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2017 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

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Undergrad Institution: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (generally a prestigious school, but not famous for its Life Science department)
Major(s): Biotechnology
Minor(s):
GPA in Major: 
Overall GPA: 3.576 (4.3 system)
Position in Class: Top 
Type of Student: International asian male

GRE Scores (revised):
Q: 161
V:  156
W: 4.0
B: N/A

(I probably will retake the GRE)


TOEFL Total: 110

Research Experience: 3 months experience at an analytical chemistry lab in my Uni, mostly just observing what people do there -- not allowed to touch the equipments..not sure if I should even mention this experience. Around 10 months experience by the time i graduate at a biochemistry lab in my Uni, looking at a particular protein and its role in cancer, no publication yet.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: 1st class honors, dean's list one semester

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Worked as an intern in a microbiology lab for 1.5 month during the summer break, another intern in a biotechnology company doing admin work for 2 months during another summer. 

Applying to Where:

Havent decided for 2017 but these are what I have applied in 2016. Mostly rejected, except UW where I am still waitlisted (i am not hopeful at all...)

UPenn -- Cell and Molecular Biology group - gene regulation
UCLA -- Bioscience -- gene regulation
UCB -- MCB

UCSD -- biology

UCSF -- Developmental Biology

Columbia -- Biology

UW -- Biology

Duke -- genetics

Cornell -- genetics

U of chicago -- molecular biosciences

 

I am feeling for this application cycle (2016) I am reaching too far. I have no idea what schools I am going to apply in 2017 cycles yet but I think i will choose some less competitive programs. I think my GRE sucks and I will try again. I might also take the biochemistry subject test because my school is not famous for Biology (not sure yet...any advice?). For this year I will go to University College London for a research master degree, which hopefully will make my application stronger. 

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10 hours ago, tsatsang2129 said:

Undergrad Institution: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (generally a prestigious school, but not famous for its Life Science department)
Major(s): Biotechnology
Minor(s):
GPA in Major: 
Overall GPA: 3.576 (4.3 system)
Position in Class: Top 
Type of Student: International asian male

GRE Scores (revised):
Q: 161
V:  156
W: 4.0
B: N/A

(I probably will retake the GRE)


TOEFL Total: 110

Research Experience: 3 months experience at an analytical chemistry lab in my Uni, mostly just observing what people do there -- not allowed to touch the equipments..not sure if I should even mention this experience. Around 10 months experience by the time i graduate at a biochemistry lab in my Uni, looking at a particular protein and its role in cancer, no publication yet.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: 1st class honors, dean's list one semester

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Worked as an intern in a microbiology lab for 1.5 month during the summer break, another intern in a biotechnology company doing admin work for 2 months during another summer. 

Applying to Where:

Havent decided for 2017 but these are what I have applied in 2016. Mostly rejected, except UW where I am still waitlisted (i am not hopeful at all...)

UPenn -- Cell and Molecular Biology group - gene regulation
UCLA -- Bioscience -- gene regulation
UCB -- MCB

UCSD -- biology

UCSF -- Developmental Biology

Columbia -- Biology

UW -- Biology

Duke -- genetics

Cornell -- genetics

U of chicago -- molecular biosciences

 

I am feeling for this application cycle (2016) I am reaching too far. I have no idea what schools I am going to apply in 2017 cycles yet but I think i will choose some less competitive programs. I think my GRE sucks and I will try again. I might also take the biochemistry subject test because my school is not famous for Biology (not sure yet...any advice?). For this year I will go to University College London for a research master degree, which hopefully will make my application stronger. 

Amongst the schools you applied to, which one was your top choice? Also, I agree with retaking the GRE and taking the biochemistry subject test. I think that taking a year to do research will definitely help you next year. In terms of your GPA, is that converted to a 4.0 scale or is that the actual number out of 4.3? 

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5 hours ago, Bioenchilada said:

Amongst the schools you applied to, which one was your top choice? Also, I agree with retaking the GRE and taking the biochemistry subject test. I think that taking a year to do research will definitely help you next year. In terms of your GPA, is that converted to a 4.0 scale or is that the actual number out of 4.3? 

My top choice was UCB, but I would love to go to any uni in the list. The GPA is in a 4.3 scale, but it doesnt affect much even after changing back to the 4.0 scale -- i only get one course in A+ (the 4.3). My graduate grade point average would be somewhere above 3.6 (my uni have this graduate grade point system that counts the 1st year grade points in half.) I know a GPA of 3.5 is quite low in the U.S., although it is already a first class honour in Hong Kong. 

Did you take the GRE subject test as well? Any advice on how to prepare??

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8 hours ago, tsatsang2129 said:

My top choice was UCB, but I would love to go to any uni in the list. The GPA is in a 4.3 scale, but it doesnt affect much even after changing back to the 4.0 scale -- i only get one course in A+ (the 4.3). My graduate grade point average would be somewhere above 3.6 (my uni have this graduate grade point system that counts the 1st year grade points in half.) I know a GPA of 3.5 is quite low in the U.S., although it is already a first class honour in Hong Kong. 

Did you take the GRE subject test as well? Any advice on how to prepare??

I did not take any subject tests. I just think the competition amongst international students is more intense in order to get into a top in the US. GPA is something you cant change, so I'd work on getting the highest scores as possible on the GRE/subject test and getting as much exposure as possible research-wise. I think the most competitive applicants at top 10 schools have 2.5+ years of experience before applying. If I may ask, who wrote your rec letters? Also, how was yor SOP when you submitted it?. You can send me a PM if you'd rather not make that info public.

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Undergrad Institution: Small public university
Major(s):  Biology
GPA in Major: 3.68
Overall GPA: 3.67
Position in Class: Not sure
Type of Student: Domestic, Female

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 48%
V: 53%
W: 92%
B: n/a

Note:  I know my GRE scores suck.  I took these 3 times already and can't seem to get much higher than this.  I have crippling anxiety/panic attacks thinking about having to take a standardized test again, so I'm going to go through the application season with these.


Research Experience: 3 years undergraduate research resulting in a middle author paper as well as completion of an undergraduate thesis and poster presentation at two national conferences and a regional conference.  Worked as a technician in a clinical lab for 1.5 years and then 2.5 years in a research laboratory that resulted in another middle author paper.  Now have been working in a 3rd research lab as a technician for 1 year now resulting in a first co-author publication and a regional oral presentation.  

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Dean's list in college

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Research Technician for 5 years.  Biology tutor, supplemental instructor, and undergrad TA during my undergrad.

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: Not sure.

Special Bonus Points: Years experience as a technician, maybe?  I should have some pretty great letters of rec from my current and former PIs/advisors.

Applying to (still finalizing my list...): 

University of Wisconsin MCB and Pharmacology (2 separate applications)

Medical College of Wisconsin

University of Minnesota

Northwestern DGP

University of Illinois Chicago GEMS

Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis

 

Prefer to stay in the midwest for family reasons.

 

I'm interested in developmental biology, translational research, stem cell biology, disease modeling, cell signaling.  Any recommendations?

 

 

How does this stack up?  Do you think my research experience could make up for my atrocious GRE?  I would rather not take this test for a 4th time if I can help it...

 

Thank you all for your help/suggestions!

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40 minutes ago, kxiu said:

Undergrad Institution: Small public university
Major(s):  Biology
GPA in Major: 3.68
Overall GPA: 3.67
Position in Class: Not sure
Type of Student: Domestic, Female

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 48%
V: 53%
W: 92%
B: n/a

Note:  I know my GRE scores suck.  I took these 3 times already and can't seem to get much higher than this.  I have crippling anxiety/panic attacks thinking about having to take a standardized test again, so I'm going to go through the application season with these.


Research Experience: 3 years undergraduate research resulting in a middle author paper as well as completion of an undergraduate thesis and poster presentation at two national conferences and a regional conference.  Worked as a technician in a clinical lab for 1.5 years and then 2.5 years in a research laboratory that resulted in another middle author paper.  Now have been working in a 3rd research lab as a technician for 1 year now resulting in a first co-author publication and a regional oral presentation.  

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Dean's list in college

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Research Technician for 5 years.  Biology tutor, supplemental instructor, and undergrad TA during my undergrad.

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: Not sure.

Special Bonus Points: Years experience as a technician, maybe?  I should have some pretty great letters of rec from my current and former PIs/advisors.

Applying to (still finalizing my list...): 

University of Wisconsin MCB and Pharmacology (2 separate applications)

Medical College of Wisconsin

University of Minnesota

Northwestern DGP

University of Illinois Chicago GEMS

Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis

 

Prefer to stay in the midwest for family reasons.

 

I'm interested in developmental biology, translational research, stem cell biology, disease modeling, cell signaling.  Any recommendations?

 

 

How does this stack up?  Do you think my research experience could make up for my atrocious GRE?  I would rather not take this test for a 4th time if I can help it...

 

Thank you all for your help/suggestions!

I'd suggest trying to score above the 60th percentile on both parts to avoid being weeded out. The rest of your app is great though! :D

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6 hours ago, kxiu said:

Undergrad Institution: Small public university
Major(s):  Biology
GPA in Major: 3.68
Overall GPA: 3.67
Position in Class: Not sure
Type of Student: Domestic, Female

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 48%
V: 53%
W: 92%
B: n/a

Note:  I know my GRE scores suck.  I took these 3 times already and can't seem to get much higher than this.  I have crippling anxiety/panic attacks thinking about having to take a standardized test again, so I'm going to go through the application season with these.


Research Experience: 3 years undergraduate research resulting in a middle author paper as well as completion of an undergraduate thesis and poster presentation at two national conferences and a regional conference.  Worked as a technician in a clinical lab for 1.5 years and then 2.5 years in a research laboratory that resulted in another middle author paper.  Now have been working in a 3rd research lab as a technician for 1 year now resulting in a first co-author publication and a regional oral presentation.  

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Dean's list in college

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Research Technician for 5 years.  Biology tutor, supplemental instructor, and undergrad TA during my undergrad.

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: Not sure.

Special Bonus Points: Years experience as a technician, maybe?  I should have some pretty great letters of rec from my current and former PIs/advisors.

Applying to (still finalizing my list...): 

University of Wisconsin MCB and Pharmacology (2 separate applications)

Medical College of Wisconsin

University of Minnesota

Northwestern DGP

University of Illinois Chicago GEMS

Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis

 

Prefer to stay in the midwest for family reasons.

 

I'm interested in developmental biology, translational research, stem cell biology, disease modeling, cell signaling.  Any recommendations?

 

 

How does this stack up?  Do you think my research experience could make up for my atrocious GRE?  I would rather not take this test for a 4th time if I can help it...

 

Thank you all for your help/suggestions!

If you could get all your scores above the 75th percentile, you could also apply to WUSTL as well.  Otherwise, you might want to apply a broader range of schools because you might get weeded out based on the scores.  Maybe also add University of Iowa and Iowa State University if you don't want to retake the GRE.  Also, it is slightly odd that you've been a tech for five years.  Generally people work in industry for that length of time (or do some other job) while they only tech for like a year or two.  You might raise questions as to why you didn't do a master's during that time.  I'm not saying it'll be a huge deal, but it is a question at least in this internet lurker's mind.

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15 hours ago, biochemgirl67 said:

 Also, it is slightly odd that you've been a tech for five years.  Generally people work in industry for that length of time (or do some other job) while they only tech for like a year or two.  You might raise questions as to why you didn't do a master's during that time.  I'm not saying it'll be a huge deal, but it is a question at least in this internet lurker's mind.

Adcoms aren't going to question why you have been a tech for 5 years. If you accomplished very little in those 5 years (no pubs/posters) than you have a reason to worry. Unless you have GPA issues or want to pursue a masters completing one prior to grad school doesn't help that much. No to mention is going to be expensive. The poster has paper/presentations out of this time as  a tech so he should be good. If he can get 3 great LOR from the labs he's done research in he will be golden especially if he can get the GRE scores up. 

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Thank you all for your input!  I know 5-6 years as a tech is a long time, and maybe unconventional, between schooling.  I guess the time was never right for me--I got married, and kept going back and forth on what role I wanted to play in a lab, if it was truly necessary for me to do PhD programs or not, or whether a MS would be sufficient.  Once I realized I'd like to run a lab myself someday and have input in the direction I want to go with my research is when I decided I should go the PhD route.  I thought about doing an MS in that time, but none of the programs in my area could have guaranteed full funding for me and enough funding to pay for my living expenses without taking out additional student loans, which is something I want to avoid when furthering my education.

 

I agree about the GRE--I have time, and it may not be a bad idea to give it another shot. :)

 

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18 minutes ago, kxiu said:

Thank you all for your input!  I know 5-6 years as a tech is a long time, and maybe unconventional, between schooling.  I guess the time was never right for me--I got married, and kept going back and forth on what role I wanted to play in a lab, if it was truly necessary for me to do PhD programs or not, or whether a MS would be sufficient.  Once I realized I'd like to run a lab myself someday and have input in the direction I want to go with my research is when I decided I should go the PhD route.  I thought about doing an MS in that time, but none of the programs in my area could have guaranteed full funding for me and enough funding to pay for my living expenses without taking out additional student loans, which is something I want to avoid when furthering my education.

 

I agree about the GRE--I have time, and it may not be a bad idea to give it another shot. :)

 

I was a tech for three years before I applied, and everyone I interviewed w/ said how invaluable that experience is. Don't sweat it. Also the letters you get will be light years ahead of other applicants. Get that GRE score up and you will be more than fine. I'd imagine you'd get into 75% or so of the schools you listed there. Make sure you apply to some reach schools too. 

