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Cornell physics PhD admissions? Is it pointless for me to even apply?

  1. Sep 24, 2013 #1

    Physics_UG

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    I graduated 4 years ago from a small university and received a dual BS in EE and physics. I went into a decently ranked EE PhD program but dropped out after a year. I attempted to go back a couple times but just didn't care too much for the courses and dropped my classes both times. I have since realized that physics is my real passion and I want to study accelerator physics in grad school.

    My ugrad GPA is 3.44 overall (much higher in physics classes though). My pgre score is a 600 and I have decided that I will not retake it since I don't have enough time to prepare for a retake at this point. I know I can get very very good letters of rec from my two research advisors from when I was in the EE PhD program and I have two coauthor publications from that experience as well as a first place win in a national competition where I presented my research and wrote a paper on it. My general GRE quant score was a 760 but I can't remember what my verbal score was. I have a history of bombing the quant section on the prior times I took the GRE but the most recent time I got my score up to 760, which I think is respectable.

    I am interested in experimental accelerator physics and I believe my background in engineering will be highly appreciated in this field.

    What do you think? Do I have a shot at a school like Cornell? If not, what are some accelerator programs I might have a shot at? I would like to stay within an 8 hr drive from Michigan so I am looking at the midwest and the new england area.

    Thanks!

    P.S. I applied for cornell's EE PhD program about 4 yrs back and was accepted into the masters program without funding.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 24, 2013 #2

    UltrafastPED

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    Most engineering programs will take you for an unfunded MS. If you do well, then they may take you for a PhD.

    With your background you might try for an Applied Physics program.
     
  4. Sep 26, 2013 #3

    Physics_UG

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    Thanks Ultrafast. I have thought about an applied physics program but I think I would like to stick with a traditional physics PhD.

    Also, I took the GRE three times. The first two times I bombed the quantitative section. The third time I took it I only took the verbal and quant sections and skipped the writing (was told by another physics program to not take it) but did better on the quant section. Do you think I should retake it if I apply to other schools or will they not care?
     
  5. Sep 26, 2013 #4

    UltrafastPED

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    Why the problems with the quantitative section? You will want to address that prior to applying to any PhD program in physics: you cannot do physics without the quantitative skills.

    You might do this through self-study. Spend six to eight weeks working through vector calculus via Schey's "Div, Grad, Curl and All That", working all of the problems as you go.

    https://www.amazon.com/Div-Grad-Curl-All-That/dp/0393925161
     
  6. Sep 26, 2013 #5

    Physics_UG

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    The GRE does not test vector calculus. Not knowing vector calc (which I do know it) isn't the reason for doing poorly on the GRE.

    My quantitative skills are fine. I just kept running out of time. The third time I took it I got a 760 which is OK (ran out of time this time also with about 5 problems left).
     
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