|View Poll Results: What would you consider a "safety school" for their Physics PhD program?|
|University of South Carolina||3||27.27%|
|University of Alabama||6||54.55%|
|Georgia State University||2||18.18%|
|Arizona State University||1||9.09%|
|University of Florida||2||18.18%|
|University of Nebraska||3||27.27%|
|Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 11. You may not vote on this poll|
|Feb12-11, 02:56 PM||#69|
I just failed the Physics GRE, now what?
Have you considered doing Engineering in some form? That way, you will be applying physics, and it could lead to a research degree in Engineering.
|Feb12-11, 09:19 PM||#70|
They post the distribution of test scores, and if you are at the tail, there is always one or two major tests before drop date, so that you can get out if you have serious trouble. Also the fact that MIT gives horrendously difficult tests is part of the culture. Because I know that I can get a 50% and there is still the possibility of getting an A on the test, I start enjoying horrendously difficult tests. It's part of the "drop you in the ocean and watch you struggle to swim to shore" philosophy of MIT. One thing that MIT teaches you is that if you are getting 90% and 100% on tests, then your standards are too low.
Harvard also has pretty inflated grades. I took one course in humanities there, and once I got a B- even though I was unable to answer practically any question on the test.
The classes in the engineering departments tend to be B-C centered, because employers really care less about GPA than grad schools do.
People put a lot of thought into grading policy. Most physics departments will deliberately set up their grading so that most physics majors will end up with about a 3.5, so that they can get into graduate school. The flip side is that if you get a 3.0 or 2.7 then people assume that you did something really, really wrong.
This causes some interesting issues when you have international students. The Chinese educational system for example is set up so that people do extremely well on standardized tests, but have really low grades. For example, if someone graduates a Chinese undergraduate university with a GPA of a 2.5, that might be outstanding, or not......
|Feb12-11, 09:33 PM||#71|
At MIT when I was an undergraduate, things were done statistically in which X% of the people were likely to get A's, Y% were likely to get B's. Setting things against the highest score wouldn't work, because you would be dead if you happen to be in a class with a future Stephen Hawking or Terrence Tao. Also part of the reasons the tests at MIT are so hard, is to come up with something that would challenge a future Stephen Hawking.
At UT Austin, the grading policy was very different. First MIT very strictly controls admissions, whereas UT Austin can't. Second, at MIT if you totally bomb physics, you have to leave the school since physics is a required course for everyone. At UT Austin, if you totally bomb physics, there are a lot of other majors that you can do. There's also the cost element. Spending an extra year at MIT is extremely expensive, and even if you don't pay, someone else has to. Spending an extra year at UT Austin isn't as painful so if you totally mess up, you can hit the reset button and start over.
So what ends up happening at UT Austin is that you have weed out classes freshmen and sophomore year to try to convince people that they really don't want to take physics, so they set things up so that a large fraction of people end up effectively failing the class so that leave physics. At MIT and Harvard people are weeded up at the admissions stage so the grading is set up so that most people end up getting decent grades. There's also some internal politics. Over the last thirty years, the focus of MIT has moved from physics to EECS to biology, which means that you a department that was designed for 300 undergraduates that is teaching 70, so MIT tries to make physics attractive. At UT Austin, you have a department that can't teach many more undergraduates then they have, so they try to get people NOT to major in physics.
And then there is history. One reason that I think US and other countries have different grading systems is the impact of the Vietnam War. I've been told by people that lived through the 1960's, that professors would deliberately inflate grades because having a low grade meant that the student had a good chance of losing their college deferment and being shipped off to Vietnam.
Also the way that MIT grades is more similar to the way that US grad schools grade. The courses are usually A-B centered, but they can A-B center it because they are really picky about the people that they let in. Grades in US Ph.D. programs are bogus. What grad schools really do not want is for them to admit you and have you drop out after a year.
However, in the end most US schools set things up so that 3.0 is a hard cutoff for getting into graduate school. If you get below 3.0, and then have a stellar PGRE and letters of recommendations that say "we grade really hard here" then you might be able to get in, but the OP doesn't so that doesn't look good. However what universities in the US tend to do is to just change their grading systems so that physics majors get through with more than a 3.0.
Also US graduate schools have to make allowances for international students. A GPA of 2.7 from a Chinese university might be excellent. The way that Chinese schools get around the limit is to report the transcript, but not calculate the GPA since what you get when you take a Chinese transcript and calculate the US GPA is really something different from a US school.
|Feb12-11, 10:02 PM||#72|
To the OP:
1) Take the PGRE again after studying your rear end off. You might get a higher score. You might get a lower score, but you really have nothing to lose.
2) Talk with you recommenders. If you can get your recommenders to say "ignore the 2.7 since we grade really hard here" that will help. It's going to be a difficult discussion because unless you have absolutely excellent recommendations, you are not getting in.
3) Consider taking an extra year. If you take some hard graduate level courses and do well that will help a lot. Also if you take some graduate level courses and you are struggling, that may mean that graduate school is not for you.
What you need to convince the admission committee (and that applies to *ANY* admissions committee) is that will not admit you and then after spending time and effort on you, you will drop out. You must realize that as a graduate student you will be a serf. You will be asked to do the grunt work so that the university can exploit your labor and crunch out papers. If the university puts more into you than the work that they get out, then it doesn't work for them to admit you.
Stop thinking about "safety schools." It's a different system. As an undergraduate, even if you totally crater, you are still paying tuition and you are putting resources into the university. As a physics Ph.D. student, if you can't do the work, then you are taking away resources from the university.
Also ask your yourself why you want to go to graduate school. As a physics graduate student, you are going to be used and abused, unless you are a weird intellectual masochist that enjoys being abused, you aren't going to survive it. After you get out, its worse because you'll find that the jobs that the Ph.D qualifies you for are also ones in which you have to be an intellectual masochist.
|Feb14-11, 04:20 PM||#74|
|failed, grad school, gre, gre physics, physics|
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