You might consider a graduate program in physics if… • • • • You enjoy doing research You enjoy teaching You want to be a professor You want a research job in industry or a national lab • You want to learn more physics • You don’t mind being poor for 5+ years • You want to be a specialist in your field How to apply to grad school • Make a list of schools to apply to. Consider: – Geographic location – Interests of the faculty (if you know what yours are) • Make sure it’s not just one person! – Quality of the department – Going to a different school than for your undergraduate degree – Application deadlines! • Explore these things online: – At the webpages of schools – At gradschoolshopper.com (run by AIP) – AIP website (aip.org) Recommendations • Ask for recommendations EARLY – And be organized: give each referee a folder containing forms, pre-addressed envelopes, & a to-do list • Customize referees to institutions, when possible (e.g. if you know someone who attended or worked there) • Stay within parameters of applications (if they say 3-5 letters, don’t send 7 or 2!) Tests • Register for the GRE (General & Physics) sufficiently early – Physics GRE in October & November: later date may be too late for some deadlines – General GRE (computer-based) has rolling administration • Give plenty of prep time for Physics; – seek out study groups or review sessions for practice – Look for patterns in sample questions (e.g. positronium)! The essay • DO – Reflect your research experience, style, and preferences – Be confident: this is an advertisement! – Introduce relevant material that makes you stand out (not necessarily physics, but transferable) • DON’T – Lie or exaggerate – State things about yourself without data (“peacock terms” in Wikipedia) – Be arrogant or egotistical – Discuss unrelated topics – Be emotionally loaded Once you get in, how do you decide? • Visiting weekend – Talk to both professors and students (and postdocs if you might work with them) – Realize that they’re being way nice to you & calibrate – Consider the campus & surroundings (you have to live there 5+ years) – Get contacts for further questions – Get a “feel” for how people interact in the department: is it collegial? Antagonistic? • • • • • • • • • Ask about (in no particular order) Housing, health care, transportation, athletic facilities, student life, departmental resources, qualifying exams, course requirements, Your special needs (family, childcare, spouse/partner support, disabilities, etc.) • AAAH!!! Moral: Graduate school involves your whole life for a significant fraction of its duration (~20%). Choose a school and environment that fit your entire life, not just your professional life!