Online applications--which schools have the best/worst?

  • 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.

Posts: 33
Joined: Sun Mar 31, 2013 9:55 pm

Online applications--which schools have the best/worst?

Postby TomServo » Sun Nov 10, 2013 8:06 pm

I'm wondering about the state of online applications. I've been filling mine out and noticed some sites have good ones and others have awful ones. So I was curious, based on your experiences which sites are Geico.coms and which sites are healthcare.govs?

University of Florida
Pretty straightforward layout, everything organized along the top of the page, blue for ones you've done, orange for uncompleted ones. You can get from the physics department's page to the graduate application pretty easily. Simple list right on the physics dept. page saying what you need and don't need to fill out the app.

University of Texas, Austin
Similar to Florida's in simplicity and ease of use. Very simple and easy to go from the physics department's page to the application. Simple list on dept. page of what you need for app.

UNC Chapel Hill
The worst so far. A few extra clicks to get from the physics department's page to the app. Account setup is cumbersome, you need both a password you pick yourself AND a PIN which you must write down as soon as you get. You login with the PIN and password (no username). The app page itself is weird, it doesn't like when you zoom in on the page to make it fit the screen, a huge banner at the top of the page that you can't get away from gets bigger and bigger, plus it's off-center so zooming in makes you have to re-center it all of the time. To enter your school requires this pop-up window whose contents are bigger than the dimensions of the window itself yet it has no scroll bar. You have to blow up the entire pop up. I entered my school's information exactly and couldn't find a record (this is one of the largest schools in the country). It only likes it if you enter the city and state and just look for your school from a list. Total

Penn State
The only one that actually feels like it was designed by the physics department rather than being a general all-purpose app. The only problem is that it is cumbersome to start applying. The link the physics department site gives you sends you to a sign-in page without a "create account" option. You have to find out elsewhere that you need to create an account. Then you create the account and login on this totally different page but that isn't the app page, you need to go back to the physics page. app with account creation/login.

UT Dallas
Physics department web page doesn't link directly to app or have complete information about what all is necessary. I had to email them to get a basic question answered (due date). The whole experience was meh. A half-hearted

Pretty straightforward, of all the apps I did this one feels the most like a real business put it together rather than bureaucrats.

Still haven't done GIT......

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