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I am an international student at a US university with a major in Physics. I am applying for PhD in astrophysics/gravitational physics fields. Until my sophomore year I was a Computer Science major with a Physics minor, but starting my junior year, I changed my major to Physics. During my sophomore year, I was suffering through home-sickness/depression and failed two of my Computer Science classes. (Later I did a computational project and won a prize at a hackathon). But I have A's in all my Physics classes (including the upper level courses), and did a summer internship at a reputed institute in Germany. I am a senior with a 3.8 GPA in Physics and 3.5 overall GPA. I am not aiming for any top universities, but mostly to lower ranked schools with good Physics programs (that are within my GPA and GRE scores). Should I still consider applying to grad schools or change my career plans? How does this affect my application?

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I recommend applying and seeing what happens. I also encourage you to apply to a couple of stretch schools, you may be pleasantly surprised. Don’t limit your options at this point, you seem very pragmatic and realistic, but perhaps a little hard on yourself.

Your explanation of your circumstances and grades is straightforward and responsible. At some point you may be asked about those few low grades and you are ready to explain.

I suspect the only issue for you might be getting an assistantship or some support, those are very competitive. But if you need aid, ask for it and see what happens.

It is too early for you to change your career direction, I wager that most/many people applying to graduate school have at least one grade on their transcript that they wish they didn’t. I had one, it bothered me, but no one else. I got into my dream program at a top school and had a great academic career.

If you don’t apply, you are guaranteed not to get in.

Good luck with your studies and your career.

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