I'm considering applying to top phD programs, probably in either applied physics or EE. Although my gpa and GRE scores are ok, 3.85 in math/physics double major, and 800 Q, 490 verbal, and 5.0 AW, I'm very concerned about the strength of my letters of rec.
prof #1: I did an REU with him last year, and he mentioned that he would gladly write me a letter of rec if I apply to grad schools. He wrote me a letter for the REUs I applied for this summer (I rejected those and did an internship instead)
prof #2: I took a class with this prof, got an A, sort of got to know him, but that class was a year and a half ago. My guess is that he wrote 'Student did well in my class' for the letters of rec he wrote for me that got me into the REU last year
prof #3: No clue who to ask. I have 3 options: profs A, B, and C
A: I probably saw him in office hours only once or so. I got an A in his class, but I think he barely knew me. But since I transferred to my university last year, I had to ask him for the letter of rec to get into REUs. apparently his and prof #2's letters were decent enough to get me into an REU.
B: he's a post-doc in applied math, and I helped him with his research for 1 semester. Mostly just programming and data-entry. However, he ignored my email when I first tried to contact him to help him with his research. I had to see him in his office for him to agree to hire me as his assistant. Then, last week, I emailed him again to say I can help him with his research this upcoming semester, and he ignored me again!
C: I took his class for 2 semesters of quantum mechanics. He seemed to know the names of most of the students in the class, but only remembered my name towards the end of the 2nd semester. I got 2 A- in his classes
Which of the options is the best to ask for my 3rd letter of rec?
I don't know how reputable these profs are, but I can tell you this. I had prof #2 and prof #3A write me the letters of rec for last year's REU, and i got into 2/13 of the programs I applied to. This year, I had prof #1 and prof #2 write the letters of rec for this year's REUs, and I got into 2/3 of the programs I applied to. Then again, when I applied last year, I only had 1 semester's worth of university classes on my transcript, after transferring from a community college
Clearly, my letters of rec arent the strongest, in fact, possibly even very weak. Thus, I'm considering either just accepting the fact that I won't go to a top school, or I may decide to just wait another year or so, and do research with another prof during that time, and get a good letter of rec from him. Is the latter a good idea for my situation?