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Safety schools

by Dens
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Dens
#1
Feb16-13, 08:55 PM
P: 74
When applying to grad school, a rule of thumb is to apply to "safety schools". I am wondering does that mean these schools we apply to may not have our desired programs?

I live in Canada and I am interested in mainly differential geometry for grad studies, but there aren't many grad programs with a focus in the subject; at most I could name four universities: UBC UofT, Waterloo, and McMaster with a focus.

But these universities are all "top tier" in the Canada. Other universities have Geometry groups, but they don't focus in Diff Geometry.

If you are applying to a math grad school that don't have a focus in your area does that mean you can't do your Ph.D (what I want) in that university?


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Vanadium 50
#2
Feb16-13, 09:07 PM
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"Safety school" is an undergrad concept. There aren't really safety schools at the graduate level - if a school offers a PhD, that means its pretty good.
Takuza
#3
Feb16-13, 10:15 PM
P: 40
Quote Quote by Vanadium 50 View Post
"Safety school" is an undergrad concept. There aren't really safety schools at the graduate level - if a school offers a PhD, that means its pretty good.
I don't think the term "safety" refers to the quality of a school, so much as how "difficult" it is to get accepted. There are certainly a few physics graduate programs that have 80+% acceptance rates in the US, while others have below 10%, so I don't think its a meaningless distinction, even if they are all "good".

To the OP, you can do a PhD anywhere the accepts you, though if a university that accepts you does not do the type of research you are interested in, you will either have to 1) research something else, or 2) find a way to research what you are interested in (this may prove to be very difficult). If you state in your application that you are interested in a certain type of research, and that research is not conducted at that particular university, I have a hard time imagining that has *no effect* on your application, but it certainly doesn't mean that you *can't* be accepted to the school in question.

But I'm just an undergrad so whatever.

Vanadium 50
#4
Feb17-13, 05:55 AM
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Safety schools

Quote Quote by Takuza View Post
There are certainly a few physics graduate programs that have 80+% acceptance rates in the US
80%? Where?
Lavabug
#5
Feb17-13, 06:22 AM
P: 897
I've combed through at least 50 US grad programs in the past year with AIP reported stats and I've never seen an admissions-applications ratio over 30-40%. In some cases, where the admissions % is that high, the actual number of enrollments is lower, possibly because no/minimal financial support was offered.
jtbell
#6
Feb17-13, 07:26 AM
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Quote Quote by Lavabug View Post
In some cases, where the admissions % is that high, the actual number of enrollments is lower,
Some people get multiple offers, and they can obviously take only one.
Takuza
#7
Feb17-13, 11:53 AM
P: 40
Quote Quote by Vanadium 50 View Post
80%? Where?
Upon looking it up, what I said is still technically true, but there are fewer programs than I thought. http://www.gradschoolshopper.com/gra....jsp?q=2&cid=3
micromass
#8
Feb17-13, 12:46 PM
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Quote Quote by Takuza View Post
Upon looking it up, what I said is still technically true, but there are fewer programs than I thought. http://www.gradschoolshopper.com/gra....jsp?q=2&cid=3
Uuuuh, how reliable is that information? I have trouble believing it. Do you have some official sources from the universities that agree with these numbers?
Takuza
#9
Feb17-13, 02:04 PM
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Quote Quote by micromass View Post
Uuuuh, how reliable is that information? I have trouble believing it. Do you have some official sources from the universities that agree with these numbers?
Nope, that is my only source. I don't have an issue believing it because it is information compiled by AIP, which is of course very reliable. I believe they have each school send them the information yearly. Also, the information seems pretty intuitive to me. However, if you don't feel that it's reliable then that is understandable.
SophusLies
#10
Feb17-13, 02:44 PM
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Quote Quote by micromass View Post
Uuuuh, how reliable is that information? I have trouble believing it. Do you have some official sources from the universities that agree with these numbers?
I agree with Takuza, it's from the AIP. I can't think of any other organization that would be more in touch with physics grad schools, maybe US News and World Report but they seem to only rank schools, at least the free version.

P.S. - Why the "Uuuuh"? That seems pretty condensing even online, and even more so for a Mentor.
Vanadium 50
#11
Feb17-13, 03:12 PM
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Those numbers are not very reliable: not that the AIP isn't, but that this table is a mix of different things - and that the numbers in the table don't always mesh with the numbers in the profile.

Most of the >80% schools do not have PhD programs, so they are not "safety schools".

I know that Colorado State asks students not to apply to the University until the Department has looked over their application and gives them a green light. So those numbers are not comparable to other numbers. I wouldn't be surprised if other places did that. One place I am familiar with has the University filter applications: if an application is incomplete or below certain thresholds, the department never even sees it.
Physics_UG
#12
Feb17-13, 06:34 PM
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yeah, obviously some schools are harder to get accepted to than others, so depending on your stats, some schools could be "safeties" and others "reach".
micromass
#13
Feb17-13, 09:20 PM
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Quote Quote by SophusLies View Post
P.S. - Why the "Uuuuh"? That seems pretty condensing even online, and even more so for a Mentor.
No idea why you interpreted that as condescending... Maybe it's just me, but I don't see it as such.
SophusLies
#14
Feb18-13, 10:14 AM
P: 222
Quote Quote by micromass View Post
No idea why you interpreted that as condescending... Maybe it's just me, but I don't see it as such.
Maybe it is just you. It just seems unnecessary to add fillers like that online.
SophusLies
#15
Feb18-13, 10:17 AM
P: 222
Quote Quote by Vanadium 50 View Post
I know that Colorado State asks students not to apply to the University until the Department has looked over their application and gives them a green light. So those numbers are not comparable to other numbers. I wouldn't be surprised if other places did that. One place I am familiar with has the University filter applications: if an application is incomplete or below certain thresholds, the department never even sees it.
Interesting, I never heard of such a thing. How do you know this? Do you have a reference?
micromass
#16
Feb18-13, 10:25 AM
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Quote Quote by SophusLies View Post
Maybe it is just you. It just seems unnecessary to add fillers like that online.
You're probably right. In either case, if Takuza feels that I was rude to him, then he should know that that was my intention. So I apologize to him for any rude or condescending tones in my posts.
ModusPwnd
#17
Feb18-13, 11:12 AM
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Quote Quote by SophusLies View Post
Interesting, I never heard of such a thing. How do you know this? Do you have a reference?
Just check out their webpage,

http://www.physics.colostate.edu/gra...ow-do-i-apply/

They have you "apply" then if you pass a preliminary investigation they have you actually apply.

That was one of my safety schools. I didnt even bother visiting it.
Arsenic&Lace
#18
Feb18-13, 12:44 PM
P: 294
The concept of safety school does still exist in the sense that places like Stanford are popular and fill up their quota pretty quickly with lots of strong applicants since lots of people apply; a school like ASU actually can't get enough good graduate students so they probably accept people with less stellar applications. Even still none of the grad students at ASU I've met are dummies or lousy students, from what I've gathered/talked about they all had pretty good apps.

EDIT: And a school like ASU sort of winds up funneling graduates into industry, presumably because none of the faculty are networked enough to get them into academic positions, although I have found one ASU PhD working at UT Austin when I googled around for it. So the wisdom goes that if you want an academic job, particularly in something like theory, you ought to find a place with a famous advisor to have a shot at it.


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