Am I competitive enough for my school list?

ES
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:10 am

Am I competitive enough for my school list?

Postby ES » Sat Sep 28, 2019 5:04 pm

So, I'm applying to graduate schools now and I'm kinda scared by all of the profiles I found here. I am interested in exactly solvable and low dimensional models in field theory, CFT, phase transition, symmetry breaking, and renormalization group among other things. I made a list of schools that seemed like a good match for my interests but I need some objective opinions from people.

I'm an international student at an English-taught program at Nagoya University, Japan(top3 in japan with a very good reputation in physics). my gpa is 3.44 but it's mostly because of lab courses and social science courses. but my physics courses are mostly A's. I don't really have any oppurtinuties to do research in Japan aside from my graduation thesis and this is scaring me. I tried my best tho. I joined the particle physics theory group last semester to study qft and work on my thesis there. We haven't decided the thesis topic yet but hopefully it would be something about 2 dimensional CFT which is a topic I'm currently reading about. I also took lots of math courses: functional analysis, probability, group theory and representation, and differential geometry. also had a seminar where my math prof, me, and 3 other students tried to read a seminal paper on mathematical diffraction. Every week, we presented what we have done, I learnt measure theory and some advanced topics on Fourier transform as a result. Also sometimes I read research papers and write reports about them for fun/coursework. not sure if this helps tho.

I'm gonna take the pgre this october but I expect something above 900, maybe something around 950.

I am scared that my gpa and lack of research experience will hurt my chances.

This is my list. all for high energy theory

Stony Brook University
Michigan University Ann Arbor
Cornell University
Caltech
University of Tokyo
Bonn-Cologne Graduate School of Physics and Astronomy
Nagoya University
Perimeter Institute
University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
Brown University
Rutgers University
University of California, San Diego
McGill University
University of British Columbia
SUNY Albany
University of Kentucky

how competitive am I for these schools? do you have any suggestions about my list? Money is an issue so I'm planning to shorten the list later. Is it a good idea to ignore the top schools in the list to save on money?

User avatar
Nishikata
Posts: 131
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2018 6:37 am

Re: Am I competitive enough for my school list?

Postby Nishikata » Sat Sep 28, 2019 9:05 pm

I thought you knew that for Japanese universities the way to admission is an approval from your future supervisor,

Hence, at least for UTokyo, there is no uncertainties here that you just have to ask several UTokyo professors if they can take a new international grad student next April/September. Regardless of the program, the approval from the professor is necessary for admission. The request for Approval is informal, so you can just send an email to check with the professors.

By the way, I am not sure if you can say Nagoya is top 3 in Japan. At least it rolled my eyes when I read that, because I can name at least three other universities in Japan better known in physics (Utokyo, Kyoto, TokyoTech, Osaka, Tsukuba?). So please back it up with data or perhaps don’t say that.

There is no application fee for perimeter. German university don’t need pGRE.

To further trim down the school list, choose only the US schools that you want to go. For example, do you want to go to Kentucky more than Utokyo/Nagoya? Key is, you should only have one, max 2 safety schools.

ES
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:10 am

Re: Am I competitive enough for my school list?

Postby ES » Sat Sep 28, 2019 11:06 pm

Thanks for your reply. Nagoya usually ranks somewhere in the top 5~6 in physics as far as I know. maybe top 3 is kind of an exaggeration tho it's 2nd in physics according to ARWU. (I admit, I'm biased :roll: )

I found a group of professors at UTokyo in particle theory who select their students together in a similar fashion to what happens in the US. I will definitely fill down their application form once I select my thesis topic so that I'll have something to talk about rather than just some interests. It's almost guaranteed to get accepted in Nagoya(a math prof kinda wants me in his group) but I'm more worried about funding tho. I heard it's only given to the top student in the department which is not me.

Given what you said, maybe I don't have to apply to Kentucky and Albany after all.

btw, do you have any idea about UCSD? It seems fairly strong but I heard UC schools are very strict with international applicants so I'm not really sure if I should apply there.

User avatar
Nishikata
Posts: 131
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2018 6:37 am

Re: Am I competitive enough for my school list?

Postby Nishikata » Sun Sep 29, 2019 10:12 am

Funding problem is everywhere except maybe US.

Even in UTokyo, you are not guaranteed funding. My savings are bleeding right now, but the arteries will probably burst in Nov/Dec when my fees are due and the last bit of funding application result comes up. :(

I didn’t apply to UCSD so I cannot comment much.
UCs are public school so expect more preference to the local residents. They are the taxpayers so it’s only fair.

geekusprimus
Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:10 pm

Re: Am I competitive enough for my school list?

Postby geekusprimus » Sun Sep 29, 2019 1:19 pm

Nishikata wrote:I didn’t apply to UCSD so I cannot comment much.
UCs are public school so expect more preference to the local residents. They are the taxpayers so it’s only fair.


