What is the process?
It's simple supply and demand. If there are 100 applications for 10 places, there will be 90 rejects.Some people on physicsgre.com are coming through ivy league schools with 3.9+ GPAs and publications dating back to HIGH SCHOOL, and still getting rejected from most top programs!! (What else could they have possibly done?)
There may be a slight misunderstanding in the process here. Admission to a particular program is not always a case of "if you're good enough, they will take you." Sometimes particular programs simply don't have spots available. So you have outstanding candidates applying for positions that don't exist. Sometimes applicants assume that because a specialization group exists, or a professor is doing a work in a field the student is interested in, that they will be accepting students because the department as a whole is accepting students. Unfortunately this isn't always the case. Groups may have all the students they can handle, professors may be leaving or going on sabattical, or a group's major funding may run out and the members are moving on to other things, or whatever.I already feel so far behind! I did okay this year (3.69 gpa, 3.90 in math/phys courses), but from what I see on the internet this won't nearly cut it as far as getting into top phd programs. Some people on physicsgre.com are coming through ivy league schools with 3.9+ GPAs and publications dating back to HIGH SCHOOL, and still getting rejected from most top programs!! (What else could they have possibly done?)
I asked the chair of my department about getting started on research and he flat out told me that I shouldn't start until Junior year, which to me would seem a grave mistake. Only a few of the members in the faculty seem to be doing any research, and very few seem to have much prominence in the field, which makes this even tougher. I found one prof in another department who does some astronomical research. He agreed to let me work with him, but has since become very difficult to reach, so I'm in flux as to whether this will happen or not.
I'm fully blown set on studying harder, and overachieving on course work and then some. But even with that, I still lack much chance at finding ANY research (much less good research with prominent physicists/astronomers), which seems to be so crucial for getting into top phd programs.
What am I supposed to do?