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Reading admisison statistics

  1. Aug 12, 2010 #1
    Hi all, I'm wondering how to gauge the chances i have of making it into a PhD program.

    First approximation: took ratio of accepted students to number of students who applied.

    But: that produced a 116/487 = 24% chance of being admitted to U-Cal San Diego, verses a 45/260 = 18% chance of being admitted to Rutgers. I hear Rutgers is less competitive than San Diego.

    Suggestions on other ways to improve this first approximation of "chances of successfully-being-admitted"? Perhaps other factors need to enter into some sort of linear combination? :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 12, 2010 #2
    You could try to compare your own qualifications to the resumes of current graduate students. Or ask your references about your chances :)

    Be careful with overall admission statistics because many programs have a huge discrepancy between their admission standards for domestic and international students. I have only heard this about math (my own field) but I am confident that it applies to physics as well. I remember one professor announcing at a grad school info session at a national conference, "If you score at the 90th percentile of the math subject GRE, you are better than most of our American applicants and worse than any of the Chinese."
  4. Aug 12, 2010 #3
    Ha ha....

    But I wonder: what would my advisers know that the APS book wouldn't? For instance, I am wondering if I can get into Rutgers. But their condensed matter physics is said to be like top 20.
  5. Aug 12, 2010 #4
    They might have guided several generations of students through the graduate admission process and observed patterns which students are accepted or rejected. They also know the content of their own letters, which will likely make or break your application :)
  6. Aug 13, 2010 #5
    I would suggest not doing this at all. It won't improve your chances, nor will it help you sleep at night. There is too much of a random factor (as well as how you come across in interviews) to be able to make even an educated guess at something like this. :smile:
  7. Aug 15, 2010 #6
    The other thing that makes thing misleading is that the quality of the admissions can vary wildly from school to school. What gives you a better gauge of your odds of admission is to look at the median GRE physics score and then compare it to what you get.

    Also, I'd strong suggest that you apply to several schools, and not to have your heart set on one particular school.
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