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What to aim for? (BME)


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I'm an upcoming senior majoring in BME at BU and my intentions are to go on to grad school, but I'm unsure as to where I stand in the grand scheme of things because I haven't really done anything that screams, "Oh hey! I'll be a great asset to your grad program!"

1) My biggest concern is that I don't have any research experience yet, which is kind of a big deal for grad school applications. Senior year everyone is required to do a year-long research project that culminates in a big end-of-year BME senior project conference, but I'll have only just started that by the time I start the application process, so I'm not sure how relevant it will really be

2) Grades-wise, I have a 3.38 engineering GPA and a 3.16 overall GPA and have made our Dean's list 2/6 semesters. So nothing stellar there (especially after some nasty C+'s back when I was considering being pre-med and had to take Orgo 1 & 2 :shock: )

3) Then as far as school involvement goes: I'm a peer tutor for Differential Equations at our Educational Resource Center. I'm a college of engineering "Dean's Host"-- we basically give tours to prospective students and their parents, run spring open house, and assist in any college of engineering events. Then I'm also very active in our Society of Women Engineers section. We put together a proposal to the heads of Region F (New England) SWE to host the 2010 Regional conference in April 2010 and our section was chosen so I'm now one of the chairpeople for the conference. I expect it will be pretty time-intensive since we've already started having weekly teleconferences to plan for next spring.

4) I haven't taken the GRE yet. I'm planning on taking it towards the end of August. I've been studying for it this summer, though, and my verbal scores have been in the low 600s and my quantitative scores in the mid 700s, so hopefully I'll do the same (or better!) on the real thing.

In the long-run, I want my PhD since research is what I'm really interested. I'm sure my chances for an MS out of undergrad are much higher than for a PhD, but many of the programs I've been looking it say just to apply to the PhD program if that's what you ultimately want. Without any research experience though, I'm wondering if I should graduate, get my senior project behind me, get a research assistant job for a year, and then apply for Fall 2011? Or if I should just go for it now and hope for the best? And if I do just go for it now, I'm not really sure what level of school I should be aiming for.

Sorry this is such a novel, but any advice is greatly appreciated :)

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Well, it's obviously difficult to evaluate your chances based on a few numbers, but the stickied profile thread at the top of this forum will at least give you an idea of where people with your GPA and expected GRE scores have gotten in. A lot also depends on "softer" criteria: your statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, work experience, awards, and so on.

The generic advice on what to aim for is to pick out 8-12 schools: 3-4 "reach" schools, 3-4 schools where you have a solid chance of admission, and 2-4 safety schools. You'll have to decide for yourself how competitive of an applicant you are, although you should get input from your professors as well (especially those who serve on the admissions committee).

My only other advice would be to get involved in research now, so you at least have something to put in the "research experience" section of your grad school applications. Research is also a great way to develop a personal/professional relationship with a potential recommender.

Best of luck. :)

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