I am a rising senior at a small liberal arts college, with an incredibly small (and therefore unrecognized) physics program. I am seeking advice regarding which Ph.D programs are within my reach. I plan on applying to AMO (Atomic, Molecular, and Optics) Ph.D programs with the intention of focusing on quantum information, quantum computing, and/or quantum optics for the Fall 2016 semester. I am not sure what to expect in terms of where I would be accepted/rejected. My application has some good points, but definitely will be lacking in other areas, and I am well aware of this. The Good: -BS Physics -Minors: Mathematics, Philosophy -Overall GPA 3.90 -Physics GPA 3.99 -Physics Tutor 2+ years -Physics Laboratory Tech 2+ years -Physics Club President 1 year -Internship at government research lab, but pertaining to radio frequency experiments, nothing to do with quantum information or AMO at all for that matter -I will be starting a year long research project regarding the Uncertainty Principle and Decoherence which is directly tied to my prospective field. Advisor believes I can get a publication out of it. -A few various awards, scholarships, and honor societies throughout undergrad experience The Bad: -Undergrad is at a small liberal arts school with no substantial physics reputation. With that being said, I believe the education I've received there has been comparable to respected universities. -No substantial university research. Yes I will be conducting research this coming year, but I will be applying to grad schools only ~3 months after beginning, so will not be very much to go on. -Only one summer internship (government research lab). -Haven't yet taken the GRE/PGRE. I am registered to take both before October so I will meet deadlines with them, but I have little time to study for them. I am expecting to land somewhere around above average on GRE and slightly below average on PGRE, but I cannot count on that. Target Schools: I have mostly restricted my search to the Northeastern US, but that is not necessarily a requirement. I have looked at various universities with AMO programs, and the ones that seemed to fit my career/research goals the best are: -University of Rochester -Cornell University -University of Maryland, College Park -University of Wisconsin, Madison -Stony Brook University -Dartmouth College I am definitely open to any other suggestions to various AMO programs, or other programs where I could work in the aforementioned physics realms. My main questions and concerns for the physics community are: 1. Assuming average GRE and PGRE scores, what chance do I have of getting into the schools that I listed? I understand that I should apply either way because "you never know," but I'd like to have realistic expectations. Note that I've already written off most of the extremely elite schools such as MIT and Harvard because I don't think my application will be robust enough. Basically, I am trying to figure out where I stand. Are these schools out of my range, or should I hope/expect to get accepted to at least a few. 2. When you are looking for graduate programs, it is hard to find lower ranked ones. Obviously the best of the best pop up first. I am primarily interested in quantum computation, quantum optics, atom trapping and cooling, and quantum information processing. If anyone has any insight to any programs pertaining to these it would be much appreciated, especially ones I may not have come across in your regular web searches. 3. I know it's rather late, but is there anything I could do at this point to boost my application up a bit? I have considered taking a year off after undergrad to try to get some more experience on my resume, and perhaps have that publication under my belt by then, but I would like to apply to schools first and only do that should I not get accepted. As always, any advice, guidance, tips, and knowledge is welcome and appreciated. Thanks!