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.