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Chances for a top program??


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I'm entering into my senior year studying biochemistry and molecular biology. I need help evaluating my chances for any kind of top program and figuring out where it's best to apply. Here are some stats:

 

GPA: 3.05 (took nothing but science courses, senior year will be all gen. eds)

GRE: 162-166 (projected scores based on practice tests)

 

Research Experience: (keep in mind that some of these time frames overlap)

~9 months volunteer assistant in an NIH funded HIV lab

~1 year biochemistry research at home institution

~5 months cell biology research at home institution

~I started this past May and will continue working in an NIH funded neurology lab at a major med school into the school year

 

Presentations: 

Nothing huge, but a few through my home institution and small conferences

 

Teaching experience:

~2 years and continuing as a private tutor

~TA'ed 21 classes and/or labs thus far varying in mathematics, physics, and chemistry at my home institution

 

Miscellaneous:

~a few summers of clinical volunteering

~one summer as a lab technician for a private hearing aid company

~speak 7 languages, including English, to varying degrees of fluency (English is my second language)

~came as a kid to america from war and genocide

~should have at least 5 excellent letters of rec

~first paper as a co-author is currently being reviewed

~low gpa due to poor sophomore year because of family emergencies that took precedence over school

 

I live in the midwest. I'm open to going anywhere, but I'd really like a quality education. So far my main schools are:

UChicago

Northwestern

UIC

Michigan

Case Western

Rockefeller

Harvard

Mit

UMass

 

Are these schools realistic? Does anyone have any recommendations? Advice? I will be entering in fall of 2016.

 

 

 

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It will really come down to how well you can sell yourself to the adcomms at these institutes (i.e. your SoP) and the strength the LoRs submitted on your behalf. Take your GRE, write a strong SoP and apply to any place that has interesting research being conducted (i.e. 3-5 PIs/institute). Also if you are in the midwest why don't you look at Ohio State IBSG and the IUPUI IBMG programs?

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Hey eteshoe,

 

Thanks for the advice! Why those two programs? I hadn't really considered them until now. 

 

In the SOP, do you think I should address my poor sophomore year? Also, I've read a little bit about this, but I'm not sure. Is it appropriate to contact faculty now via e-mail and express interest in their research? I've also seen posts where people discuss specifically mentioning faculty they'd like to work with in the SOP.

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Those were a few of the programs I looked at myself in the midwest. IUPUI (program is run out of the med school) is pretty cool since they just completed a new cancer center and neuroscience center, plus they got a ton of research dollars. Specifically, the program I stated allows you to rotate through a lot of the PI's in diff departments within the med school including bio. OSU is similar in that sense. 

 

For your SoP I would spend no more than 1-2 sentences on your poor sophomore year. And state that your experiences taught you how to be a better student (i.e. you didn't do so well in course x-1, but by the time you took course x-2, you learned better time management, study skills, etc. and you got a better grade). Also I would advice that you continue to take tough science courses during your senior year in order to show the adcomm that you are taking the initiative in improving your scholastic abilities. 

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low gpa due to poor sophomore year because of family emergencies that took precedence over school

 

I live in the midwest. I'm open to going anywhere, but I'd really like a quality education. So far my main schools are:

UChicago

Northwestern

UIC

Michigan

Case Western

Rockefeller

Harvard

Mit

UMass

 

Are these schools realistic? Does anyone have any recommendations? Advice? I will be entering in fall of 2016

What do you want to study? Its hard to give you recommendations without an idea of what you want to study. 

The only unrealistic one in all honestly is Rockefeller. That school is notorious for having high GPA/GRE scores to weed out applicants. If you have the $$ and really like some of the PI's apply. I would love to be wrong, but Rockefeller uses cutoff's. I would email their admissions and see if you can get an answer out of them with regards to the cutoffs and see if your app will be read. They are usually honest about things like that. 

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What do you want to study? Its hard to give you recommendations without an idea of what you want to study. 

The only unrealistic one in all honestly is Rockefeller. That school is notorious for having high GPA/GRE scores to weed out applicants. If you have the $$ and really like some of the PI's apply. I would love to be wrong, but Rockefeller uses cutoff's. I would email their admissions and see if you can get an answer out of them with regards to the cutoffs and see if your app will be read. They are usually honest about things like that. 

I wanted to go into some kind of virology program. In all honesty, it's pretty disappointing you say that because Rockefeller is my dream school haha is it appropriate to just straight up e-mail the admissions office with my cv and ask if my gpa is too low for them?

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I wanted to go into some kind of virology program. In all honesty, it's pretty disappointing you say that because Rockefeller is my dream school haha is it appropriate to just straight up e-mail the admissions office with my cv and ask if my gpa is too low for them?

I know they use cutoffs. There has always been the rumor that they won't interview people unless they are close to a 3.7GPA, but that could be complete crap. Don't send the admissions office your CV. Ask if they have GPA/GRE cutoffs and let them know what you scores are. Ask if they will review your application if you sent it in. I don't see why they wouldn't tell you the truth. They gain nothing by lying to you. Rockefeller doesn't need your 100.00 dollars or whatever the app fee is/if there is one.

If you are interested in Virology: Emory, Scripps and Mayo Clinic have great virology programs. UCSD has great faculty who study HIV at the Salk. 

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