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Admissions What are my chances?

  1. May 17, 2016 #1
    Hi All.

    I'm a physics major graduating in May of 2017, and I'm starting to look at graduate schools.
    I'll most likely be applying to EE/applied physics (mostly EE) graduate schools with a focus on imaging and optics and amo, I'd just like an input on what my chances are at some top schools.

    I have a ~> 3.9 overall GPA and a ~3.9 physics GPA and a minor in math and ee. I have yet to take the pGRE but on practice tests I've consistently been scoring in the 65th-70th percentiles, but I tend to do somewhat worse during the "real" tests. I plan to study a bit more during the summer to see if I can improve my score (I know EE doesn't care about pGRE, but I'd still like to apply to some physics programs). I'm not too worried about the general GRE.

    I'm graduating in 3 years, so I'll only have two summer internships - one in astrophysics and one at a national lab (mech-e R&D, but I'll be doing mostly imaging/optical modeling).

    I have 2-3 very strong letters of recommendation, and 1 fairly strong letter.

    1 second author pub in astrophysics (+1 pending, I have no idea whether or not it will get published before I apply for graduate schools).
    2 second author pubs in microscopy
    1 first author pub in optics (submitting in the next two weeks, fairly certain it will get published before I apply to grad school).

    I may or may not have 1-2 more publications before I apply for graduate schools depending on how the internship and next semester go.

    I'm a Goldwater honorable mention, and have two internal undergraduate research awards.

    What caliber schools would accept me? Should I be applying for schools like mit/cal-t/Rochester or aim lower? Also what is a good number of grad programs to apply for?

    Thank you for your time.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 17, 2016 #2


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    Homework Helper

    It sounds to me like you should have no problem getting into a school you are interested in. Remember, grad school isn't about what you have done, it is about what you will do. After having some internships and research experience, you should be able to write a very strong letter of intent to the program you choose. As long as you meet the minimum requirements of the school for filters like GRE or GPA, the rest of the process is simply convincing them that you will be a productive member of their research team.
    Pick a program that lines up with your experience and interests, clearly state your research goals and why the program you choose will be the best place for you to grow, learn and contribute.
    Personally, I would recommend applying to at least 3 programs. One you hope to get into, one your think you can get into, and one you are sure you can get into.
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