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Is it realistic for a white male from a large university to apply to good REU's?

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ktb
#1
Dec29-12, 10:42 PM
P: 45
I really want to do an reu this summer and experience research from a new perspective. I have a fine resume. Near 4.0, rising senior, and almost 2 years of experience leading to a 2nd or 3rd author publication in the works.

I know NSF puts a lot of emphasis on accepting women and minorities into REU programs, and I think this is great and all, but with it is it worth wasting my time with all these applications if they will hardly even be considered? I've done some research (some programs post past student profiles) and I've also noticed that almost of all of the white males that get accepted to these come from really small schools I've never heard of. I understand why this may be the case, but that's just another strike against my record. Also, I applied to a dozen REU programs last year and didn't get accepted to a single one. It's also not like I only applied to the top programs (I applied to BYU and LSU for christ's sake!).

Is anyone looking at this with a similar profile had any luck with REUs? If so where?
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Vanadium 50
#2
Dec29-12, 11:14 PM
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Why should you be accepted into an REU and deprive someone from a smaller non-research oriented school that opportunity?
jtbell
#3
Dec29-12, 11:43 PM
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REU's tend to give preference to students from schools that don't have a lot of research opportunities. That's what they were originally created for. If you're at a large research-oriented university, you have access to research opportunties at "home", and in fact you've already taken good advantage of them. I don't think you should consider yourself "deprived" in any way.

ktb
#4
Dec29-12, 11:44 PM
P: 45
Is it realistic for a white male from a large university to apply to good REU's?

Right. Like I said I understand that. There's very few spots. I just want to travel and meet new people, it's boring here.

My question was, am I wasting my time trying with so few spots?
Vanadium 50
#5
Dec30-12, 06:13 AM
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Quote Quote by ktb View Post
Right. Like I said I understand that. There's very few spots. I just want to travel and meet new people, it's boring here.
So your position is that you should deprive someone else of that opportunity because you're bored?

I don't think that's a very good reason.
ktb
#6
Dec30-12, 10:46 AM
P: 45
When I first started applying to these last year, I was under the impression that it was about who was best suited for the job (you do get paid 4-5 grand). I thought research experience helped not hurt my chances. I guess I was very wrong. Thanks for clearing up those misconceptions.

I have another question though. If I continue to do research for the same professor this summer, I will be applying to grad school where my only research experience is with that group. I will probably only have one good letter of recommendation from him and two that are from professors I have only taken their classes. Does this hurt my application for grad school? I also want to experience other sub-disciplines of physics, but I'm afraid of looking in case I don't get as good of a group as my current one. I definately enjoy my time spent with my current group.
mathwonk
#7
Dec30-12, 10:49 AM
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I do not think it is your responsibility to withhold from applying to REU's just to let someone else have a shot. Admissions are the job of the host university. Your job is to promote yourself within the rules.

It does seem as if the rules prefer disadvantaged students: (quote from scripps web site)

"We are especially interested in recruiting students who are not typically represented in mathematics and for whom this experience could be the deciding factor in choosing a career in mathematics. Special efforts will be made to include women, underrepresented minorities, person with disabilities, and students coming from institutions where research opportunities are limited."

But it may be that some schools do not find enough such applicants and would be happy to take you. To find this out it is not too helpful to survey people here who are just speculating about the process, but that can only be learned by asking people at the host institution.
LBloom
#8
Dec30-12, 11:36 AM
P: 173
As a white male from a large research university who got accepted to a few REUs last year, I would say yes, its worth it to apply.

REUs do try and help people from small research universities, but its not always the case. In one REU I was a part of we had three people from the home institution (large research school), two people from Cornell, and one from Stanford (granted a freshman). They also look good on your CV and having good internships are often expected.

So apply if theres some research going on you can't get involved with at your school (as in my case) or if you think it will be worth it. They're very competitive but they're worth it.
ktb
#9
Dec30-12, 12:21 PM
P: 45
Quote Quote by LBloom View Post
As a white male from a large research university who got accepted to a few REUs last year, I would say yes, its worth it to apply.

REUs do try and help people from small research universities, but its not always the case. In one REU I was a part of we had three people from the home institution (large research school), two people from Cornell, and one from Stanford (granted a freshman). They also look good on your CV and having good internships are often expected.

So apply if theres some research going on you can't get involved with at your school (as in my case) or if you think it will be worth it. They're very competitive but they're worth it.
Thanks LBloom. Do you mind telling me where you got accepted? And if they were NSF sponsored or not?
ModusPwnd
#10
Dec30-12, 12:31 PM
P: 1,049
Quote Quote by LBloom View Post
They're very competitive but they're worth it.
Competitive indeed. I applied to 11 REUs for the summer between my third and fourth year. I had great grades and all the deans list crap, but no research experience. I got accepted to exactly none. I did see a preferred minority with worse grades get in where I was denied though... It sucks, but that is the way it is and you should just apply anyway.
LBloom
#11
Jan5-13, 10:38 PM
P: 173
ktb,

Yes they were all NSF sponsored as all REUs are. I would also consider applying to SULI if its not too late or look at the Caltech SURF program.

I've been accepted to the minnesota, sbu, indiana reu programs and the fermilab suli program. There were a lot I never heard back from (either because of a negligent letter writer and/or I was just rejected) and be prepared for plenty of rejections. REUs are statistically more competitive then graduate programs even without considering demographics. In all my programs there was a 50/50 split between male and female which you certainly won't see in any graduate program. Just keep in mind that REUs are primarily designed to give people without research opportunities a chance to conduct research.
Stengah
#12
Jan6-13, 12:41 AM
P: 233
Why not work for a different group over the summer? If you have a perfectly good opportunity to do research over the summer at your school then I wouldn't bother applying.
mfZero
#13
Jan6-13, 12:45 AM
P: 8
Quote Quote by Vanadium 50 View Post
Why should you be accepted into an REU and deprive someone from a smaller non-research oriented school that opportunity?
I don't understand this. Why is it his concern if he's depriving someone else of that opportunity? If he were to get a job over someone else, is he not depriving someone else who needed that money?
Ascendant78
#14
Jan6-13, 12:50 AM
P: 279
Well, due to me being a non-traditional college student trying to support a family while going to college, I am attending a local community college for my AA (to save some money). As such, I can completely understand why REUs are intended for individuals in smaller colleges. There is literally not one single internship or research project I can become involved in at my college. I am having to build one from the ground up with my local hospital's nuclear medical and radiology departments. Even then, it's not actually "research," just a part of the physics field. So, though you are perfectly entitled to apply to them, I do find it a slap in the face personally, since you are doing so out of "boredom," whereas someone like me needs to do it out of necessity.

Regardless, one piece of advice I will give... there is a loophole here. Let me ask you, what is "white"? What other nationalities do you have in you? Personally, I have Polish, Cherokee Indian, Italian, Irish, and a couple others. So, when it comes to applying to things that I know discriminate against me because I am a "white" male, I take advantage of my mixed nationalities and mark myself as "other." Since there really isn't a "white," nationality, you are well within your right to do so. The act of discrimination against white males makes it hard to refute.
FalconOne
#15
Jan7-13, 03:06 PM
P: 38
You should apply to the REMRSEC REU at Colorado School of Mines. I had success with that program. Also, the Society of Physics Students REUs are almost not applied for by many people. I don't understand why.


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