This site is a very supportive place, which is usually a good thing -- this whole process is stressful and it's often nice to have such a place to get support. That said, the supportiveness can make the advice one sided. I don't agree with what Will said -- it's not at all that simple. However, his advice was useful in that it broke with the mold of everyone just saying that things will work out fine and dandy. All of us
need to consider the possibility that this path is not for us. You didn't say what exactly your goal was. If you want to make it in academia, know that it is a competitive game of musical chairs with fewer seats than participants and poor payoffs
. Not making the cut in the future probably will hurt a lot more than not making the cut now. I'm not saying that you can't make it. Even if I knew everything about you, that is not a call I (or anyone else) could make with certainty. But -- right, wrong, or neither -- several admissions committees seem to have their doubts. This whole process has a lot of problems, so their judgement is by no means the last word, but it says something.
Sorry_Physicist wrote:Is there any reason whatsoever to feel any hope at this point?
Yes. Chances are you have a lot going for you. You are (or will be) a college graduate with a degree in physics in the United States (which, despite its ills, is still a great place to live). If getting a PhD in physics is not the path for you, then I'm sure you'll be able to get a good job
doing something else (your hard work in school is definitely not for naught). Despite what people say about "do what you love", sometimes it just doesn't work out. Such is life. Still, things work out alright for most people.
Sorry_Physicist wrote:And, perhaps most importantly, what the hell am I supposed to do now that every single one of my plans has been flushed down the proverbial toilet?
Well, you should start making new plans. Maybe plan to take a year off, and try again next year after doing some research and studying more for the GRE. Maybe you should go down to your school's career services and ask them for some help finding jobs. In ant event, your first step is to find some people who know you and whose advice you can trust (not anonymous people on the internet
) and ask them for advice. Make it clear that you want them to tell it to you like it is. The last thing you need right now is a sugar coating because people feel sorry for you. (And we all do feel for your predicament -- I even feel uncomfortable reading over what I have just written.)
It's rough going for you right now, but there's more to life than getting a PhD in physics. Don't give up hope. I wish you luck, PhD or not.