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From Purdue undergrad to Caltech grad

  1. Apr 8, 2012 #1
    Hello. I am a Junior in high school. I have a 4.0 GPA, got an 1820 on the SAT, and a 31 on the ACT. I have participated in the honors all-state band, and been in many extra-curriculur activities throughout high school.

    I am, however, upset with myself. My first two years of high school weren't too great. Personal problems affected my grades, and although I am intelligent, I feel my grades don't necessarily reflect my dedication to science, physics, and mathematics. I have been doing really great this year, though.

    I'm definitely going to attend Purdue University, which is known for its engineering. However, I don't care for engineering. I want to go into Physics or Applied Physics with specialization in Computational Science/Physics. I may even get a dual degree in Physics and CompSci.

    I know it's REALLY early to be worrying about this, but I feel like Purdue will be a great place to start fresh, and I'm extremely dedicated to Science. I love studying. It's a hobby of mine.

    So obviously, I'm not good enough to get into Caltech as an undergrad. Plus, Purdue is only a few hours from my house, and going out-of-state would pretty much not be financially possible.

    So my question is, if I do very good at Purdue, stay involved in the sciences, and prove my dedication, will I someday be able to go to a place like Caltech or MIT for Grad school? Or do only undergrads from those schools get into their graduate school?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 8, 2012 #2


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    From what I understand, Caltech and MIT (not to mention many other American universities) accepts students into their graduate programs from undergraduate programs all over the world and from many different colleges and universities in the US, certainly not just undergrads from their own schools.

    Therefore, if as you say, if you do really well at Purdue and prove your dedication and stay involved in the sciences (this would include being involved in science-related internships), you will indeed have a great chance of being accepted into a graduate program from a renowned school.

    I wish you all the the best of luck!
  4. Apr 8, 2012 #3


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    You said you weren't happy with your early grades in high school, but you also say you've got a 4.0 GPA. Are you talking about a weighted GPA? That's meaningless; it's only used to determine class rank. Colleges ask for unweighted GPAs. Purdue is a great school. No school has only one specialty. Purdue has an excellent physics department. And yes, if you were at the top of your class there and did some impressive research, you'd have a shot at a top graduate program.
  5. Apr 8, 2012 #4
    The 4.0 is weighted, but keep in mind I have only taken one AP class. Unweighted, I have about a 3.8. But that is why I'm upset. By the end of High School I will only have taken 4 AP classes.

    Plus, Frosh and Soph year, Half my grades were either B+ or A-, but Junior year has boosted it because now I get As and A+'s.

    Still not very good.

    Thank you for the responses statguy and eri.
  6. Apr 8, 2012 #5
    Of course you can get into Caltech from Purdue. I go to a school ranked similarly to Purdue and I was accepted to Caltech this year. Do well as an UG, get to know Professors (really know them - not just show up to office hours so they know your name in order to get a letter of rec like many premeds do) and do research.
  7. Apr 8, 2012 #6

    king vitamin

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    Yes, you can get into Caltech if your application is very strong. One of my professors went to Purdue for undergrad, went to top-5 schools for his grad/postdocs, and then got a tenure-track position in theory at a top 20 school during the absolute worst point in the economic decline, so you can't say going to Purdue for undergrad limits your chances!
  8. Apr 8, 2012 #7
    You should also note that the MIT physics departments does not accept students who did their undergraduate degrees in physics from them! Good luck and have fun at Purdue!
  9. Apr 9, 2012 #8
    MIT actively discourages it's own physics undergraduates from attending MIT graduate school. One of the professors that I knew there said that he felt so strongly about this that he automatically junks any application to MIT physics graduate school from an MIT undergraduate.

    The reason for this is that you learn much more if you go to different schools grad/undergrad.
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