I'm a senior physics and mathematics major who was thinking about applying to graduate school, but I'm not sure how strong my application is at the moment and was hoping for suggestions for how to proceed.. I'll list my stats before I say more:
Undergrad Institution: Ivy, Top 10 in physics
Major(s): Physics and Mathematics
GPA in Major: (Depends on how I calculate it)->
Average of all my physics classes alone: 3.45
Average of all my physics classes in addition to the required mathematics for the major: 3.69
Average of all my mathematics classes (the reason why this is lower is because I bombed some of my early analysis classes my
freshman year): 3.46
Overall GPA: 3.33
Another comment on my overall GPA: My freshman/sophomore year I had one F, one D, and two C's. I really struggled at the beginning of college, but slowly built my way up to the harder classes. Year by year breakdown-
Progressive Physics GPA:
Freshman: 3.0, Sophomore: 3.22, Junior: 3.5, Senior: 3.91
Progressive Math GPA:
Freshman: 2.35, Sophomore: 3.54, Junior: 4.0, Senior: 3.85
Length of Degree: 3.5 years
Position in Class: Unknown
Type of Student: White guy
Research Experience: Spent three years in a single lab doing something I hated, had one paper presented in a local conference (second author). My research PI and I have had a very rocky relationship (she once accused me of making up data, when really I was just an incompetent freshman) so I doubt that I'll get a recommendation from her and I didn't do well in her class as a sophomore (no hard feelings, mea culpa); my other two recommendations are from a String theorist and a Condensed Matter theorist for both of whom I just did well in their classes, but don't know particularly well (the latter one I TA'd for).
Awards/Honors/Recognitions: My mom once called me handsome.
Pertinent Activities or Jobs: I TA'd analytical mechanics my junior year. Can do blots, PCR, e-beam, sputtering, nano-column growth etc. (My unfortunate specialty is bioNano-Fab).
Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: I can eat 5 lbs of wings in under 10 minutes; can also take a beating.
Special Bonus Points:
My CMT advisor is a helluva nice guy and said he'd contact some peeps at other universities and would see what was up.
Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:
Wrote columns for the school newspaper for three years and competed in 3 Amateur MMA bouts, though I stopped recently after seeing a buddy infantilized by a nasty elbow.
Now the question is: Do I apply this next cycle and just hope the research I can generate in about 9 months, will be enough to land me a solid research recommendation? Should I do a masters to try to raise my GPA (I think it'd be significantly higher, given I got wrecked so bad my first two years), along with getting more research experience? Should I just work in a lab for a year and bolster recs and research? My goals are to attend school around the Bay area, Boston, NYC or Philly. I grew up in a super small rural town and lemme tell ya-it was butt. I'm pretty set on attending physics grad school as I loved my classes, but I just want to make sure I'll end up in a place where I can be happy. What to do.