Getting in from a school with a small physics program

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rsaotome
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Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 8:08 pm

Getting in from a school with a small physics program

Postby rsaotome » Mon Dec 17, 2007 8:15 pm

So... I go to a school with a really small physics department (5 majors my year) and I was wondering if this was going to hurt my grad school chances. My school is a relatively well known small liberal arts school but the department isnt very large. I got a 770 on the November GRE's with a 3.9 GPA, 3 REU's (but all in areas peripheral to physics, ie materials science, physical oceanography, and atmospheric science), and an independent study research in geophysics. I also have had an oral presentation and a poster presentation at a conference. I anticipate my two of my recs being very strong with one being just average.
Oh and I am also a permanent resident (does that count as an international or domestic application?). My top choices are Cornell, Columbia, Yale, Minnesota and Michigan. I was wondering if anyone had any input as to what my chances are since so far no one at my school has been really able to give me much feedback.

Thanks!

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grae313
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Postby grae313 » Mon Dec 17, 2007 11:29 pm

I wouldn't hold my breath for Cornell or Columbia, but I think you have a decent shot. (BTW, I'm in about your same boat!) I like your chances for Minnesota and I don't know squat about Michigan or Yale so I can't comment.

vicente
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Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 12:24 am

Postby vicente » Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:07 am

I am very envious of your permanent resident status. That makes you count as a domestic applicant, so 770 is an excellent score and 3.9 an excellent GPA to have. You have a good chance of getting into most top schools.

Permanent residency (Green card) is so hard to get these days, for Canadians as well as every other nationality *sigh*

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grae313
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Postby grae313 » Tue Dec 18, 2007 1:49 am

I wouldn't call 770 an excellent score, even for a domestic student. It's probably fine outside the top ten though, and hopefully enough to not get your application thrown out at most of the top tens.

rsaotome
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Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 8:08 pm

Postby rsaotome » Tue Dec 18, 2007 8:55 pm

Sweet, I wasn't sure which way permanent residency counted towards.

Yeah, I was a little disappointed with a 770 since I got an 880 and a 990 on the two practice tests I took after studying, but what can you do I suppose.

My one big question that remains is if people think it's going to hurt my chances that I'm graduating from a department that doesn't typically (as in I have never heard of a case) send students to top 20 graduate programs in physics.

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grae313
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Postby grae313 » Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:30 am

I don't think it *necessarily* hurts your chances, it just becomes your job (even more so than for students coming from a well-known institution) to demonstrate that you 1) have had an excellent physics background and are otherwise prepared for graduate school 2) are capable of succeeding in a top program. Your 3.9 gpa and excellent research goes a long way. Your GRE isn't entirely convincing (that sucks that you did so well on the practice tests but not on the actual one!), but it isn't *bad.* Bottom line, I don't think it would be the difference between getting accepted somewhere and getting rejected somewhere. Of course, this is just my opinion and maybe it really carries a lot of weight, none of us know for sure.

thecup
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Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2007 11:19 pm

Postby thecup » Tue Jan 08, 2008 3:23 pm

I came from a school with a tiny physics department, I had a 4.0 and I got an 800 on the physics GRE, thus we are in a similar boat. I applied to several top 10 schools and I got straight out rejections from all but one (in applied physics) who waitlisted me. I was in contact with the professor I wanted to work with in that department and when I was waitlisted I contacted him again. I ended up getting in but the whole process was a pain. I guess my advice is, contact people you would like to work with. When it comes to weeding people out, the less they know about you, the quicker they'll cut you. If they don't know your program, it doesn't necessarily count against you, but you need to make up for it in other ways. On the flip side, several other universities were very generous, thus if you don't get into a top 10, you might still do very well elsewhere, plus you may enjoy it more and might be able to start research sooner. I'm sure you'll do fine, but I know how the anticipation can really be hard. Best of luck!




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