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Advice for a Sophomore

  1. Mar 17, 2005 #1
    I am a 19 year old sophomore at a state university. The budget at my school's Physics and Astronomy department is about 700,000$ a year, and we have about 120 students majoring. After this year, I have taken all the courses I need to graduate in physics except for a year long QM 2. I have very little money and qualify for financial aid.

    I have several questions:

    1) Should I push (take on 21 credits a semester) to graduate from my current school with a bachelors by next year, and rush to grad school? Or should I instead transfer to a better undergrad school my senior year to take more physics courses?

    2)If I plan on transfering to a better school as an undergraduate, should I plan on going to grad school there as well?

    3) My grades are all A's, and I took a lot of classes fast, but I don't think A's from a second rate college will distinguish me. How will I get accepted in to a good school? Will undergrad schools look at a GRE score?

    4) If I go to a better school, the only money I will have is whatever wages I earn from my job (on or off campus). How good do you have to be to get a free ride? (as a graduate or undergraduate).
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 17, 2005 #2
    First off, what state university are you going to?

    1)Take as many courses as you think you can. But don't bite off more than you can chew! It would definitely help with your financial situation to get through college asap. You could also try SallieMae or Citibank loans. These are bank loans that can cover full tuition and have great interest rates and payment plans.

    2)Don't try to make too many decisions on grad school. Focus more on getting the good grades to impress them. Employers will care more about your reputation or who you studied with rather than the university you went to.

    3)Grades are grades no matter where you get them. Transfer applicants are scrutinized more for their academic record and extra-curricular activities than any other criteria. You could have the grades from a community college or Harvard, in the end the admissions office will look more at the effort you put into it as a reflection of your aptitude and promise.

    4)I'm not too sure what you could do at this point to get a free ride for college. Try applying for scholarships at your college (or whatever college you transfer to) or do a federal work study.

    Grad school is a different scenario. Most universities offer TA positions to grad students. People who become TA's will get a free ride and receive a stipend (usually just enough to live on). The only downside of being a TA is you are a Teacher's Assitant, which means you'll have to teach undergrad courses while taking graduate ones. You could also try any number of fellowships to pay for you. Fellowships are way better and only require you to take part in a summer session for a collaborative study.
  4. Mar 17, 2005 #3
    Thanks a lot, thats great news! I really enjoy teaching (I tutor physics currently). Right now I am in Hawaii, so I am looking toward California for Graduate school.
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