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A good school for particle physics

  1. Jun 10, 2009 #1
    I would like to go to a school (In America) that is decent and has courses which would allow me to major in something such as quantum mechanics, high energy particle physics, or string theory (basically any kind of abstract, theoretical physics/science). I am a low A high B student, so i do decently in school but im certainly not top in my class, i have not taken the SATs yet but i expect ill do at least average but hopefully (and probably likely) better. Also my course load is decent, i have two AP courses and the rest are honors. I have also run for varsity XC at my school with a current time of 17:14, and i am going to WPI's frontiers physics program this summer. I would like to go to a school whose cost is about equal to or less then 30,000. I live in Connecticut. (sorry about all the info just wanted to make it clear on who i am and where i am coming from to help you make good suggestions).
    Does anyone know of any school which would meet the standards as far as courses and money go, that is decent and that i would have a fairly good chance of getting into?
     
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  3. Jun 10, 2009 #2

    robphy

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    One might be http://www.physics.sunysb.edu/

    By the way.... You'd likely major in "physics" (not "quantum mechanics", ...).

    Are there other preferences (location, size, ... ) ?
     
  4. Jun 11, 2009 #3
    o ok, ya i was wondering about that whether or not you majored in something that broad or if you were supposed to go more specific. As for any other preferences i guess the other two would be location and size. I would like to go down south or pretty much any where warm i want to avoid as much snow as possible. As for size, i would prefer a school that was on the smaller size rather than the bigger. However, both of these things aren't half as important as the others. If there was a school up in Maine that was good, cheap, and would accept me i would go.
     
  5. Jun 11, 2009 #4

    ZapperZ

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    Shouldn't you be talking to your guidance counselor about this?

    And has been brought up, you want to major in PHYSICS first. So look for good schools that have a physics program. And when I said "good", I don't mean just brand name Ivy Leaguers. I would also strongly suggest that you don't decide just what area you want to go into. You still haven't seen what physics has to offer, and you're probably being seduced by publicity and the "sexiness" of certainly field of study. At your level, you haven't fully understood yet what is involved in all this.

    Read this:

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showpost.php?p=2185951&postcount=56

    Zz.
     
  6. Jun 11, 2009 #5
    I just posted about this elsewhere but as has already been mentioned; you're going to find that books like Road to Reality and Fabric of the Cosmos really give a truly awful perspective on what physics is and what physicists do. When you take physics in university you will learn ALL of physics. You will start learning quantum mechanics in second year, you may learn general relativity in your final year although I've never seen a school where it was required (I never took it). and you will not do any courses on string theory until about the second year of your PhD or so and ONLY if you're like the 1% of physics who actually work in that field. Just to give you a reference
     
  7. Jun 11, 2009 #6

    robphy

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    Is your $30k figure for tuition alone? or does that include room-and-board?
    I haven't been attentive to the levels of "financial aid" to offset tuition at places with higher tuition.

    You want to be "warm" and "want to avoid as much snow as possible"...
    but you would go to Maine? Hmm...

    So, good and cheap are the key factors....
     
  8. Jun 11, 2009 #7
    Yes i understand that physics is a broad field i have tried reading about as much as i can including chemistry, mechanics, hydraulics, kinetics, electronics ect ect. i have not read elegant universe instead i stuck with more books that focus on the mathematics (books like vector analysis, physics demystified/physics for dummies, div grad curl and all that), because of this my actual knowledge knowledge of physics has been slow (i have a good shallow conceptual understanding but not a deep mathematical one) because number one i have to read and fully understand the math without help which i find increasingly difficult and because i don't have very many people around me who know enough or don't have enough time to really help. I understand that i have barley scratched the surface and that these abstract fields are not often majored in or even really worked in by the majority of scientists. I have not made a definite decision it just seems as if it is the greatest frontier in science at the moment, that it is where a large majority of universe perception changing discoveries are made and that is where i would like to be. I'm certainly more than open minded enough to understand that i may come to fancy something else the more classes in physics i take, i started this thread simply because i wanted to open my options and find schools that would offer courses like particle physics or string theory. I have also looked into Georgia tech, Virginia tech, WPI, and Clemson because they all offer engineering and physics courses.

