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Retake PGRE for 2nd time admission to grad school?

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  1. Sep 5, 2013 #1
    Hi there,

    If any people who have sat on grad school admissions committees are lurking out there, I would love to hear your opinion on this:

    I'm reapplying to grad school for next fall after I took my Masters and left at another institution. I made a right mess of things there; was going through a long period of depression for other reasons, I essentially lost every ounce of motivation I had. But I haven't been soured on physics or grad school, I know the causes of my failings and I'm determined to fix them. So I'm teaching intro physics at another Uni right now and preparing my applications.

    Here's the thing: I did really well in undergrad. 4.0, 3 REUs, a bunch of presentations and a couple publications, stellar letters of recommendation and I won the Goldwater scholarship. I didn't have a problem getting into a top-tier physics grad school with a fellowship the first time around. But now, with a two-year black mark, I'm not sure how I can show the admissions committees that my undergrad is more representative of the work I am capable of, that I have worked past the issues I had during grad school. Of course I have my personal statement to elaborate, but those are just words, I'd really like to be able to hand them something concrete.

    So I'm toying with the idea of retaking the physics GRE. The first time around I did alright, but not great. My thinking is that a marked improvement might show an admissions committee that I have the focus and discipline it requires to prepare for it. But then of course there's the argument that the PGRE is basically useless and has no correlation to how well you do in grad school, and some people might wonder why I'd feel the need to take it again after two years of graduate courses. So I'm not sure if it will look like a childish attempt to focus on the wrong things, or whether it could help my application package.

    What do you think? Are there better, concrete ways of demonstrating my ability?

    Thanks for any advice,
    Pollux
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 5, 2013 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    This.

    What you need is a letter from someone at your old institution that says that you can handle graduate school. Otherwise, all they have is evidence that you can't.

    I would also suggest applying to a lot of schools. Perhaps 15 or even 20. Your best shot is if the class size is shaping up to be small, they may be more willing to take a risk on you.
     
  4. Sep 5, 2013 #3
    Thanks. I've lurked on these boards for a long time...if memory serves, you have served on a few admissions committees?

    I'll definitely have three or four solid letters from my old institution - it's actually where I'm teaching at the moment. I'm looking at applying to a lot of schools, but it's proving more difficult to make my list this time around. After experience at a big, R1 institution, I know that's not what I want. I'm looking for small-ish to medium departments, with emphasis on gaining teaching experience (I'd like to teach undergrad-level physics afterwards), with a decent reputation in research but not the "publish-or-perish" mentality, and a solid track record of grads who've gone on to teach. So far the only school definitely on my list is College of William and Mary. I'm looking into Boulder and University of Arizona. Can you suggest any others?
     
  5. Jan 3, 2014 #4
    Hello! I wish I saw your post a bit sooner. Bryn Mawr College is a small LAC that has a grad program. It does fit this description you have "I''m looking for small-ish to medium departments, with emphasis on gaining teaching experience (I'd like to teach undergrad-level physics afterwards), with a decent reputation in research but not the "publish-or-perish" mentality, and a solid track record of grads who've gone on to teach."

    Since it is small, research areas are VERY specialized but check it out if you like.
     
  6. Jan 3, 2014 #5
    However, the deadline was yesterday! Jan 02
     
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