with a GPA of 3.38 will I get into Grad School?

lindsayphysics
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Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2014 3:23 pm

with a GPA of 3.38 will I get into Grad School?

Postby lindsayphysics » Wed Dec 10, 2014 3:32 pm

I go to Northeastern University, ranked in the top 50 universities in the US. I am a Physics major with Electrical Engineering and Math Minors. I am currently in my third year and plan on taking the GRE's soon and generally just trying to figure out what I want to do after college. I am interested in graduate programs in Engineering Physics, Astrophysics, and Electrical Engineering. My current GPA is 3.38 with a Physics GPA of 3.29. I might be able to raise these a little bit but honestly I'm doing the best that I can. Most of the other physics majors that I am friends with have roughly the same GPA as I do. I honestly thought I had an pretty good GPA until I started reading this website. ANyways, just looking for general advice

Catria
Posts: 353
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:14 pm

Re: with a GPA of 3.38 will I get into Grad School?

Postby Catria » Wed Dec 10, 2014 4:14 pm

That's a little too wide for a PhD in any one of these three fields...

Maybe your research experience could help us ascertain which one is your best fit.

uhurulol
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:38 am

Re: with a GPA of 3.38 will I get into Grad School?

Postby uhurulol » Wed Dec 10, 2014 4:48 pm

lindsayphysics wrote:I go to Northeastern University, ranked in the top 50 universities in the US. I am a Physics major with Electrical Engineering and Math Minors. I am currently in my third year and plan on taking the GRE's soon and generally just trying to figure out what I want to do after college. I am interested in graduate programs in Engineering Physics, Astrophysics, and Electrical Engineering. My current GPA is 3.38 with a Physics GPA of 3.29. I might be able to raise these a little bit but honestly I'm doing the best that I can. Most of the other physics majors that I am friends with have roughly the same GPA as I do. I honestly thought I had an pretty good GPA until I started reading this website. ANyways, just looking for general advice


Don't take everything on this site as the standard. The people who are willing to invest the time in making a forum account solely to discuss their graduate school prospects are the ones who are typically above & beyond type achievers. As such, you're going to see lots of people with very high GPA and GRE scores. People apply to these schools (and get in) with a very wide range of stats. The ones you see posting here, however, are not typically the ones with lesser stats.

That being said, there are many more factors. Your recommendors are a huge deal, so if you have good ones that will write solid letters that's a gigantic plus. Your research experience is also a big deal -- graduate schools love to see experience relevant to their work. Lastly, your statement could even make or break your application -- it's the only place that the school gets to see exactly who you are.

First and foremost, I would recommend contacting professors in departments you're interested in. From first hand experience, I can safely say they LOVE hearing from prospective graduate students. I've sent e-mails to 28 separate researchers at various universities, and almost all of them have come back with overwhelmingly positive responses. It will get your name into their head, and if you give them a brief intro on your research and your interests (sound enthusiastic! they want to know you care!) they are all the more likely to remember you when your application comes through. Be sure to ask if they think they'll be taking on grad assistants soon; a small handful of the researchers I contacted told me explicitly that they knew they wouldn't have room for assistants any time soon, but most of them directed me to professors with similar research opportunities. For the most part, however, they encouraged me to apply to their schools.

As far as your stats go, I definitely wouldn't sweat your GPA. I have a lower GPA than you (3.17) for various reasons, and I'm not at all afraid to apply. It's toward the bottom end of acceptable, but my letters and research should make up for it. I'm not applying to top-tier programs, and I think I've got a pretty good shot at the ones I am submitting to. Remember that test scores don't correlate that well with success in graduate school, and these admissions committees are well aware of that. Prove to them that you're a great candidate through your research and your efforts in applying, and you'll be sure to get a few acceptance letters.

I hope my wall of text helps you out. If you want, post a more in depth profile and we can all give you some more advice. Relevant information includes your race/gender/nationality (unfortunately), your research experience, the prestige of your recommendors, and any awards/scholorships/presentations/publications are definitely bonus points. GRE/PGRE scores will help to, but you can easily find programs that match your score range (or that don't require the PGRE).

lindsayphysics
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2014 3:23 pm

Re: with a GPA of 3.38 will I get into Grad School?

Postby lindsayphysics » Wed Dec 10, 2014 5:06 pm

Here is more info about me

race: white
gender: female
Nationality: US citizen
GRE: not taken yet
year is school: 3/5 (its 5 year school but a year and a half of the 5 I will be working internships and not taking classes)

The thing about Northeastern is that they focus on work experience more than research. I am just about to complete my first 6 month internship at an Engineering Contracting company where my title was "Electrical Engineering co-op". I have worked for 6 months helping with the design and prototyping of various engineering projects. I wrote a list of some of my experiences at this job at the end of this reply.

My main question now would be do grad schools take into account extensive work experience? I plan on doing two more 6 month co-ops before I graduate, probably in the engineering and maybe research fields.


Work Experiences
• Helped assemble prototype printer (both electrical and mechanical), participated in testing and trouble shooting
• Designed a part in SolidWorks from scratch that was machined and used in Printer
• Designed and created cable drawings in DraftSight for an electricity monitoring machine
• Made re-work instructions for machined parts
• Designed layout of wiring on a control box using schematic (very complicated)
• Redlined and fixed cable drawings for multiple projects (my name is on hundreds of documents)
• Worked to fix problems in wiring of a waste pump
• Calculated inertia of a complicated engine using 3D calculous
• Was in charge of procurement for Printer project part Two, roughly 400 parts to acquire
• Constantly updated procurement BOM and tracked parts
• Created countless specsheets for parts
• Checked work of other electrical engineers
• Created Concepts for a wireless temperature probe that would work in both microwaves and ovens
• Participated in customer meetings
• Created and modified wire run lists for multiple projects

uhurulol
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:38 am

Re: with a GPA of 3.38 will I get into Grad School?

