Some questions about bioinformatics and general PhD admissions
I have several questions regarding what my expectations should be regarding graduate school. First off, I will post my "stats":
CS major, Mathematics minor
CS GPA 3.9
~2 year co-op at a software engineering firm (tuition paid by them)
I am studying to take the GRE right now, so we'll see where that takes me. Also, I certainly don't go to a top school. It is a 4-year, state university that emphasizes teaching and a liberal arts education. I know two professors fairly well. I've taken a class with each, and one is my academic adviser. The other has agreed to do a bioinformatics-related independent study with me over the summer and the semester after. Thus, I expect to have two strong letters of recommendation. I will likely get a letter from my employer as well as another from another professor for 4 letters total.
Anyway, let me get to the questions:
1) Will admissions look highly at my work experience if they consider I've worked 20 hours or more (30 hours this semester) each week? Will this offset going to a lesser known school or any other "scars" that my application materials may possess?
2) I haven't taken a biology class since I've been attending the university, yet I want to go into computational biology. However, I have AP Biology credit and will probably take a genetics class next fall. If I do research in computational biology in addition to this, will this eliminate any doubt about a biological background? Most bioinformatics graduate programs expect a background in computer science and/or biology (sometimes mathematics, chemistry, or other majors are included in this) and are willing to admit students with a deficiency in one or the other.
3) Finally, assuming I do well enough on the GRE (I expect to do so), do I have a well-rounded application that would be suitable for a PhD program? I realize I'm likely not top-tier material, but do I have a reasonable shot at some PhD programs? Any gauge of the "tier" of programs I should expect?
I will be discussing graduate schools with my professors in the months to come, but I want to sound reasonable in my ambitions.