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Low-Ranked Undergrad University Profile Seeking PhD Admission to Quality University


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Please review my profile and tell me if it is worth my time and money (do I have a chance?) to apply for PhD at UC Berkeley. I received my bachelor's in Computer Science from a low-ranked state university. Their program is modestly ranked on the NRC scale (S-Rank High - Low = 13- 49). USNews ranks the program at 99. I believe that this is the least appealing aspect of my profile. Does anyone know how much attention admission committees pay to this aspect of an application? I would guess that it is quite important, judging by the fact that virtually all of the current graduate students at UCB attended prestigious undergraduate universities.

General Stats :

GPA: 3.95

GRE : Q:790 V:650 AW:4.5

No Subject GRE

1 Published Paper in a mid-level International Conference

1 Industrial Internship (ExxonMobil)

Wrote Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Extra Information:

-Area of Interest: Natural Language Processing

-Currently studying Russian in Saint Petersburg, Russia for year after receiving Bachelor's degree

-Changed my major from geography to computer science in my sophomore year so I didn't have much time to build an impressive resume

-2 Letters of Recommendation will be good-excellent and will concern my research potential. 1 professor received his PhD in Mathematics at UCB (Will this have any benefit or is that a stupid idea?) . The other letter will also be good-excellent but will not have as much information on research, only some honors credit project that I did for the professor.

Is anyone else in a similar position coming from an unknown undergraduate university?

Do I have a chance at UC Berkeley or should I save my 80 dollars?

P.S. I am of course applying to other schools where I know I will be admitted

Edited by jgilme1
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I came from a (very) low ranked undergrad and got into several top schools for CS. I had a low GRE too. However, I had a pretty good subject GRE, 3 years research experience (including independent research), a successful side-business and consulting experience, and "best ever" recommendations. I know that last year the vast majority of people accepted to Princeton came from "known" schools, I'm sure it's the same at Berkeley.

To be honest, I don't think you will get into Berkeley, because you don't seem to have much research experience (you didn't explicitly say how much experience you have had, so I am assuming a summer for the conference publication and another summer for the industrial internship). Another problem is that if you are coming from somewhere unknown, it is likely that your recommenders are unknown, so if your recommendations are merely "good" they won't stack up against others who have "good" recommendations but have known recommenders. That being said, I don't know much about your profile and could be completely off-base, so if you care a lot about going to Berkeley I would apply anyway.

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I agree with Oh Yeah. The reason a lot of students come from top undergrads has less to do with the school's name and more with who they can get letters from. I also don't think you'll get into Berkeley, but it may still be worth it. In the end, $80 isn't that much.

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Thanks for your answers. Oh Yeah, I pretty much described my whole profile, there's not a whole lot else important about my academic history. In a way I'm glad that UCB is out of my league, it means there are some really smart cats out there blazing new trails in computer science. I'll probably try either getting a PhD at a top 30 school or a Masters at a top 20 and see if I can't move up after that. In the end we're all part of the world wide computer science community, and that is a beautiful thing.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I came from a (very) low ranked undergrad and got into several top schools for CS. I had a low GRE too. However, I had a pretty good subject GRE

What is considered a good score on the subject GRE? I took the test last Saturday, but I didn't do as well as I expected. Given the number of questions

I answered, and being pretty sure I erred in two of those, I'm looking now at a maximum score of 810. It could of course, be much less. Have to wait a

full one month to know.

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