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Intended field of Research: Physics (Particle Physics or Quantum Physics) Country: India I became an undergrad in 2018 and my degree was supposed to be completed within 2021, but due to the pandemic and I having had backlogs, I took 5 academic years to complete it. Now, I have spent 5 years in this system, I now realise that I haven't learnt a thing and the whole bachelor's was a waste and did nothing but to provide me with a certificate which is frankly useless and the only use I see of it is that I can now pursue masters. I am not gonna lie, I had a lot of time to study, especially during the pandemic, but thanks to my anxiety issues, me being lazy and somewhat stupid, I didn't study. Now, I am aiming to get into one of the prestigious Indian Institutes of technology, but the competition is pretty hard and I might get into some lower tier IIT rather than a higher tier one, thus I am taking another drop year, I want to read Feynman's lectures, I want to read of lot of books which a physicist should read and I should have read but didn't. I want to be good at what I will do in the future. Now, the biggest problem I am facing is to whether to drop again and risk my application looking bad.

I intend to apply for a PhD abroad and certainly not in India, I have heard some terrible things about doing a PhD in India and I certainly don't want to make that mistake, plus, I don't intend to live or work in India because the state of R&D in here is utterly dire and I know I won't be able to get funds to do anything important and Indian bureaucracy is a Kafkaesque nightmare and I want to be as far away from it as possible. My main goal is to relocate to a country with better infrastructure than India.

So, how would European/English PhD committees see two gap years (technically 3) in an application like mine? Would this be a deal breaker considering I want to pursue PhD in a European University which is in Top 100 QS World University Rankings?

PS: I have a good CGPA (7.1, good by Indian Standards) but my Physics marks are mediocre in Undergrad. I will be doing my Masters from some good IIT and most probably would have a good CGPA and paper there.

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    See academia.stackexchange.com/q/176908/75368, to see how doctoral admissions works in various places.
    – Buffy
    Oct 21, 2022 at 19:01
  • Does this answer your question? How does the admissions process work for Ph.D. programs in Country X? Oct 21, 2022 at 19:42
  • I am sorry, they don't answer my question. Oct 21, 2022 at 21:24
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    "I haven't learnt a thing and the whole bachelor's was a waste" - what makes you think you would do better in that gap year? You seem to be falling in a "study for the sake of study" trap, which is frankly more problematic than whatever the applications committees will see. "I want to be good at what I will do in the future" - you are past the core part of your education now. This "future" is already here. You will never have the perfect domain knowledge, perfect infrastructure, or no bureaucracy. What makes a good researcher is the ability to work with what you have.
    – Lodinn
    Oct 23, 2022 at 11:00
  • Also, do examine this canonical question more closely - BSc->PhD track is (at least mostly) an American thing, European universities would require you to have your MSc completed first. But overall I'm more concerned with your overall perception of top-100 universities somehow being all glamorous and great and Indian R&D being terrible. At least some of the Indian universities have fairly strong research teams, and it is labs and people that matter, not how the university ranks as a whole. More opportunities, yes, but what good is it if you never come to actually use them?
    – Lodinn
    Oct 23, 2022 at 11:06

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Gap years in and off themselves are not necessarily concerning. Many students take them, especially between a BSc and a PhD. It would be critical that you explain what you did during those gaps years. Did you work in a relevant field? Did you do any self study on relevant topics? It unfortunately sounds like you pretty much did nothing during a gap year. Taking one more gap year to build some meaningful experience or learning would be better than applying right now and having no such experience. I would look much more favorably on someone who took two years off, but had something to show for it, than someone who only took one year off and did nothing in that time.

I would avoid saying you did nothing because you are "lazy and stupid". There is no way that a potential advisor hears something like that and wants to bring you on as a student.

It would be concerning to me if I was on an admissions committee or was a potential advisor and received an application that pretty much amounted to "I'm not good enough to get into IIT programs and I am desperate to get out of India. Please admit me to your program." The harsh reality is this: If you cannot get into some decent programs in India, you are not likely to gain much traction in any decent programs in Europe. Your case essentially sounds like one of begging for pity because you do not like where you live.

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