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What caliber of school of school could I get into?

  1. Oct 3, 2007 #1
    What caliber of school could I get into?

    In order to get a better idea of the caliber of student I am I will give you the important stuff. I am a dual physics and mathematics (focus in mathematics on mainly analysis and algebra) and I currently attend SUNY Albany. My cumulative average is 3.12, and then 3.27 for my physics major and 3.45 for my mathematics major. Also to take into account my first 2 semesters I achieved a gpa of 2.0 and 3.0 so since then its basically been all A’s and B’s.

    Over this last summer I interned at College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at
    the State University of New York, I researched basically computer simulations of fluid flow dynamics in carbon nanotubes. This research I am continuing on through this year as an independent study/research which hopeful will end in a publication of some sort should be, I have been getting some good data.

    Additionally I have been doing research for a professor here in the physics department involving the modeling of the expansion of planetary nebula. Still in the working the bugs out of the program but I expect to be getting some good data be mid next month.

    Lastly I am currently signed up to take the Physics GRE November, 3 but I have a feeling that it will not be stellar since most of my courses here did not focus on memorization of physics formulas rather they tended to focus on derivation of them and utilizing them. So I am not sure that I will be able to cram all of them into my head in the next month but I sure will try. Then most likely at the end of November I will take the normal GRE.

    I would like to get a PhD in either Physics or Applied Mathematics, basically I would just like to know what sort of places I should be looking at since I have not had a stellar undergrad but also I fell I have done quite a bit.

    Also it is my understanding that in these two fields you tend to get funding, although it’s unclear to what extent so if someone could give me an idea of that it would be greatly appreciated.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 3, 2007 #2
    There may be people who tell you that your GPA is too low. They are 100% wrong. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't get into grad school – even a top grad school – because of your GPA. Yours isn't perfect, but it's solid. Your first year shouldn't hurt you because you recovered nicely. If you apply to a top-of-the-line university, and your application is compared to another applicant who has a 4.0, you may have something that the other applicant does not that will swing the admissions committee in your favor. You won't know unless you try.

    Research is a plus. Two good research projects is even more of a plus. Don't worry about how a publication will look; that's too far in the future. Do you know what kind of research you want to get into? Your application will be strongest when submitted to universities that are active in the subfield you wish to pursue, especially if you can identify some potential advisers at those universities.

    In my opinion, any physics class that focuses on memorizing formulae is a poor physics class. Most physics courses at most universities focus on derivation and application. Generally speaking, you should be in the same boat as everyone else when it comes to taking the Physics GRE.

    In the large majority of the cases in physics (if you're not supported by a full-time employer), departments will award you an assistantship (research or teaching) or fellowship cover your tuition and a living stipend which matches the cost of living in that area. This is a little more complicated if you're an international student; are you? I'm not familiar with applied mathematics departments, so I can't help you there.
  4. Oct 3, 2007 #3


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    This is exactly the sort of thing that looks good on your application. Play to your strengths: describe what you have done in these research projects succinctly, and obtain references from the people that were supervising you. As Laura says, publication is not something to worry about-- you will have a lot of more important things to deal with at the moment.

    Again, this is a good thing! Learning how to derive formulae is very important and will help you in your research
  5. Oct 3, 2007 #4
    I think I would like to get into modeling or analysis, although of what exactly I am not sure yet of what…
    I am a US citizen, although I am also looking at Canadian universities.

    Thank you for your help Laura1013 and cristo I really appreciate it!
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