Apply or no?

  • 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.

skpgre
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat Nov 30, 2013 2:59 am

Apply or no?

Postby skpgre » Sat Nov 30, 2013 3:14 am

I've spent the last two weeks vacillating on this - it's pretty much crunch time now, and I'd quite appreciate some advice: I have a reasonable profile but a bad PGRE score, and am now wondering about my chances at condensed matter programs.

My profile:

International Student

Undergrad Institution : One of the top liberal arts schools
Major : Physics
GPA : 3.6
PGRE : 700 (Sucked at time management)
GRE : 169 (V), 162 (Q) - (Retaking it, will hopefully improve the quant score)

Research : One year long computational astrophysics project (with a somewhat famous professor who was visiting my college), an AMO undergrad thesis (which contributed to a paper in Nature - not Science!), and, now, a year of work experience in biophysics ( contributed heavily to a paper in J. Chem. Phys).

Papers : Nature (3rd author), J. Chem. Phys. (2nd author)

Recommendations : Pretty good

I'm interested in condensed matter, and am thinking of applying to:

Cornell
Yale
UMD
Penn State
(and others)

My recommenders seem to think that I don't have a real shot at my top choice schools due to my PGRE score, and they recommend that I wait another year to apply. In the meantime, hopefully, I can improve my PGRE scores, and also publish more.

I am not sure I want to wait another year. I'm getting old enough already.

Do I have a real shot at all?
Last edited by skpgre on Fri Dec 06, 2013 3:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

photomagnetic
Posts: 44
Joined: Sat Sep 21, 2013 6:13 pm

Re: Apply or no?

Postby photomagnetic » Thu Dec 05, 2013 11:16 am

pgre 700
top schools. i dont think it will happen bro.
lower your expactations and go for 40+ ranking and a few safety schools u'll get in somewhere.

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WhoaNonstop
Posts: 851
Joined: Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:31 am

Re: Apply or no?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Thu Dec 05, 2013 11:45 am

skpgre wrote:Cornell
Yale
UMD
Penn State


No
Probably Not
Maybe
Maybe

-Riley

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

Re: Apply or no?

Postby bfollinprm » Thu Dec 05, 2013 1:42 pm

I'd listen to your recommenders. They know you, know what they're going to write (presumably they're having difficulty recommending you to the top schools on your list), and probably know something about past admissions trends from your school. Anyone who tells you things here is less informed, and so their opinion is less important.

Not that I'm saying the recommenders are infallible (though if they're not convinced I doubt they'll do much to convince the committee), and they could be wrong. And if an $80 application satisfies your "what-if" wonderings several years down the road, that's a pretty cheap price to pay.

As far as waiting, it's a personal choice and I understand wanting to get the ball rolling on your life, but if you're worried about things taking an extra year to get going, the slow, arduous walk down the physics career path might not be the thing for you. Even if you go in the fall, when you're 28 you'll be making <25k and living in a student apartment you share with 2 other people while your friends are getting married, having kids, and buying houses with 6 figure tech-company salaries. Changing that age to 29 or 30 isn't going to noticeably change the narrative of your life, and in fact, if you end up at a better fit with a more productive group, could save you a year or 5 of second postdocs before you reach the promised land.

Now, if you're just ready to leave or move on, that's a different story. Like I said, definitely a personal choice.

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WhoaNonstop
Posts: 851
Joined: Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:31 am

Re: Apply or no?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Thu Dec 05, 2013 6:45 pm

bfollinprm wrote:Even if you go in the fall, when you're 28 you'll be making <25k and living in a student apartment you share with 2 other people while your friends are getting married, having kids, and buying houses with 6 figure tech-company salaries.


This is the best sentence I've read on here in a long time!

-Riley

skpgre
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat Nov 30, 2013 2:59 am

Re: Apply or no?

Postby skpgre » Fri Dec 06, 2013 2:50 am

Thanks for the comments, guys! I decided to apply, but only to the schools I mentioned in my OP. I know my chances are very slim - but applications can really seem random sometimes. The application fees aren't all that bad, and I can at least get my personal statement in some sort of shape. Pretty sure I'm reappearing for the PGRE next April, and, barring any time management issues ( again!), I should really do much better.

On the plus side, my recommenders all think I should really only be applying to the top schools, which gives me some hope for next year!

Again, thanks for the comments. I pretty much agree with everyone here - a PGRE of 700 is rather abominable!

blighter
Posts: 256
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:30 pm

Re: Apply or no?

Postby blighter » Fri Dec 06, 2013 2:59 am

If you go through the profiles, I think you can see plenty of students who got into the top 20 with comparable PGRE scores. Maybe not many international students, even though there are some, but the OP in this thread is a domestic student.

skpgre
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat Nov 30, 2013 2:59 am

Re: Apply or no?

Postby skpgre » Fri Dec 06, 2013 3:02 am

bfollinprm wrote:I'd listen to your recommenders. They know you, know what they're going to write (presumably they're having difficulty recommending you to the top schools on your list), and probably know something about past admissions trends from your school. Anyone who tells you things here is less informed, and so their opinion is less important.

Not that I'm saying the recommenders are infallible (though if they're not convinced I doubt they'll do much to convince the committee), and they could be wrong. And if an $80 application satisfies your "what-if" wonderings several years down the road, that's a pretty cheap price to pay.

As far as waiting, it's a personal choice and I understand wanting to get the ball rolling on your life, but if you're worried about things taking an extra year to get going, the slow, arduous walk down the physics career path might not be the thing for you. Even if you go in the fall, when you're 28 you'll be making <25k and living in a student apartment you share with 2 other people while your friends are getting married, having kids, and buying houses with 6 figure tech-company salaries. Changing that age to 29 or 30 isn't going to noticeably change the narrative of your life, and in fact, if you end up at a better fit with a more productive group, could save you a year or 5 of second postdocs before you reach the promised land.

Now, if you're just ready to leave or move on, that's a different story. Like I said, definitely a personal choice.


Brilliant comment! My supervisor also keeps reminding me that if I live up to 80, the extra year is really not going to matter all that much. My graduate education, and the names of the schools on my resume, is what will make much more difference in the long run.

I suppose I just have a $400 itch, that I can satisfy only by sending in all these applications...

I'll edit my profile - but I am an international student. Not from China, or India, however!

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WhoaNonstop
Posts: 851
Joined: Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:31 am

Re: Apply or no?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:35 am

blighter wrote:the OP in this thread is a domestic student.


skpgre wrote:I'll edit my profile - but I am an international student. Not from China, or India, however!


I don't think schools classify by type of international.

-Riley

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

Re: Apply or no?

Postby bfollinprm » Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:52 pm

WhoaNonstop wrote:
bfollinprm wrote:Even if you go in the fall, when you're 28 you'll be making <25k and living in a student apartment you share with 2 other people while your friends are getting married, having kids, and buying houses with 6 figure tech-company salaries.


This is the best sentence I've read on here in a long time!

-Riley



Yeah...my facebook newsfeed is a sure source of mild depression.




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