I was wondering how much (on average, at least) schools look at the different aspects of an application. Such as "Has this person done undergrad research?", "What is this person's GRE scores?", "What is this person's grades?", and of course: "Any other questions that the author of this post cannot think to ask, but we consider *muhahaha*"
In particular I am concerned with the undergrad research. I have had a hard time finding anything at other institutions, and at my current univ. there is only one cosmologist (everybody else is doing particle physics). I tried applying to several REU's, and while I'm hoping for the best I'm going to try for a backup plan just in case. Although I honestly have no idea what that would be, yet.
The second question: I've started prepping for the Nov. subject test, and while my plan of attack is "score as high as possible" I want to know what minimum I should be achieving for the various schools I'd like to go to. Of course if you ask they say "we look at all sorts of things besides GRE scores". My foot. In undergrad they look at other things besides your SATs, but yet each school has a mean SAT score, and while stdev would be nice to know, at least we know the mean
Grades: If someone has a bunch of B's (curse you, job) and has one low (but not failing) grade, do they really look at it as "this is either a blip or something else happened, but this is an overall good student" or do they assume that you're lazy/underachieving/[insert negative thoughts here]
On a side note: when applying to undergrad I heard schools preferred lower (i.e. high C, low B) grades for more advanced course work than higher grades (high B, A's) for average coursework. Does this still hold for grad school?
Lastly: What "real world" options do I have if I forgo grad school applications for a year and work? And what types of jobs would be beneficial toward me going for astronomy/astrophysics/cosmology/etc.?
Any other info appreciated, sorry so long ^.^
This is what I call the "WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?!?!1111one" panic. Please keep your hands and arms inside the post until the author has made a complete stop, thank you and have a pleasant trip.