isn't that bad. Regardless of school, they will first gauge you by PGRE, GPA, and research experience. Remember who you're competing against for these positions. Even if you did attend a "top notch" undergraduate school, you're still up against students who attended "top notch" undergraduate schools with 3.9+ GPAs, ~900 PGRE, and possible publications. It isn't that your not capable of attending a "top" school, it is just a numbers game.

-Riley


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 Post subject: Re: Average GPA (4-5 sciences per term), high CHEM+PHYSICS GREs?
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 3:14 pm 
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2011 7:05 pm

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Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2011 7:05 pm
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Thanks everryone for all the feedback. I do regret my gpa but the whole major switch and overloading has sort if put me there. So basically, I do not have a shot at getting in? Or is it just a game of chance at this point? Bump for any more feedback.


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