wait or go to backup

  • 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.
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erore
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:56 am

wait or go to backup

Postby erore » Sun Apr 13, 2014 5:04 pm

I was rejected from all the schools I wanted to attend. I got acceptance from two backup schools - Kansas (physics) and Central Florida (planetary science). I tried to write to some of the schools which rejected me to get a feedback, unfortunately, there were no replies. Now, I am deciding whether to go to one of those above or wait and try again.

I was also considering going to one of the above but try application in autumn anyway and if I am accepted change the school. Do you have any experience with this - take a backup school and try another round of applications?

Thanks a lot.

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

Re: wait or go to backup

Postby bfollinprm » Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:06 pm

It's very difficult to change schools.

If you don't want to go somewhere, I'm not sure why you applied; I'd be even more baffled if you accepted the offer.

mrfotih
Posts: 56
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:02 pm

Re: wait or go to backup

Postby mrfotih » Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:44 pm

Come on man, it is a graduate school! It matters what you do and with whom you work, not the name of the school. Moreover, The UCF is one of centres of optics research in the nation; there are top-notch physicists doing cool research at UFC. Univ. of Kansas also is not that much bad school. It is always good to be grateful. There are people who have not got into even a single school. I looked at the planetary science web page. There are seven professors you can choose.

erore
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:56 am

Re: wait or go to backup

Postby erore » Mon Apr 14, 2014 4:25 am

The problem is the research area that I am offered at ucf. It is from an area that I have already worked on and I would like to change to something a bit different. As far as kansas is concerned, the faculty's interest in planetary science is low and mostly through their research in plasma.

erore
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:56 am

Re: wait or go to backup

Postby erore » Mon Apr 14, 2014 4:34 am

I should also mention that I am 33 and I am currently finishing masters in theoretical physics. Before even starting physics career I also got masters in economics. I covered the reasons in my sop but do you think this played role in the decision process?

TakeruK
Posts: 815
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: wait or go to backup

Postby TakeruK » Mon Apr 14, 2014 7:33 pm

UCF has a great planetary science program. I met many of their members at last year's Division on Planetary Science Meeting and they had a huge contingent and their research was interesting and well received. They might not be one of the top 10 programs, but I would consider UCF to have "name brand" recognition in my field.

I don't think 33 is so old that people will reject you outright for that. But several things you wrote here would raise some flags, in my opinion. For example, the combination of the facts that:

1. You already have a Masters in another field
2. You are finishing a Masters in theoretical physics
3. You say you are not interested in the specific research area that was offered at UCF

These things are not bad by themselves, but the combination of these things make it sound like you do not have a clear career/research goal and that you might have commitment problems bouncing from field to field so often. The three points above are all things you are not interested in! It's not clear what you actually are interested in, and without knowing that, it might show up as a weakly written SOP.

Finally, if you re-apply next year, you will have to tell them you are in yet another grad program at UCF. I think this will also raise a red flag--at this point you would have finished 2 separate Masters programs, be enrolled in a third, yet want to leave that for another PhD program?

I don't think I can give good advice on whether to apply again next year or take the offers you have this year without more information. But what I can say is that if you want to do planetary science, UCF is definitely the better choice compared to Kansas. Also that UCF has a good planetary science program.

erore
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:56 am

Re: wait or go to backup

Postby erore » Tue Apr 15, 2014 5:21 pm

Thank you very much for the informative reply.

I started the first degree after high school. At that time, in my country, there was no bachelor program, it was a five year program that ended with a masters' degree. However, after that I decided to pursue physics which had been just a hobby before. First, I had to obtain bachelor's degree in physics.

Then I started the master's program in theoretical physics. It had a great freedom to pursue what I liked, so although I was officially affiliated with the theoretical physics department, I did both my theses (bachelor and master's) at astrophysics department, both on the Solar System; at the same time I could attend great courses on computational physics and plasma theory in the theoretical physics department. As I wanted to follow with phd in USA, this course of study seemed great to prepare for that. I saw no point in going to astrophysics department here and then take almost similar classes in the usa.

So for me, the only big change in focus was when I started the bachelor in physics. Since then I just keep focusing on a more and more particular field.

Now, in bachelor and master programs I focused on two similar topics - asteroids. But, in my phd. I want to move further, focus on a bit different part of the solar system evolution. At ucf I am being offered work on asteroids again (because of my background) and because I believe the phd study will shape my future career, I am reluctant as I do not want to focus my career on asteroids.

My dream school is Boulder, Colorado.

TakeruK
Posts: 815
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: wait or go to backup

Postby TakeruK » Tue Apr 15, 2014 11:55 pm

Your explanation make sense. I think if you had explained your past and future motivations in your SOP in the same way, your "non-traditional" past should not negatively affect you very much after all.

It might not be surprising that UCF hired you to work in something they believe you have proven ability in.

At this point, I think you really do need to make a decision between taking UCF's offer and working in asteroids or risk it and decline all offers and reapply next year. As I said above, with two Masters and being currently enrolled in a PhD program, you do look like you have commitment issues if you are applying to yet another PhD program. It would be far better to not be in a middle of a PhD program when you are applying next year.

Finally, I want to note that you are not stuck with asteroids forever if you do asteroids for your PhD! Planetary Science is multidisciplinary, which makes it pretty easy to meet other people working on other problems and thus easy to make connections to do something different. Also, starting in the asteroids group for your PhD does not mean that all your research during this time has to be in asteroids! Many PhD students will do side projects that might evolve into post-PhD research ideas.




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