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What’s the most important factor in graduate admissions?

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

I want to get a poll going...
When U.S graduate schools consider applicants for physics, what are the most important factors they consider in admissions? —RANK THEM—

*Consider both theoretical and applied applicants.
 

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  • #2
Vanadium 50
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A poll? Is a large number of incorrect answers better than a single correct one?
 
  • #3
ZapperZ
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I want to get a poll going...
When U.S graduate schools consider applicants for physics, what are the most important factors they consider in admissions? —RANK THEM—

*Consider both theoretical and applied applicants.
This is absurd.

Unless someone has already been involved in graduate admission and selecting applicants, such a poll from people who have never done it will give you, at best, guesses! How does this help you in any way?

Shouldn't you be spending more time trying to learn about conservation of momentum rather than what admission offices are looking for?

Zz.
 
  • #4
A poll? Is a large number of incorrect answers better than a single correct one?
We all know that admissions criteria can vary between universities, between departments, and between the individual committee members. Therefore, it’s beneficial to get an understanding of what various criteria those might be. Whether from a previous admissions member, a faculty member, or someone who maybe has some relevant knowledge pertaining the topic. There’s not one correct answer, so trying to gather up answers into a sorr of composite one seems like a good place to start.
 
  • #5
This is absurd.

Unless someone has already been involved in graduate admission and selecting applicants, such a poll from people who have never done it will give you, at best, guesses! How does this help you in any way?

Shouldn't you be spending more time trying to learn about conservation of momentum rather than what admission offices are looking for?

Zz.
...That’s exactly the type of people I’m looking for. This is a large physics forum, and there are plenty of members on this site that either have been a committee member, has some valuable knowledge regarding admissions, or are faculty members who have valuable knowledge. Thanks for trolling...
 
  • #6
Choppy
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In my experience, the usual suspects tend to be quite highly correlated with each other... GPA, GRE, reference letters, research experience, related extra-curricular work, etc.

So it's rare that you get an applicant with a mediocre GPA who has outstanding letters of reference or vice versa.

For a student working to get into graduate school I would probably emphasize: (1) Understanding the core material and building the best foundation you can, (2) challenging yourself with interesting courses and experiences related to directions you want to explore, (3) developing a good academic network, (4) learning and developing skills for writing exams and managing your time. The "good numbers" tend to follow for students who are more focused on things like this in my experience.
 
  • #7
Vanadium 50
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First, there is a difference between soliciting a range of opinions, and taking a poll, where one counts answers. Particularly here, where high schoolers and even the occasional middle schooler is more than happy to provide advice for graduate school.

The three main factors are GPA, GRE and letters of recommendation. As Choppy says, they are usually correlated. Because of that the most import is the lowest one.
 
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