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Admissions Am i ready for grad school?

  1. Jan 19, 2017 #1
    I applied to eight schools last october. My gpa is 3.04
    I have good gre and good letters. I have about eighteen months of research experience altogether. So far ive been rejected by three schools.

    Am i being delusional in thinking ill get acceptwd,? Ive met gead students before and i dont think theyre very different from me. Im already 26 and i want to move on with my scientific career instead of working dead end jobs that eat away at my soul.

    But i know my gpa is not the best. I took a lot of hard science classes probably more than i should have. I sacrificed grades to pursue my interests.
    What Are my chances of getting into graduate school,,?
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 19, 2017 #2
    You don't really give enough details to help readers discern if you are ready for grad school, and which grad schools you may or may not be ready for.

    It seems you may have aimed too high in those three applications that were rejected. Usually, one's best bet with a GPA close to 3.0 is to apply to grad schools ranked comparably or below one's undergrad school.
  4. Jan 19, 2017 #3
    Thank you for answering my question!
    My main question is just about my chances of getting in. I was trying to be more eye catching with my title but anyway.
    I realize my GPA is really mediocre. I dont want to think thay im doomed though. My prof said i have a chance at the schools im applying for. She knows my grades and wrote one of my letters.
    I guess im just super nervous.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2017
  5. Jan 19, 2017 #4
    You aren't doomed, but your chances aren't high. Like Dr. C said, it seems you may have shot too high - however, it only needs to work once! In addition, you don't say too much about your research experience which is the main deciding factor. Was it 18 months of washing dishes in a lab, or 18 months of original research with a publication or two?
  6. Jan 19, 2017 #5
    Thank you for answeing my question!
    It definitely was not washing dishes. I collected a lot of data and helped analyze some of it but none of it became a publication....
    And this is from three separate labs not all in the same lab.
    I know its not amazing but i tried. I know what id like to do but id just like to be given a chance to do it...
  7. Jan 19, 2017 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    As Dr, Courtney says, we don't have a lot of information. We have substantially less than would be in your application.

    The fact that you have three rejections is not encouraging.
    The fact that last year everyone rejected you is not encouraging.
    The fact that we have seen neither application nor list of schools makes it impossible for us to put either of those things into context. Relevant information is scattered around a dozen threads - for example, a 3.0 is not encouraging, but the fact that it took six years is even less so.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2017
  8. Jan 19, 2017 #7
    I think of "chance" in terms of probabilities. A 5% chance is different from a 50% chance.

    When I advise students I know personally, I encourage them to focus applications on schools on which they have at least a 50% chance of admission and at least a 25% chance in non-loan financial aid. Sure, they might to go for one or two "long shots." But understanding how much time and effort are invested in the application process, the focus should really be on the schools where one has above average odds.

    I have a pretty good track record assessing student odds to get into specific schools, as do most physics faculty by the time they reach the middle of their careers. But we really need all the same information that is typically included on the applications.
  9. Jan 19, 2017 #8
    Ok thanks everyone for your help.

    Well ok my gpa is not high but i think i should mention that i took many of the hardest classes at my school. Even though my major was biochemistry i took quantum physics and special relativity because i wanted a stronger physics background. I want to research photosynthesis so i want a really good background in the physics of light.

    The main reason i took six years was that i thought of being a physics philosophy double major but i realized by the end of my second year my passion was for biology and so i switched.
    Studying philosophy is the only thing in my short life so far that i regret doing.

    I applied to seven schools in plant biology two years ago but i think i overshot since most of them were popular UC schools. CLearly my grades were not that competitive.

    This time around i have a year of good research experience. And one of my recommendations is from Caroline Harwood who is really good in her field. The schools i applied for now are: u georgia, northeastern u, u mass amherst, ohio state, u wisconsin, penn state, indiana u, and michigan state. Ohio state, u mass, u wisconsin so far rejected me.

    Compared to last time i havr more experience better, better letters, and a claerer head. My grades are still the same though and im trying to shoot for lower ranked schools...
    Other than that all i have is basically my prayers. I someehat feel confident on getting in but im also extremely anxious.