By state law, UC schools are not allowed to use anything like national origin as a characteristic affecting admission. The school system is frequently criticized by California residents, in fact, because they admit so many international and out-of-state students. That being said, international schools come with their own host of problems. There was a Ph.D. student from South Korea in my research group (not in California) who had completed all his other degrees in the United States, and the sheer amount of paperwork that guy had to fill out on a regular basis in order to renew his immigration status, participate in fellowship programs, and so forth was nothing short of ridiculous.

TakeruK
Posts: 940
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Am I competitive enough for my school list?

Postby TakeruK » Tue Oct 01, 2019 4:08 pm

geekusprimus wrote:
Nishikata wrote:I didn’t apply to UCSD so I cannot comment much.
UCs are public school so expect more preference to the local residents. They are the taxpayers so it’s only fair.


By state law, UC schools are not allowed to use anything like national origin as a characteristic affecting admission. The school system is frequently criticized by California residents, in fact, because they admit so many international and out-of-state students. That being said, international schools come with their own host of problems. There was a Ph.D. student from South Korea in my research group (not in California) who had completed all his other degrees in the United States, and the sheer amount of paperwork that guy had to fill out on a regular basis in order to renew his immigration status, participate in fellowship programs, and so forth was nothing short of ridiculous.


It's not a preference based on residency.

It's a matter of funding. UC schools charge different tuition amounts whether or not you are an "in-state" student (i.e. have California residency) or "out-of-state". The difference is huge, something like a factor of a several.

American students (i.e. have residency in some other state) are usually able to switch to California residency after 1 year of residing in California. However, non-American students will always have "out of state" tuition.

The standard tuition waiver package for graduate students at UC is 1 year of out-of-state tuition plus the remaining years at the in-state rate. In addition, for international students, there are additional awards available to cover the difference in tuition for years 2+. Each school does its own thing, so I am not sure where the funds for these awards come from, but they are usually 1) allocated by the University to the department, 2) funded by department general funds, or 3) funded from a professor's grant.

So, in effect, there is a limit on the number of international students at a given UC department. I think (1) is the most common way so whatever $$ amount allocated to the dept sets the limit on the # of current international students, N. Some depts might supplement this number with their own funds (2) or reserve some money to ensure they can recruit an especially good international student in an exceptional year where there are N+1 really good international students (or one international student wasn't able to graduate). If a prof is well funded by grants, they might be able to bear the cost themselves, however, I am not sure if this actually happens due to dept rules and/or grant rules. I do know this happens in Canada but that doesn't mean it's true elsewhere.

ES
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:10 am

Re: Am I competitive enough for my school list?

Postby ES » Thu Oct 03, 2019 4:04 am

Thank you guys for your replies

TakeruK wrote:
geekusprimus wrote:
Nishikata wrote:I didn’t apply to UCSD so I cannot comment much.
UCs are public school so expect more preference to the local residents. They are the taxpayers so it’s only fair.


By state law, UC schools are not allowed to use anything like national origin as a characteristic affecting admission. The school system is frequently criticized by California residents, in fact, because they admit so many international and out-of-state students. That being said, international schools come with their own host of problems. There was a Ph.D. student from South Korea in my research group (not in California) who had completed all his other degrees in the United States, and the sheer amount of paperwork that guy had to fill out on a regular basis in order to renew his immigration status, participate in fellowship programs, and so forth was nothing short of ridiculous.


It's not a preference based on residency.

It's a matter of funding. UC schools charge different tuition amounts whether or not you are an "in-state" student (i.e. have California residency) or "out-of-state". The difference is huge, something like a factor of a several.



so as far as I understand, for a formal field theory guy like me its better to avoid UC schools because of the limited funding, no?

Maybe I should ask UCSD about the funding in formal field theory there and see. If I got interesting info, I'll share it here.


I have a question:
do you think a good pgre score and independent study(+my senior thesis work) can make up for my gpa and lack of research experience ?

TakeruK
Posts: 940
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Am I competitive enough for my school list?

Postby TakeruK » Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:04 pm

ES wrote:

so as far as I understand, for a formal field theory guy like me its better to avoid UC schools because of the limited funding, no?

Maybe I should ask UCSD about the funding in formal field theory there and see. If I got interesting info, I'll share it here.


I have a question:
do you think a good pgre score and independent study(+my senior thesis work) can make up for my gpa and lack of research experience ?


Definitely ask before you make any decisions. Limited funding doesn't mean you won't get in, just that it's harder to do so. But if you don't apply then there's no chance. It's a good idea to at least try to talk to some potential profs there to get an understanding of e.g. how many international admits they have in that area.

As to your question, most departments evaluate applications holistically, so by definition, strengths in some areas can balance out weaknesses in others, to some extent. Exactly how far it goes depends on each school/dept. I know someone with zero research experience but a very very good GPA getting into a school that highly values research experience over everything else. So, there's no real way for any of us to know how any specific admissions committee will evaluate your application.




Return to “School Selection”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests