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Profile Evaluation - Materials Science & Engineering PhD


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Hey everyone,

I'm looking to get some insight about my standings for my overall application, and whether or not I should consider applying to more schools.

My current list of schools are (all PhD):
UFlorida - MSE
Harvard - MEMS
UT-Austin - MSE
UPenn - MSE

First Generation Hispanic/Latino, White Male
3.71 Cum. GPA/3.69 Major GPA/3.91 Junior Year GPA from a moderately respected state school
GRE: 151 Verbal (50%)/163 Quant (86%)/4.5 Writing (80%)
Research Experience:  A year in one lab (not relating to what I want to get into), a summer REU at a top 10 MSE school (research again not really related to what I want to go into), and about 2/3rds of a year in another lab (getting closer to what I want to do, but not quite there yet)

Non-first author publication from REU (in the process of being submitted), a talk/poster presentation for the REU, and another poster presentation back at home institute where I won 1st place for Best STEM poster.

Currently an Undergrad lab TA (helped develop the curriculum for this lab, wrote a section of its lab manual), have been a learning assistant for the math department since my sophomore year, and I'm actively involved in recruitment for our department.

My REU Professor (I didn't even have to ask him for one--he told me before I left that if I ever needed a letter, that he'd be more than happy to write me one since he knows what I want to get into and we spoke a lot about it), my current Senior thesis professor (Assistant Professor who knows me personally and has seen me "grow" as a student [didn't do so hot my first few semesters of engineering, including her class, but made up for it in her grad level class/research], so I'm going to say a strong letter), and the department head of my department (again, I'm sure this will be very strong since I used to work for his lab/I actively help him with recruitment).

I think my personal statement is above average quality.  I've had it read over by professors and other students and they've mostly really liked it.

Finally;  I'm on the fence about applying to fellowships for this year.  I'll definitely be applying if and once I start grad school, but it's kind of late and I don't have things down for them.  Will answering "no" to the "have you applied for any funding" question on applications hurt me that much? x.x

People are telling me I should be more ambitious with schools that I'm applying to, but I'm really not trying to spend money on applications for schools I don't want to go to/know I won't get into (Berkeley, Cal Tech, etc.).  Only reason I'm really applying to UIUC is because my REU professor did his PhD there, and I thought I might as well have one top top school and some of the research done there really hits the nail on the head as far as what I want to get into.

I'd appreciate any input! 


Edited by yepyepBamboo
typos, added info
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