Did I sell myself short?

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mhazelm
Posts: 193
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 3:33 pm

Did I sell myself short?

Postby mhazelm » Sun Dec 07, 2008 7:20 pm

So, I have always had a small problem with low confidence. I don't know why. I'm a good student and am generally successful. Anyway, I'd been advised that people at my school always score LOW on the physics GRE, and I didn't start studying until Fall semester had started (and it was a really packed semester with max credits and a hard physics graduate class), so I figured I'd score low... and reading about the amazing people on this forum (and elsewhere) I convinced myself not to apply to most Tier 1 schools. Looking back, however, I think if I score even reasonably well on the PGRE I could get into a good program.

But, it's too late to ask my recommenders for more letters (they'd only have a week to get them ready for the application deadlines of schools like Harvard) and so I'm wondering if I've sort of blown this round of applications. Should I wait and reapply next year when I have more time to prepare (and could potentially retake and kick *** on the PGRE), or apply and go to my "back up" schools? I want to go to the best school I can, but I don't see it as the end of the world to go to a Tier 2 school, either. It's just that some people say that if you don't go to a Tier 1 school you'll never get a job (I'm a wannabe theorist).. so I just don't know. I don't want to look back and wish I had applied to higher ranking schools if I can't get a job someday.

nonick
Posts: 123
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2008 5:16 pm

Re: Did I sell myself short?

Postby nonick » Sun Dec 07, 2008 7:24 pm

There are enough good schools with January 1/15th deadline. You have enough time to apply to those.

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Helio
Posts: 809
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:11 pm

Re: Did I sell myself short?

Postby Helio » Sun Dec 07, 2008 7:55 pm

There are a ton of schools with Jan 1st or Jan 15 deadline so I wouldn't worry too much about choosing... UIUC has the 15th. JHU had the 15th, etc.

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secander2!
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Joined: Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:25 pm

Re: Did I sell myself short?

Postby secander2! » Sun Dec 07, 2008 7:59 pm

I was in a similar situation to you last year. I didn't realize how strong my application was and I ended up applying to schools which were a little below my league. I ended up taking a year off, and right now I'm reapplying, which is a hassle you don't want to go through if you can avoid it.

I looked at your profile and I'm almost completely certain that you could get into some of the top 10. If you can do it, I'd recommend pushing yourself to get your applications in by Dec 15th. Even if one or two things are slightly late, you can call the programs and let them know, and it's likely that they will be ok with it. Also, Chicago's deadline isn't until Dec 28th and U Michigan has a deadline of Jan 15, so you can definitely put in an applications to those schools. I don't think you need to kill a year in order to get into a Tier 1 school. If you just tell your recommenders that you kinda screwed up in determining which schools to apply to, they'll probably be understanding: it looks good for your professors to send students to good schools!!!

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zxcv
Posts: 402
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 11:08 pm

Re: Did I sell myself short?

Postby zxcv » Mon Dec 08, 2008 2:58 am

Yes, you're selling yourself short. People don't talk about PGRE scores, but in terms of experience your background would fit right in with that of the first year theorists at Berkeley. (With the possible exception of a PGRE score, you look like a more qualified applicant than I was!) And some places, like Harvard, work really hard to admit and recruit women.

Talk to your recommendation writers tomorrow and see how soon they could get together some additional letters. You probably don't want to waste the money applying to a bunch of extra backup schools anyways...

It's not the end of the world to go to a Tier 2 school, but if you want the best opportunities you should work with the best people you can. The statistics are not encouraging. Of course, you might do just as well no matter where you end up, but it's hard to say.

On the plus, if you stay your current course, you're likely to get some outstanding fellowship offers...

tmc
Posts: 112
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2008 1:40 pm

Re: Did I sell myself short?

Postby tmc » Mon Dec 08, 2008 3:34 am

I'd like to point out that UCSB and Penn State, and to a certain extent even Maryland, shouldn't be considered Tier 2 schools in gravitational physics...

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muonman
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Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 7:19 pm

Re: Did I sell myself short?

Postby muonman » Mon Dec 08, 2008 3:54 am

mhazelm, listen to me, I saw your profile and I think you should apply to Harvard IMMEDIATELY. It's not too late yet. You have a full week until Dec 15th. Women in physics really need to be as aggressive as men. Harvard Physics works extra hard at attaining women, as discussed in the article below (search "Physics GRE"):

http://www.aas.org/cswa/status/status_jan00.pdf

Basically he says that Physics GRE is broken, especially when it comes to gauging women's real talent in physics. If you read between the lines, I think it hints that Lisa Randall scored only at 65% percentile on the Physics GRE. If you know anything about Lisa Randall, it's obvious that she is above 99% of all living physics PhD holders. Only "idiot savants" come at 99% percentile.

I'm curious about your score. Email me privately if you want.

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muonman
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Re: Did I sell myself short?

Postby muonman » Mon Dec 08, 2008 4:03 am

I would also like to encourage user trani (the goat-icon lady) to apply to Harvard.

cato88
Posts: 420
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2008 12:46 am

Re: Did I sell myself short?

Postby cato88 » Mon Dec 08, 2008 4:26 am

It seems according to your profile you have that unknown stuff that turns on admissions chairs like grae313 did last year see last year results. You will probably clean house.

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Ren
Posts: 78
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:10 am

Re: Did I sell myself short?

Postby Ren » Mon Dec 08, 2008 12:46 pm

totally agree. You should apply to where ever you like. On the other hand, i think you'll get in UCSB if that's where you want to go. :)

mhazelm
Posts: 193
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 3:33 pm

Re: Did I sell myself short?

Postby mhazelm » Mon Dec 08, 2008 3:44 pm

I'm going to do it - it can't hurt. The worst case scenario is just rejection, and I'd rather be rejected than wonder why I never even applied. Might as well try!!

And actually, Penn State IS really, really good in my field (UCSB is super too), so I would be more than happy to go there. I guess I was just worried that it will turn out like my undergrad. experience - it's been really good, but it was all coincidence. I never applied to any top schools for undergrad - I ended up at my current institution as the result of filling out an application for free ice cream!! I always wonder what would have happened if I had tried to go to a big-wig school for my B.S.

thanks for all your feedback!

tmc
Posts: 112
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2008 1:40 pm

Re: Did I sell myself short?

Postby tmc » Mon Dec 08, 2008 5:12 pm

At the same time, don't necessarily choose Harvard over, say, Penn State just because it has a nice name...

mhazelm
Posts: 193
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 3:33 pm

Re: Did I sell myself short?

Postby mhazelm » Tue Dec 09, 2008 12:05 am

No, I would definitely not choose a school based on name. I'd have to visit them all, meet the potential advisors, talk to grad. students there, etc. I could turn down a big name if I found what I wanted somewhere else. That being said, what I do want is options - I don't want to be stuck going somewhere because it's the only place I was accepted, if it's not my ideal match.

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trani
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Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2008 1:04 am

Re: Did I sell myself short?

Postby trani » Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:06 pm

muonman wrote:I would also like to encourage user trani (the goat-icon lady) to apply to Harvard.


I am flattered :) I have been considering doing that. We'll see...

@mhazelm
Your profile looks great. And remember if you don't get denied at atleast one place you were shooting too low...

mhazelm
Posts: 193
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 3:33 pm

Re: Did I sell myself short?

Postby mhazelm » Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:24 pm

trani, too bad we're not at the same school. We could have a "Last minute prep for Harvard application" party. Maybe we'll both get in there and we can have the party then (except prepare for classes instead) :lol:




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