Hey all, I'm currently finishing up my sophomore year at a small liberal arts school with a strong physics department.
I've been starting to read up on stuff on graduate schools, and I'm starting to get very scared. I always knew getting into grad school would be hard, but I think I underestimated how cutthroat it would be. I'm seeing that pretty much everyone here as a perfect 4.0 GPA with tons of research and publications. This is a scary sight for me.
At the end of this year, my overall GPA should be ~3.2 while my physics GPA should be ~3.5. This seems to pale in comparison to others. I already have one C on my transcript (first semester calc, stupid I know) and might be looking at a C or D this semester in my German class (last one...). How much will these hurt me?
I still have two years to work on my GPA, and I am very dedicated to getting it higher, but it probably won't be possible to get it to a 4.0. I think my course load is the standard (next year taking Classical Mechanics, Atomic/Nuclear, Optics, Thermo...). I'm a math major as well.
As for the GREs, I still have a lot of time to prepare and think I could do very well on them (but I'm sure that is what everyone says). Would definitely be aiming for 90+ percentile on physics, which I think I could do with adequate prep.
As for research, I did research all last summer with a professor and observed multiple times in Arizona (astronomy research). Wasn't able to get research this summer, but I'm determined to get a REU next summer. No publications of course yet, who knows if I'll be able too....
As for letter of recs, I think I could get very good ones. Going to a small school is nice, I know every single one of the physics professors and I am very personable with them.
What do you guys think? How scared should I be? I mean, I'm not going to be aiming for the #1 grad programs, but would still like to get into a good program. I would like go for a PhD, possibly in astrophysics.
This is just the first time I have started to do some serious grad school research, and it is very startling to me. It is starting to hit me how hard it is to get into grad school. I know it is still very early, but if I bring up my GPA, get some more research, it'll be possible to get in somewhere, right?
Signed Scared Undergrad