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Need help for undergrad

  1. Jul 11, 2011 #1
    Hey Physics Forums, I'm a Canadian kid who frequently haunts these forums to read up on stuff although I don't post much. At the beginning of next year I'm going to be sending off my university applications, so I figured now would be a good time to get some of my questions out of the way.

    Although I realize what I'll want to do with my life is going to change as I grow older, for now I see myself doing an honours math and physics degree for an undergrad. I plan on going to grad school. I don't want to restrict my options, which means that I want the ability to competitively apply to schools such as MIT and Stanford (although I can't guarantee I would want to go there, I don't want to close any doors).

    Here come my questions:

    Does doing an undergrad in one of those "fancy" universities increase one's chances of going to good schools for graduate degrees?

    I was thinking applying to MIT, the school seems like a good fit for me from what I've read online. I like how they require a breadth of courses, it's a top notch school, and undergrad research seems to be accesible.

    I'm currently pulling just above a 90 average with minimal effort, and a 95 in math and physics. I've got all the community service down, having logged hours as a volunteer swimming instructor, and working at the food bank packing boxes, etc...

    I realize that this doesn't mean squat when applying to a university like MIT, because of the self selective nature of applicants. But I believe I also have a hook. I play blues/jazz guitar. I'd send a compostion of mine, and a cover of my favorite song with my application, and hopefully that would somehow "differentiate" me. I've performed at festivals and stuff around where I live so I'm decent.

    Should I write my SAT's and apply, or are international applications too much of a long shot? I could easily pull my GPA up next term if necessary.

    If I don't get in or don't apply, and study at Waterloo, UofT, or McGill, does it damage my chances of getting into a grad school in the states?

    Any help is appreciated, thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 11, 2011 #2


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  4. Jul 12, 2011 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    Based on this, I think MIT is a poor match for you. "I could do well, but chose not to" is not an attitude shared by many successful applicants, and doesn't mesh with the MIT culture.
  5. Jul 12, 2011 #4
    Well, my friend had a dad who went to MIT and he had 4.35 GPA, 34 on ACT and 800 on math 2 and biology subject tests, had volunteer hours, good recommendation letters, took calc three, DEQs, 5s on ALL his AP exams etc. Still got denied. Getting into MIT is pretty random! All you can do is keep your GPA and hope for the best!
  6. Jul 12, 2011 #5
    I'd argue there's a difference between a "I could do well, but chose not to" attitude, and one where I am happy with low 90's and understanding the material, and spend my extra time doing sports and other such instead of perfecting my test taking skills, which is something acquired only through rigorous practice.
    The amount of work needed to boost my GPA up to high 90's would be pretty intense, I'd think, because you can no longer afford to make any mistakes, even if you understand the material.
    That said, I can see how you got the impression I was lazy (which I'm not). All I was trying to say was that I could pull my average higher if necessary (but it would be at the expense of extra curricular activities).

    Also, noone answered my question as to wether a Canadian undergrad affects one chances of getting into a USA grad program. Any advice?
  7. Jul 12, 2011 #6
    Well they receive so many talented applicants I'm sure it's a bit of a crapshoot. I was just wondering if I was decent enough to get into that draw :P
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