This is something I've been wondering about for a while. When I tell people I'm going to graduate school, they inevitably ask me where I'm considering going. The thing is, I have no idea what my list of schools to consider should even look like at this point. I'm a junior majoring in physics at a state school that's not known for its physics program (although it is well-known for being a party school). My GPA isn't a 4.0, but it's reasonably close, and I'm taking what I'd consider an 'average' course load (whatever that means). My research experience is limited: last summer I worked in my school's accelerator lab, but I didn't really do anything, and it ended up mostly just being a hands-on course in accelerator physics. I enjoyed it, but it was definitely not 'research.' This summer, I'm working one on one with one of my professors doing research in nanoparticles, which should hopefully be much more productive. This professor helped me out a lot by helping me get funding for this summer. He has also told me that he will try his best to get me a publication out of the work I do with him. I can almost certainly get a strong letter from him, as well as a couple more 'OK' letters from other professors I know. Given that I don't know how I'll do on the Physics GRE yet, can anyone help at least give me a "tier" of schools I should be looking at? Should I even consider 'top' schools? I realize there's a lot of subjectivity and randomness in this process, but I've been becoming increasingly concerned that I don't even have the slightest clue where I might be going when I need to apply later this year.