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Viability of candidacy


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Trying to see what kind of net I can cast. I am a 2014 graduate. My dream school would probably be Columbia/UCSF/Berkeley, but I know those are dream schools for a reason haha. I'm shooting for Analytical Chemistry PhD programs for Fall 2016 enrollment, and I was curious because my GRE scores have just come out. I wanted to have a general idea of what schools to make sure I'm not throwing money around. Any suggestions for improvement, course of action, schools, etc., would be greatly appreciated. It feels overwhelming at times, but glancing at other posts here kind of settle me down as everyone goes through the same thing. Probably my GPA will limit my chances at top tier schools. 

Also, would I have to take the (strongly recommended) Chem GRE to enhance my applicant profile?

Undergraduate: Liberal Arts College in California Biochemistry, Poli Sci Dual Degree

GPA: 3.25 (Major 3.1)

GRE: 161V/163Q/5.0 AWA (gonna retake this because I feel like my anxiety that day really dropped my score)

Research: 2 years in P.Chem lab

Presentation/Pubs: 1 regional conference, accepted to 1 national conference, 1 paper published

Rec Letters: Feel really good about these 3 letters. All three are people I've had the pleasure of longstanding and excellent relationships.

TA Experience: 1 year and 2 semester (Organic Chem, Gen Chem)

Really appreciate anyone taking the time to read over or send suggestions. If anyone has similar profiles, maybe we could talk about what schools you'd be shooting for. Thanks guys.



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  • 3 weeks later...

I have a similar profile, except that my Rec letters and research are weaker than yours, but I have a stronger GPA.  I also have Berkeley as a dream school!

From what my professors told me when I was talking to them about graduate school, they said that having a low GPA isn't a big deal if you have solid letters, research exp, and Gre scores because these things compensate for it.  I'd say you have a pretty good shot.  Since you are going for analytical chemistry, why not apply to purdue?  They have a highly ranked analytical chemistry program.  If you want to read over my post ill link it here:


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  • 2 weeks later...

Cheers, Akash. Thanks for linking that post! Really helps out on how I can gauge my candidacy. Looks like you're applying for the same enrollment, so best of luck to you. 
It'd be awesome if we both into our dream schools!!

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Hello fellow 2016! Nice to see some fellow applicants.

I read over your post and I think that it's pretty good with all the research experiences. Your GPA is your only problem I think but you can take the subject GRE to balance it (if you can do really well on the subject test). Like Akash suggested, I think you should apply to Purdue, they in fact have the number 1 ranking in Analytical chemistry (if geographic location is not ur main concern). I visited them last week and I have to say their campus is amazing. OSU and IU are also top choices for analytical. Pretty much anywhere around that area is pretty good for Analytical. Gluck on your applications!

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  • 1 month later...

Sorry about not replying quicker! I didn't see this post until now, unfortunately haha.
Thank you for your input. However, I do have some geographical constraints that qualify my school choices to the east or west coast. 

Talked over it with my main adviser from undergrad, and he thinks that my GPA is an unavoidable red flag for most of my school choices. I have to reconsider my school list, which is quite unfortunate as the deadline for some programs is in 20 days...

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