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1 hour ago, Cain and Able said:

Undergrad Institution: University of Iowa
Major(s): Biochemistry (BS), Economics (BS - Analytical)
Minor(s): None
GPA in Major: 3.1
Overall GPA: 3.5
Position in Class: Unknown
Type of Student: Domestic, Male

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 165
V: 165
W: 5.0
B: N/A

Research Experience: 2 paper co-authored, 2 presentations given, 3 years of lab experience in a cancer biology/biochemistry lab

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Honors Program, Multiple minor scholarships

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: TA for 1 semester Biochemistry Survey Course (upper level), Chapter Treasurer for Professional Chemistry Fraternity for two years

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: Strong letters of rec from the PI of my lab, my Organic I professor, and Biochemistry professor

Special Bonus Points: I plan on taking 6 credits of grad classes (Biophysical Chemistry I and II) and I have taken a great deal of statistics (biostatics and normal)

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:

Applying to Where:

Dartmouth College - Biochemistry or Experimental Medicine


Vanderbilt - Biochemistry

University of Iowa - Biochemistry

WUSTL - Biochemistry

University of Chicago - Biochemistry

Norte Dame - Biochemistry

 

I don't know where to apply. I am not sure where to check rankings for grad programs. My GPA is low, but I believe my upper-level coursework in Biophysical Chemistry will demonstrate that I am proficient in the necessary areas. Most programs I have seen only recommend a GPA of 3.0+ to be competitive. Any feedback or advice is helpful. Thanks!

You're right, your GPA is low.  Unfortunately, it's lower in your major than overall and indicates that you haven't really performed well in biochemistry.  Maybe you have an upward trend?  I don't know from what you've provided.  However, I will say that you have only 1 research recommender and an adequate amount of research (nothing extraordinary).  This may limit you in terms of consideration at Vanderbilt, UChicago, and WUSTL.  (I don't know much else about the other schools you listed, but Notre Dame and Dartmouth are good programs, I think, where you'll be up against some heavy competition.)  Unless you are very confident about your chances at these schools, I think you should apply more widely.  You might get into these schools, you might not.  If you want a fair amount of choice, include other schools.  University of Michigan (still a high end, possibly still a reach), University of Pittsburgh, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, University of Utah, and University of Minnesota.  Just a note, upper-level coursework is pretty common.  Unless you take an ungodly amount (hello, 30 credits of pain and suffering) or can get a recommendation from professors of that class (better be in a small atmosphere, not like an intro grad class and it doesn't seem this would apply to you anyway) it won't matter.  Plus you'll be IN the classes as you apply.  (Also, the top 50% Iowa state biochemistry majors take 8 credits of graduate courses in biochemistry by the summer before they apply.  I'm saying this just to emphasize that 6 credits is not sufficient to prove your proficiency.)  Your best shot is to get another research recommender if you can, present at a conference (not a university one), get your GPA as high as you can, and widen your applications.

The reason a lot of the people on here tell incoming applicants to broaden their applications is simple.  Top candidates are also applying to a lot of different schools.  So if they are applying to your reach schools, they have a chance of pushing you out, especially if your profile isn't really stupendous.  I mean, yes, it does happen that someone with a 3.1 gets into Harvard, but they usually have something else extraordinary about them.  Exceptional research experience, a unique background in teaching science, industry experience, an MD, a public health degree, something that sets them apart.  We've gotten into discussions before on here about whether GPA really matters... and it does.  Just like your other parts of your application matter.  However, if you really feel like you are a fit for a school but have a subpar GPA (lower than the incoming class average, not the stated minimum), go ahead and apply.  The worst they can do is reject you.

Also, "recommended GPAs" are not the same thing as "average GPAs."  Look for real statistics of their admitted students.  At Vanderbilt it was something like 3.67 overall, I think.  Most high end grad schools have averages between 3.6 - 3.7.  But then again, many science students have higher major GPAs than overall (cGPA 3.76 v. mGPA 3.89 for me) which shows an aptitude for science.  So look at those, really be honest with yourself, and then apply to 8 - 10 schools based on fit.  GPA will not dictate your acceptances.  It is a part of your application.  Treat it like that and look for places where you think you'll be a good fit research-wise and culturally.

Rant over.

Edited by biochemgirl67

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15 minutes ago, biochemgirl67 said:

You're right, your GPA is low.  Unfortunately, it's lower in your major than overall and indicates that you haven't really performed well in biochemistry.  Maybe you have an upward trend?  I don't know from what you've provided.  However, I will say that you have only 1 research recommender and an adequate amount of research (nothing extraordinary).  This may limit you in terms of consideration at Vanderbilt, UChicago, and WUSTL.  (I don't know much else about the other schools you listed, but Notre Dame and Dartmouth are good programs, I think, where you'll be up against some heavy competition.)  Unless you are very confident about your chances at these schools, I think you should apply more widely.  You might get into these schools, you might not.  If you want a fair amount of choice, include other schools.  University of Michigan (still a high end, possibly still a reach), University of Pittsburgh, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, University of Utah, and University of Minnesota.  Just a note, upper-level coursework is pretty common.  Unless you take an ungodly amount (hello, 30 credits of pain and suffering) or can get a recommendation from professors of that class (better be in a small atmosphere, not like an intro grad class and it doesn't seem this would apply to you anyway) it won't matter.  Plus you'll be IN the classes as you apply.  (Also, the top 50% Iowa state biochemistry majors take 8 credits of graduate courses in biochemistry by the summer before they apply.  I'm saying this just to emphasize that 6 credits is not sufficient to prove your proficiency.)  Your best shot is to get another research recommender if you can, present at a conference (not a university one), get your GPA as high as you can, and widen your applications.

