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Applying **again** to Grad School

  1. Oct 27, 2014 #1
    Hey everyone,
    I'm sorry for posting this sort of thread. However , I'm really freaking out and in need of some advice.

    I just got my physics gre score today and it's a 700 ( 52%).

    I thought I did much better on this exam, but it looks like I have made careless mistakes.

    Last year I applied to grad school with 3.53 gpa, 650 pgre and was rejected from everywhere! I made sure I covered all ranges.

    My gpa is the same. My research is in hep-th , but I am considering hep-ex and CME.

    I have looked at profiles on the physics gre website, and 90% of them have great profile. On grad cafe, I noticed rejections for people with my stats. It seems like high gpa + lowish pgre is okay, and low gpa + high pgre is okay.

    Im just mediocre :/

    I have been looking at schools like Boston u, upitt, u mass Amherst.

    Do you think these are reasonable? I'm not sure how far to reach, though I'm not going to bother with top 10. I don't have an interest in most of those schools anyways, except MIT because of research, but yeah no.

    I'm also just considering going for a masters in engineering, or applied physics phd? How often have people been successful from going from physics to engineering? I alway see the other way around. I suppose it would have been easier if I had experimental background.

    I hope I don't get rejected this time. All I know is that I love research and that's what inspired me to apply for grad school. My lowish gpa is because I didn't do so well on time pressured exams. My physics grades are mostly A- and B+ with a couple of As and Bs.

    I'm even thinking about asking for a fourth letter from a grad class I got B+ in, but the prof knows me really well! I participate a lot in class dissuasion and do well on psets. I didn't do so well on the timed exams, but this prof even told me that he doesn't believe exams are good indicators of potential. He said if there weren't exams, I would have been one of the top students in class. Do you think I should get ask for this Rec letter?

    I'm sorry it's soo long
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 27, 2014 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Are you applying to a spectrum of grad schools?
    - the impossible to get into ones,
    - the ones you think you can get into and
    - the safe ones that you know you'll get into...

    Usually you pick three in each category. Its a lot of work to do all those applications but it improves your chances dramatically.
  4. Oct 27, 2014 #3


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    So what "advice" are you looking for here? There is not a single question in your post.

  5. Oct 27, 2014 #4
    Oh I'm really sorry! I accidentally posted the thread, before I finished. It's longer now and contains questions.

    Thanks jedishrfu! I'm not really going to bother with the impossible. The problem is I don't think safeties even exist for me. I'm just having trouble finding matches. The competition seems tough!
  6. Oct 27, 2014 #5

    Vanadium 50

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    I think you have to take a realistic look at your application. It is not strong.

    If you got a 650 and then a 700, most people are not going to think "this person probably can do better - there were careless mistakes". They are going to conclude that an accurate measure of where you are is probably somewhere between 650 and 700. Since about twice as many people take the GRE as ultimately end up in grad school, a 52% puts you near the very bottom.

    Grad schools like to see a 3.5 or above. So in this respect, you are average.

    If your letter writers all focus on classes (you mention this for a 4th letter), and not research, this is below average. For a letter "best student this year" is what an average letter says.

    The schools you name will have stronger candidates. In some cases, a lot stronger. You need to apply to a large number of schools - perhaps 15 or 20 - and maximize the chances that one of these schools has fewer acceptances than they planned for. By all means, apply to Pitt and BU, but also apply to SMU, Baylor, Drexel, Northern Illinois, etc.
  7. Oct 27, 2014 #6
    Thanks for your honesty Vanadium. Two of my rec letters would be from my research advisors. My research experience have been great and my profs were happy with my performance, and I believe their letters would be strong.

    I am beginning to think that I am not cut out to do physics anymore. I love research and I love physics, and I want to keep going. I guess I am glad taking this year off, at least now my decisions won't be impulsive.

    last year, I was accepted for a physics Masters from a very good school but I could not afford it. Part of me wishes I took the loans out so I had a chance to improve my GPA.

    Do you think with my GPA, I have a good shot at some masters program for engineering? maybe this could lead to a PhD in some engineering field. I just know that i love research, so no matter what I want that doctorate. I could careless how long it takes.
  8. Oct 27, 2014 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    I don't know how engineering programs make decisions, but your competition is probably mostly engineering majors. You need your packet to show that you are at least as prepared as they are, or that you are bringing something to the department that makes them want to accept you even though you will have some deficiencies in your preparation.
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