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Grad school strategy

  1. Dec 7, 2006 #1
    Hey I'm currently a junior and i'm a mathematics major.

    I was wondering if you guys could critique my grad school admissions plan:

    1) I want to apply to 2-3 local schools (i live in NY), 3 schools in California, and 3-4 Schools that are an extreme reach or a unique place that I would like to go to:
    NY: Columbia, Stony Brook, Cornell
    California: UCLA, Stanford, Caltech, maybe Berkeley
    3-4 Other schools: MIT (why not?), University of Texas-Austin (never been to Texas, and the school seems really good), UChicago

    I think I have an outside chance of getting into Harvard, I emailed the grad director and they said i have an ok chance, depending on how i finish up. I will probably end up with a 3.85+ GPA, good to great GRE's, at least 2 really really good reccomendations, and hopefully an REU this summer. all in all, i am expecting to be recieving glowing reccomendations. I have a very strong relationship with two of my professors, I will be doing a research project with one of them in dynamics next semester and the other I am taking a graduate course under them next semester.

    I feel like I can definitely get into Stony Brook, i have a good shot at UT-Austin, I have a good shot at UCLA, and medium chance for the rest (Columbia, Cornell, MIT, UChicago)

    more importantly:
    i was looking at the new US News World and Report Grad rankings, and they have a lot of speciality rankings but they dont have one for dynamics. I know Stony Brook has a very strong dynamics program, because I go here lol. But what other schools have strong dynamics programs? I would want to go to a school with strong dynamics, geometry, topology, analysis and possibly statistics since stochastic processes is also a very facsinating field to me.

    any critiques or comments?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 7, 2006 #2


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    That's a big chunk of mathematics right there!

    My personal preference would be not go to the same school for graduate school. Just because I would rather go elsewhere for the experience and networking.

    Also, I only plan on applying to 5 schools!

    Anyways, your plan sounds good. I can't help you on which schools are strong dynamics. I think the best way to find out is to look at faculty list and see how many people work in it within the faculty. If 10 people do, then certainly it's better than a school with only 3!
  4. Dec 7, 2006 #3
    Out of curiosity, what school do you go to now?

    Also, isn't Cornell's app due in a week?
  5. Dec 7, 2006 #4
    im a junior at Stony Brook, i dont begin applying until next december

    but yeah some schools require the app to be in by dec 15
  6. Dec 7, 2006 #5
    what state are you in

    Just to let you know, for your UCLA/UCBerkeley, here in california, all of the UC's and the CSU's use the same universal application, so its just 1 app for all the colleges (but UC and CSU are 2 different systems so they are 2 different apps)

    not sure if other states do that too
  7. Dec 7, 2006 #6


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    Ki Man,

    I'm not sure that's true for graduate school.

    - Warren
  8. Dec 7, 2006 #7


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    Stony Brook is one of the "flagship" campuses of New York's state university system. It's on Long Island not far from New York City. The other flagships are Albany, Buffalo and Binghamton, if I remember correctly. They tend to "specialize" in different subject areas. Stony Brook is probably the "best" one for the physical sciences.
  9. Dec 8, 2006 #8
    I'm slightly in the same boat but probably have less of a chance getting into some of those schools.

    I went to Kettering University here in Michigan (GMI Tech). I have like a 90% WAG which I think converted to a 3.25? My standard GRE scores were good, but my physics GRE was something awful. I even studied harder and took it again. I think I just have a bad habit of trying to answer everything, and thus eviscerating my score. 2nd test (the one I jsut got results on) I got a 620. I could possibly do better but I cant wait another year to apply to grad schools. I also have research experience and good letters of recommendation (worked at Sandia National Labs for 2 years as a paid co-op).
    If you havent looked, some other physics schools are UC San Diego (ok) UC Santa Barbara (awesome from what I hear), Northwestern didnt seem too shabby, and University of Michigan is pretty great too. I may not even apply to there but I will for sure go for UCLA, UCSan Diego, Berkeley, Northwestern, and possibly santa barbara, but I know i wont get in.

    I dont know what to do, I feel lost after getting a 41st percentile physics gre score. I know I'm better than that; smarter than that. I guess I'll jsut see what happens.
  10. Dec 8, 2006 #9
    i don't want to be a bummer, but UCSD's physics gre cutoff is 50%. and it's like 3rd down the list of UC schools for physics grad programs. they don't explicitly say that they have a cutoff, but i had a professor friend ask colleagues there for me, and that's what they told him. =/
  11. Dec 8, 2006 #10
    ucsd is definitley lower than 3rd: berkeley, ucla, and santa barbara are definatley overall better physics (they might have specific programs that are better but overall they fall short), santa cruz is no slouch either
  12. Dec 9, 2006 #11
    In my opinion people here are going about this backwards. You find a school with a great research program in what you want to study. Then you compare rankings, but not give them too much weight.

    It seems to me people here are picking lists of schools first, and then wondering how good their programs are.
  13. Dec 11, 2006 #12


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    As much as I hate to push my own school, NYU is very highly ranked in applied maths, with what seems to be a decent emphasis on dynamical systems. It's also close to home if you'd prefer to stay in NY. Check out http://math.nyu.edu
  14. Dec 12, 2006 #13

    Could you please advice on how to go about doing that? I am currently doing MSc in Physics at Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, India. For some reason it is considered as an undergraduate course, though it being a "Masters" course.
    I will be applying next year...
  15. Dec 17, 2006 #14
    Have you considered Cambridge University? Look up their pure math and applied math departments.
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