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average admitted applicant to a top tier program


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What does an average admitted applicant to a top tier program look like? Like, what GPA/GRE score do they typically have? And what kind of experience do they usually have? I know that a lot of you will say that it will depends on a lot of factors, and that a weakness in one part can be strengthened by another part of the application, but what does a typical average admitted applicant to a top tier program look like? Such as average GPA, GRE, number of years of experience, etc. 

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There really is no average student- or rather, you can average things out but you get a useless answer. 

It mostly comes down to fit- can you convince them that you'll be successful in an area in which they need success, and that you will be more successful than everyone else applying in that area. 

There's no helpful or useful way to boil that down to averages. In my program we had people with 4.0s and sub 3.0 undergrad GPAs, but averaging it to 3.5 is pretty worthless. 

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I agree with @Eigen. Especially at top schools, there are huge variations in the background of students. Some people have years of experience and some people have none. Some people have top GRE scores and others have 50th percentile. In my field, I do think GPA is an actual factor at the top schools though, since physics/astro/planetary is a field where you really do need a strong undergrad foundation. So I think most students at the school I went to had at least 3.5 GPA. This doesn't mean that there aren't people with lower GPAs that still get in because of other merits though. 

Also, at least at the program I was at, I get the sense that top tier schools actually are more willing and more able to take more "risks" in accepting students. I got the sense that my program accepted students based on potential more than standard achievement metrics such as GPA, GRE, amount of experience etc. Every prof there had plenty of funding for students, it's not like they can only take one every few years and therefore have to be very selective to ensure they get a return on investment. 

So, my advice for top schools is to figure out what they want and show them you've got it. Showing a great fit into their research program is very very important.

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