How to be a competitive applicant with a low GPA?

  • #1
uniquej
4
0
I have gone through some posts on a low GPA on this forum but I need more personal response on my profile. My BS (3.37/4.0) and MS (3.58/4.0) in Physics from a university in Africa (Nigeria). I am interested in theoretical condensed matter physics and I have 4 years experience in ordering and structural studies of liquid alloys and one year experience in DFT. Also, I have one first author publication (IJMP B). What can I do to be competitive or no chance at all for US grad admission? @Vanadium 50
 
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  • #2
This will not be easy.
Lets start with this - why do you think you are prepared for a PhD in the US, given yiour history?
 
  • #3
Vanadium 50 said:
This will not be easy.
Lets start with this - why do you think you are prepared for a PhD in the US, given yiour history?
Well to be honest I don't have idea what one needed to do to be prepared for PhD in physics in the US. But with my little understanding of the question I have some years of research experience in my field of interest and technical skills. One of the reasons for choosing US is the availability of computational resources. For instances there are materials which will take forever when using quantum espresso. The unavailability of supercomputer in my home country was responsible for my decision to look elsewhere for my PhD. Also, I want to go beyond comparative study of those materials and dive deeper into the real work.
 
  • #4
That explains why you want a US-based PhD. Unfortunately, it does not answer the question "will you successfully complete the program" which is what the admissions committee will want to know. The best universities in Nigeria are not in the same league as the worst PhD granting universities in the US, and you did not do spectacularly well there. They will be right to worry, and you will need a good answer to the question of will you make it.
 
  • #5
Vanadium 50 said:
That explains why you want a US-based PhD. Unfortunately, it does not answer the question "will you successfully complete the program" which is what the admissions committee will want to know. The best universities in Nigeria are not in the same league as the worst PhD granting universities in the US, and you did not do spectacularly well there. They will be right to worry, and you will need a good answer to the question of will you make it.
All the mathematics courses I took during BS and MS were As (except for two occasions where I had B+. I have taken more than 8 mathematics classes.). All my independent projects were As. I took quantum courses which alternate between A and B+. Most of the courses where I had Bs were not related to physics or were fields in physics I am not keenly interested (Rock physics, ionizing radiation, agriculture, technical drawing, logic ,etc).
In summary, I came here to inquiry on how I can make it to the US grad school. In Nigeria context, such grade for a physics graduate shows the person can successfully complete PhD. It is the current limitation in computational resources that made me think of looking elsewhere, I would have love to continue in my country since I already have my MS. Our system of education and grading isn't how you view it in the US. However, should I scrap the idea of US grad school or what can be done?
 
  • #6
This thread is titled "How to be a competitive applicant with a low GPA?" When asked how you know you will be adequately prepared for a US PhD, your answer is that you got pretty good grades. It's hard to reconcile thus.

To give you an idea, 1% of MIT admissions are from Nigeria. Perhaps 900 PhDs are granted to all international students in physics per year. So we expect perhaps 9 from Nigeria. Are you one of the top nine students in your country? Now, maybe the estimate of 9 really shouild be 20. But maybe it should be 4. It sets the scale: if you are not one of the top nine students in your country (and it sounds like you are not) why should a US institution accept you and not one of them? You need an answer to this question.
 
  • #7
Vanadium 50 said:
This thread is titled "How to be a competitive applicant with a low GPA?" When asked how you know you will be adequately prepared for a US PhD, your answer is that you got pretty good grades. It's hard to reconcile thus.

To give you an idea, 1% of MIT admissions are from Nigeria. Perhaps 900 PhDs are granted to all international students in physics per year. So we expect perhaps 9 from Nigeria. Are you one of the top nine students in your country? Now, maybe the estimate of 9 really shouild be 20. But maybe it should be 4. It sets the scale: if you are not one of the top nine students in your country (and it sounds like you are not) why should a US institution accept you and not one of them? You need an answer to this question.
I get your points. Sincerely, I can't apply to any top 40 schools in the US because of my grades. I appreciate your time and responses.
 
  • #8
It is certainly true that if instead of any US program you want a top US program, your odds go down, not up.
 
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