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Apply to Graduate school this year or wait until graduation?

  1. Jul 2, 2015 #1
    Ideally I'd like to apply to graduate school for physics (leaning towards Astrophysics or Condensed matter); however, I don't think my course work or research is sufficient. I'm already using an extra year to complete the degree (I changed to physics the end of my Sophomore year) and wouldn't like to be behind at least two years before starting graduate school (I'd be 24). However, I don't want to risk being rejected from my schools due to insufficient course work and research.
    Some schools I'd like to attend: UNC chapel hill (number one option), Dartmouth, Georgia Tech, UCLA, NYU, other schools in the top 30-60ish range.

    GPA: 3.44 (Will be 3.5 at best if I get all As)
    BA Physics from Public University (CUNY), small physics department but reputable school in general (many premeds end up going to ivy league med schools)

    OPTION A (Preference, Fall 2016 start)
    Physics courses I will have taken by application date in December: General 1: B, General 2: B, Classical Mechanics: A, Modern Physics lab: A; (This Fall) Statistical Mechanics, Atomic and Nuclear Physics, Classical lab (Which I will kill myself to get all As in, so give me the benefit of the doubt)

    GRE general in August (hear its not very important)
    GRE Physics in October if I decide to go for Fall 16; give me benefit of doubt of doing well
    Research and LOR: Very minimal (Did medical physics internship with some "research", might be good LOR, but would need two more letters from physics professors)

    OPTION B (Fall 2017 start; work to pay off loans before graduate school)

    Add to coursework: Quantum mechanics, E&M, Electronics, Electronics Lab
    Add Research: Perhaps with Professor and REU (maybe Fermilab in Summer?)
    GRE Physics in April or October

    Please let me know what you recommend. I know I have no shot at top programs , but aiming for top 50 like above. Please give me honest advice what my best option is and whether I have a good chance at those schools.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 3, 2015 #2
    So you want to go from 140 ish (ranking) undergrad to top 50 ish grad with a GPA <= 3.5, little research, and uncertain recommendations and Physics GRE? And that's with a BA rather than a BS? Are you thinking PhD or Masters?

    You're gonna need something special on that application. Publications, great recommendations, and/or a GRE score in the 80th or higher percentile.
  4. Jul 3, 2015 #3
    I am confused. So if you go to grad school in the fall of '16, you will not have had E&M or QM?
  5. Jul 3, 2015 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    I think he means that he will take E&M and QM in spring '16, so that the grades will not be available for his grad school applications if he applies for fall '16. Application deadlines are probably mostly Dec '15 and Jan '16.
  6. Jul 3, 2015 #5
    Yes. I would take them in spring (final semester). Do research in Summer. Apply Fall 16 for Fall 17. Work to pay off loans. I just don't want to lose a year of my youth waiting for college. However, I'm open to suggestions.
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