    To Robphy yes those are the two main factors, the rest are simply luxuries which i can go without if they limit my choices. 30,000 would be the tuition. I wouldn't want to go any higher than that.
     
  9. Jun 11, 2009 #8

    robphy

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    You might want to check on research specialties in these various places...
    and see if any is active in particle physics or string theory... or whatever may interest you:

    http://www.physics.gatech.edu/research/groups.html
    http://www.phys.vt.edu/research_page.html
    http://www.wpi.edu/Academics/Depts/Physics/Research/faculty.html
    http://physicsnt.clemson.edu/index_old.html?main=site_map_research
    At least two of your named schools don't reveal any research activity in particle physics.
    You also might want to consider a plan B and plan C if things don't work out as originally planned.

    One thing I've learned is that:
    to get a sense of how realistic your plan of courses is,
    you need to check recent course offerings of the institution
    ...not just what is listed in a course catalogue
    [which merely lists "approved" courses even if they haven't been taught in 10 years].
    I got burned... and ended up leaving my first institution for http://www.physics.sunysb.edu/Physics/research.shtml


    As I mentioned above, it's possible that places with more expensive tuition might offer enough financial aid to offset some of the cost.

    Here are press-releases [with details in the middle]... (I'm not sure how this translates into real-life.)
    http://web.mit.edu/facts/tuition.html
    http://www.news.harvard.edu/r/tuition.html

    You might want to ask around.... (ask your guidance counselor for help.. students in the years ahead of you of their experiences)... and apply for admission and aid early.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  10. Jun 11, 2009 #9
    alright thank you, yes financial aid is certainly an option (although i doubt ill be getting into MIT or Harvard) but if i would like to have the tuition around 30k and then have financial aid knock it down from there. I just feel as if a lot of people go to college and pay extraordinary amounts of money on it and get stuck with student loans for years and years. Most students (especially physic students who go into a field like particle physics:)) dont really make enough money right out of school to make up for all of the money spent. Plus i feel like going to a school that is a little bit more expensive (lets say WPI) may not be any better education wise then going to a school that's a little cheaper (like Georgia tech). Also i know Georgia and clemson dont really offer much research or study in something like particle physics but once again its just something that interests me at the moment im fine with going to a school without a course in those sciences because its not the only thing i wish to do. I simply want to find some that do offer it and see if they also have enough of the other courses that im interested in.
     
  11. Jun 12, 2009 #10

    ZapperZ

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    Maybe this wasn't stated clearly enough to you.

    You first get a B.Sc degree in physics. Then you pursue a graduate degree (M.Sc or Ph.D) in physics, with a specialization. That is when you pursue these specialized fields within physics.

    It appears that you are already worrying about where to go for particle physics even at the undergraduate level! So what that Georgia or Clemson does not offer particle physics. You don't have to stay there AFTER you get your undergraduate degree! In fact, most students change schools when they go to on to graduate school!

    Zz.
     
  12. Jun 12, 2009 #11

    robphy

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    Access to faculty [whatever their specialty] is, of course, important.

    However, I think there is an advantage to being where there is
    an active researcher (or better... group of researchers) in the specific field(s) of interest.
    That researcher can be a guide to how to prepare academically,
    to enlighten you on what is a hot topic and who is working on it (i.e. where to apply to graduate school).
    You might be able to have an undergraduate course in that field (i.e. a regular or special topics course).
    You may even be able to participate in some research as an undergraduate with that researcher.
     
  13. Jun 12, 2009 #12

    ZapperZ

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    I'm not saying these aren't good. However, I question whether this is a major factor in the success of the majority of students going into grad school, especially in terms of getting students to go into one field versus another.

    Zz.
     
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