1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

The difference between a 3.94 and a 4.0

  1. May 2, 2015 #1

    I realized this semester I will receive an A- in Quantum 2 which I am not feeling so happy about. Currently, my major gpa is roughly about a 3.93-3.94 in physics and about a 3.9-3.92 in math. I feel slightly like a failure as I am unable to maintain a 4.0. Do I still have a shot to being competitive for top 10 grad school programs?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 2, 2015 #2
    If you feel you learned the material, then those are excellent scores. Don't let it keep you up at night. 10 years from now you won't think twice about it.
  4. May 2, 2015 #3
    I did feel like I learned the material, but I made a dumb mistake which really hurt me. I feel inadequate with myself because I know I could have done better. I knew I could have aced that class. I just feel now like my aspirations as being a physicist at a top 10 school are demolished.
  5. May 2, 2015 #4
    Everyone makes mistakes. Won't be your last. Get used to it :smile:

    The only way you're going to demolish your dreams is by self-sabotage from worrying too much. Full speed ahead. You're doing great!
  6. May 2, 2015 #5
    Sorry, it just that my professor made it seem as if you did not have nearly straight A's, it would be impossible to study theory in a top 10 school. It has been my dream to study physics, but I don't want something like this to be the sole reason why I would fail in that ambition.
  7. May 2, 2015 #6


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    You need to put your GPA into context, just as admission departments will. The raw scores are meaningless, without knowing what classes you've taken/where you went to school.

    You also should temper your expectations, a 4.0 GPA will not guarantee admissions to even a marginal physics graduate school! Just keep in mind that what you do, what classes you take, the connections you make, and where you're going to school now have much greater meaning. As long as your coursework/undergraduate research is there, I wouldn't worry.

    In graduate school you may find it funny that you'll be told at times your coursework GPA is too high, and you need to put more focus on writing publications.
  8. May 3, 2015 #7


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor

    There are far more important things than having a 4.0 for grad school admissions.

    Let's compare two candidates.

    Candidate A has a 4.0 GPA.

    Candidate B has a 3.90 GPA and has participated in two summer internships, and has done research with a professor for a whole academic year.

    Which one of these two candidates seems more qualified?

    Really, the difference between a 3.93 and a 4.00 is psychological for the most part. The important thing is that you feel you understand the material.
  9. May 3, 2015 #8

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    I keep looking at the title and thinking "it's 0.06".

    QuantumCurt makes some very good points. Additionally, a successful career in science is not about checklists. A 4.0 is not, by itself, a ticket to a Top 10 graduate school. A PhD from a Top 10 graduate school is not, by itself, a ticket to a successful career.
  10. May 3, 2015 #9
    Honestly, focus on research and letters of rec. A 3.5 with solid letters of rec and a publication is significantly better off than a 4.0 with nothing else.
  11. May 3, 2015 #10
    Are you an international student? I know GPA at some international universities can be inflated and only a few international students get accepted to a top 10 program.

    Letters of rec and research hold more weight anyways.
  12. May 3, 2015 #11
    I've heard it said from faculty members in various departments online that, as long as you have at least a 3.8-3.9 range GPA, you should be focusing more on the other aspects of your graduate admissions package (letters of recommendation, research experience, etc.) instead of grades.
  13. May 4, 2015 #12
    Words cannot describe how depressing this kind of question is for people like me with horrible GPAs.

    You'll be *fine*. The top schools are a crapshoot for everybody, but you have as a good a chance as any. If you don't get into them, you'll get in somewhere good. Leave the depression to those who have reason to fell it and keep the faith. :)
  14. May 4, 2015 #13


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Although it is true that only top students get to go on to the TOP grad schools to study theory, but you also have to worry about your test scores and your entry exams, and much more. Just like in high school, there is much more going on to get you into the "top" school you want to go to. It isn't all about GPA, and honestly, I don't think it ever was. But maybe I am a bit biased, since I am barely at a 3.0. But maybe I am hopeful since I don't want to go into theory.

    Maybe theory isn't your thing as well! When you apply to grad school, perhaps think about applying for Astro, or different fields of Physics. It will be "easier" in a sense to get accepted for that rather then theory.
  15. May 4, 2015 #14


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor

    That isn't just hopefulness. It really is about far more than GPA. GRE scores can count for a lot depending on the school. Experience is a very heavy factor. Having some kind of research experience is an almost mandatory part of getting into physics grad school. Grad schools turn down people with 4.0s on a regular basis. They also accept people with <4.0s on a regular basis as well
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook