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College admission question

  1. Jan 30, 2005 #1
    i regret to inform you that this is one of those "omg do i have a chance?/??/" threads.

    i don't really know what kind of college i can get into. my first year of highschool sucked big time (2.9 gpa), while i made a major improvement, and received a 4.1 gpa for this (my senior year) semester. my SAT I scores could be much better, and my SAT IIs are even worse...

    ok... stats:

    grade: 12
    gender: female
    ethnicity: mulatto (mother, black. father, white)
    school: small private school in southern california with not a lot to offer
    family college history: first generation to attend college
    overall gpa: 3.5
    SAT I: 600M 520V
    SAT II: V, MIC, & PHYS all 490 (whether it will be taken as an excuse or not, i was extremely depressed and had the flu at the time of the test).
    major: physics

    after school activities

    --golf team (2 years)
    --key club (1 year)
    --chess club (1 year)
    --mock trial (2 years)
    --school band (2 years)
    --after school biomed course (1 year)
    --march of dimes (1 year)
    --guitar lessons (2 years)
    --golf lessons (2 years)

    the plan for now is to go to a JC for a year or two, then transfer, but what schools can i be looking at in the mean time that i can get into (or reach for) that have a good physics program?

    thanks in advance. :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 30, 2005 #2
    Definitely mark down that you're African-American on your application.

    Need to retake your exams and improve your scores. If those don't improve, you may want to start considering other fields of study. College level physics is hard. Did you just have bad teachers in high school?

    I would look at schools like UC Berkeley or UCLA. Berkeley has an excellent physics faculty.

    I've heard of people from JC's transferring into Caltech and Yale, btw.

    Edit: Also - it's best probably not to say you want to do physics in your application.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2005
  4. Jan 30, 2005 #3
    ... you will certainly get into plenty of good schools. You definately don't need junior college.

    I had a 3.2 cumulative high school GPA (not including senior year, though first term Senior Year I had a 3.9). I've gotten into the engineering programs at two schools so far.

    And if you are first generation to attend college, you will definately have plenty of opportunities.
  5. Jan 31, 2005 #4
    Being african-american will not help you in california. There are no race based preferences as of 1998 in california public schools, so people saying that will help, it won't.

    That said, going to a JC in california will basically gaurantee you junior year admission into any UC school if you have at least a 3.0 i think (college gpa).

    That said, for public schools, your choice, if you can afford it, is UCSB. Its a top ten physics program, with the Kavlier institute for theoretical physics on campus. The best public school for physics in the country.

    There's also Calpoly(SLO campus, NOT pomona), however its more of a teaching school than a research institution, however this has its advantages--there is no graduate physics program, so undergrads to get all the opportunities to do research work, we currently have a large group working in nanotechnology, another in pattern formation. I myself am working with a professor on stellar convection.

    Coming straight out of high school, your numbers are porbably not good enough to get into UCSB, largely because of those SAT IIs (they're a big deal for all UCs). CalPoly you would probably get in, SAT IIs aren't considered.

    IN california there are also UCLA and Berkeley, both have good physics programs, not as good as UCSB though (i think berkeley is ranked higher, but i'm more impressed by Santa Barbara's program honestly). However the same story would apply to those two on admissions (i think those are the top 3 most selective in the UC systenm. I know LA and berkely are top two, and either SB or SD is 3rd.)

    I agree with juvenal about those test scores. If were to get those SAT IIs up in particular, it would help a lot.

    However, isn't it far too late for all this? Application deadlines were back in november.
  6. Jan 31, 2005 #5
    I've heard about this. But I've read somewhere that admissions offices have found ways around this.

    Also - good advice. But is that true about UCSB? Best public physics program in the country? That includes the experimental side? I would argue that having a strong theoretical program isn't all that useful for the average physics undergrad - string theorists aren't really interested in undergrads working for them. Better and more numerous summer (and term) research opportunities are found on the experimental side even if your ultimate goal is to do theory. And I would think that Berkeley would be better for that.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2005
  7. Jan 31, 2005 #6

    They have a big group working on pattern formation, another group working on CMB, and those are just the groups i met with when i visited, and both had undergrads working for them, even publishing their own papers.

    Also UCSB is a primarily undergrad program. I should add its not the best public grad school for physics, its the best puclib school for undergrad. I think thats why berkely is ranked better, better graduate program.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2005
  8. Jan 31, 2005 #7
    the plan right now is to retake the SAT IIs by the end of the school year. physics is definitely something that i want to study, and i'm willing to go the distance for it (to juvenal: yeah, bad teacher. science department at my school, to put bluntly, blows. hard.).

    calpoly slo is a school i applied to. i visited the campus, liked it a lot, and decided to go for it. still waiting to hear back from them though...

    about the african-american thing, i've heard that despite their ruling against affirmative action, they still take into (some) account the fact that the person is a minority.

    thanks for all the advice, you guys.
  9. Jan 31, 2005 #8

    You should hear back in about mid march, i think thats when i got my letters back.
  10. Feb 1, 2005 #9
    Being African American AND female and wanting to major in a science, hell I would say you could go anywhere you want to. Whether anyone on this forum wants to admit or not, race and gender have a significant impact on your college admission process.
  11. Feb 1, 2005 #10
    Only if admissions officers don't like their jobs.

    Its illegal in this state. Its not a "don't do that" thing, its illegal.
  12. Feb 2, 2005 #11
    There are "soft" ways around this. If I have time (which I don't right now) - I'll see if I can dig up information on the web.
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