Chance me/Help with self doubts

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Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:45 pm

Chance me/Help with self doubts

Postby viggomortensen » Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:08 am

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

GPA: 3.79

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)

Research experiences:

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.

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Re: Chance me/Help with self doubts

Postby Nishikata » Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:32 am

Have you consulted your past PIs on where you can go?
Your undergrad institution is an Ivy, so with all your experiences, I presume it has a good graduate program too?

If one of them say, "sure, you're welcome to do PhD with my group". That would settle your anxiety, no?

In addition to asking them for a letter, you can also consult them on where you can apply to. They should know the playing field and can objectively assess your chances. Hearing from the ones in the field would be 100x more reassuring than from us, I guess.

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Re: Chance me/Help with self doubts

Postby jabennett2194 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 11:49 am

Your profile looks amazing!:D I second Nishikata's suggestion, that is the only thing I can think of to help reduce anxiety (since you're already doing everything you "ought" to be doing & more).

I love your profile name btw hahaha I'm watching Lord of the Rings for the 13th time this week and Viggo is sooooooo attractive.

Nishikata, congrats on getting into a Japanese program. Any ideas on what you'll be working on/who with? HEP-th??

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Re: Chance me/Help with self doubts

Postby viggomortensen » Thu Jun 27, 2019 2:30 pm

Thanks for the kind words y'all!

Nishikata, ah that's a good idea! I've scheduled a talk with two mentors soon, so I'm hoping that will go well. My situation is that a lot of my work has been at schools that I like, but that are very far from home. For personal reasons, I don't want to really go too far from the east coast.

Jabennett, thank you! I appreciate the words. And yes, Viggo is a wonderful actor!! Completely agreed.

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Re: Chance me/Help with self doubts

Postby Nishikata » Fri Jun 28, 2019 12:18 pm

Glad that I could help.

jabennett2194, thank you. I will be working with a Japanese computational physics professor on condensed matter systems.
Ain't sure exactly what systems I will be working at yet. Last month I thought I was gonna working on solid oxygen but yesterday I had to write a research plan on hydrogen cells instead. I guess I'll see dynamic changes after I start the program. :)

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