Some Queries About Applying

  • 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.

colsanders
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 8:55 pm

Some Queries About Applying

Postby colsanders » Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:45 pm

So first and foremost I would like to apologise if some of this is general knowledge, I go to a UK university and have been told many conflicting things by many different people (including stuff I have seen while lurking on this forum). Anyway without further ado bring on the questions:

1. Is there a different number of allocated PhD places at each college/university for international and domestic students, or are all applications dealt with irrespective of geographical origin.

2. Most of the Americans I have seen on this forum indicate that their respective institutions offer many opportunities for undergraduate research, research for credits etc, which seems to lead to more research experience for said people and more publications. At my university there were far fewer opportunities and the ones that were available I had to fight tooth and nail for, meaning I probably have slightly less research experience under my belt and 0 publications. Now I know it varies greatly from school to school but realistically how much of an impact will this have on my application?

3. Is there a standardised method used by US institutions for translating a UK honours class to a GPA? I know my university (UCL) has some very intricate system for converting grades the other way which results in a 1st (Which I am confident I will achieve) being equivalent to 3.6-4.0 which is quite a broad spread.

4. Less of a question more of a general musing: In the US how prestigious is University College London (my uni) viewed? It has a good rep over here but from the people I've spoken to in the states they either think of it very highly or have never heard of it :s.

Cheers

P.S I realise my grammar is all over the place, many apologies

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Some Queries About Applying

Postby bfollinprm » Fri Jun 14, 2013 2:40 am

1. Sometimes. Out of state, and more-so international students, often cost more than in state (or domestic) students. This is probably more pronounced at public universities that receive state funding. I don't think they'll care whether an applicant is from, say, China or Germany, though, aside from the relative reputation of the undergraduate programs.

2. A lot of domestic applicants also have minimal undergraduate research. It's not a prerequisite, though you should speak in your SoP about things that you have experience in (no 'I want to do string theory because I saw a Nova episode with Brian Greene in it'). Research of course helps with that.

3. Most schools will have a standard (and will probably re-do the conversion from the transcript), though I don't know if it will be the same across universities.

4. Very prestigious.

TakeruK
Posts: 816
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Some Queries About Applying

Postby TakeruK » Fri Jun 14, 2013 10:56 am

Agree with above. Also to add: if you had to compete for hard-to-get fellowships in order to get those research experiences, then it could be worth mentioning one sentence or two about the fact that you won a competition/fellowship to do research.

colsanders
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 8:55 pm

Re: Some Queries About Applying

Postby colsanders » Wed Jul 03, 2013 7:35 am

Okay things are a bit clearer now, cheers guys!

Godot
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:09 pm

Re: Some Queries About Applying

Postby Godot » Sat Jul 06, 2013 7:12 pm

A note on 2: most US undergrads don't have publications either (I don't even think a majority of those students getting into top tier programs in physics are published), so that's certainly not an expectation. Having no research experience at all would certainly put you at a disadvantage, though.

colsanders
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 8:55 pm

Re: Some Queries About Applying

Postby colsanders » Tue Jul 09, 2013 12:44 pm

Ah that's good to know. One final question, why are international students expected/required to have much higher PGRE scores?

TakeruK
Posts: 816
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Some Queries About Applying

Postby TakeruK » Tue Jul 09, 2013 1:15 pm

colsanders wrote:Ah that's good to know. One final question, why are international students expected/required to have much higher PGRE scores?


This is more due to the fact that the competition for international students is much higher. international students will cost most schools a lot more money (factor of 2-3 at least) than a domestic student. So, they would only want the very best international student -- after all, why pay more for an international student when there is an equally qualified, cheaper, domestic student?

There may also be other reasons that the PGRE may not be as important for domestic students, such as the undergrad curriculum. Most domestic Physics programs are very similar so the department can have a pretty decent guess of what the grades mean etc. But for an international applicant, the courses and grading might be unfamiliar, so the PGRE is something that is supposed to be standardised, so it can be more directly compared.

I think the first reason probably plays a larger role though. In fact, I think that is the main reason why it is so much harder for international students to go to US grad programs!




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