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Is Berkeley or Caltech a reasonable goal?

  1. Jan 9, 2012 #1
    I am 26, just now starting college with a ged. one year into in with a 4.0 at university of Cincinnati. I know i have a lot of time ahead of me but I'm just trying to create a rough sketch of my future and was wondering how difficult it is to get into a school like Berkeley? To be honest I pick this one simply because of the location (wife and I plan on moving to north cali within 5 years or so...) but also I know the name and obviously am aiming for the best grad program I can get into. However, I just want to know how realistic it would be to get admitted, considering my age and that Ive no work experience (in the field of science, im a mechanic). Even if i can maintain a high gpa, are there other things I would have to do to be considered, such as research or work experience, etc??

    What other schools in the California area might I want to look into?

    I'm not set on a program yet, but plan on getting an undergrad in physics here in Cincinnati and am thinking about physics or engineering for grad school.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 10, 2012 #2
    Are you going for a masters or phd?

    It's an admirable goal but it's extremely difficult to get into to either of those. So I wouldn't count on it. I wouldn't even hope for it. Research experience is a big part of it (including publications), also test scores and letters of recommendation, and then GPA. So a 4.0 doesn't guarantee you anything. Work experience is not really an issue, since most people don't work any significant jobs before grad school.
  4. Jan 10, 2012 #3
    Depends a lot on the department and/or program.

    I'll assume here that you are planning on a physics Ph.D.

    1) It's a bad idea to focus on one or two schools for your Ph.D. Even if your application is competitive, there is a lot of randomness involved here. If you apply to six to eight universities, then the element of chance that you will get in somewhere goes down but it's a bad idea to count on a particular school.

    2) Corollary to 1) is that it's unlikely that you'll be able choose where you want to live.

    For physics programs look at the American Physics Society guide to graduate programs.

    Engineering masters programs are very different from physics Ph.D.'s. Usually in any given part of the US, there are a decent number of schools nearby that offer engineering masters and there are some reasonable online/distance education options.
  5. Jan 10, 2012 #4
    You may want to consider UC Santa Barbara. I personally plan going there to get my graduate degree in Physics when the time comes. Getting into the school via transfer program is much easier than Berkeley, if you complete the reqs your are in. Berkeley can still deny you even if you do all the required course work to transfer. UCSB is top 10 in physics as well as a one of the best facilities around, so good in fact many people travel there during their own graduate course work, exposing you to many areas of the subject. It's something you may want to look into. as for the Ph.D. course work, once you are there you have a much better chance at getting into their program if you apply yourself and make the proper efforts.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
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