The reason a lot of the people on here tell incoming applicants to broaden their applications is simple.  Top candidates are also applying to a lot of different schools.  So if they are applying to your reach schools, they have a chance of pushing you out, especially if your profile isn't really stupendous.  I mean, yes, it does happen that someone with a 3.1 gets into Harvard, but they usually have something else extraordinary about them.  Exceptional research experience, a unique background in teaching science, industry experience, an MD, a public health degree, something that sets them apart.  We've gotten into discussions before on here about whether GPA really matters... and it does.  Just like your other parts of your application matter.  However, if you really feel like you are a fit for a school but have a subpar GPA (lower than the incoming class average, not the stated minimum), go ahead and apply.  The worst they can do is reject you.

Also, "recommended GPAs" are not the same thing as "average GPAs."  Look for real statistics of their admitted students.  At Vanderbilt it was something like 3.67 overall, I think.  Most high end grad schools have averages between 3.6 - 3.7.  But then again, many science students have higher major GPAs than overall (cGPA 3.76 v. mGPA 3.89 for me) which shows an aptitude for science.  So look at those, really be honest with yourself, and then apply to 8 - 10 schools based on fit.  GPA will not dictate your acceptances.  It is a part of your application.  Treat it like that and look for places where you think you'll be a good fit research-wise and culturally.

Rant over.

Thanks for taking the time to reply to my post. As a clarification point, the point about the "recommended GPAs" comes from how I cannot find much information on several (not all) of the programs average GPA. I should have been clearer. This makes it difficult to determine if I would be an appropriate candidate. I greatly appreciate the list of recommended schools.

My GPA being low is due to Calc I & II along with Physics I & II. Most of the other courses I have taken I got A or A- in for Biochemistry (2 semesters of bioc, 1 course of lab bioc, 1 course in technical communication bioc). I have also taken several upper division science electives (Immunology, biostatistics, genetics, strategy statistics). I was hoping my analytical economics coursework would compensate for my poor marks in calculus. Perhaps I was mistaken.

Either way, your comment was very helpful.

 

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9 hours ago, Cain and Able said:

Thanks for taking the time to reply to my post. As a clarification point, the point about the "recommended GPAs" comes from how I cannot find much information on several (not all) of the programs average GPA. I should have been clearer. This makes it difficult to determine if I would be an appropriate candidate. I greatly appreciate the list of recommended schools.

My GPA being low is due to Calc I & II along with Physics I & II. Most of the other courses I have taken I got A or A- in for Biochemistry (2 semesters of bioc, 1 course of lab bioc, 1 course in technical communication bioc). I have also taken several upper division science electives (Immunology, biostatistics, genetics, strategy statistics). I was hoping my analytical economics coursework would compensate for my poor marks in calculus. Perhaps I was mistaken.

Either way, your comment was very helpful.

 

I think the main issue with your app will be the lack of rec letters from professors you conducted research with and the lack of diversity in your research experience. Though some people might agree that this is not important, I think it makes your SOP more impressive and easier to write. Your GPA is also evidently an issue and I agree with the previous poster that you should diversify your list. A friend of mine from my school with a 4.0, a high GRE, and almost the same amount of research experience got rejected by all the 10 grad schools she applied to, and she's also a great writer. I think it was because her SOP was on the weaker side due to a lack of research exposure. Her rec letters were also coming from 1 research supervisor, and 2 professors. 

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10 hours ago, Cain and Able said:

Thanks for taking the time to reply to my post. As a clarification point, the point about the "recommended GPAs" comes from how I cannot find much information on several (not all) of the programs average GPA. I should have been clearer. This makes it difficult to determine if I would be an appropriate candidate. I greatly appreciate the list of recommended schools.

My GPA being low is due to Calc I & II along with Physics I & II. Most of the other courses I have taken I got A or A- in for Biochemistry (2 semesters of bioc, 1 course of lab bioc, 1 course in technical communication bioc). I have also taken several upper division science electives (Immunology, biostatistics, genetics, strategy statistics). I was hoping my analytical economics coursework would compensate for my poor marks in calculus. Perhaps I was mistaken.

Either way, your comment was very helpful.

