I only applied to 5 schools this application cycle including my own home institution. I didn't get into the 2 top 30-40 schools(both UCs, perhaps a mistake given that I am a foreigner and I hear the UCs have trouble funding us) but got into 2 between the 60-70 range and also my home institution. I know i made the mistake of not applying to enough schools this year. I am planning on sitting it out for a year and apply to some schools between 40-60, and perhaps with a focus on optical science. First, is that a bad idea to do that, given that I have no background in optical science? Other than the obvious university of rochester and university of Arizona, are there other places that I should check out? I listed my profile below as reference. I wonder if university of arizona/univeristy of rochester would be too far of a reach given my profile and background in HEP instead of optics. I think i can improve my PGRE score quite a bit to 7x%. Otherwise, what are some reputable programs that I should check out? Thanks in advance.
Undergrad Institution: American State school with little reputation for physics
GPA in Major:3.5
Length of Degree: (Are you graduating after 3, 4, or 5 years?)5 years
Position in Class: First 1/3
Type of Student: International, asian, female
GRE Scores : Revised
P:720 56% [Will retake]
TOEFL Total: 117(technically i did my undergrad in the US and it is waived in most cases)
Research Experience: HEP experiment on detectors for 3 years. Lab manager right now. the team's "Expert" on the detector. Also worked on a small astrophysics project on the side and a GR project on a solution to einstein's equation. One summer in my home country on a simulation project, but didn't really do very much. No publication. A couple of different talks. One of them in a national conference.
Awards/Honors/Recognitions: A lot of different travel funding scholarships; some department scholarships; sigma pi sigma
Pertinent Activities or Jobs: school physics Tutor
Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: I took a self study session on GR and practically taught myself tensor calculus and solving Einstein's equation with occasional help
Special Bonus Points: taking 2 graduate classes right now.
Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: My GPA took a great hit in my 2nd and 3rd year because I was really homesick. I grew out of that though, got 4.0s in my last 2 semesters. but some of my 3000, 4000 level physics courses have less than pretty grades
Applying to Where:
Result this year:
School university of illinois chicago ->accepted for experimental HEP
School University of Nebraska lincoln-> accepted for experimental HEP
School Home institution->accepted
School UC santa cruz->rejected
School UC davis ->haven't hear back, not optimistic.
Plan next year
U of Arizona
University of Rochester
university of Oregon