Admission selection process

  • 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.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

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quizivex
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Postby quizivex » Thu Jan 17, 2008 4:51 am

@ grae313, twistor

Yeah, it sucks that we not only have to put up with such a depressing atmosphere, but we run the risk of being called arrogant pricks anytime we express disapproval of it.

I deleted that post because there are about 15 new users on this forum every day, and the possibility that other people could jump to conclusions about my personality as hastily as some regulars on this forum is something I don't want to risk...

I don't think there was anything bad about my comment. It seems that while there can be a lot of ego among smart people, there is also a lot of excessive modesty. Don't we all feel the need to say, "What an idiot!" occasionally? Don't you all encounter lunacy sometimes, while driving, on TV, at school, etc... It happens!

If I go to the supermarket and call the grocery bagger a moron, certain people on this forum would call me a haughty creep who sees someone with a low wage job as an inferior, when I only said that because the bagger crushed my bread by putting the milk on top of it. Stupidity is stupidity, carelessness is carelessness, regardless of who is observing it, be it a 4.0/990 physics student or a goldfish.

Many forum users cannot understand what it's like to be at a school like ours. They're either domestic students already at ivy universities/similar schools, or they're from foreign countries where college is still taken seriously.

We express our frustrations not to dwell on them, but because the related issues are very important in discussing grad school, both in terms of admissions (does our GPA mean anything from an undistinguished school, and thus will we get in), and in terms of where we want to go (could we tolerate a state school for 6 more years)

I'm not the only person disgusted by what happens at my school sometimes. I've heard so many heated remarks from instructors who are boiling mad and frustrated with the "students" they have to put up with...

"I can teach, I just can't teach these people."

"Everyone in my evening class should have been aborted." (this prof was a liberal)

"I should grade their exams in their own blood... make them suffer for all of these unexcusable mistakes."

to quote a few...

Just because I'm merely an undergrad student and not a revered professor doesn't make me any less entitled to be frustrated with lunacy, especially since I live with it 24/7... not just in class...

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will
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Postby will » Thu Jan 17, 2008 9:12 am

If a bagger crushes your bread, then he's definitely careless and unobservant, yes. If you feel like you have to call him a moron, then the deficiency lies with you.

You don't seem to realize that you are at the front of the gaussian for probably several metrics of intelligence. It's not just unfair for you to be upset when someone isn't as smart or hardworking as you. It's kind of dumb. It's like getting depressed each week about not winning the lottery.

And cutting yourself off and becoming an ivory-tower academic who hates teaching students isn't the way to go either. It's not about copying formulas; if these professors could communicate that intangible that made them passionate about physics in the first place, they'd capture more of the audience. Thus the saying, "education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a spark."

My introductory physics professors were bad, bad, bad! As a result, students didn't come to class, and even when they did, they did poorly, a lot of students failed and, of course, the department gets mad at the teachers, but the teachers say "well, my hands were tied! these students were idiots!" ...And yet, if you actually thought about it, it was the bread-crushing bagger teaching the class.

grinjones
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Postby grinjones » Thu Jan 17, 2008 11:35 am

wow that sounds like poop

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grae313
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Postby grae313 » Thu Jan 17, 2008 4:02 pm

will, I can really see where you're coming from.

But despite your good logic, drowning in mediocrity--of ability and of effort--is still disgusting. It's not so much needing to be surrounded by people who are all really smart, it's just wanting to be surrounded by people who actually care about anything other than having fun and feeling good today.

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quizivex
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Postby quizivex » Thu Jan 17, 2008 4:08 pm

You don't seem to realize that you are at the front of the gaussian for probably several metrics of intelligence. It's not just unfair for you to be upset when someone isn't as smart or hardworking as you. It's kind of dumb.


The things I've gotten upset over were not a result of me being any smarter or more hardworking than someone else.... but a result of me having reasonable expectations that someone else can do his job properly. Everyone has these expectations. If the supermarket janitor had the same thing happen, he'd probably call the bagger a moron also. It has nothing to do with a superiority complex.

I'm sure you've browsed the past threads on the forum, seeing countless cases of ETS failing to send test scores, not including subject test scores, schools not sending transcripts that were ordered, recommenders missing deadlines, grad schools losing documents etc...

Were all of the students experiencing these mishaps as presumptuous as I was for being upset and expecting others to perform a routine task properly? Are they all overly proud of their intelligence? Does their intelligence really have any relevance to the problem?

It's like getting depressed each week about not winning the lottery.


Expecting to win the lottery every week, about a 1 in 10 million chance, is a bit less reasonable than expecting someone to perform a routine task properly.

