Hi! I am new to the board so let me first just say hello - Hello! :) To my question - you guys have more experience so your judgement is way more accurate when it comes to graduate physics studies, so I wanted to ask if I have a shot at any of the better (say top 50) physics institutions. My vague profile - - Studying general physics, dunno about any particular recognition of my school in physics, even though it is one of the best in my country ( http://www.muni.cz/?lang=en ) - GPA - 3.8 - Among 6% percent of best students of Physics - Class top - Every year getting academic scholarship - I think I could get the GRE's at high 800s, probably even higher, that shouldn't be the prob About the research - I did not do any serious research as of yet, since I am really rather theoretically/mathematically inclined and even though I wass really looking for opportunities at my faculty since second semester, everybody kept telling me to rather focus on my studies since theoretical research demands a lot of knowledge. Also, in my country it is really not usual for someone to do a research during the early years of study. Everybody at the faculty more or less do their own thing and there is no program or larger grant that young students could participate in. So I am going to my last year of Bc. studies (in my country the degree is only for 3 years). Until now I had all the physical core subjects, will have some QM next semester. As for the maths I took some advanced courses for grad students - Differential geometry, lie groups, calculus of complex functions, advanced calculus of variations... The study will be ended with thesis, so I am currently studying another maths on my own (symplectic geometry etc) because I will do my thesis on some theoretical topic (haven't chosen particular topic yet) supervised by one of the leading theoretical physicists here (some past topics of his students were "Wentzel - Kramers - Brillouin Approximation and Maslov Indices in Quantum Mechanics" and "Non-Commutative Quantum Mechanics" ). The thesis will be in english and I suppose it could be counted as a research, since I will be heading for some more difficult graduate subject (something like the past works I wrote out). Other things that could help: I have been tutoring for several years now and I have also had regular paid classes. I will start my own classes for future physics students in their final year of high school (for free - as a community service) I have won a prestigeous GE Scholar-Leaders scholarship this year (among 8 in my country) as a reckognition of my good study results and academic/leadership potential to the future ( http://scholarshipandmore.org/global/home/?modal=true ). Part of it is 3000 euros of stipend, also I will be doing the community service mentioned above as a part of the whole thing. So imho the major setback will be the lack of research so far - but as I said I really did not have any opportunity at my school and well I applied for Oxford research (for this summer) and got a bit unlucky cos I got to shortlist but then they rather took the local students since it was quite selective and they needed just like 5 or 6. But the thesis should be a real plus, right? Since I will work on it pretty much on my own just with a supervision, it will be like 50+ page paper... (Dunno if that helps but my one year older brother studies neuroscience at Columbia) P.S.: I have applied for undergrad studies at several institutions when I was finishing my high school and got admitted to some (NYU, Drexel, IIT) but wasn't able to go there cos I got only like 1/2 scholarships everywhere and did not get to any need-blind schools and I am from rather poor family. I may have forgotten something, but that's all for now. My question is, what are my chances at some of the top50ish universities? Where should I be aiming and what particularly should I build up? Thanks!