 

I think maybe I didn't emphasize what is really important... While your GPA is an issue, the main problem that will compound that problem is your lack of research recommendations.  For reference, many people on this site have at least 2.

If you would like more information, please don't hesitate to message me.  We come from similar undergrad institutions and it's possible I can offer some sort of direction.

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10 hours ago, Cain and Able said:

Thanks for taking the time to reply to my post. As a clarification point, the point about the "recommended GPAs" comes from how I cannot find much information on several (not all) of the programs average GPA. I should have been clearer. This makes it difficult to determine if I would be an appropriate candidate. I greatly appreciate the list of recommended schools.

My GPA being low is due to Calc I & II along with Physics I & II. Most of the other courses I have taken I got A or A- in for Biochemistry (2 semesters of bioc, 1 course of lab bioc, 1 course in technical communication bioc). I have also taken several upper division science electives (Immunology, biostatistics, genetics, strategy statistics). I was hoping my analytical economics coursework would compensate for my poor marks in calculus. Perhaps I was mistaken.

Either way, your comment was very helpful.

 

So it appears that you double majored right? Which "major" is the gpa you listed for? What is your gpa for biological coursework? I also do agree with the other posters that you need another research letter. 

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Apply to more schools (mainly because applying broadly never hurt anyone). But seriously I hope you take everything you read here with a grain of salt, because you have no reason to be even half as concerned about getting in as those here are making it seem. It's a crap shoot, and it's definitely not as simple as have a high GPA and things will work out. (PS my GPA was *much* lower than yours, and I didn't have any issues). My LORs included one of my PIs, and two professors; this is not abnormal.

 

 

14 hours ago, Cain and Able said:

Undergrad Institution: University of Iowa
Major(s): Biochemistry (BS), Economics (BS - Analytical)
Minor(s): None
GPA in Major: 3.1
Overall GPA: 3.5
Position in Class: Unknown
Type of Student: Domestic, Male

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 165
V: 165
W: 5.0
B: N/A

Research Experience: 2 paper co-authored, 2 presentations given, 3 years of lab experience in a cancer biology/biochemistry lab

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Honors Program, Multiple minor scholarships

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: TA for 1 semester Biochemistry Survey Course (upper level), Chapter Treasurer for Professional Chemistry Fraternity for two years

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: Strong letters of rec from the PI of my lab, my Organic I professor, and Biochemistry professor

Special Bonus Points: I plan on taking 6 credits of grad classes (Biophysical Chemistry I and II) and I have taken a great deal of statistics (biostatics and normal)

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:

Applying to Where:

Dartmouth College - Biochemistry or Experimental Medicine


Vanderbilt - Biochemistry

University of Iowa - Biochemistry

WUSTL - Biochemistry

University of Chicago - Biochemistry

Norte Dame - Biochemistry

 

I don't know where to apply. I am not sure where to check rankings for grad programs. My GPA is low, but I believe my upper-level coursework in Biophysical Chemistry will demonstrate that I am proficient in the necessary areas. Most programs I have seen only recommend a GPA of 3.0+ to be competitive. Any feedback or advice is helpful. Thanks!

 

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1 hour ago, bunn87 said:

Apply to more schools (mainly because applying broadly never hurt anyone). But seriously I hope you take everything you read here with a grain of salt, because you have no reason to be even half as concerned about getting in as those here are making it seem. It's a crap shoot, and it's definitely not as simple as have a high GPA and things will work out. (PS my GPA was *much* lower than yours, and I didn't have any issues). My LORs included one of my PIs, and two professors; this is not abnormal.

 

 

 

I really wouldn't say graduate school apps are a crapshoot per se given that the expression makes it seem more luck-based which it definitely isn't. However, biochemgirl and I are just saying that based on the schools this person listed, their GPA is on the low side. A high GPA/GRE/glowing letters won't guarantee admission, but the chances are significantly greater... Like by a lot. Of course, a relatively low GPA won't prevent you from getting into any graduate schools, but admission might come from schools that the individual is not interested in.

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40 minutes ago, Bioenchilada said:

I really wouldn't say graduate school apps are a crapshoot per se given that the expression makes it seem more luck-based which it definitely isn't. However, biochemgirl and I are just saying that based on the schools this person listed, their GPA is on the low side. A high GPA/GRE/glowing letters won't guarantee admission, but the chances are significantly greater... Like by a lot. Of course, a relatively low GPA won't prevent you from getting into any graduate schools, but admission might come from schools that the individual is not interested in.

This is so correct.  crapshoot is totally not the right word for grad school admission.  Like I said before, you will be competing against high end applicants at most of the schools that were listed.  Therefore, if you want a few choices, you should apply to 8 - 10 schools that fit your profile/experience and your goals.  Low GPAs, low GREs, limited research experience, less-than-glowing LoRs, an average SOP... all these things won't necessarily limit you actually going to grad school.  However, they can make you less competitive at top tier schools

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I'm an international applicant. Any comments/ feedback will be appreciated.

