Applying to REUs: What Should I Focus On?

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In summary, when writing a personal statement for REU applications, it is important to address both your general interest in REU's and your specific interest in the research of each program. It is also recommended to mention 2-3 research groups and highlight relevant experience or coursework. When it comes to length, it is best to stick to around 500 words or 1 single-spaced page, unless a specific length is specified by the program.
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blerg
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I'm currently applying to a few reu's and all of them ask for a personnel statement. Most ask for a statement of purpose (why i want to go to an reu) and my goals for the future.

My question is what is exactly i should concentrate on. Should I concentrate on why i want to go reu's in general or should i address why i am interested in each reu's specific research.

When asked about my mathematical background, should i focus on my prior math knowledge or what?

Any guidance is appreciated. I have a lot to say, but I'm not sure what they're looking for.

Thanks in advance
 
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  • #2
blerg said:
Should I concentrate on why i want to go reu's in general or should i address why i am interested in each reu's specific research.

I would perhaps start with a short sentence or two about why you are interested in REU's in general... but then quickly move on to address the specific research groups that you might be interested in... and how that fits into your career goals. Be sure to try to mention two or three groups that do related work -- maybe two that do experimental work and one that does theory in your field of interest or visa-versa (depending on what you're interested in...). Sometimes that call for REU applications notes what professors might be sponsoring students (which should help you write this).

If you are interested in theory, it might be useful to include on your CV/resume what programming experience you have... if you're looking at experimental work you may want to discuss any spreadsheet analysis you've done in lab courses and any experience with statistical analysis of data as well as experience in practical labwork (equipment, electronics, chemical processing etc...).

With regards to your math experiece, note your coursework, as well as perhaps any self-stuff you've done (including possible statistical analysis of data...)

This is based on gut instinct... I've been on graduate selection committees but I've never been involved in the selection of REU students (although I went through the process as an undergrad, and as a graduate students I have worked with a few). I'm sure others on the forums will have more advice.

Good luck! Where are you applying?
 
  • #3
I don't mean to hijack your thread, so feel free to tell me to start a new one if you like, but how long are your statements? I'm also working on writing some of them and most applications don't have a word limit. Right now I'm staying at around 500 words, but all I keep hearing is to not make them too long and I'm beginning to worry that 500 is too much.
 
  • #4
first of all i would like to thank you for your help. that's exactly was i was looking for.

for the applications that just ask for a statement of purpose (some i am applying for ask for more) i am trying to limit mine to about a page (which would make 500 words a bit too long, but not absurd). the reason i am doing this is because 2 of the programs actually specify this length and I've just done the same for the others.
if the length isn't specified, i don't think 500 words is out of the question.
 
  • #5
blerg said:
if the length isn't specified, i don't think 500 words is out of the question.
I agree. If they do not specify a length limit for your REU personal statement, about 500 words / 1 single-spaced page is a good limit to set for yourself in my opinion.
 
  • #6
The one I wrote for last summer was 600 words, and I got in somewhere.
 

Related to Applying to REUs: What Should I Focus On?

1. What are REUs?

REUs, or Research Experience for Undergraduates, are programs funded by the National Science Foundation that provide undergraduate students with opportunities to participate in research projects at a university or research institution.

2. How do I find REU programs to apply to?

There are various ways to find REU programs, including searching through the National Science Foundation's REU Program website, checking with your university's research office or faculty advisors, and attending conferences or workshops related to your field of interest.

3. What should I focus on when applying to REUs?

When applying to REUs, it is important to focus on your academic achievements, research experience, and personal statement. These programs are highly competitive, so highlighting your strengths and why you are interested in the specific program can greatly increase your chances of being selected.

4. Is it important to have prior research experience to be accepted into an REU program?

While prior research experience is not always required, it can be beneficial when applying to REUs. Having some experience in a research setting can show your interest and dedication to the field, as well as your ability to work independently and collaboratively.

5. Can I apply to multiple REU programs?

Yes, you can apply to multiple REU programs. However, it is important to carefully consider each program and only apply to those that align with your research interests and goals. It is also important to prioritize and manage your time effectively when applying to multiple programs.

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