Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
loginofpscl

What tier programs should I shoot for?

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

 

Incoming senior here, applying in the Fall of 2013. I wanted to get y'all's opinion on what kind of program you think I can get into. Specifically, I'd like to work in solar or CO2 reduction. Do you think a top-10 program is feasible? I feel like my gpa is hurting me.

 

GPA: 3.4 / 4.0

School: Very research-active school in Texas for my field

Full academic scholarship to university

3 year involvement as officer in local ACS student chapter for chemistry outreach, earning group awards for 2 years

National ACS award for leadership, local ACS award for research presentations

1 poster presentation at San Diego, gave a talk in New Orleans last month, and 2 local ACS section oral presentations

 

Research exp: for 2.5 years so far in one lab, working on three different projects. polymer/nano/catalysis

3 publications-- two 2nd authors and one third-author, 17 citations so far

GRE/cGRE: tbd

solid LORs from amazing people

 

thanks!

Edited by loginofpscl

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

that gpa is pretty bad, but i don't see why you couldn't get into some top schools. you seem to have more than enough to outweigh the gpa, although it may distract some adcom members. talk to your PI and see what he/she thinks. have fun working for dan nocera or nate lewis haha

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your gpa and research experience are very impressive. I would say that you could apply for top tier programs as long as you do well on the gre, sop, and lor.

 

It's always good to remember that, even with great stats, you need to impress your potential advisor and pick programs with a good fit.

 

Good luck in the upcoming season!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

that gpa is pretty bad, but i don't see why you couldn't get into some top schools. you seem to have more than enough to outweigh the gpa, although it may distract some adcom members. talk to your PI and see what he/she thinks. have fun working for dan nocera or nate lewis haha

 

i am planning to talk to my PI after finals, which is this week. thanks for the advice-- I managed to see Dan Nocera's talks at NOLA last month, and took a picture with him. I know of his reputation, but what's up with Nate Lewis? I kinda pegged him as a potential PI too.

 

Your gpa and research experience are very impressive. I would say that you could apply for top tier programs as long as you do well on the gre, sop, and lor.

 

It's always good to remember that, even with great stats, you need to impress your potential advisor and pick programs with a good fit.

 

Good luck in the upcoming season!

 

Thank you for your encouraging and kind words. Hope you do well yourself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you're looking outside the US, Leif Hammerstrom is immensely impressive, and seems like he'd be a great PI.

Back to the topic at hand:

I wouldn't sweat the GPA with the background you have. I would, however, make sure that you letter writers help where possible, to make sure your application doesn't get weeded out early at some of the high applicant volumes schools.

I'd also say that GRE scores aren't *that* important, generally, but that in your case, a high GRE will help offset the lower GPA in initial looks at your application.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you're looking outside the US, Leif Hammerstrom is immensely impressive, and seems like he'd be a great PI.

Back to the topic at hand:

I wouldn't sweat the GPA with the background you have. I would, however, make sure that you letter writers help where possible, to make sure your application doesn't get weeded out early at some of the high applicant volumes schools.

I'd also say that GRE scores aren't *that* important, generally, but that in your case, a high GRE will help offset the lower GPA in initial looks at your application.

 

Thank you. I was thinking of the same thing initially. I feel that if I can make a competitive score on the c/GREs then my GPA will be much less of an issue.

 

As for international, I'm definetely considering it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just finished my third year in an ACS certified B.S. Chem program.  I attend a small liberal arts university, and I would like to get a Ph.D. in organic synthesis.  I'm wondering what top schools I have a shot at getting into.

 

GPA: 3.95

Research: 4 semesters and 1 summer so far.  2 semesters and 1 summer yet to come.

Publications:  None yet.  One in the works that will hopefully be out by the end of the summer.

Presentation:  1 oral and 3 posters at professional meetings.  At least 2 more before graduation.

Awards: Goldwater Scholarship.

GRE: Will take this summer.

GRE Chem:  Will take this fall.

 

I really want to attend a top program, but I don't know which ones I have a realistic shot at attending.  My university is well respected, but certainly not known for its research.  I should have good to excellent letters of rec.  I got a B in P.Chem. but other than that my chem GPA is good, and I am in no way geographically constrained.  Any advise would be appreciated!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just finished my third year in an ACS certified B.S. Chem program.  I attend a small liberal arts university, and I would like to get a Ph.D. in organic synthesis.  I'm wondering what top schools I have a shot at getting into.

 

GPA: 3.95

Research: 4 semesters and 1 summer so far.  2 semesters and 1 summer yet to come.

Publications:  None yet.  One in the works that will hopefully be out by the end of the summer.

Presentation:  1 oral and 3 posters at professional meetings.  At least 2 more before graduation.

Awards: Goldwater Scholarship.

GRE: Will take this summer.

GRE Chem:  Will take this fall.

 

I really want to attend a top program, but I don't know which ones I have a realistic shot at attending.  My university is well respected, but certainly not known for its research.  I should have good to excellent letters of rec.  I got a B in P.Chem. but other than that my chem GPA is good, and I am in no way geographically constrained.  Any advise would be appreciated!