Undergrad Institution: Top 10 school in India
Major(s): Biological Sciences (Bachelor's+Master's)
Minor(s): Physics
GPA in Major: ~9.7/10
Overall GPA: ~9.3/10
Position in Class: Top
Type of Student: International male

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: to be taken in june
V: to be taken in june
W: to be taken in june
B: 97 percentile (Biochem test)


TOEFL Total: to be taken in june

Research Experience: 1. 4 months project during 1st/2nd summer/winter. Mostly learnt different techniques and helped a grad student in my home institution.

2.  2 months summer project in a different institute (Computational)

3. Working in present lab since 2014 august (including summers) . Working on computational modelling/ simulations on protein folding. Will be working in wet lab on the same topic from june. So ~2.5 years by the time of application.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: 1st rank during 2nd and 3rd year; Summer fellowship in 2nd year; Receiving a national fellowship (KVPY - given for top students pursuing   basic sciences) since 1st year.

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Will be a TA for undergrad labs next year.

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: Nothing significant

Special Bonus Points: Taken lots of grad courses.

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: 2 publications - one first author and one second author from current lab . One more in preparation - may be published before application.

I am working in the same lab for past 2 years (3 years by the time I graduate). Will this provide me any advantage over many short term projects?

My minor GPA is just 7.3/10. I know it is too low and I won't talk about it in my SOP. (It will just show in my transcript but I plan to not delve into it further). Will this affect my application?

Applying to Where:

I am planning to apply to some umbrella programs as well as some specific programs( My interest lies in biochemistry/molecular biophysics - protein structure/ folding in particular)
UC Berkeley

University of Chicago

UIUC

WUSTL

University of Maryland

UMass Worcester

UT Southwestern

Stanford

Washington Seattle

Any two out of MIT, Harvard, Yale, Duke, Caltech

This is not my final list. Will add more schools/ remove some.

Any suggestions on my list of universities??

 

Edited by Proteinfolder
Small correction

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Undergrad Institution: Hm, very small institution. Master's was also at small institution, currently in Ph.D program I'll be leaving at an R1 
Major(s): Geology
Minor(s):
GPA in Major:
Overall GPA: 3.89 (Currently, probably going to end with 3.88)
Position in Class: 
Type of Student: Domestic white female

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q:
V:
W:
B:
**I have to retake these this summer (My scores will be over 5 years old :()!!**


Research Experience: 2 first authored papers, another paper where I'm 4th author. ~6 published abstracts & presentations at conferences. 4-5 years of field experience (Field seasons, summer).


Awards/Honors/Recognitions: ? Number of research grants in my name (6-8)


Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Tutor at the University, also a TA (TA for 5 semesters in Ph.D & 3 quarters for my Master's). Research Assistant for 2 years (1 at Master's, 1 at Ph.D.)

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Special Bonus Points: 

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:

**SO, I have an odd situation. I am currently (won't be after May) attending R1 institution that's often cited as a top in my particular field. I am essentially being "kicked out" as in, I failed my comprehensive exams. HOWEVER, I did not fail them as in I couldn't answer the questions, they failed me because no one had the expertise to help me with my projects & it came down to no one knowing how to help me at all. My committee is fully behind helping me get into another program. So, here I am. Trying to spin this in a way that makes me look good while having to reapply (after already getting in and being funded! ugh). 

Applying to Where:

University of Chicago Organismal Biology & Anatomy 

Harvard Organismic & Evolutionary Biology

 

I'm looking to apply to 3-4 other institutions but it'll be for their Geoscience department (paleo tends to be split)

Edited by Marshall

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48 minutes ago, Marshall said:

I'm a vertebrate paleontologist.

You could always apply to anthropology departments.  I'm no expert, but my Great Plains archaeology professor studied vertebrate remains at sites of like mammoths and dire wolves.

Wait, I just realized palaeontology is dinosaurs.

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2 hours ago, Proteinfolder said:

I'm an international applicant. Any comments/ feedback will be appreciated.

Undergrad Institution: Top 10 school in India
Major(s): Biological Sciences (Bachelor's+Master's)
Minor(s): Physics
GPA in Major: ~9.7/10
Overall GPA: ~9.3/10
Position in Class: Top
Type of Student: International male

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: to be taken in june
V: to be taken in june
W: to be taken in june
B: 97 percentile (Biochem test)


TOEFL Total: to be taken in june

Research Experience: 1. 4 months project during 1st/2nd summer/winter. Mostly learnt different techniques and helped a grad student in my home institution.

