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Get into US grad school from Germany/Europe

  1. May 22, 2008 #1
    Hello,

    This summer I'm finally going to start studding Physics. I know that this is kind of early, but I just want to check your opinions on some issues to know weather I should make myself any hopes or not, and, from what I have read, it is hardly never too early to start preparing for Graduate school so maybe there are some things I already have to consider in coming year.

    First, has anyone experience in getting into graduate school in US from a non English speaking country, especially in Europe ? Is it, at about equal skills harder for a foreigner?

    How important is the "image" of the university... especially it's place in the "world rankings". I'm still in the process of deciding between two universities: the FU Berlin and the LMU Munich. The LMU is the only German university ever scoring well in these world university rankings, but the weakness of the German universities is also due to the disadvantage of non English institutions and the different setup of the research in Germany, much of the cutting edge research is done by institutes, which don't have much to do with the universities. From everything I have heard so fare, teaching is much better in the FU, classes are much smaller, Profs nicer etc. so I'd rather go there since the research performance is irrelevant for an undergrad. I might still reconsider, though, if the image of the university had a large impact on my chances to get into a ( good ) US grad school.

    An other thing...the overall GPA is most likely going to be quite bad. For most sciences, German universities prefer to select during the studies. That means they just admit everyone, but make the tests so hard that the ones who won't go fare just fail or quit during the first two to three semester. However, that means as well that even outstanding students will only score Cs or Ds... will US universities consider country specific features like that ? I know that there is most likely not going to be a general answer to that, but maybe one of you has heard about any cases or is involved in the selection process at a physics department.

    How significant are these standardized tests actually for Graduate school. Is their impact comparable with the SAT and ACT for undergrad level?

    Thanks, Johannes
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 22, 2008 #2
    Can I ask why you want to go to the US? Since you are just starting your program I would suggest that it is still probably too early to worry about where to go for grad school. I would advise you to keep an open mind about where you would like to go and what you would like to do after your degree.

    US schools do treat foreign applicants differently from domestic applicants - but this will probably not work against a person from Germany. I've heard several people complain that it's very difficult to identify good students from China and India because they all score well on the GRE and it's hard to know if the professors writing references are being critical.

    I wouldn't worry much about your GPA. Admissions committees do make an effort to evaluate applicants fairly - after all, they don't want to reject a good student! As an international student you need to do well on the physics GRE - most departments have a cutoff (which is usually fairly low - probably around the 50th percentile for schools in the top 100). Once you meet this cutoff the admissions people will look next at your letters of reference.
     
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