    My mistakes in college wwas that i took on too many hard classes at the same time. I just wanted to learn eVeryrhing but didnt give myself time to chew through information. And wasting time on philosophy didnt help but anyway thats the story thanks.
  10. Jan 19, 2017 #9
    So all those things, and you don't even have a degree in physics?
  11. Jan 19, 2017 #10
    i am not trying for physics im trying for biology. Sorry for posting on a physics website everyine
  12. Jan 19, 2017 #11


    Staff: Mentor

    No problem in asking about biology. This site isn't exclusively physics-oriented, despite the name.
  13. Jan 19, 2017 #12


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    There isn't a whole lot you can do about your grades, with the physics courses I'm assuming that's your cumulative GPA. What's your major GPA?

    If you get outright rejected again, you might try to finding a masters program (or graduate bridge program if they exist in biology) and bringing up your GPA.

    Also, not to sound like a wiener, but if you're writing your applications with the same spelling errors that are present in this post, make sure you have someone review it for proper English. Since I'm guessing English isn't your first language.
  14. Jan 19, 2017 #13

    Vanadium 50

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    But these are more or less Top 30 schools. It's too late now, but it would have been a good idea to apply to a broader ranger.

    This is where you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the process. The committee does not decide "give this person a chance" or not. They decide whether to admit Person A or to admit Person B. They can only give you a chance by not giving someone else a chance. Read that line again. And again. That's how the system works. Your application is weak (as determined by the ten schools that didn't offer you a place), and you haven't yet made a solid case here why University of X should accept you and tell that other candidate sorry.

    Look at his other posts. He can write correct English.
  15. Jan 20, 2017 #14

    I'm sorry i'm typing on my cellphone and all of the letters are too close together its kind of a piece of crap. I'll try harder to type everything correctly. My apologies.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 20, 2017
  16. Jan 20, 2017 #15
    Ok...i retook a quantum physics class and got an A. I dont know i guess ill just do that for all my science classes if it comes to it...
  17. Jan 20, 2017 #16
    Ok i see now thanks for the advice. If i fail this time ill have to aim for even lower ranked schools that ive probably never even heard of...
  18. Jan 20, 2017 #17
    For what it's worth, there are a couple of "back-up" schools that have extremely late application deadlines - some in April, May, or even over the summer. It might be worth checking those out - for physics those are listed on gradschoolshopper.com, perhaps there might be a similar website for biology (or heck, many of the schools may have similar application deadlines). I wouldn't feel bad - I do know people that have gotten into grad school with sub-par applications after a few tries. It isn't impossible.
  19. Jan 20, 2017 #18


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    If you haven't already done so, it might help to dig a little deeper than a school's ranking for assessing your potential for acceptance.
    1. In some cases you might be looking at programs where it seems like you're going to be competitive because they have a lower overall ranking, but most schools that offer graduate degrees won't see themselves as "bottom of the barrel" options. Even the low-ranked ones are going to want to attract the highest-quality candidates they can get.

    2. You might want to try to look for schools that have recently hired new faculty that are actively recruiting new graduate students. Conversely, just because a school does research in a particular sub-field you're interested in, doesn't mean that they have positions available in that sub-field that year. When researching programs to apply to, try to figure out how many offers the department is likely to extend and which professors are taking on students. You have a better chance in a program that's bringing in a large cohort compared to a program that can only afford to bring one or two students in.

    3. How well does each program match up with your interests and current experience?
      Sure this will improve your overall GPA, but is it going to make any difference to a professor who wants a student to study the neurological effects of rising ocean temperatures on fish physiology?

    4. In my experience, you can improve your chances for acceptance when you have a good answer for the question: why do you want to attend THIS program?

    5. Has your GPA been consistent? Different graduate schools calculate it different ways. In Canadian schools, for example, it's more common to weight the GPA towards more recent years.
  20. Jan 20, 2017 #19


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    Vanadium 50, as an aside, since I assume you are a faculty member in the physics department of a (US) school, let me ask you the following questions. Suppose you have a group of students (perhaps those you've taught) who have expressed interest in pursuing graduate studies in physics.

    What would you say is the bare minimum GPA and the bare minimum GRE scores (both general and physics) that these students would need to achieve, assuming all else being equal (e.g. research experience, etc.), for them to have a minimum 50% chance of being accepted to, say, the top 25 graduate programs in physics in the US?

    Same question for the top 50 graduate programs in physics.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2017
  21. Jan 20, 2017 #20


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    I think you meant to say GRE scores. :smile:

    Not Vanadium 50, but all else being equal I would assume they'd need higher scores than other applications who're applying to the same school. I'd imagine that goalpost shifts year by year.
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