And cutting yourself off and becoming an ivory-tower academic who hates teaching students isn't the way to go either. It's not about copying formulas; if these professors could communicate that intangible that made them passionate about physics in the first place, they'd capture more of the audience. Thus the saying, "education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a spark."


I did not give any evidence that these were poor instructors, or bitter profs that hated teaching, and I didn't elaborate their teaching habits. You don't take my stories for face value but always try to find a possible loophole that thwarts the point I'm trying to make. I try to keep my stories concise and direct without including all potential exceptions and disclaimors. I've had some awful instuctors, lots of them. But the instructor is not always at fault every time a student misunderstands something.

[/quote]

cancelled20080417
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Postby cancelled20080417 » Thu Jan 17, 2008 5:11 pm

quizivex, Will is a sociology Prof at Harvard who keeps trying to find fault in a term paper and tries to give an A- to a student even when the student deserves an A. This way the Prof can always maintain his/her ( I added this /her later, coz, I know Will is gonna say that there can be a female sociology Prof at Harvard) high std!




Actaully, I never really trust in communication. There does not exist any effective method of communication, no matter what. There is only one execption, however. A flawless communication is possible only in mathematics or any other subjects that can be directly verified by performing an experiment or is justified by mathematical logics.

English as a subject inherently lacks both of these qualities, the notion of absolute communication is unwarrented in English (or any other languages for that matter). Therefore, under no circumstances, is WILL going to understand exactly what you are trying to say, and you will also NOT be able to say everything that you wanted to say without leaving any loopholes. Hence, there is no point of this discussion (not the discussion forum, though, guess how!!)

At last, I will not be surprised if people disagree with my point, becoz, if they dont, then that will be a counterexample of my hypothesis!
:lol:

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quizivex
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Postby quizivex » Thu Jan 17, 2008 5:42 pm

How about this statement?

"This example is a counterexample to itself."

cancelled20080417
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Postby cancelled20080417 » Thu Jan 17, 2008 5:44 pm

quizivex, and grae you may want to try the method of exhaustion( a method of proof in Mathematics) to eliminate all the possbile loopholes, but the problem is, English is inexhaustible.
This is the only method of Proof for effective communication, it works in a very rare case( when everyone agrees that there are finite numbers of loopholes) and does not work in other cases when such an agreement is NOT possible, like in this case, where Will keeps coming with a COUNTEREXAMPLE!!
:lol:

cancelled20080417
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Postby cancelled20080417 » Thu Jan 17, 2008 5:46 pm

yeah, there is not anything called absolute in any field which is not based on Mathematics or cannot be tested by performing an experiement!

gluon
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Postby gluon » Thu Jan 17, 2008 6:00 pm

It seems that waiting for decisions has made everyone a little testy.

tnoviell
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Postby tnoviell » Thu Jan 17, 2008 6:01 pm

No, gluon, these people don't know what getting testy is until they actually start graduate school. Just wait ... and enjoy the mental breakdown.

cancelled20080417
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Postby cancelled20080417 » Thu Jan 17, 2008 6:15 pm

tnoviell, u have not experienced ur "grad school-ing" even being in the grad school, but we have already experienced "grad school-ing" without ever being in one yet :wink:

grinjones
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Postby grinjones » Thu Jan 17, 2008 6:55 pm

what the hell is going on with you guys?

tnoviell
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Postby tnoviell » Thu Jan 17, 2008 6:58 pm

Grin - I hope you caught that I responded to your question about Oxford. When is your interview, or has it happened?

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will
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Postby will » Thu Jan 17, 2008 8:57 pm

There's the rub. Why do you assume I should think it's reasonable to expect people to perform a routine task properly? Why do you think it's reasonable?

I'm sure you've browsed the past threads on the forum, seeing countless cases of ETS failing to send test scores, not including subject test scores, schools not sending transcripts that were ordered, recommenders missing deadlines, grad schools losing documents etc...


**** happens. I'm not saying they have no reason to be upset, just that it's kind of dumb to do so. If you live your whole life frustrated about things that are out of your hands, clearly there's no other way to end up than miserable. Some people learn to deal. Some people even learn to enjoy the tragedy and farce of human existence.

