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Physics Hypothetical question for physics BS graduates

  1. Dec 30, 2017 #1


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    Hi there. I wanted to direct this question to all of you (and am especially interested in hearing from @Vanadium 50 , given his often harshly realistic views).

    I wanted to present an hypothetical scenario. Suppose a student a student is finishing his/her BS in physics with an admittedly weak GPA (let's say for this case that it is a 3.2 GPA). This student has had research experience, but nothing particularly noteworthy.

    Presumably these students would be at a (possibly severe) disadvantage when applying for graduate programs in physics, certainly according to @Vanadium 50 based on his past posts here on PF. What options should such a student consider for employment, since presumably such students would have no choice but to seek a job right after graduation?
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  3. Dec 30, 2017 #2


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    That's a pretty broad hypothetical scenario. All we know about this student is that he or she has a 3.2 GPA, is graduating with a degree in physics, and has some research experience.

    The real question such a student would have to struggle with is what does he or she WANT to do. And what are his or her strengths.

    I wouldn't immediately conclude that graduate school is off the table. It's hard to be competitive with a 3.2 GPA, but it's not impossible to get in somewhere. So the devil may lie in the details. Someone who has a 3.2 GPA because she had a death in the family over her first year and just managed to pass, but went on to post very high grades in senior courses is very different from a guy who was able to boost his cumulative GPA to a 3.2 by taking some irrelevant bird courses and didn't really have a lot of interest in physics in the first place but just likes to sound smart.

    And there are a lot of options available to someone who has a physics degree that don't involve graduate school. What this person has is an education in physics. To translate that into a non-academic career will depend on what kind of skills this person has, what kind of credentials or additional training this person has the desire to pursue, and the options available to him or her at the time.
  4. Dec 30, 2017 #3


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    Here is just opinion. The student should be given some counseling or guidance along the way to encourage him to diversify some choices of courses, especially to include courses for practical skills, like toward engineering, or computer skills and programming. If the student is not ready for some graduate program after graduation, he at least should have gained some other employability skills so he might be a better candidate for getting a job.
  5. Dec 30, 2017 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    I think Choppy hit the nail on the head here.

    I also think "weak GPA" is somewhat conditional. A student with a 2.0, 2.8, 4.0 and 4.0 in each of his or her four years, and who aces the GRE has a much stronger "3.2" than someone who gets a 4.0, 4.0, 2.8 and 2.0, and tanks the GRE.
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