1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Can I get accepted to a PhD program from a non-ranked school?

  1. Dec 14, 2013 #1
    I am looking to transfer from community college, and my school options are limited due to finances and my poor academic background. My only options so far are some unknown schools that are not even ranked 100 in the state, and they don't have any money to perform research. So I will probably not be able to do any research unless an REU accepts me (seems unlikely since I have little experience from community college), which will only be one summer of research experience. Can one still get into a PhD program even though they have little/no research?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 14, 2013 #2

    Student100

    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    I don't see why not Phiz, if you go to a small enough school maybe you can talk your professors into doing something interesting that might qualify as research or at least an interesting senior thesis.

    Why is your academic background poor?
     
  4. Dec 14, 2013 #3

    jtbell

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    If you end up at a school that does little or no research itself, that will actually give you an advantage in applying for many REUs. One of the original missions of the REU program was to provide research experience for students at schools like that.
     
  5. Dec 14, 2013 #4
    I went to a Christian Bible college for a year in 2006 and flunked all my classes (courses such as Intro to Christian Living, Foundations of Christianity, Christians in modern history, history of the denomination the school is associated with, Bible study classes, etc.), but I started community college last year and have a 3.9 GPA (except I took courses like the calculus 1-3 sequence, linear algebra, physics 1-3 (with labs), general chemistry 1-2 (with labs), some general education requirements such as English and sociology, etc.). So averaging my cumulative GPA, it comes out to like a 2.0 or something.
     
  6. Dec 14, 2013 #5

    Student100

    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    Is there any such thing as academic forgiveness or renewal where you're from? That would bring your GPA up quite substantially.

    Somehow I feel like it wouldn't matter much anyway, since your recent grades are so good.

    For the REU thing jtbell gave great insight .
     
  7. Dec 14, 2013 #6
    But it will still only be one summer or like two months total of research. Will that be enough to be competitive for PhD programs while most other applicants will have at least 2+ consecutive years of research?

    There is, but it's institutionally internal (meaning if you failed a course in the school, you can re-take it and have the previous grade dropped). Since none of the courses I took at Bible college are transferable (nor related to my major), it doesn't apply.

    I have been rejected from many schools, including city/state schools that require a minimum 3.0 GPA. This is why my school options are so limited.
     
  8. Dec 14, 2013 #7

    Student100

    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    Here in California you could petition to have failing grades dropped off your GPA, to certain number of units if taken many years ago. I know you could also do it in my old state school, but you had to set up a meeting with the dean. Try calling your CC registrar office or student guidance and ask them if they have such options, it might turn out that they do but don't advertise it they may be able to drop the bible classes completely off your transcript.

    If not than that sucks about your situation.
     
  9. Dec 14, 2013 #8
    The CC does not factor in the GPA from the old institution. My "official" GPA at CC is a 3.9, regardless of any previous school I was matriculated at. The issue is that all schools that you're transferring to require transcripts from every college attended, so they see my CC transcript, but they also see my Bible college transcript. That I cannot avoid.
     
  10. Dec 14, 2013 #9

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    The thing to worry about is not whether the school as a whole is ranked, but rather whether the program itself covers the same material as the better schools. There are places where taht doesn't happen - you want at least a semester of classical, quantum, E&M and stat mech, and an upper-division lab. Ideally, the QM and lab should be two semesters.
     
  11. Dec 14, 2013 #10

    jtbell

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I would expect that many or most graduate physics departments would reduce the weight of the poor grades your first year because of (a) significant and consistent improvement at the CC and your next school (assuming you keep it up, of course), and (b) the, uh, "specialized" nature of your first school.
     
  12. Dec 14, 2013 #11
    So a good GPA and good PGRE score is enough to get into at least some graduate school, even with no/minimal research experience?

    If the materials covered in the physics program is not equivalent to most other schools, how much of a problem will this be? Because I cannot afford a better school even though I am willing to take on a debt (I have no credit to take out loans and I'm already borrowing the maximum federal loans)
     
  13. Dec 14, 2013 #12

    Student100

    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    Financial aid is tied to your schools tuition to some degree, you may be able to get more support when you transfer. You can also look into scholarships for transferring CC students. Parents/relatives/spouses can consign private student loans.

    If they don't cover core physics assumed to be done in UG than you will have a harder time getting accepted into a grad school program. Do you have a list of schools you're thinking about transferring to?
     
  14. Dec 14, 2013 #13
    I've already been rejected from all of the city/state schools I applied to for the upcoming spring semester, so I am trying to come up with a list to apply for the next fall semester, but it's difficult to find an affordable school with low academic requirements to apply to. I'm on my own with no family or external support, so I do not have anyone that can cosign for me. I've been rejected from several scholarships already because of my abysmal cumulative GPA. Also, I think a lot of the scholarships I signed up for online were kind of scammy-looking anyway.
     
  15. Dec 14, 2013 #14

    Student100

    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    How many units do you have done so far?
     
  16. Dec 14, 2013 #15
    Fifty
     
  17. Dec 14, 2013 #16

    Student100

    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    60 is considered a junior transfer for you right? This mayyyyy be why you got rejected at the state/city schools. Have you talked to any transfer counselors?

    I'm just trying to wrap my head around why colleges would put so much weight in your bible school classes in lieu of your more recent stellar CC record.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2013
  18. Dec 14, 2013 #17
    I assume they just calculate the cumulative GPA using a program and don't care to look at which grades are from what school. At least what some of the schools I was rejected to told me, they said they computed my total GPA to be 2.x so-and-so.
     
  19. Dec 14, 2013 #18

    Student100

    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    Maybe you should stay at CC until you have more units then will transfer. I think some schools will only look at the first 70 units for transfer, anything after that won't compute into cumulative GPA and only meet certain requirements. At the very least it would water down the old failing grades.

    This won't help your financial situation, but it may make the worry of getting into an appropriate UG school with opportunity moot.

    Yours is a complex situation, maybe someone else will have better advice. I'd get in touch with your CCs transfer counselors if you aren't already.
     
  20. Jan 12, 2014 #19
    Wow, I guess I am lucky I dropped out before I got any bad grades then. My situation is like yours, except that I can't get into a decent noncommunity college in the state because of too many units to be a freshman, yet too few to be a transfer. But the grades I got so far are good, nevertheless I wish I could just dump them in the toilet and go straight to UCSD or failing that SDSU with my 3.8ish high school GPA and 34 ACT score. I found community college to be an abysmal experience, the classes were pitiful and yet the having to sit in class and listen to teacher talk made me unable to even handle that.

    What I am looking into is taking a class at a UC via extension, if you can talk to the professors at some schools (well, UCSD anyway) and show them that you are capable of doing well in even a graduate level class, they may give you permission to take it via extension, which can be worth real credit. The downside is that you have to pay for it out of pocket, no financial aid, and I can't because it costs probably like $1000 just for one class and I have very limited resources that mostly go toward food. But if it's doable for you, perhaps take just one or two graduate level classes and get good grades and perhaps that will be enough to transfer into a grad program at a good grad school, maybe they will even ignore your GPA.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook