Thinking Grad School?

There are different paths you can take with a Bachelor’s in Physics. If you are thinking about attending graduate school keep the following 6 tips in mind as you work your way towards a B.S. in Physics:

1) General GRE – most physics undergrads worry little about this test. If you are from the U.S., you took the SAT to get into college. Both tests are very similar. To go intro grad school, this is a must. Also, if you don’t go into grad school, you might still need to take it. Some fellowships and scholarships will ask for your scores. If English is not your first language and you don’t feel very comfortable, you might want to buy a book to practice your reading comprehension and writing skills. If this is the case, don’t worry too much about it. Do your best! This test is offered year round, check here for the dates.

2) Physics GRE – this test is the most important. Most people will tell you that this is the one that actually matters and the one they look at. This is almost always a requirement for grad school. There are a few graduate schools that do not require you to take it. It is offered once is September, October, and April. You must do your best on this test since it will have a lot of weight on your application. Check out our Physics GRE page to help guide you in your preparation. Regardless on how confident you feel, you should take the practice tests available.

3) Research Experience – along with the Physics GRE, this is something that is very important for your application, especially if you are planning on a Ph.D. It is important for you to have at least some experience in a research area of your choice. This will allow you to get an idea of how research in grad school is. Also, you will likely work closely with a professor who is successful in their field, who might end up writing a great recommendation letter for you. In addition, it will help you decide whether you want to continue in that field of physics or maybe go into something else. Have research experience tells the admissions office that you have a passion for learning and succeeding.

4) Networking – this is probably the most underrated thing for undergraduates. Meet people! Make sure that you not only build relationships with your classmates but also with professors. Yes, they might seem intimidating at first, but they are really caring and are willing to help you on just about anything.

5) Conferences – this is another place where networking happens. Go and talk to a stranger! Try to listen to a specific talk and then go ask questions or talk to the presenter about the talk. This can be intimidating, but you should not miss out on this great opportunity. If you are comfortable with this and you are somewhat advanced in your research, you should think about asking your professor to send you to a conference close by. Be mindful that they might not have the financial support to pay for your flight, but maybe they can cover registration fees.  This is a great way to meet professors that you might end up working for. Leave shyness or anxiety behind and go make some interesting conversation. It will be a lot easier to talk if they know your professor.

6) Other activities – joining clubs like the Society of Physics Students or the Astronomy Club is not extremely important in your application, but I think it definitely looks good. Most importantly, joining clubs like this will allow you to meet classmates on a more personal level. You will end up working on homework with them, studying, socializing, etc. These groups are great for studying and you can always find someone to answer your question or work with you through a difficult problem. Also, you can rely on other members to give you advice on just about anything. Don’t miss out on this great networking experience.

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