Hello everyone! I am applying to grad schools this fall. Please chance me for top programs in experimental physics (I have no intentions of doing theory, I'm dead set on experimental physics). I know nobody can say "Yes, you're guaranteed to get into school XX, have a great time!", but I'd appreciate any words or honest feedback, the process is stressful and I have enormous amounts of self-doubt. I've even resorted to making a sheet with a list of my accomplishments to cheer me up, but even that fails sometimes. If anybody can help with that, I'd love any advice.
In any case, here's the stats.
Major: Math & Physics
Bio: URM, Domestic Male
Major GPA: 3.72. I had some Bs during frosh and soph year, but I focused on improving my study habits: got a 3.85 in sophomore spring and 4.0 both semesters during junior year, which is when I also took my most rigorous coursework (PDEs, E&M, Particle and Nuclear Physics, Math Methods of Physics, QM II).
Undergrad institution: Ivy
Physics GRE: 790/990 (retaking this fall)
0) I did some chemistry research in HS at a university with some friends for the science fair, and we got a peer-reviewed publication out in a really small peer-reviewed journal and it went to ISEF.
1) Spent summer after HS senior year doing work at a plasma lab, but it wasn't really intensive since it was an internship for high schoolers, so I didn't get too much hands-on experience. I'm not sure if this helps or hurts to put on my CV since I don't think it really shaped my trajectory at all.
2) Spent summer b/w frosh and soph year at my school researching, worked with that professor during sophomore spring and junior year. No pubs, but it's a new lab, and got a lot of hands-on experience and understand what it's like setting up equipment, setting up a new lab, etc. Great PI and he's also agreed to write a good letter.
3) Spent summer between soph and jr year at prestigious West Coast school, getting a publication from that in a peer-reviewed undergrad journal. Really liked the experience and PI has agreed to write a strong letter.
4) Spending this summer at another prestigious West Coast school doing some computational work. Part of the program involves attending a conference and presenting, so I'll also be doing that.
5) I'll be researching with a new profesor this upcoming year for a senior thesis. Hopefully will be able to attend some conferences!
I will be asking professors 2, 3, 4 for recommendations hopefully.
Awards/Honors: Attended an optics winter school, got a 4 year scholarship to my school for being FGLI, won a smaller scholarship to pay for expenses, and got fellowships each summer to support my work. Also got a fellowship to support my junior and senior academic-year research.
Jobs: Worked as a course grader both semesters of sophomore year in a STEM department.
Other and Misc.:
Did short independent reading this summer.
Also involved with my school's SPS and am currently president and have helped jump start a lot of new initiatives.
Will be trying to take some graduate classes this year; I will be auditing a graduate course with a noted and famous faculty member in the field I want to study.
I edit Wikipedia articles in physics.
I am also in the process of contacting faculty at schools I'm applying to. I'm trying to contact people doing work that interests me, and I plan to follow up with them in the fall and let them know I've applied. At the moment, I've made contact with multiple people at almost all of my schools.
I know I'm doing OK, but I still feel a lot of anxiety and intense self-doubt, and I really would love any chances or words of advice from more senior members of the forum. Let me know.