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Worried about a future grad school application

  1. Feb 27, 2010 #1

    fluidistic

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    I'm almost mid-way through a "licenciatura" degree in Argentina which is 5 years long. My current GPA would exclude me from any grad school (5.83/10), I believe. I plan on to get it up as much as I can, maybe I'll reach a 7/10 but sincerely I'm not that optimistic and I guess I'll end with a 6'ish GPA.
    I checked out applications at McGill University (see http://www.mcgill.ca/files/gradapplicants/ARGENTINA.pdf [Broken]) and they say that an Argentinian 6/10 is worth a "Grade point" of 3.0 out of 4. I guess they mean the GPA?
    Anyway, the biggest worry I have is that it's clearly written that to get accepted into a doctorate program, I must first earn a doctorate degree here in Argentina. And that with my "licenciatura", I can only seek for a Masters program at best.
    The reality of my degree is that I've about 4 years of undergrad courses and the last year and a half is dedicated to take 3 graduate courses+ some research experience with a final thesis. Hence my desperation when I read that all this work would be equivalent to a 3 years undergrad program at a Canadian university.
    So I'm wondering if I have to apply for a Master at any university in Canada/US/France before applying for a doctorate. I've checked out some curriculum vitae of researchers at my university and it seems that some have applied directly for a Ph.D. and others have done a Masters first, in the US. Maybe it depends on the GPA they had?

    I'm guessing I should ask at my university, but to whom? Maybe a professor? I know one who is very nice with his students but I feel somehow shy to ask him what can I hope for after earning my degree.

    To answer a few questions/comments I see coming: I know I should be more optimistic about my final GPA, but I've already taken half the courses of my whole degree and assuming I'll earn only 8's, I'll end up just under a 7/10 GPA. Of course I could aim for better grades and that's what I'll do before taking the exams, but my intuition tells me that I'll end with a just under 7 final GPA.

    Why do I want to go to grad school? Because I love to learn physics and I love having the time for it. Of course I could still study it as a pastime you'd say, because I'm not good enough or whatsoever. But then I'd answer that if I don't study physics at university, I'd have to work or at least do something else unrelated to it. I wouldn't have time to discover and play with physics as I'd love to. Plus, I want to be a student all my life. My dream is to be a researcher for all my life.

    Why do I have such a low GPA? I don't have a lot of excuses. I failed 2 courses (that I retook and did well) due to a real problem (death of the mother of my girlfriend with whom I live since 2006 and I had 1 week to prepare for both finals), but I must admit I'm addicted to the Internet (playing chess, Go and just being here, instead of studying hard) and I'm considering to eradicate this addiction if it can harm my chances to get accepted somewhere. I'd use Internet just for physics and math help and read what's going on with the latest discoveries, but no more games.

    Lastly, as you can imagine, I won't be applying to MIT/Stanford/Harvard, etc. I just hope to be accepted into a doctorate program in either Canada/France or the US.
    I hope to have some comments from you... I'm really worried.
    Ah, I forgot to say: I've still no idea in what area of physics I'd like to specialize or in other words, in what kind of program I'd apply for. Also, I'm Canadian and French, if it matters.

    Thanks for any input.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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  3. Feb 27, 2010 #2

    Choppy

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    I'm not sure about McGill specificially, but it's reasonably common in Canadian universities for graduate students to start out registered in a master's program and then transfer into a PhD program after a year or so without completing the master's and use the course work towards the requirements for the PhD degree. That way you have the option of completing a masters, which is handy if you find your project/field/advisor isn't what you thought it was rather than torturing yourself for a few more years.
     
  4. Feb 27, 2010 #3

    fluidistic

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    Thanks for the reply Choppy.
    It sounds great. I'm not sure McGill would allow me to complete a Masters degree within a year, but if other universities can allow me to do so, better. I don't think it's the sort of information one can get from their websites, unfortunately. So if someone has any experience with a similar situation, feel free to post.
     
  5. Feb 27, 2010 #4

    ranger

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    Well be prepared to justify in your admissions essay why they should offer you a spot as opposed to giving it to someone who is absolutely sure what the wanna do. It just makes it that more difficult for you.
    Have you taken a look at the degree's residency requirement? U of T has one year residence requirement.
     
  6. Feb 27, 2010 #5

    fluidistic

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    Ok thanks for the tip. I'm sure I'll be decided when I'll take all the main courses a physics major has to take. Until now I didn't have a single upper undergrad level physics course. However from 8th of March and on, I'm going to have a Classical Mechanics (Goldstein+Landau & Lifgarbagez books), Electromagnetism I (Jackson's book) and Optics (I don't remember the name of the book). Thus I'll start "real physics", or at least a physics that goes far beyond all the introductory physics courses I've had. As of maths, I already took a linear algebra, complex analysis, DE and the sequence of calculus (up to 3). So choosing an area of specialization now wouldn't be wise for me. Apart QM, I also have to take 2 courses of modern physics and statistical mechanics, one course of mathematical methods used in physics, etc. All this to empathize that I feel I don't know in what to specialize yet.


    No I didn't. Did you see this on its website? What do they mean by "residence"? Have I to live 1 year in Toronto before applying to the university?
     
  7. Feb 27, 2010 #6

    ranger

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    Residency is the minimum registered time needed in a degree program before it can be awarded to you, assuming that you fulfill all other degree requirements. It has nothing to do with the amount of time you have lived in Toronto.
     
  8. Feb 28, 2010 #7

    fluidistic

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    Ok thank you. 1 year is ok for me.
     
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