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What are my chances of getting into any grad school?

PHY.PHY. 35 replies12 threads Junior Member
Hello everyone, first Id like to thank you for taking the time to read this post.

Currently I am not doing to well. Im an incoming junior Physics major at the College of William and Mary with an overall 2.79 GPA. My goal is to get a Masters of Mechanical Engineering and hopefully work for NASA, SpaceX, or Blue Origin one day. Though I just cant stop thinking that I have no potential of getting into any grad school.

I would like to know wether I do have a chance of getting into a grad school. Also any tips/advice on what I should be doing right now to increase my chances ( (just some insight) over the summer I will be working on theoretical research on the Theory of Quantum Gravity ). Anything would help thank you.
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Replies to: What are my chances of getting into any grad school?

  • xraymancsxraymancs 4724 replies19 threads Super Moderator
    Well, the first thing you will need to do is to manage to raise your GPA over 3.0 in the next two years. If you have been taking a heavy load and that has been a problem for your grades, then try to lighten the load. Graduate program will pay attention to your last two years of GPA if you show improvement.

    More importantly, moving form physics to a Mechanical Engineering Masters will require a significant amount of remedial coursework. As I read it your university does not have an engineering program and this will be a challenge for you. Take electives in programming if your physics curriculum does not include a lot of computing and see if you can get some experience with 3D CAD and design somehow. Your most likely path will be to work for a while in an engineering job and then return for a Masters once you know the right kind of degree for you. You can compete for these jobs as a physics major if you emphasize your skills and not your major.

    To develop the engineering skills you need to compete, look for an internship this summer or next summer with a company where you can get involved in engineering tasks. If you are doing on-campus research get involved in a project where you have the opportunity to help design and build equipment. This is not uncommon for physicists and it is very close to the kind of thing that engineers will be expected to do.
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  • damon30damon30 1147 replies5 threads Senior Member
    Interesting combination of career goals and research interests. I created a thread about Sabine Hossenfelder here that got zero responses. Read her book "Lost in Math", if you haven't already, and check out her "Backreaction" blog: http://backreaction.blogspot.com. Understand that the employment outlook for physicists is somewhat dire, especially for theoretical physicists. Getting into grad school is more doable. One area that you may want to consider is quantum computing, since "classical computer scientists" are more attracted now by the shiny objects deep learning/machine learning.
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  • BeaudreauBeaudreau 1155 replies39 threads Senior Member
    @damon30 - Excellent book! Also, What Is Real, by Adam Becker.
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  • IzzoOneIzzoOne 499 replies0 threads Member
    Are you saying you transferred into W&M with a 2.79 GPA? (If so, you are probably fortunate.) I would say that what you do your last two years will weigh heavily on your options. While Physics is an extremely challenging science from an intellectual standpoint, it is in a different direction from Mechanical Engineering. W&M's only engineering option, I believe, is a 3-2 with Columbia, but you would have had to have been in that program already. You'd likely have to take a number of classes to set yourself up for a masters in mechanical engineering. There is probably an advisor that covers this area at W&M (who likely has an engineering degree). I would suggest contacting them.
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  • PHY.PHY. 35 replies12 threads Junior Member

    (Im not a transfer student) From what I am witnessing my best course of action is to change my major, if you look up William and Mary EPAD Track we do have sort of an engineering degree. I already made a plan and I can fulfill the major requirements very easily.

    My only biggest concern is that if I am able to do well in these engineering courses. Since I have to really pick it up from here on out in terms of grades. I wanted to do a Phd in Physics but my best choice in my life right now is choosing engineering.

    What are your thoughts? Anyone is free to join on this conversation.

    Though I know I shouldn't be really asking people for help, its my life and I should know what I need to do. Im just really confused on what path I need to take, but with the help Im receiving I think Im witnessing the right one.
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  • damon30damon30 1147 replies5 threads Senior Member
    Though I know I shouldn't be really asking people for help,

    LOL. Don't worry about that. CC is nothing if not loaded with advice givers. My vote is quantum computing. At least check it out, since you have the prerequisites.
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  • PHY.PHY. 35 replies12 threads Junior Member

    Thanks for your help. Actually at the start of my college career I wanted to study quantum computing. Its when I chose to double major in computer science and physics, but that didn't end up going well ( which is why I have a low gpa ). Im pretty descent at physics.

    To work in the Quantum Computing realm I sort of need a Phd in Physics, which is way out of my reach. Thats why Im considering a masters in Mechanical Engineering. Its not what I want, but its something close to what I want to do.

    What I want to do is explore the universe. Getting from point A to B faster than the speed of light. Wormholes would be an example of it. (sorry getting a little off topic here)
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  • IzzoOneIzzoOne 499 replies0 threads Member
    @PHY. I apologize for the misunderstanding. You want to do ambitious things and you chose demanding majors (computer science and physics) and a demanding school. You also have ambitious dreams "getting from point A to B faster than the speed of light," which is great but you need to give yourself options. If you were able to improve your grades in your last two years, graduate school is likely still an option (assuming all else is good).

    The EPAD track is new, so hard to say how it would be received by recruiters. They are more set up to recruit say University of Washington computer programmers. W&M's program is perhaps closer to Applied Science than traditional engineering. That said, the trend is toward the interdisciplinary spaces in science and technology and this one works at the intersection of physics and engineering. Differentiating yourself can come in handy.

    Although you can get good advice on this board, and may attract someone who has successfully navigated a similar situation, you may get the best advice from some of the faculty and advisors at W&M.
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