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 Post subject: Do I have a shot for grad school?
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2012 2:28 am 
Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 1:51 am

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Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 1:51 am
Posts: 2
Here's the skinny:

I graduated from an applied physics program from an engineering & applied science school.
My overall GPA was a 2.9, my major GPA was a 3.3. I had taken graduate courses in
Classical Mechanics, and Mathematical Physics. Got A's in both. I did an REU in BECs and
got a paper out of it, 2nd author. But my final semester senior year I had a mental melt down
due to stress and mental problems. I guess you could say it F'ed me over.

Right now I am working for a TOP company that does amazing work in its field. I do
R&D work that involves cutting edge technology. I have been in this position for a
year and a half. I also work as a part-time tutor at the local Uni. Tutor physics and
math.

I would like to go back for a PHd. Or a MS at the least. The programs I am looking at are in Experimental
Condensed Matter Physics (spintronics). How does my past academic performance combine
with my current work experience? Note that the programs I am looking at are closely related to the
work I do now.

What is your opinion? Do I have a shot at a top program? Or should I not even bother with
an application?


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 Post subject: Re: Do I have a shot for grad school?
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2012 3:09 am 
Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2011 12:06 am

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Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2011 12:06 am
Posts: 32
you need to determine an action plan as your gpa is somewhat low. however it sounds as though that does not reflect your talent level since you said you got A's in graduate courses while still in college. I recommend taking (and studying) for the pgre and gre if you do excellently on these tests ( which it appears you are likely to do) then it seems you have a shot at a decent school, though it would still be unlikely you would get into a very top tier school due to your low gpa, you could still get into an excellent 2nd tier school.
or if you get lucky maybe you could get into mit who knows? but that's my general thoughts


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 Post subject: Re: Do I have a shot for grad school?
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2012 11:08 am 
Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 1:51 am

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Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 1:51 am
Posts: 2
Thank you for your response. I know it is a balancing act: on the one side is my academic work on the other my
research, job experience, etc. Does the latter tip the scale? Probably not, but it can maybe balance things out.

I have some specific Condensed Matter groups that I am targeting. I am thinking about opening up some kind
of dialogue about their research and maybe develop some kind of relationship. Could this also give me an advantage?


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 Post subject: Re: Do I have a shot for grad school?
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2012 12:48 pm 
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm
Posts: 439
PhuPhysics wrote:
Thank you for your response. I know it is a balancing act: on the one side is my academic work on the other my
research, job experience, etc. Does the latter tip the scale? Probably not, but it can maybe balance things out.

I have some specific Condensed Matter groups that I am targeting. I am thinking about opening up some kind
of dialogue about their research and maybe develop some kind of relationship. Could this also give me an advantage?


I would recommend for any student to get in touch with the faculty/group that they are interested in before applying to the school. But whether or not it gives an actual advantage is debatable and there has been many debates about it here on these forums!

It seems like unless the people you are in touch with REALLY want you as a member of their group and are able to convince the admission committee to give extra points or whatever to your application, it probably won't make a real difference. However, getting in touch with profs can help you prepare a stronger application. You can start a dialogue so you'd know whether or not you would be interested in what they are doing, and find out a little about how their program works. This could motivate you to write a stronger SOP or help you determine what that program values in its applicants and tailor your application to these values.

However, I should note that in Canada, if you are planning to apply there, getting in touch with people you're interested in makes all the difference. The admissions committee just makes sure all applicants meets departmental standards then forwards the applications to faculty members who individually makes offers to students that they are interested in. (This means that you actually are assigned to/pick a supervisor upon entry to grad school and start research right away). Also Canadian schools offer fully funded MSc programs (MSc and PhD are independent programs here) so if you feel like you need to do a MSc first, and want a fully funded program, consider Canada!


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 Post subject: Re: Do I have a shot for grad school?
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 11:56 am 
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 10:57 pm

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Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 10:57 pm
Posts: 86
Is your company going to wait for you or pay for you to pursue these degrees? If you have to leave your awesome sounding job to physics grad school I would think really hard about your decision (not that you haven't already).


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