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Am I competitive


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Hi everyone!

Really sorry about this post.

I am new here on Grad Cafe and working on my applications to graduate school (21 Fall) right now, and I am really nervous. It would be really helpful if you guys could take a look and provide me some feedback on my profile. (This is similar to What are my chances post....I found some links in the pinned post not validated anymore...Again I apologize for this....)

I am currently a senior in UIUC with a crappy GPA of 3.4/4.0 (many Bs, some As, one C) majoring in Astronomy + Physics minoring Math. Here are some details about my profile:

  • Have taken a handful of graduate-level courses. (I have better grades in 4&5 level courses actually.) 
  •  3 Years of research experience. (2 projects)
  • 2 publication. One on PNAS (editor's choice), one ApJ. (not first-author)
  • 1 first-author publication in progress. (may not be done by the application deadline.) will submit to MNRAS
  • 3 recommendations from research-related faculty
  • Nuclear particle physics summer school (FRIB). (can't apply to REU due to citizenship.)
  • No GRE Physics test score due to COVID

I found a faculty in the Harvard Astronomy Department who is taking students, and I am super-interested in his work. I have contacted him and had zoom conversations with him already. (I did not mention my GPA.) I really want to join his group after graduation, but I am deeply worried that my low GPA will deny me from entering a prestigious school like Harvard (Although the professor I am interested in strongly encouraged me to apply). I am wondering that if it is possible for me to be admitted? Also, are there any suggestions that I can look into while still preparing for the application? 


Again, I deeply apologize for this potentially annoying post.  


PS: the professor I am interested in want me to mention our contact in my PS, how will that impact my application?

Other programs considering (All have faculties in contact):  Princeton/Columbia/Duke/MSU/PeenState/UMich/North Carolina State/Notre Dame/UCSB/UCSC/LMU(Germany,Masters)/University of Tokyo (Masters) 

It will also be great if anyone could provide some suggestions on these programs!

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  • 2 months later...

Sorry to be late, but if you mention that professor (and that professor is actively recruiting you) your chances are gonna go way up. So much of graduate admissions is finding an advisor, and one recruiting you is really excellent. It means the professor probably has funding for you, which means you can get in easier. 

I’m mainly physics, but your research experience and publications could probably make up for your GPA. 

It’s all so uncertain though, and I don’t know. So good luck!

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