 

Dude, your credentials are really good.

But before asking everyone what "top programs" you could get into, have you had some research interests in mind? Have you looked at POIs' research topics on their websites?  Have you found any topics/POIs you feel excited enough to work for 5-6 years?  Your best fit might not be in top schools at all. 

 

If you answer yes to the last question, dont give a rat's ass about what strangers on the Internet say, just do your best on your GRE, SOP and go ahead apply!

Edited by heartshapedcookie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dude, your credentials are really good.

But before asking everyone what "top programs" you could get into, have you had some research interests in mind? Have you looked at POIs' research topics on their websites?  Have you found any topics/POIs you feel excited enough to work for 5-6 years?  Your best fit might not be in top schools at all. 

 

If you answer yes to the last question, dont give a rat's ass about what strangers on the Internet say, just do your best on your GRE, SOP and go ahead apply!

 

Thanks for the reply.  I've read through the research topics for the faculty at several schools.  In my opinion at most good/large programs there are several groups that look to have topics interesting to me, but I don't know enough about the process of getting into a certain group once you have been admitted to the school.  If I apply to a school because a certain PI look very good but I don't land a spot in that group, then what is the point anyway?

 

Also does anyone know about applying for NSF fellowships to fund graduate school (specifically about applying as an undergraduate).

 

One more thing.  How "cook cutter" are graduate school applications?  Once you have filled one out is it pretty basic to do another?  Or are they all long and unique? 

 

Thanks again!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the reply.  I've read through the research topics for the faculty at several schools.  In my opinion at most good/large programs there are several groups that look to have topics interesting to me, but I don't know enough about the process of getting into a certain group once you have been admitted to the school.  If I apply to a school because a certain PI look very good but I don't land a spot in that group, then what is the point anyway?

 

Also does anyone know about applying for NSF fellowships to fund graduate school (specifically about applying as an undergraduate).

 

One more thing.  How "cook cutter" are graduate school applications?  Once you have filled one out is it pretty basic to do another?  Or are they all long and unique? 

 

Thanks again!

 

I have the same exact questions as you do, I hope some of our more experienced members can help answer these.

 

On the other hand, your credentials are stellar, and I cannot see how you would be rejected from top programs in organic synthesis. Your Goldwater scholarship makes the adcom members segregate your file instantly. All that is needed are decent c/GREs + good LORs/SOP

Edited by loginofpscl

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

NSF fellowships are done as an application for working in a particular research group at one of the Universities that you applied to. 

 

I have one (applied as a grad student), and have helped several of our undergrads apply as well- feel free to PM me with questions. 

 

You seem to be targeting "good" schools, which really isn't a good way to go about it. The school doesn't really matter as much. You should be targeting good PIs. 

 

For that, you need a good idea of a specific research area, or if you can't narrow it down, a couple of research areas. Then you find outstanding faculty with research that interests you in those areas. And frequently, a lot of the great PIs aren't necessarily at the top 10 or top 20 schools. 

 

All the credentials in the world won't really make up for a perceived lack of focus- you want to be able to discuss the research of the groups you want to join, and outline how you'd fit into that research plan going forward. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eigen, what about the question of getting a spot in a particular group?  If I apply to a school becuase of a certain PI, what are the chances that I can get into that lab anyway?  Is this something that I shouldn't worry about until I have been accepted and go on visits (then I can ask the PI how many students he/she plans to accept)?

 

In regards to targeting good schools, I feel like there is some validity to this approach--be it simply that "good" schools will have better funding and a higher concentration of excellent PIs.  This is just my perception, and I understant that I am very young in my chemistry life.  Am I way off base?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say it's off base. 

 

High concentration of good PIs and high overall funding dollars don't really matter if they aren't in areas you will use, or PIs that you really want to work with. 

 

All that really matters is that the funding is sufficient for what you want to do, and most R1 schools (RU/VH) will satisfy that, imo. And that still leaves you about 100 schools to choose from. Even a lot of R2 schools are quite well funded, and have some very good PIs. 

 

And huge funding coupled with lots of students doesn't necessarily mean better individual funding for you then smaller funding with fewer students (more per capita). 

 

Then there's also a question of what size research group you want to work with/how much direct contact you want with your PI. Personally, it seems like if you're working with a well-connected PI at a smaller school, with whom you work a lot more closely, that can leave you in a much better situation to get hooked up with post-docs/faculty positions. In my program, a large group is 6-8 students. At most top schools, that would be a very small group. And at some, you might only meet with the PI once a year or once every 6 mos, with all your day-to-day questions being handled by senior grad students/post docs. 

 

As to whether or not they'll take students: my understanding is that most faculty in Chemistry are pretty consistently taking students relative to some other disciplines. 

 

But that's also a bridge you cross once you've been accepted, and are deciding between schools. 

