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Grad-school chances looking slim: how can I improve them?

  1. Apr 9, 2008 #1
    I'm a 3rd year Physics undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, and my academic career seems to have hit rock bottom. The grades from my past term were absolutely dismal and I have (consequently?) been rejected by various professors for summer work. Since I am effectively unemployed for the next four months, I have plenty of time to allocate to further reading. However, what would you recommend I do to ameliorate my chances of being accepted for graduate studies in Physics? I have already considered trying to get something published - even contributing code to a physics-oriented open source project. Independent publication of significant research is quite difficult given my progress up the proverbial mountain of knowledge. Are there other avenues for me to examine?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 9, 2008 #2
    Try to work for a professor for free over the summer. Do extremely well your next semester.
  4. Apr 9, 2008 #3
    Patient: It hurts when I do that.
    Doctor: Don't do that.

    Seriously, get a summer job flipping burgers or washing dishes. Nothing motivates more to work harder in college than flipping burgers.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2008
  5. Apr 9, 2008 #4
    The best thing you could do for your physics career is to transfer out of U of T.

    The next thing you can do is choose your courses wisely. Take PHY326 only when you 're not taking a full course load. Study with other people, make some physics friends at PASU. Don't take non-linear physics or condensed matter physics in your senior year, take macroscopic physics instead. Try to find opportunities to meet your prof, either at office hours or after class. Be a bit social with them and maybe you can land yourself a summer position.

    You should try contacting profs at different universities for help. Unfortunately with the crappy GPAs U of T Physics gives, it's going to be hard no matter where you look. I sent out like 50 e-mails and fortunately someone finally said yes. :)

    The only thing going to U of T Physics for your undergraduate degree is good for is going to U of T Physics for graduate school. If you want to do something else, then you've screwed yourself over. Engsci Physics, though it involves more work, is a better option for your career.

    If nothing comes up for the summer, you can sign up for a "Supervised Reading" course during the summer, where you propose a topic you want to research and you read through articles and write up a report and present it at the end of the summer. In that way you'll get to meet regularly with a prof who might like you and hire you next summer or at the very least write you a good recommendation. Talk to Prof. Bailey (the undergraduate chair) about this.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2008
  6. Apr 10, 2008 #5
    Thanks for the responses.

    Dr. Courtney: I'm averse to flipping burgers for this reason. Getting hooked onto that job will eventually lead to depression if I do make it to grad-school!

    vincebs: Thanks for the advice. I will surely look into the supervised reading courses. Transferring out of the Physics specialist stream at this point would be unwise, since I have already sunk a lot of time and money into it and there is only 1 year remaining.
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