Genuine Advice on my Prospects

  • This has become our largest and most active forum because the physics GRE is just one aspect of getting accepted into a graduate physics program.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

davies
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Jun 30, 2019 8:56 pm

Genuine Advice on my Prospects

Postby davies » Sun Jun 30, 2019 9:45 pm

I am recently graduated and I am planning on applying to graduate schools for physics (PhD) but I am very hesitant due to my low grades. I will be applying during the upcoming cycle (in late fall, early winter). I will put it simply:

Undergraduate Institution: I believe around a top 20 in physics
Major(s): Physics:Biophysics, Chemistry
Minors(s): None
Overall GPA: 3.02
Overall Physics GPA: 3.08
GPA last two years: 3.42
Physics GPA last two years: 3.52 (most of my classes over the last two years have been physics)

GRE: Shall be taking both the general and PGRE in the fall, studying for ~ 2.5 months religiously.

Research: Will have +1.5 years research by the time I apply. My name will hopefully be on a paper soon, perhaps two. If I continue through the fall, perhaps I can have my name on more.

L.O.R.: One from research adviser, other two I am unsure as of yet.

I was a transfer student into my university, my low grades are due to my first year at university in which I was in a different major that I despised. I then changed to physics and chemistry and loved my physics courses (chemistry of little importance to me). I decided to stay an extra year at university solely so I could major in physics. My goal is to become a physics graduate student (not necessarily in biophysics), as my research has been in electrostatics/electrodynamics/optics.

Beyond any doubt, I know physics graduate school (PhD) is what I want to do. However, I know my GPA overall is horrid. Could anyone give me some advice on how bad my application might be? How much will this low GPA effect my prospects? How can I improve (GRE scores notwithstanding)? I am afraid to even ask the graduate students I am around because I am quite embarrassed by it.

If I have the opportunity, I might try additional research through the summer to get another "good" letter of recommendation. I will also be studying for the GRE and PGRE with great devotion.

Thank you to any who reply, it would be greatly appreciated.

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Nishikata
Posts: 113
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2018 6:37 am

Re: Genuine Advice on my Prospects

Postby Nishikata » Sun Jun 30, 2019 11:01 pm

Hello,

first, there is a wide spectrum of physics graduate schools. From the top all the way to the unknown ones.
Please tell us your target schools, because you'll always be able to get into a school just that you might not want to go there.

I am afraid to even ask the graduate students I am around because I am quite embarrassed by it.


Get rid of these thoughts. As with my other advice in this forum, I advise you to go talk to as many credible people as possible. Especially, talk to your PI because he/she knows the admission process and can objectively guide you on where you realistically can go. That will solve your anxiety much more effectively than any advice from us whom you don't know personally.

-Nishikata-

davies
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Jun 30, 2019 8:56 pm

Re: Genuine Advice on my Prospects

Postby davies » Sun Jun 30, 2019 11:16 pm

I appreciated the reply.

In all honestly, I have not made a list of target schools yet. I have been so concerned with my grades, that I am unsure if I could even get into a school worth going too. I realize that may appear lacking in motivation, but I feel I don't have knowledge about what schools I should try and get into. I don't know what schools I have a realistic chance at, even If I do well on the PGRE. I apologize for the lack of detail; I have been researching how to study for the PGRE and GRE to improve other aspects of my application.

Again,
Thank you

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Nishikata
Posts: 113
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2018 6:37 am

Re: Genuine Advice on my Prospects

Postby Nishikata » Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:07 pm

No need to feel bad. Just calm down and get advice from your professors. They'll give you good advice, I bet.
There's still plenty of time to think about it.

Next time, you can perhaps try to be a little more specific on how you expect us to help, after you finished getting some ideas on where you want to go from your professors. Telling someone that their application is freaking bad/half bad/not bad is not gonna help anything, in my opinion. Take it slow and steady :)

geekusprimus
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:10 pm

Re: Genuine Advice on my Prospects

Postby geekusprimus » Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:43 am

If you've already graduated, you might consider looking into an R&D internship for a company or a post-baccalaureate position at one of the national labs. They can be decent ways to boost your resume and keep you involved in research as you prepare for graduate school, and they typically pay pretty decently.

I'm just parroting information here because I won't apply until the fall, but I've always heard that your grades are just one part of the application, and you can typically compensate for something like that if the rest of your application looks good. If you can make some connections with people and find someone who might have a spot for you in their research group (your advisor is invaluable here), that can be a big help, too. In a sea of hundreds of applications that all look more or less the same, it can be nice for someone on the graduate committee to see that you've taken a genuine interest in their school and have some real, bona fide connection to their research program. Again, I'm just repeating stuff I've been told, but it can't hurt. And like Nishitaka said, talk to your professors, particularly your research advisor. They'll know a lot more than most of us here.




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