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Honestly, do you think I can get into grad school?

  1. May 19, 2008 #1
    Okay, I'll try to spare you the exposition. Here are the facts:

    1. I did okay as an undergrad. Overall GPA: ~3.5, Upper Division GPA 3.7+.

    2. I did research, but excelled at only one of them, an REU. However, it was 4 years ago and who knows if I can get a decent letter of rec from it--it's just been too long.

    I did another project with a professor who later retired. Again, who knows if I can get a letter.

    Third project was pretty good, but professor relocated to a university in UK! Again, I have no idea if I'm going to be able to get a letter from him.

    3. It's been 2 years since I graduated with my physics degree and it will be at least a couple more years before I can apply to grad school. With so much time between, I'm afraid I won't get great letters from my undergrad profs. After all, who will remember how awesome I was years later?

    4. I took the physics GRE, but didn't score nearly as well as I should have (it didn't help that I got married a week before the test...whoops!).

    So here's what I'm thinking: I'd like to take some classes at one of the gazillion schools in the area (to keep my mind active, to keep my physics skills strong, and to possibly get in good with professors who can write me letters), but I don't have much money to pay for tuition; we're trying very hard to save for a down payment for a house. Also, I'm not working right now since I'm staying home to raise our 8.5 month old daughter.

    Any thoughts?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 19, 2008 #2
    I don't think that there is any doubt that you could be admited *somewhere*. The problem is where...

    I have no idea where you live, but I will nevertheless plug my favorite idea in all creation... the Cal State system has something called "Open University". Sign up for a course or two, get the prof to sign off, and write them a check. It's on the order of $600 for a 3 credit course... which is fairly reasonable, in my book. I'm sure they are not alone in having a program like this.

    I think your biggest problems will be 1) finding a school nearby that will admit you (or convincing your spouse to move), and 2) finding childcare. And 3) paying for a house while living on a grad school stipend. :smile:
  4. May 19, 2008 #3

    Math Is Hard

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    I don't know if this would interest you, but just an idea I had since I know you are in the L.A. area...

    There's a way to enroll in UCLA classes while paying the community college rate. It's a little tricky, but I did it before I transferred in. It's called the cross-enrollment program. You have to do a certain number of classes at a community college the semester before you apply, and it's pretty limited - I think you can only take one UCLA class at a time, and there has to be enough room after the regular students have enrolled.

    I don't know if there are any eligibility requirements that would exclude someone who already has a degree, but if not, this might be an inexpensive way to get into a class that offers something outside of the usual cc preparatory fare.
  5. May 19, 2008 #4
    those stats look good to me, but then again i havent applied to grad schools yet so im probably wrong
  6. May 19, 2008 #5


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    Try for the reference letters first before you worry about not getting them. You can contact your undergraduate department (presumably where you did these projects) and they should have contact information for the people you worked for. Four years isn't that long ago. Once you get in touch, you can remind the proffs specifically what you did for them and even what you feel your strengths were at the time.

    To keep your mind actively engaged you can unofficially audit courses (simply attend lectures and get no credit - with the permission of the instructor). You can also read journal articles in the field you're interested in - assuming your library has journal access.
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