2.  2 months summer project in a different institute (Computational)

3. Working in present lab since 2014 august (including summers) . Working on computational modelling/ simulations on protein folding. Will be working in wet lab on the same topic from june. So ~2.5 years by the time of application.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: 1st rank during 2nd and 3rd year; Summer fellowship in 2nd year; Receiving a national fellowship (KVPY - given for top students pursuing   basic sciences) since 1st year.

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Will be a TA for undergrad labs next year.

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: Nothing significant

Special Bonus Points: Taken lots of grad courses.

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: 2 publications - one first author and one second author from current lab . One more in preparation - may be published before application.

I am working in the same lab for past 2 years (3 years by the time I graduate). Will this provide me any advantage over many short term projects?

My minor GPA is just 7.3/10. I know it is too low and I won't talk about it in my SOP. (It will just show in my transcript but I plan to not delve into it further). Will this affect my application?

Applying to Where:

I am planning to apply to some umbrella programs as well as some specific programs( My interest lies in biochemistry/molecular biophysics - protein structure/ folding in particular)
UC Berkeley

University of Chicago

UIUC

WUSTL

University of Maryland

UMass Worcester

UT Southwestern

Stanford

Washington Seattle

Any two out of MIT, Harvard, Yale, Duke, Caltech

This is not my final list. Will add more schools/ remove some.

Any suggestions on my list of universities??

 

Who is writing your rec letters? 

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All my recs will be from my home institution. One from my current mentor, one from my first year summer guide and one rec from coursework (I think the third rec will not be very useful for me It may be almost equivalent to a DWIC - may be a bit better). I didn't have much interaction with my second year summer guide so I don't think I can get a rec from there.

 

2 hours ago, Bioenchilada said:

Who is writing your rec letters? 

 

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7 hours ago, Proteinfolder said:

I'm an international applicant. Any comments/ feedback will be appreciated.

Undergrad Institution: Top 10 school in India
Major(s): Biological Sciences (Bachelor's+Master's)
Minor(s): Physics
GPA in Major: ~9.7/10
Overall GPA: ~9.3/10
Position in Class: Top
Type of Student: International male

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: to be taken in june
V: to be taken in june
W: to be taken in june
B: 97 percentile (Biochem test)


TOEFL Total: to be taken in june

Research Experience: 1. 4 months project during 1st/2nd summer/winter. Mostly learnt different techniques and helped a grad student in my home institution.

2.  2 months summer project in a different institute (Computational)

3. Working in present lab since 2014 august (including summers) . Working on computational modelling/ simulations on protein folding. Will be working in wet lab on the same topic from june. So ~2.5 years by the time of application.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: 1st rank during 2nd and 3rd year; Summer fellowship in 2nd year; Receiving a national fellowship (KVPY - given for top students pursuing   basic sciences) since 1st year.

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Will be a TA for undergrad labs next year.

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: Nothing significant

Special Bonus Points: Taken lots of grad courses.

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: 2 publications - one first author and one second author from current lab . One more in preparation - may be published before application.

I am working in the same lab for past 2 years (3 years by the time I graduate). Will this provide me any advantage over many short term projects?

My minor GPA is just 7.3/10. I know it is too low and I won't talk about it in my SOP. (It will just show in my transcript but I plan to not delve into it further). Will this affect my application?

Applying to Where:

I am planning to apply to some umbrella programs as well as some specific programs( My interest lies in biochemistry/molecular biophysics - protein structure/ folding in particular)
UC Berkeley

University of Chicago

UIUC

WUSTL

University of Maryland

UMass Worcester

UT Southwestern

Stanford

Washington Seattle

Any two out of MIT, Harvard, Yale, Duke, Caltech

This is not my final list. Will add more schools/ remove some.

Any suggestions on my list of universities??

 

To answer your question about your research experience, I think you're pretty well set. Adcoms like to see variety and depth in research experiences, and you have both. The long-term research experience should help you out in that you should (hopefully) get a better LOR from this experience than you would from a short-term experience.

To answer your question about your minor GPA, my first inclination was to say no, but actually I think it depends on a couple factors. In my experience, the higher the GPA, the less weight adcoms place on it. (I.e., if your GPA is good, then you're set, and the adcom moves on. If not, your application gets treated with higher scrutiny/"suspicion.") Most adcom members have neither the time nor the interest to go digging through your transcript to find the reason for your GPA. Accordingly, if the application does not ask you to list your minor GPA anywhere and it is not listed prominently on your transcript, then I think you're fine. Otherwise, some may see this as a yellow flag, especially for programs on the physical/computational/mathematical side of the biophysics spectrum rather than the biological/biochemical side.

Are you looking to be a computationalist/theoretician, an experimentalist, or both? This matters for your list of universities. The only other preliminary comment I have is that my program at UIUC is particularly friendly to international students.

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