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What are my chances for getting accepted to graduate school in astrophysics

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  • #26
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I see your point, and I know Berkeley was out of my reach. Kinda just applied as a why not apply. I figured my chances at state schools were much better. I definitely see where you are coming from. But for post core courses, I never really had any except 2 extra post core physics courses. CS courses were essentially lower division courses equivalent to freshmen-soph CS major. I spent the majority of my last years doing those to finish a minor/applied degree.

Also, I am applying to astronomy departments rather than physics departments for most of the schools. Only Davis, Irvine for physics since astronomy is combined with physics. I have known that physics competition was always a lot stronger.
I have an honest question, if one finishes a masters does that person have to take a PGRE assuming they do well in their master courses? If so, my plan now would be to finish my applications anyway. And Apply to the schools and hope for the best but plan for the worst. I graduated this semester so next semester I essentially will only be working with my research advisor and no courses. So if PGRE is required even for master students then I would plan to take it in april and study correctly the next time around. This way I wouldn't have to study for it while taking courses in the next year.
 
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  • #27
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This is unrelated to the discussion, but it intrigued me.

Or would be, if you were trying to apply to an average graduate school. Your schools are mostly Top 20, so your competition will be stiffer. Since you're coming from a Top 50 school, and looking to move up, the committees will be looking for evidence that Purdue was too easy for you. Your grades and test scores will not provide that evidence.
People keep saying that where you go for undergrad doesn't matter for grad school applications, but are you implying here that top-something schools will be more generous towards applicants from good or equally ranked schools?
You didn't explicitly say it, but if you're going up, schools will look for evidence that the school you came from was easy for you. Now, assuming that there are two applicants, one from a non-ranked school and one from MIT. Let's assume that they have equal research experience, equal LOR, and equal GRE and PGRE. However, the student from the non-ranked school has a 4.0 GPA while the one from MIT has a lesser GPA. Would they prefer the MIT applicant?
 
  • #28
Pengwuino
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I have an honest question, if one finishes a masters does that person have to take a PGRE assuming they do well in their master courses? If so, my plan now would be to finish my applications anyway. And Apply to the schools and hope for the best but plan for the worst. I graduated this semester so next semester I essentially will only be working with my research advisor and no courses. So if PGRE is required even for master students then I would plan to take it in april and study correctly the next time around. This way I wouldn't have to study for it while taking courses in the next year.
Yes, you have to take your PGRE, no exceptions. My university requires a certain PGRE score before they even let you graduate with your masters. PhD programs will always pretty much always require them for admission.
 
  • #29
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This is unrelated to the discussion, but it intrigued me.

People keep saying that where you go for undergrad doesn't matter for grad school applications, but are you implying here that top-something schools will be more generous towards applicants from good or equally ranked schools?
You didn't explicitly say it, but if you're going up, schools will look for evidence that the school you came from was easy for you. Now, assuming that there are two applicants, one from a non-ranked school and one from MIT. Let's assume that they have equal research experience, equal LOR, and equal GRE and PGRE. However, the student from the non-ranked school has a 4.0 GPA while the one from MIT has a lesser GPA. Would they prefer the MIT applicant?
From my experience on Physics GRE forum (specifically the grad school acceptance threads) I'd say going to MIT (or a similarly ranked school and doing reasonably well) makes a student far more likely to get into grad school. There are good reasons for this, in my opinion the classes at MIT/Harvard/etc really are substantially harder then those even at a good school like Rutgers. Nonetheless large numbers of students graduate from good LAC's and state schools and get into top programs. However such students were the top students at their undergrads and usually took several graduate classes. If MIT undergrad was not easy but you did okay despite a challenging schedule you will probably do okay at MIT grad school. If you weren't near the top at Purdue you are going to be at the very bottom at Princeton.

people should really look at those threads on Physics GRE forum as give you real information on who gets in and who does not.
 
  • #30
Simfish
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people should really look at those threads on Physics GRE forum as give you real information on who gets in and who does not.
Yes, that does give a lot of real information. The problem is that there is very little information on certain subsets of applicants, *especially* the subset with very high PGRE (>850) and low GPA. I went through all the threads and could only find a single domestic non-Caltech/Chicago example (two if we're counting astrophysics). Both managed to get in at least one tier-1 school, but their GPAs weren't THAT low (one was 3.5, another was 3.3)
 
  • #31
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Also, I am applying to astronomy departments rather than physics departments for most of the schools. Only Davis, Irvine for physics since astronomy is combined with physics. I have known that physics competition was always a lot stronger.
Where on earth did you get that idea?
 
  • #32
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People keep saying that where you go for undergrad doesn't matter for grad school applications, but are you implying here that top-something schools will be more generous towards applicants from good or equally ranked schools?
No, I am implying a letter of recommendation from MIT that says "this os our best student this year" will be given more weight than a letter of recommendation from East Cupcake Community College that says the same thing.
 
  • #33
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You will not get accepted into a top 50 school. Aim for top 125-75.
 
  • #34
Simfish
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No, I am implying a letter of recommendation from MIT that says "this os our best student this year" will be given more weight than a letter of recommendation from East Cupcake Community College that says the same thing.
Oh, that's a very good point. I was about to say "well, it's really the prestige of the professor that matters more", but then I caught myself and saw that it contained the "best student this year" comment.

BUT...

It is certainly much easier to be the "best student" this year in a state university than at MIT. Furthermore, a professor at a state university could say that "this UG is better than many of my grad students".
 
  • #35
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It is certainly much easier to be the "best student" this year in a state university than at MIT.
Which is why the comment carries more weight coming from a strong school.
 
  • #36
Simfish
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That's true. For truly exceptional students, a recommendation from MIT would carry more weight. But for students who probably aren't super-exceptional but still quite competent (which would probably apply to most people who post here), they might get a better letter from a state school.
 
  • #37
my question is; how good are the OP's chances of getting into any grad school at all?
 
  • #38
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Well I am already invited to do masters at my current university because we have a degree called 5th year masters applied physics. Meaning that applied physics majors like me have the option of staying extra year to complete our masters as long as we graduated with 3.0 or above and get recs and statement of purpose. No PGRE or GRE is required for me to do that. So my plan B is 100% for me.
 
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