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Will I be able to get into top schools with my stats?

  1. Sep 2, 2010 #1
    I'm majoring in Physics and minoring in Math at a highly ranked liberal arts school (top 25). I have a 3.9 overall GPA and I'm not sure what my math and Physics GPA is but its higher than 3.9. I have all A's and one A- in math and Physics. I got an 800 on the quantitative section of the GRE and 610 verbal. I haven't taken the Physics GRE yet but I spent a decent amount of time studying for it this summer and took a timed practice test a few days ago and got a 910. Also I haven't taken quantum mechanics yet but I'm taking it in the fall so I think after taking that I might be able to raise my Physics GRE a little. As far as research goes I spent a year doing research with a professor at my school including a summer and then I did an REU this summer. However, I didn't have a great REU experience so I'm a little bit worried that my REU advisor might not write me a great recommendation.

    Is this good enough to get me into schools like Harvard, Stanford, and Berkeley? Also do you think that Texas and Washington would be okay as safety schools for me or should I aim a little lower?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 2, 2010 #2


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    From my experience, your qualifications should give you a good chance to get into a top-ranked school. I think Washington and Texas should be good safety schools and you shouldn't need to aim lower. This is just my opinion. Anyone else?

    I forgot to add - the recommendations will be very important. Do whatever you can to get some good ones.
  4. Sep 2, 2010 #3
    I feel fairly confident that the professor I've worked for at my school will write me a good recommendation but I'm not so sure about my REU advisor. How bad will one recommendation that's not so great hurt me if the other two are really good?
  5. Sep 2, 2010 #4


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    I had similar stats but lower PGRE and a lot more research experience and publications. And I didn't get into any of the top schools, despite glowing recommendation letters from professors at ivies, national labs, and my school. From what I've heard from people on the admissions committee at my current university, recommendations from research advisers are the most important. I think you need a few more safeties, because despite what all my advisers thought about my chances, I only got into the safeties. But I'm still getting a PhD and got a great postdoc offer, so it's not the end of the world. It's not always the school you go to, it's what you accomplish there.
  6. Sep 2, 2010 #5


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    Remember, there are a huge number of students who made use of every summer and will have great letters of recommendation who are competing with you. Plus, unfortunately, most students are also in this frame of mind that its either Stanford, MIT, Berkeley, or bust. So don't think of it as a "good chance" because there are simply so many students applying for so few positions. It's hard to even tell students with perfect GPA's and perfect PGRE's and 4 years of summer REU's that their chances are "good" because of how random admissions can be at the very top few universities.

    Of course, look around the forums and you'll see many people present sound arguments that should convince you that your future prospects are gonna depend mainly on what you do with your time, not what school name ends up on your degree.
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