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Taking time off

  1. Nov 30, 2006 #1
    My friend (a bio major) is taking the next 2 years off (no school) to work at a johns hopkins medical lab, after which he plans on applying to hopkins medical tech graduate program. He's doing this because he has his heart set on doing grad work at hopkins and was pretty sure he wouldn't be accepted into the grad program right away out of undergrad, and figures doing research there would boost his chances of acceptance considerably. I was wondering if people did this at all in astronomy/astrophysics and if so, where would they work? I'm asking this because I am interested in doing grad work in astrophysics at hopkins, hawaii, or some other program that builds hardware like telescopes, spectrometers, etc... (and it seems only the top programs do it). My GPA is about 3.81 for upper level physics/math (3.51 overall because I partied too much freshman year and got a 2.8 GPA for that year) and I'll probably have a physics GRE around 650, and coming from a smaller liberal arts school I'm guessing I'm a long shot at those programs. Would it be better to take time off and do research (maybe improve physics GRE score too), or go to a less prestigous grad program and try to do well then transfer?

    PS - people have to stop saying that graduate programs are in desperate need of americans because for the longest time I had the idea that graduate science programs weren't terribly competitve
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 3, 2006 #2
    While I think your friend probably has the right idea concerning a BIO background and medical tech... I'm not so sure about the idea for your field of interest... but I'm not an astrophysicist. But I feel I need to address this...

    This is FALSE (esp. at top schools). When I was a member of a selection committee, we certainly accepted less than the top 10% of US applicants. AND keep in mind that the economy isn't at a peak like it was in the dot-com boom era (when I heard this more).

    To address your specific circumstances: More research experience IS good and improves an application, but smaller liberal arts schools offering astronomy research is probably hard to find... If you REALLY want to see where you stand... apply now to say maybe your top 2 choices, then maybe three of what you would consider your back-ups. Good astromnomy school were discussed in a thread last week. (other good schools include University of Arizona, University of Colorado at Boulder, etc... I'm not astro, but observed this thread). If things don't look good then maybe try to get in doing research somehow as a paid tech, then apply again later.
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