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butsurigakusha
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Postby butsurigakusha » Thu Jan 17, 2008 9:19 pm

I've been enjoying this farce!

grinjones
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Postby grinjones » Thu Jan 17, 2008 11:25 pm

tnoviell - Amongst the maddnessin this thread i did catch the response. Thanks! (although it wasn't terribly illuminating... but I didn't expect anything illuminating). Interview is tomorrow... i can give people the low down if they're interested.

tnoviell
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Postby tnoviell » Thu Jan 17, 2008 11:36 pm

Wish I could tell you more, but all I remember her saying was they asked standard questions, i.e., what your research was (discuss that for a while), and some other questions to probe you as a person, i.e., who's your favorite scientist? Where do you see the field 50 years from now? Stuff that like. Sorry it's not more detailed, but most interviews are standard. She didn't get quizzed or grilled or anything of that sort...

grinjones
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Postby grinjones » Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:37 am

no worries (wo)man... i appreciate any info... that last post is quite useful (not being sarcastic).

VT
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Postby VT » Fri Jan 18, 2008 1:41 am

Have any of us here heard from any top 5 or 10 or 20 schools yet?
When do they actually start first round offerings!
this waiting business is such a pain.

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butsurigakusha
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Postby butsurigakusha » Fri Jan 18, 2008 2:10 am

Last year, someone started a thread where they kept track of when people got accepted at which school. I imagine this year will be similar.

forum/thread554-0.html

It looks like the earliest posted acceptance for a physics program came Jan 26 at Johns Hopkins.

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quizivex
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Postby quizivex » Fri Jan 18, 2008 2:12 am

There's the rub. Why do you assume I should think it's reasonable to expect people to perform a routine task properly? Why do you think it's reasonable?


Ok that's the difference between you and me, right there!

I should start a vote to see who agrees with that statement and who doesn't, but I'm sure everyone's tired of this debate, lol.

I admire your apparent immunity from frustration... I'm sure everyone on physicsgre.com does. All I was saying before was that many of us are not mentally unflappable, and our occasional fits of frustration shouldn't be equated with arrogance.

goodfromfar
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Postby goodfromfar » Fri Jan 18, 2008 3:24 am

wow, a day of being away from the forum and it's disintegrated into chaos!


I read this article a while ago, and it raises some interesting points
http://www.cracked.com/article_15231_7- ... rable.html

Reason #1: You don't meet enough annoying strangers
#2 You don't have enough annoying friends

Summary: Because of our increasing ability to only associate with people similar to us, it is harder to tolerate those that do not live up to our standards of what an ideal person is.
--------------------------

here's my seventy two cents:

Let's face it: college isn't what it was fifty years ago.
These days, it's expected that a child goes to college - and most do. Grad school has become the "new" college - that is where you meet like minded people who have the same passion for learning that you do and are willing to work damn hard to achieve their goals. Undergrad classes are filled with your "average" 18-21 year olds, and that average person doesn't care too much about the learning process. More than likely they are being fully supported by their parents and will reap monetary rewards for a good academic performance. College is another way to not have to find a job.

Usually you didn't find apathetic students like this in physics, but I think that is changing. Sure, there have always been the students who work hard and just don't get it, the genius slackers, or the one who have too much on their plate, but not the ones who go into physics because, well, it's a cool major (which is what I been seeing in the last five years).
And with them comes this indifference and innanity that has been mentioned here. It sucks to see people playing solitaire during lecture and asking to look at your homework the day before it's due. But it shouldn't undermine YOUR performance or perceived quality of education. Yes, it can make professors jaded and exasperated, but honestly enthusiastic students (like us) can hopefully negate that by showing that there still are dedicated students.


As for the people who can't perform routine tasks...

That's unfortunate as well. But at least you know that if someone is completely incompetent, they will be fired, replaced, and learn from their mistakes(save for tenured teachers and administrators - they are immune). Some people learn how to get along in life a lot sooner than others.
Most of our parents probably took care to make sure that we valued education and had some semblance of a core set of morals. A lot of people grow up with ipods, cell phones, and flattery in place of work ethic and honest criticism. There is really nothing to be done about it besides setting a good example and letting them learn for themselves.

And if they don't learn some personal responsibility...that's when I start fantasizing about punching them in the face =)

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jdhooghe
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Postby jdhooghe » Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:13 am

I can definately relate to being at a State school. I go to California State University, Chico...yah, I'm sure most of you guys/girls have heard of it. Before I go on my rant, I want to say that I will never, ever be as smart as most of you people are. I come from a podunk family and I apparently cannot do or speak basic math and english(V460 and Q680) with a a pretty low subject score(740,65%). It is therefore imperative that those doubters of the substandard expectations of these state schools know where I am coming from. First of all, I am in love with physics, specifically theoretical particle physics. Will I ever contribute any meaningful contributions(let alone get in to grad school)? Probably not but just to be able to work on the problems in which I am interested in will be absolutely orgasmic. Believe me when I say that quizivex and grae are right in saying that the majority of these students are morons. Most cannot pass PRE- algebra, "party" most of the week and are content with just passing and not learning anything. Of course I am currently studying at one of the top party schools in the U.S. so take my comments with a grain of salt. I will add more tomorrow as I am becoming comatose.

