What schools should I shoot for? (Microbiology)

<p>Howdy,</p>

<p>I'm going to apply to graduate programs this fall, but I have no idea where in range I should shoot. I've got some reaches on board, but I really don't know what's reasonable for me.</p>

<p>I've got a 3.1 at a state school, and a 3.3...ish? since sophomore year. I've got a 3.6 in my major classes and I've got 2 years of solid research experience but I have no publications (I've presented at a conference and may present at another this fall). I've also got an REU this summer, and I should be able to get two solid recs from professors who've seen me research and one from a professor who's seen me tackle some tricky upper-division work and with whom I've talked about my research interests.</p>

<p>I'm particularly interested in microbial biotechnology, especially relating to alternative fuels and bioremediation.</p>

<p>I haven't taken the GREs yet but I've been scoring well on practices, and I'm dutifully slogging my way through Alberts as I prepare for the biochem subject exam.</p>

<p>I'll be casting my net wide, so to speak, and applying for jobs and master's programs as well as doctoral programs.</p>

<p>My problem is that I want to diversify the range of schools to which I apply, and I've been going by who's doing research that interests me. Still, though, I don't know how good a shot I have at the ones I do put on my list. Where's realistic?</p>

<p>Thanks for your input.</p>

<p>This is advice I received from a professor:</p>

<p>Apply to two schools which you think are more selective than you are competitive.
Apply to several schools on the same level as you believe yourself to be.
Apply to two schools less selective than you think you are competitive.</p>

<p>You might luck out. I did. </p>

<p>Beware though, you might be admitted to EVERY school you applied to. I applied to seven, and whittling my choices between the seven was VERY difficult. I have friends who were accepted to some absurd number of schools (high-teens) and they were nervous wrecks in the weeks leading up to April 15th.</p>

<p>Realistic is kind of an idealized criteria. Figure out who you want to work for and tailor your SOPs to their interests.</p>

<p>Strangely, I found the most prestigious schools gave the least amount of space for personal statements. 2000 character max at some. In this instance, it should be noted that your letters of reference will likely play a much greater role than your own statements in admissions decisions.</p>

<p>I'll be ... applying for jobs and master's programs as well as doctoral programs</p>

<p>Good luck. I can't imagine doing all of this simultaneously especially because there is no sense in applying for jobs eight months before you would be available to work. If I can make a suggestion- apply for Phd programs first. Perhaps it might make sense to apply for a masters program as a back up plan but that almost never seems like a good idea as compared to working as a tech. If you don't get a graduate school offer that you like, then start applying for jobs in the spring.</p>

<p>I'm particularly interested in microbial biotechnology, especially relating to alternative fuels and bioremediation</p>

<p>There ya go- this is the basis for which schools to apply to. Very few microbiology departments have labs studying non medical aspects of microbiology. You may actually want to consider environmental engineering departments as well.</p>

<p>Oh gosh! Yeah, I totally meant that I would apply for jobs closer to the start date, not eight months in advance. </p>

<p>The trouble with engineering departments is that I don't think my math is up to scratch for an engineer (I baaaarely passed linear algebra). </p>

<p>I was more or less following the research - I read about some interesting research a prof was doing, looked him up, realized he was at Berkeley, and that set me off worrying.</p>

<p>Thanks for the tips!</p>