Postby uhurulol » Wed Dec 10, 2014 5:16 pm

Astro will be a tougher sell with no notable astro experience. That isn't to say you can't get in, but you'll have to present a compelling case and show some serious passion for it.

Engineering schools, on the other hand, might like your experience, as it seems very hands on. You need to figure out a good way to incorporate all of those small projects into your CV and statement of purpose. Make them look pretty and important. I haven't researched eng grad schools though, so I don't have as much useful information on this.

Point being, you certainly have the stats to get into a good school. Just make sure you do well on your GRE, get good recommendations and write a bang-on application essay.

Good luck, and let me know if you have any other questions.

TakeruK
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: with a GPA of 3.38 will I get into Grad School?

Postby TakeruK » Wed Dec 10, 2014 5:37 pm

I actually don't think "no astro experience" will that bad for astronomy graduate programs. Obviously, an astronomy undergrad is ideal but a lot of schools do not offer an astro major. There are plenty of astro graduate programs that take new grad students without any expectation of an astronomy undergraduate course. Of course, a strong physics background would still be needed (but you are a physics major so that's good). I also know chemistry or math students who start astro grad programs.

As for your past experience, you still have lots of time to gain astro experience if you would like. But your engineering experience can also be useful if you are applying for instrumentation based astro programs. Otherwise, research/work experience is still valuable and although it might not help as much if it's not directly related to grad school, having worked in an academic environment is useful to grad schools!

lindsayphysics
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Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2014 3:23 pm

Re: with a GPA of 3.38 will I get into Grad School?

Postby lindsayphysics » Thu Dec 11, 2014 9:27 am

TakeruK wrote:As for your past experience, you still have lots of time to gain astro experience if you would like. But your engineering experience can also be useful if you are applying for instrumentation based astro programs. Otherwise, research/work experience is still valuable and although it might not help as much if it's not directly related to grad school, having worked in an academic environment is useful to grad schools!


Are there instrumentation based astro programs? I would really be interested in that. It would be cool if I could combine my love for astro and engineering into one major. Working on the technology used for satellite telescopes like Hubble would be my dream job, and if there is a graduate program geared towards that it would be ideal.

Catria
Posts: 353
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:14 pm

Re: with a GPA of 3.38 will I get into Grad School?

Postby Catria » Thu Dec 11, 2014 9:44 am

lindsayphysics wrote:
TakeruK wrote:As for your past experience, you still have lots of time to gain astro experience if you would like. But your engineering experience can also be useful if you are applying for instrumentation based astro programs. Otherwise, research/work experience is still valuable and although it might not help as much if it's not directly related to grad school, having worked in an academic environment is useful to grad schools!


Are there instrumentation based astro programs? I would really be interested in that. It would be cool if I could combine my love for astro and engineering into one major. Working on the technology used for satellite telescopes like Hubble would be my dream job, and if there is a graduate program geared towards that it would be ideal.


Even if the programs were not instrumentation-based per se, there could be professors working on instrumentation-based astro projects at astro or physics depts...

tsymmetry
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Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2013 5:59 pm

Re: with a GPA of 3.38 will I get into Grad School?

Postby tsymmetry » Thu Dec 11, 2014 12:17 pm

The person I know who did instrumentation just went to an astrophysics grad program. Some schools have astrophysics/astronomy within the physics department. You could also potentially apply to a physics department and end up working for an astrophysics professor. I know in my department you are definitely allowed to work with professors in other departments.

TakeruK
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: with a GPA of 3.38 will I get into Grad School?

Postby TakeruK » Thu Dec 11, 2014 1:15 pm

There aren't many programs that are solely instrumentation based (but then, there aren't many programs that are solely galaxies based etc. either). Many large departments will have good instrumentation programs as part of their astronomy/astrophysics/physics program!

There are also some schools that are well known for instrumentation, for example, the University of Arizona builds a lot of mirrors and optics! I would recommend that you start by looking at schools with access to telescopes (not just the large telescopes). If your school has direct access to a telescope, you might even be able to build your own instrument to put onto a telescope yourself!

I don't know a ton about this, so here's a very incomplete list of places that I know about strong instrumentation programs/projects. But make sure you do your own research too (instrumentation is not my field!): University of California schools, Caltech, University of Arizona, Notre Dame.

uhurulol
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:38 am

Re: with a GPA of 3.38 will I get into Grad School?

Postby uhurulol » Thu Dec 11, 2014 4:46 pm

I concur with TakeruK -- your best bet is to look into Physics/Astronomy programs that have notable research in instrumentation. Trust me when I say there are plenty.

A great deal of my research experience is in astro instrumentation as well, actually. It's a really great field, especially if you intend to do observing with your own tools. Very fulfilling. My primary research team is just about done with the prototype for our instrument, and we should be observing with it this spring! We'd be doing it earlier, but I'm from a very cold area, and frankly none of us feel like going outside until it's warm :lol:

Since a lot of my experience is in instrumentation, I'm applying to a few programs that have researchers who are geared toward this field. It's great, because any school that has instrumentation researchers is going to have plenty of observational work going on as well, so I'd imagine you'll have lots of diverse opportunities at such a school. One of the schools I'm most excited to apply to is Georgia State -- my experience is in optical interferometry, and when it comes to that specific field, they're the best of the best (until my team beats them :twisted:).

Anyways, I'm typing way too much about very little. Look up some instrumentation researchers at programs you'd like to be a part of. If you express your interests to them the way you have here, I'm certain they'll take a hard look at your application. And don't forget to contact all the researchers your interested in! I can't stress this enough!

Best of luck.




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