marten wrote:There have been some good and thorough posts on this before, but what ultimately matters are the actual grades that you earned in the upper level physics classes. If your GPA was pulled down by a D in Human Sexuality or a C in East Asian Philosophy (as interesting as those classes may be), admissions committees will be more interested in the A you earned in Electromagnetism II.
Strongly agree with your post. It is my understanding as well that pretty much all graduate schools look at individual courses on transcripts and looks for high marks in courses that they care about. They can forgive a multitude of sins if your do well in your core physics and math courses.
As for overlooking a bad semester or two... I believe this is correct too. I know for instance, with admission to Canadian medical schools, they don't even look at your first two years of study because there is no correlation between success in medical school and high performance in 1st and 2nd year courses. Your Jr. and Sr. courses are the real deal maker.