"Fall Back" Schools Near Los Angelos CA? Hi all, I am trying to get into a physics grad program near where my niece/nephew will grow up: in Saugus, CA (a suburb about 50 minutes north of Los Angeles...sp?). There are plenty of physics schools over there, but to be realistic I prolly won't get into most of them. Are there any "fall back" schools near there? I looked on phds.org, and basically went by the lower scores on "faculty reputation" and "prestige of program" (whatever they're named): basically the fields in which schools like MIT and Harvard "live" at the top of. Not that those elitists won't hear about as much awesomeness I can cram into my CV within the next very-short year* (!), but I'm being realistic. Should I be consulting resources beyond phds.org? If so: what are they? Amidst the loud din about how great Caltech, Berkeley, and UCLA are, you don't really hear about those schools on the bottom, especially in elite-school-filled states as California. * See my other post about tentatively getting a math-M.S. (kind of a Plan B) in order to get more education and buy more time to perform publishable research.