Undergrad Institution: Large State school, Ranked ~50 in physics
GPA in Major: 4.00
Overall GPA: 4.00
Length of Degree: 4
Position in Class: At the top (kinda have to be...)
Type of Student: Domestic White Male, socioeconomically advantaged
GRE Scores (revised, Updated in November):
Q: 170 (98%)
V: 166 (96%)
W: 5 (93%)
P: 990 (94%)
- Currently in 3rd year of UG research at my home institution in Condensed matter theory. I had a publication in progress (i.e. being written) at the time of applications with myself as first author, but it didn't get submitted for publication until January after deadlines. I presented my work at 1 conference, one small event.
- REU in experimental condensed matter physics (Cornell), 1 publication with myself as second author, one conference preceedings.
- REU in experimental AMO physics (Michigan), no publications expected, uniquely selected from REU students to present my research at CUR national REU symposium.
Awards/Honors/Recognitions: (Within your school or outside?)
- Goldwater Honorable Mention
- Won a competitive departmental essay prize
- Various Honors scholarships
- Various departmental scholarships
Pertinent Activities or Jobs:
- Tutored students from an interdisciplinary science class for a semester.
- On the leadership team founding an interdisciplinary undergraduate research club.
Special Bonus Points: (Such as connections, grad classes, famous recommenders, female or minority status etc...)
- Taking 2 grad physics classes now, will take 3 in spring
- I'm lucky enough to be able to solicit 4 letters, 1 from UGR at home institution, one from each REU, another from professor I've taken ~4 small classes with, and done a study abroad with.
- I take a lot of credits, Almost double the average some semesters, despite having only 1 major & 1 minor.
- Took a non-standard interdisciplinary introductory science sequence, instead of the normal "fundamentals of physics" class-type. Also did some other non-physics stuff, like organic chemistry & a nanoscience study abroad (only 2 weeks long).
Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:
- I'm not really committed to any field of physics yet, or even experimental Vs. theoretical, I just like all of physics too much
. Leaning toward experimental AMO. Hope this doesn't count against me.
- I've played trumpet in at least one music ensemble every semester of undergrad.
Applying to Where:
All regular physics programs, all AMO physics as my primary interestStanford: ACCEPTED! 2/12.MIT: REJECTED. 2/18.Harvard: REJECTED. 3/2.Cal-Tech: ACCEPTED! 2/12.Berkeley: ACCEPTED! 2/25.Chicago: ACCEPTED! 1/30.Cornell: ACCEPTED! 2/10.U Michigan: ACCEPTED! 1/14.Yale: ACCEPTED! 2/26.UC Boulder: ACCEPTED! 1/29.U Maryland: ACCEPTED! 2/10.NSF Fellowship: REJECTED, 4/1. E/VG, VG/VG, F/P. I think that the wide disparity of the score here is something of a testament to how much of a shot in the dark these things can be. That last guy must just not have had his morning coffee.NDSEG Fellowship: REJECTED, 4/1. Hertz Fellowship: REJECTED, 1st round
Reflections: I obviously have nothing to complain about, but in all honesty I was somewhat surprised to not get into Harvard or MIT. I have several theories as to why this happened, but the most probable was that my letters weren't as good as they could have been. In particular, my first REU at Cornell was my first exposure to experimental physics at all, and I probably wasn't particularly impressive a student throughout the summer. If you try something like that, make sure you know what you are doing going in so that you can be as productive as possible. Evidently, if you are coming from a sub-top-20 undergraduate institution, you really, really need every advantage to get into these places. I am also suspicious, particularly with MIT, that the schools were turned off by my lack of firm commitment to AMO physics. They might prefer that students know exactly what they want to do. I'm only speculating of course. Anyway, I'm quite happy with my many offers. Good luck to future applicants!