/me gets off his pedestal

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twistor
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Postby twistor » Sat Jan 19, 2008 12:50 am

goodfromfar:

I agree that graduate school is the "new" college. A college education is only enough for a mediocre job these days. 50 years ago you could get a decent job with a high-school diploma if you were willing to work hard. If you had a college degree you could go much further. The problem with college degrees is that now so many people have one that only the lack of a degree is indicitave of something. Almost anyone can get a degree in *something* from *somewhere*, and they can apparently do it with a minimal of effort if they so choose. As they say at my school, "D's get degrees"....
(which isn't technically true since you need to maintain a 2.0 GPA to stay in the university)

Graduate schools, on the other hand, are much harder to get into. Once in you must do much more work in order to stay in. You have study for qualifiers and take some of the most advanced courses offered. If you make it through that you will be researching at the cutting edge of your field. The partiers and the slackers have been weeded out. Maybe 50 years from now anyone will be able to get into graduate programs to get a Ph.d. and then we'll need something else...

Furthermore, the idea of a liberal arts education is antiquated and needs to be dropped. In the 21st century specialization rules the day. Liberal arts studies need to be marginalized. That by itself would work wonders for eliminating the people who only take classes because they are easy. Of course, to some extent the most elite colleges in the US are still the playgrounds of the rich, so I don't expect schools to cease catering to the spoiled rich kids any time soon...

cancelled20080417
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Postby cancelled20080417 » Sun Jan 20, 2008 3:17 pm

I completely agree with twistor!!!


Has any body heard from any "new" grad school yet? Cornell has become the old news now!

marten
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Postby marten » Mon Jan 21, 2008 2:12 pm

Liberal arts studies need to be marginalized. That by itself would work wonders for eliminating the people who only take classes because they are easy.


twistor, I disagree with you here. I don't think that liberal arts studies should be marginalized, instead, I think that there should be a requirement for them. I know that the modern world is headed towards specialization, but that shouldn't come at the expense of becoming myopic. Especially because of the way our world is changing, I think that it is more important then ever to be at least somewhat knowledgeable in fields other then our own. (foreign languages, psychology, sociology, etc...)

Several reasons:
1) A specialist researcher or theorist should be able to analyze and understand what the ethical consequences of their work would be. Now that our world is becoming so globalized, there can be bad results if we don't think about the bigger impact. This is all about perspective.

2) Being a well-rounded person. Yeah, I'm sure you probably hear this a lot and it's easy to scoff at, but there is definitely something to this.

3) Being well versed in other fields can only help make a specialist better at what they do. Taking an extra psych class or something won't detract from their other classes. And they certainly shouldn't be written off because they're "easy". Yes, in a poor educational system BS can be passed off in some classes as a paper (in a way, I'll admit, that math can't), but a good educator will demand the same rigor from a sociological research paper that a math teacher would require of a proof.

some thoughts,

Marten

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twistor
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Postby twistor » Mon Jan 21, 2008 2:19 pm

marten,

So do you believe that we should continue to offer degrees in subjects like "Liberal Arts"?

tnoviell
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Postby tnoviell » Mon Jan 21, 2008 2:37 pm

Marten, I concur with your statements.

marten
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Postby marten » Mon Jan 21, 2008 5:48 pm

So do you believe that we should continue to offer degrees in subjects like "Liberal Arts"?


I'd say "yeah", because as college becomes the new high school, specialized degrees just aren't for everyone. Nor are they totally necessary, I think. Many jobs just seem to want to see *any* 4 year degree. For someone who wants to be a travel agent, secretary, park ranger, or whatever, a liberal arts degree lets them explore their interests, get a broad education, and then go do what they want.

I don't think that a liberal arts degree is useless, it's possible to learn a lot about oneself and the world around them. Possible I say, but not necessarily the case. For someone who wants to "fluff" their way through college, a liberal arts degree looks inviting. But I encountered similar students "fluffing" their way through aeronautical engineering during my brief stint a large public state school with low standards. I've also encountered liberal arts students who took their education very seriously.

Marten

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twistor
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Postby twistor » Mon Jan 21, 2008 6:22 pm

I guess we'll have to disagree. I think the idea of a liberal arts degree is useless. If you can get a degree in aeronautical engineering you can learn art history on your own. It doesn't work the other way.




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