 

My rule of thumb was that I only applied to schools that had at least 3 PIs I'd be interested in working with, but I was obviously primarily focussed on one each place. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks so much.  You have helped a lot.  One last question.  If a look through the research profiles of many groups at many schools and I find a few PIs who I would really like to work with, should I try to contact them (or visit the school and their lab) before I have been admitted to the school?  Or would this be a waste of time (or even worse, would it just annoy/waste time the PI)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Someyoungkid and loginofpscl, yall need to read "Graduate Admissions Essays, Fourth Edition: Write Your Way into the Graduate School of Your Choice" by Don Asher. It tells you everything you need to do from contacting professors to writing SOPs. The Grad Cafe is good for general advice but yall should talk to your research advisors and professors for personal advice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally, I would only contact the PI prior to admission if you have some specific questions (or can come up with) specific questions about their research. 

 

Another great way to find PIs is by reading the literature. Find articles that interest you, and then look at the PIs who wrote them. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since this seems to be fair game for everyone else to ask about, I'm about to enter my 3rd year, but want to be as ready as possible, as early as possible.

Current GPA: Overall 3.60, Chem 3.76, Math 3.91, Physics 3.58

Current GPA if we pretend my first semester didn't happen: Overall 3.83, Chem 4.0, others don't change

Max possible by application season: Overall 3.80, Chem 3.91, Math 3.95, Physics 3.95

I didn't have stable housing my first semester, moved 3 times and had some family issues, got straight Bs.

Will have BS in chem with ACS cert (and a handful of graduate courses in OChem and materials chem), BA in physics, and a minor in math, but the BA will need an extra semester.

Research: started summer 2012 in genetics as a volunteer left on good terms in December 2012, started physical organic lab this January under a highly selective PI. Was part of a poster at a regional ACS conference, will get first publication after summer (not first or second author).

Going to try to get REU the next 2 summers, one as part of an NSF exchange to France, the second preferably to one of my dream schools.

Awards: HHMI research award for chemistry and an award from my school's Chemistry Department for outstanding research potential.

Applying for Goldwater this term, PI said he'll support it if I keep up the good work, in the past 4 years he has written LoR for 3 undergrads who have been part of his group, 2 won, one got honorable mention. Now retired OChem professor is establishing a chemistry undergraduate scholarship in his name, implied I'm who he has in mind for the first award.

EC: Head of neuroscience club's journal club fall 2012- spring 2013, Chem outreach volunteer, student ACS fundraising chair fall 2012- spring 2013, student ACS president spring 2013-spring 2014, TA Enhanced (honor's) OChem Fall 2013-spring 2014.

School is an R1 university, ranked among top 40 in chemistry.

Is GPA still a liability if I have upward trend?

Edited by ChemiKyle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since this seems to be fair game for everyone else to ask about, I'm about to enter my 3rd year, but want to be as ready as possible, as early as possible.

Current GPA: Overall 3.60, Chem 3.76, Math 3.91, Physics 3.58

Current GPA if we pretend my first semester didn't happen: Overall 3.83, Chem 4.0, others don't change

Max possible by application season: Overall 3.80, Chem 3.91, Math 3.95, Physics 3.95

I didn't have stable housing my first semester, moved 3 times and had some family issues, got straight Bs.

Will have BS in chem with ACS cert (and a handful of graduate courses in OChem and materials chem), BA in physics, and a minor in math, but the BA will need an extra semester.

Research: started summer 2012 in genetics as a volunteer left on good terms in December 2012, started physical organic lab this January under a highly selective PI. Was part of a poster at a regional ACS conference, will get first publication after summer (not first or second author).

Going to try to get REU the next 2 summers, one as part of an NSF exchange to France, the second preferably to one of my dream schools.

Awards: HHMI research award for chemistry and an award from my school's Chemistry Department for outstanding research potential.

Applying for Goldwater this term, PI said he'll support it if I keep up the good work, in the past 4 years he has written LoR for 3 undergrads who have been part of his group, 2 won, one got honorable mention. Now retired OChem professor is establishing a chemistry undergraduate scholarship in his name, implied I'm who he has in mind for the first award.

EC: Head of neuroscience club's journal club fall 2012- spring 2013, Chem outreach volunteer, student ACS fundraising chair fall 2012- spring 2013, student ACS president spring 2013-spring 2014, TA Enhanced (honor's) OChem Fall 2013-spring 2014.

School is an R1 university, ranked among top 40 in chemistry.

Is GPA still a liability if I have upward trend?

 

If you can get that chem GPA to above a 3.8 and keep up the research experience I think you'll be fine. Make sure you work hard to get that Goldwater. If you do, you'll be a shoe-in to almost any school you want to get into. Also, try and get above 75%tile for chem GRE and a respectable GRE score. Other than that I think you'll be fine. Your LOR and SOP matter more anyways. They just want to see your grades and scores to make sure you aren't a scrub. Worst comes to worst if you really feel uncomfortable about your first semester grades, you can maybe, BRIEFLY, mention it in your SOP. But I'd honestly just worry about getting a good LOR and an REU. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.