Assuming non-excellent and only good credentials when leaving college, can you increase the chances (how much?) of admission to a public R1 university by doing low-budget but unique research projects at home, like cultivating and study microorganisms under supervised conditions, contributing to the knowledge about asteroids by doing photometry and positional measurements, or building a small telescope array and observe Jupiter? Would projects like that help against other application competitors who have better marks from their college? What influence does life experience have in the process?

  • 1
    Is this independent research in the same field as the program you're applying to?
    – ff524
    Apr 12, 2016 at 22:49
  • I'm not gonna apply for some time to come. But in some universities a graduate program might cover both subfields with respective working groups, while other universities only offer one and not the other. So my question is more whether any independent research experience is an advantage as it shows commitment, setting up an experiment, and probably organising professional support in case of needed high-end analysis in a local institute, like mass spectroscopy.
    – Lucas
    Apr 12, 2016 at 23:58


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