Hi, I'm an international student and I'm looking to apply to a few colleges in the USA. However, due to the random nature of the admissions process, I may or may not get in. Experience has taught me that I have to think of a rough course of action in case things don't go as I would like them to. Henceforth, in the even that I am *not* accepted anywhere in the US, I will, hopefully, be in the Mathematics (definitely for physics - it's very under-subscribed) course of my local university. The degree is a three-year BSc course, not much unlike those in the UK. Even the grading system is similar. While do have something similar to the GPA. called a CPA (Cumulative Point Average), degrees are awarded as either being first (>70%), upper second, lower second or third class. At any rate, is the admissions criteria going to be the same as for US students? I don't care about rankings. I do, however, think I would care about being part of an excellent research group if I want to pursue a PhD by the end of my second year. If it so happens that I'm interested in any given subfield of mathematics or physics, I would like to know if it's even theoretically possible for a student, from a no-name university somewhere near Africa, to get into *the* graduate program with that specific research group that's at the top of the field, so to speak - whether it's the Podunk Institute of Mathematical Sciences or Harvard. Are excellent scores (degree + GRE), statement of intent and letters of recommendation enough?