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Should I try again? If so how?


pjoseg
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I have been applying to physics grad schools for the past two years, received 0 offers. I'm not sure how or whether I can further improve my profile or if I should try again. 

 

Here is a brief summary: I graduated from a top undergrad program, with 3.7< dpt gpa<3.8. My intended concentration was theoretical cosmology but now I'm open to anything physics related. I took some of the most advanced classes among my cohorts as I started graduate level classes sophomore year (which is probably why my gpa is not >3.9). I have been doing research every summer since before college. I have two publications, one in prd and another in apj. I have perfect gre scores and excellent recommendations. examples of awards include departmental awards every year from my university, US physics olympiad gold medal etc.  I am an international male. 

 

I applied to 15 of the top programs (ranked 30th and above) twice in the past two years, received 0 offers. I'm not sure what more I could have done. If I were to try again next year, what can I do to improve my chances? Especially for the admitted students, how do you think I could improve my profile? Do you think I should travel to the schools and bug the profs about their research?

 

If I don't apply to physics again, what other options do people commonly explore? Anyone with a similar experience?

 

Thanks!

Edited by pjoseg
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With that resume I'm honestly shocked that you were not extended any offers.

 

There's clearly something else at play. If you didn't do this the last two times, you should ask some trusted professors to look over some of your application materials. Maybe there are some red flags that they would more easily be able to identify and help you deal with. One of my advisers ripped apart the first draft of my statement of purpose, which was probably really important in the long run. 

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I have been applying to physics grad schools for the past two years, received 0 offers. I'm not sure how or whether I can further improve my profile or if I should try again. 

 

Here is a brief summary: I graduated from a top undergrad program, with 3.7< dpt gpa<3.8. My intended concentration was theoretical cosmology but now I'm open to anything physics related. I took some of the most advanced classes among my cohorts as I started graduate level classes sophomore year (which is probably why my gpa is not >3.9). I have been doing research every summer since before college. I have two publications, one in prd and another in apj. I have perfect gre scores and excellent recommendations. examples of awards include departmental awards every year from my university, US physics olympiad gold medal etc.  I am an international male. 

 

I applied to 15 of the top programs (ranked 30th and above) twice in the past two years, received 0 offers. I'm not sure what more I could have done. If I were to try again next year, what can I do to improve my chances? Especially for the admitted students, how do you think I could improve my profile? Do you think I should travel to the schools and bug the profs about their research?

 

If I don't apply to physics again, what other options do people commonly explore? Anyone with a similar experience?

 

Thanks!

 

What is your pGRE ? Was your statement of purpose too general? Perhaps try atmospheric physics or geophysics if you like modeling. Have to talked to any of the professors you have considered working with? Do you know if those specific groups you were applying to were accepting students? Perhaps ask the programs why you were rejected?

 

My feeling is your SOP sucked if you have this profile and cant get in.

Edited by GeoDUDE!
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Re: GeoDUDE,

 

my pgre was 990 (perfect score). I did try to ask a program the reason for rejection. They just said they received a very strong pool of applicants and added that they don't have the time to respond to individual inquiries. So figured its not a good idea to bother them. I also want to know if its something wrong with my application, or just simply that physics is getting really impossibly competitive these days. 

 

My Sop was a bit general this time. I heard that I'd be basically shutting myself down if I say I'm interested in theoretical cosmology, for how competitive it is. 

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Wow, that is unfortunate! Is your undergrad university an American one? Here are some potential places where your application may be lacking:

 

1. Your SOP (I don't usually offer to read them but if you'd like, you can post it here or PM it to me and I'll take a look)

2. Your letters of references might not be as strong as you think? 

3. What have you been doing since you graduated? 

4. As an international student, you might be applying to schools that can't afford to the costs of an international student. I was rejected from lower ranked public schools but got into almost all the higher ranked private schools. 

5. Maybe the quality of your research is not impressive? But still, I'd think two papers should demonstrate good research experience and potential to succeed in grad school!

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Re: GeoDUDE,

 

my pgre was 990 (perfect score). I did try to ask a program the reason for rejection. They just said they received a very strong pool of applicants and added that they don't have the time to respond to individual inquiries. So figured its not a good idea to bother them. I also want to know if its something wrong with my application, or just simply that physics is getting really impossibly competitive these days. 

 

My Sop was a bit general this time. I heard that I'd be basically shutting myself down if I say I'm interested in theoretical cosmology, for how competitive it is. 

 

A perfect physics gre along with 2 publications should net you admission into any program you desire unless your SOP/LOR are terrible. What kind of contact did you have with potential advisers during the application process? What was the impact factor of the journals you published in?

 

I know people with far less than you that had no problem getting into multiple top 10 programs in physics; While its very competitive the dropoff after MIT/Caltech/Harvard is substantial and i'm surprised you are having trouble. 

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It's really odd that you didn't get in anywhere with a resume that good. I agree with Geodude and TakeruK, there has to be something that just isn't clicking. 

 

I would also be interested your relationship with your LOR writers. I assume they were research advisors, did you get along? It's hard to tell about the SOP without reading it. :S

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