I need advice so this is a good place to start I guess.
Desired Program:: Neuroscience/Neurobiology PhD, Fall 2015
Goal: A job where I'm paid to act like I'm the smartest person in a room (professor)
Undergrad: Private Liberal arts college, B.A. class of 2011
Minor: Mathematics (no real computer science minor)
GPA: 2.3 (Major GPA ~3.3). Bad freshman-sophmore year grades and very low grade inflation.
GRE: 160 Math, 161 verbal, 5 AW
Quant-related coursework: Statistics, computational macroeconomics, data-structures and algorithums
Work Experience: 3 Years at MIT as a research technican in a neuroscience labratory, 2 publications as a middle author, and some summer programming experience in bioinformatics with 1 middle author publication.
Schools I'm looking into:
Reach Tier: Columbia, Stanford, John Hopkins, MIT, Harvard (the latter two is the result of explaining to idiot relatives that just because i work for and know the professors there doesnt mean I'll be easier to get in. nevertheless they expect me to apply)
Likely Tier: UCSD, U of Washington, UT Huston, UT Southwestern Medical, Boston U, U of Arizona
SOP: A detailed research plan of what kind of project I want to do. I've been planning it it since I was an undergrad so there will be opportunity for narration on how I came up with it. I'll also have to explain my bad grades; I have been trying to get off SSRI medication at the time, with disasterous consequences.
Letters of Recommendation: 2-3 letters from my workplace, the PI's name holds some weight in the field but she urges me to get my undergrad professors to write one as well. The problem is, the best letter from my undergrad college is from a professor whom recently passed away and im not sure who else to go to.
I'm looking for other good programs in neuroscience. Also, thinking of taking the GRE again. And finally, can anyone vouch for application "tutor" services for help with writing the SOP?