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My chances at MIT, Caltech etc.

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Main Question or Discussion Point

Hi everyone,

I'm a junior in Czech Republic and I'm thinking about applying to one of the US' top universities. I really love physics and even though we have a good university here I think that my chances of pursuing career in theoretical physics will increase if I go to the US. One problem is that I don't really have so good grades. Of course I have A in Math and Physics, but I just can't stand History and similar stuff. History literally bores me to death. Also our universities don't look at our grades from High School so I didn't have any motivation for having good grades. On the top of it we have different system of courses. Here we have every year about 10-13 subjects. So we have Physics every year, Biology every year and so on. So I usually have something like two Cs, some Bs and some As. However I have won the Physics Olympics in my region twice. And I was second in the category for seniors from where I qualified to the National Physics O.. Unfortunately I couldn't participate in the National competition because of an illness.

So can you plese give me some ideas what my chances are before I spend all that money for the tests etc.? Thank you.
 

Answers and Replies

Vanadium 50
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
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I think your attitude is going to hurt you - certainly in graduate school, but probably also in gaining admittance to a highly competitive university. "I didn't do well because I didn't find the subject matter sufficiently entertaining" is not a common attitude among successful graduate students, or those who aspire to be.

I don't know about Caltech first hand. MIT accepts only a few percent of their international applicants - you're going to have to convince them that they should take you as opposed to someone with very similar credentials, but who also got good grades. This is not easy. Normally, one of the best things you can do to improve your chances is to interview, but in your case I'm afraid an interview would not help.

What would help is to get your grades up. Pronto.
 
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In the US I'd wager at MIT and most likely for CalTech as well, for undergrad probably around 97%-ish percent probably have a 4.0 GPA (straight A's in the US) throughout high school. I'm not saying it's grades that determine it, but on top of grades all of those accepted are exceptional applicants, and having a 4.0 shows that one is motivated in academics.
 

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