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Admissions Yet Another Grad Admissions Question

  1. Oct 21, 2007 #1
    I'm trying to narrow down my list of grad applications (I don't have a grand to spend on fees!) and was wondering if y'all could "judge" my credentials so as to get a better idea of my chances for admission.
    My first few years of college (public university) were bad (I've worked full time during my whole undergrad career), so my cumulative GPA will be around 2.75. My physics GPA will be around 3.6, and I made the National Dean's List when studying in Hawaii a couple years ago. I'm currently taking strictly grad courses (two in physics, one in math), have a published paper under my belt (particle astrophysics), and may add another one to that by the end of the year. I'm also finishing up a side project in computational biomolecule imaging, just for kicks. I've managed to teach myself quite a bit of general relativity and QFT, although I don't know if that will matter to an admissions commitee.
    I was a TA last semester for an introductory physics course and will have some pretty good letters of recommendation. I'm also expecting good scores on the GRE and physics test (that was a blast). Most of the people I worked with on my research (including my adviser) work with professors in the departments I'm applying to.
    Anyways...I'm not "US News" top school bound. Probably the most competitive schools I'm applying to are UCLA or NYU, others in the top 20-40 range.
    Any crystal ball predictions for my chances of getting into a decent school?
    Any advice you can give would be much appreciated, as I'm sure these "Am I good enough" type posts get on the grad student's nerves...
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 22, 2007 #2
    Well, I've been told that some schools automatically filter out applications that don't meet their minimum GPA requirement. They do this because of the huge volume of applications they get in and they need to weed out the ones that don't meet the simple GPA requirement. They may even automatically deny an applicant with a low GPA and not even get a chance to know/see that he/she has like 5 Nobel Prizes and 100s of published papers in Nature magazine.

    If your overall GPA is 2.75, it MIGHT hurt you in getting into one of those schools that do that. But..... in the long run, with your credentials, you should have a good chance at schools that don't do that GPA weeding out crap. Schools that look at your entire application as a whole, instead of just one standardize requirement. It's all in the matter how the schools you applied do their applications.
  4. Oct 22, 2007 #3


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    What do admission fees cost nowadays? If I were you, I'd aim as high as the 2.75 will permit me. So if there's no indication of a GPA pre-req to application, and you have good letters of recommendation from someone in the capacity of a research advisor (and your Physics GRE score is better than 80%), you should go for at least 1 or 2 top-10 schools and 2 or 3 top-20 schools in the field of your interest.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2007
  5. Oct 22, 2007 #4
    Another option is to get accepted into a humble but sufficient math department as a master's student. Kick some ass while you are there, and then you won't have to worry as much about your 2.75 GPA.
  6. Oct 23, 2007 #5
    I don't think you will have to worry about any school not looking at your complete application. But, it is true that you start at a disadvantage if you don't have a really good gpa and good gres because they look at that first in order to seperate the applications into good, ok, bad or something like that. Then they will go through the applications. Your physics gpa will probably give you spot in the ok section at most schools. Then they will look at your application. Truthfully, I have never heard of a story of a school not looking at an application with bad stats. I often here of stories of how they look at applications with terrible marks and quickly see that it was the first year or so that messed up the gpa or whatever. They will look at the whole application (probably unless it is obviously bad which yours is not). You should definitely apply to one really safe school. I am going to apply to a masters program at a small prive school in my state just in case and everything else are schools that I seriously want to go to.

    I bet you will get into NYU without support though. They do that.
  7. Oct 23, 2007 #6
    I really do not think this is correct. Most schools have a minimum GPA requirement, usually ranging anywhere from 2.75 to 3.5 depending on the quality of the school. I would think that if you do not meet the GPA requirement at a particular school, unless you have some other serious qualifications (which the OP may) and also good reasons for a low GPA (not sure), there would be no reason to apply to that school. If a school gets 500 applications and only will make 50 offers, they have to make simple cutoffs somehow. That being said, it is likely that the OP will be able to get into a good school, given everything else.
  8. Oct 23, 2007 #7
    to put things into perspective, berkeley EECS graduate department had 2500 applicants and 75 acceptances. However, MIT accepts 23% of its applicants for graduate EECS. hmmm....is this because MIT has more money to accept people, or is it because less people apply?
  9. Oct 23, 2007 #8
    I agree with most of what you are saying and that's why I mentioned that he will probably be put into a maybe pile at some of the universities he applies to. I can only speak for mathematics where the acceptence rate is about 10% but there are not as many applications (and where a lot of people who apply to big departments do not have appropriate background in math). They will look at his application, but of course they may not consider it in as much detail as others depending on what's inside. I don't think he has to worry about someone never looking at his transcript to see why he has the gpa he has because of the physics gpa. I don't think they are going to miss the fact that he did research either. But, this is the impression I get.
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