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A way to improve grad applications?

  1. Nov 29, 2006 #1
    I'm currently an undergrad at Georgia Tech and I would really really like to go to MIT or another top school. The way it currently it is I have to take 12 hours next semester and 13 hours the semester after that to graduate. Someone suggested taking graduate level classes. My courseload is really easy so would graduate level classes taken at undergrad level help my grad school applications if I do well in them? Also, might as well throw this in: does the fact that I did my undergraduate degree in 2.5 years (came in fall '05 graduating fall'07) help at all? Or would it actually make it worse (they might think I rushed through degree so I didn't learn physics as well). Oh and lastly, how bad does a D in english, and a subsequent W when I tried to retake it, hurt my application...given that all my other grades are A's and 2 B's.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 29, 2006 #2
    Honestly, you might be better off just going the full three years. From what I understand, your chances of getting into the school of your choice are significantly limited if you're graduating in the winter, since most schools accept far fewer applicants for the spring semester. Plus, you might be able to take graduate classes that will count towards your graduate degree (obviously, that depends on the institution's transfer policy).
  4. Nov 29, 2006 #3
    Well would applying for spring semester and (if rejected) re-applying for the next fall be a bad idea? I was thinking to applying to MIT in spring, since I really want to do nuclear and if rejected, apply to 5-6 different grad schools (including MIT again) once I have more research under my belt and a better GRE score/GPA or whatever.

    Oh also forgot to mention that most top-level grad physics schools don't take graduate transfer credit.
  5. Nov 30, 2006 #4
    what school are you goin to that allows you to finish in 2.5 years?
  6. Nov 30, 2006 #5
    Do you have any pressing reason not to take the extra term?
  7. Nov 30, 2006 #6
    I have nothing else to take? .... Besides grad-level classes which will likely not directly count towards grad school.
  8. Dec 3, 2006 #7
    Firstly -- Does MIT even review applications for a spring term? Most schools I know do not...

    Then: What is your RESEARCH experience? You mention you have SOME, but how much? Any publications? Extensive research experience is critical to getting into a grad school like MIT. Have you talked to your research advisor at GT about this? I suggest you do so. A strong application to a school like MIT will likely need ALL your letters of recommendation to be concerning RESEARCH.

    In the grad application process, the committee will be comparing your degree to others who have a 4 year degree (and a few who have additional Master's degrees). No offense, but I'd suspect that at this point (and with the info you've given, they wouldn't think much... wouldn't it be better to get more research experience -- perhaps even do an REU somewhere else (like a school that you'd like to get into for grad school), take courses outside your major (possibly adding a double major in a complementary field)... or MORE courses in your major?

    Then -- have you taken the GRE's? Are your scores OUTSTANDING?
  9. Dec 3, 2006 #8
    Just to sort of echo what others are saying... by finishing so quickly you don't really give the admissions committee much to look at. While it is sort of impressive, you haven't really gone through the same things many of the applicants have. I'm guessing you were able to finish quickly because of AP credits?

    I know that GT offers a masters degree. If whereever you wish to apply doesn't accept spring applicants, you can always apply to GT for a masters. The advantages would be that you would get more time in, get to take advanced courses (and count the ones you may take as undergrad), and you'll get more involved with research.

    Good luck!
  10. Dec 3, 2006 #9
    As far as graduate schools are concerned, classes represent a necessary hurdle you have to jump before you do something useful. By excelling in your undergrad classes you demonstrate you can jump that hurdle. There are many, many millions of people on this earth who are also exceedingly good students in the classroom.

    By demonstrating you have real research skills you prove you will be of long term usefulness to a research program. Surprisingly few people around the world get an undergraduate degree in physics and are already reasonably well trained experimentalists.

    You can do well either way, or (even better) both. However, if you think you are really going to stand out by passing undergrad classes and getting good grades in a short period of time, you are incorrect.
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