Technically, I could graduate Spring 04, and start applying for physics graduate programs right now. The alternative is to delay a year to do undergraduate research in order to get really good letters of recommendation (and I was also thinking of retaking some courses in which I’ve gotten C’s). I hope doing this will increase my odds of getting accepted at a decent PhD program (decent being top 40). But will it?
Obviously I wouldn’t be in this conundrum if my grades were really good, or if I had done some good research earlier. I don’t know if age is a factor, but I’m 26 (physics BS is my second degree – I began this journey in Jan 2002). (I’ll be either 32 or 33 when I get the PhD – is that too old to BEGIN a career?).
I talked to two academic advisors, and got conflicting advice. One even tried to talk me into switching fields (to law school, of all things)… I might not be very good at it, but I like physics. I want physics, ok?
On the personal side, I don’t mind spending more money (I got a side job) or time (I disenganged my fiance-wannabe) if it means it will <i>significantly</i> improve my application. My question is, will an extra year make a <i>significant</i> difference?