Unfortunately, I applied to 10 PhD programs (mainly UCs, for theoretical astrophysics) this fall and was rejected everywhere. Looking back, I'm not very surprised because I feel my profile was very average -- and of course you have to be among the top applicants to get any offers. I intend on re-applying next fall, and will also branch out a lot in the schools I apply to, including more that are ranked ~50-100 (I only had one of those this time).
I'll be retaking the general and physics GREs. The first time around, my general GRE scores were alright but not amazing (Q163, V156, W4.0) and my PGRE was very bad (21st percentile) although that was only required for 5 of the 10 programs. I'm also still doing research and will be starting a new project over the summer too, and based on my conversations with my PIs it seems possible that I could get at least one publication, which is great because I didn't have any before! Also, my third LOR will be stronger next cycle because I'll have a new PI to ask instead of a professor I just took one class with who wrote it before.
Lastly, I've started taking a graduate level class at the university where I went to undergrad. The class is in cosmology, so it's highly relevant to what I want to pursue in grad school. However, I've started doing the homework assignments and am finding it extremely difficult -- especially since I missed out on taking the first course in this series so it's a bit more advanced (the professor told me it would be challenging for me but not impossible to catch up). My intention was to officially enroll in the course, so that I could get an official grade and have it on my record so that it would also strengthen my applications for next year (assuming I get an A -- the grade is only based on homework assignments and an end-of-term report and presentation). But now I'm having second thoughts, seeing how difficult the homework is to me (and I think to the others in the class also, since I overheard one of the grad students mentioning how hard it was).
Do you think it's worth it to officially enroll in the class? Would this even have the potential to strengthen my apps that much? Or if I didn't officially enroll but audited it instead, could that help strengthen my profile anyway? Any advice is appreciated!