I attend UC Davis and have a total GPA of about 3.3. I recently took the general GRE and earned a 158 quantitative and a 154 verbal. I am taking the physics GRE this coming saturday, which I anticipate getting a mediocre score. I am currently looking at applying to a few universities: Carnige Mellon U of Colorado, Boulder Case Western Notre Dame Washington U, St Louis ASU U of Toronto Long shot schools: McMaster U of Washington UCSB My interest lies in quantum gravity, general relativity, and beyond the standard model (theory). I am taking a stat mech course which is a) kicking my ***, and b) ruining my interest in the field. The course is not really the difficult, but a combination of the teaching style the professor uses and the apparent lack of my ability to comprehend where the class is going makes it a challenge, and not one that I enjoy. I really like my quantum mechanics course, and a E&M course I am taking now is interested, albeit quite difficult (electrodynamics). I am going to be taking particle physics and general relativity as my last upper division physics courses in the winter and spring, along with an advanced lab class. Graduate school applications are soon coming. I am wondering if the credentials I have put forward seem to be competitive and if I have a realistic chance of getting into a graduate program. I have recently been thinking about skipping the applications this year and instead applying for REU programs over the summer to see if researching physics is what I really want to do. Unfortunately, the fields I want to research require a level of mathematics that I have not studied yet, and most likely will not study until I get at least halfway into my PhD program. I have no previous research experience, my transcript, while not bad, does contain some poor grades (lowest is a c-, with a couple c's), and my GRE scores, again, while not bad, are not at the level that I think I need them to be to make myself competitive. I have already discussed with 3 professors to get recommendations, but they will simply say that I was in their class and did well in tough courses (2 will be from classes which I received A-, math physics and quantum mechanics, the other I received a B, classical mechanics. My first thought it to continue through with the graduate applications and also do the REU applications in early spring. However, I do not want to waste my money, time, and stress over something that I have little to no realistic chance of getting. I am wondering what people think about my thought process and/ or if anyone has had similar experiences. Apologize for the long post. I am sure I left something out or was unclear about, so please do not refrain from asking. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks Edit: As an aside, I would like to mention that I am more interested in the philosophical side of physics. I see physics as a way to make the philosophical idea recognizable and explainable. I.E. Einstein with his postulates and leading into differential geometry. While I do not see myself as being the next Einstein, my goal is to incorporate ideas I have about the universe and how it works onto paper using mathematics.