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Realistically, how hard is it to get into a top 10 grad school?


blackhole123
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I am currently a chemistry major in my junior year. I have a 3.95 overall GPA (one B freshman year) and a 4.0 in chemistry. I have been doing undergrad research since the beginning of my sophomore year. Last summer I did an REU (if you don't know, it is a 10 week long research program for undergrads). Hopefully I will be doing another REU or internship this coming summer. I have already taken one graduate level chemistry class and got an A. I have my name in one published paper so far (not first author). I feel like I am doing everything that I can possibly do to bolster my chances for getting into a great PhD program, but part of my is really worried that it isn't going to pay off.

 

How badly will it hurt me that I currently go to a tier 2 school? It is a large state school with a good chemistry program, but it is nowhere near the types of places I have in mind for grad school.

 

I just want so badly to get into a big name, top ranked school for grad school and I have been working my tail off to make sure it happens. I just want to know if I really have a shot or if it is sort of a random chance type thing. I really feel like there isn't anything more that I could be doing to show that I deserve acceptance to a top ranked program, but yet I feel like I am still going to receive rejection letters and be left wondering why.

Edited by blackhole123
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Everything you stated above will help you in applying for grad school, but it depends which program you want to go to and what type of studies you plan for.

 

Different schools have slightly different requirements, but overall and on average, graduate programs in the sciences look for a strong academic background and research experience. This shows the school that you could not only get through the PhD program, but be a successful student with class as well as research.

 

The GRE exams are also important, but neither of the three "basic" requirements is enough. Good grades are helpful, good GRE score is helpful, and a good set of recommendation letters and personal statement is helpful. You could get into a program even if one of those is not "perfect", but if you show you are well-rounded and successful in all three, you have an excellent chance of getting accepted.

 

 

As a general rule, I'd recommend you make a list of your top 5 schools you want to apply to, and check the details in their application process. Some departments look for different types of candidates, and put emphasis on things like "extra curricular activities" or your personal statement. The best advice is to do your research, and know what each of the departments is looking for.

 

 

Don't give up on your grades! You'll have a much greater chance of getting accepted if you put such effort in your studies.

 

Good luck!

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I am currently a chemistry major in my junior year. I have a 3.95 overall GPA (one B freshman year) and a 4.0 in chemistry. I have been doing undergrad research since the beginning of my sophomore year. Last summer I did an REU (if you don't know, it is a 10 week long research program for undergrads). Hopefully I will be doing another REU or internship this coming summer. I have already taken one graduate level chemistry class and got an A. I have my name in one published paper so far (not first author). I feel like I am doing everything that I can possibly do to bolster my chances for getting into a great PhD program, but part of my is really worried that it isn't going to pay off.

 

How badly will it hurt me that I currently go to a tier 2 school? It is a large state school with a good chemistry program, but it is nowhere near the types of places I have in mind for grad school.

 

I just want so badly to get into a big name, top ranked school for grad school and I have been working my tail off to make sure it happens. I just want to know if I really have a shot or if it is sort of a random chance type thing. I really feel like there isn't anything more that I could be doing to show that I deserve acceptance to a top ranked program, but yet I feel like I am still going to receive rejection letters and be left wondering why.

 

Good schools need good students as much as good students need good schools.

 

GPAs in this day of grade inflation are hard to judge, as is the contribution of secondary authors of multi-author papers, but if you have strong recommendations from strong faculty members you should have no trouble.

 

It is more important that you find someone who does high quality research in an area that interests you and in which you have aptitude than it is to be enrolled in a "name" school. What wil count later on is the quality of your research. That said, name schools have big names for a reason -- and that reason is strong faculty doing first-rate research. So, the chances of finding a strong faculty member doing cutting edge research in an area that may interest you are very good at those name schools.

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