Astronomy/Astrophysics Gap Year/5th year of Undergrad

In summary, the person is a senior undergraduate majoring in Astronomy and Astrophysics at Villanova University. They are considering taking a gap year or a fifth year of undergraduate to get a double major in both astrophysics and regular physics. They are open to various fields in Astronomy and Physics, particularly Cosmology or Neutrino Astronomy. They are seeking advice on whether a gap year would be beneficial for studying for the GRE and working in a research position, or if it would be better to go straight to graduate school. They also mention the importance of having senior undergraduate courses in E&M and quantum mechanics before entering graduate school.
  • #1
ljones15
Hello there,

I am currently a senior undergraduate Astronomy and Astrophysics major at Villanova University. With the GRE and graduate school applications coming up I have been wondering if it would be beneficial for me to either take a gap year or to possibly take a 5th year of undergraduate so I can get a double major in both astrophysics and regular physics (couldn't be done in four years because of Chemistry requirements).

While I do see the pros and cons of the three possible options (go straight to grad school, take a gap year, or stay a 5th year for the double major) and I have read forums on subjects similar to this one I was just wondering if someone has any insight on my specific situation. If I were to take a gap year though, that time would be spent studying for the GREs and hopefully working in a research driven position applicable to what I want to do in grad school, i.e. such as working for one of my current professors (just to note I am already published).

In addition to just buffing up my basic astronomy and physics knowledge (such as going through and typing up all of my old class notes). My current plan is to do what I can in terms of studying for the upcoming GRE and then making the decision based on my scores. But if I were to learn that people believe a gap year is highly detrimental then I wouldn't even consider it and I would just go really hard for the GRE.

Also want to mention that while I am open to many fields in Astronomy and Physics I have been looking more toward the physics side of things, particularly Cosmology or Neutrino Astronomy, making the physics double major look more necessary. I also want to note that while I wasn't able to get the physics double major, I have taken or audited all possible physics classes up to this point (Adv E&M, Quantum, Subatomic, Adv Optics, etc...) so I at least have knowledge in these fields even if I can't put it on paper as a double major.

Any advice on these matters would be highly appreciated as it is very beneficial to see how people in the field view situations such as these, and I thank anyone who reads this for their time :).
 
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  • #2
I wouldn't want to go to graduate school without having senior undergraduate courses in E&M and quantum mechanics under my belt - not just audits, but having actually done the assignments and proven that I know the material. Without that preparation, I'd be worried about getting through graduate courses in that same material, as well as a comprehensive or qualifying examination.

With respect to taking a "gap" year there are a lot of good reasons to take one. Sometimes it's nice to have a break. If you can afford it, this is a good time in your life to do something else other than study. Or you could work and save up a nest egg. I wouldn't take one just to study for the GRE though. That sounds like a plan that could easily backfire and land you in a spot where you're a year behind where you would have been with no better grade on the GRE than you had in the first place.

For the record I don't think the simple fact of having a year long gap on your application will have any influence on your acceptance. Once you get to three years it might factor in.
 

Related to Astronomy/Astrophysics Gap Year/5th year of Undergrad

1. What is an astronomy/astrophysics gap year or 5th year of undergrad?

An astronomy/astrophysics gap year or 5th year of undergrad is a period of time where a student takes a break from their academic studies or extends their undergraduate education to focus on research and practical experiences in the field of astronomy and astrophysics.

2. Who can take an astronomy/astrophysics gap year or 5th year of undergrad?

Typically, students who have completed their undergraduate degree in a related field such as physics, astronomy, or mathematics are eligible to take an astronomy/astrophysics gap year or 5th year of undergrad. It is also possible for students who have completed some of their undergraduate coursework in these fields to take a gap year before completing their degree.

3. What are the benefits of taking an astronomy/astrophysics gap year or 5th year of undergrad?

There are many benefits to taking an astronomy/astrophysics gap year or 5th year of undergrad. It allows students to gain hands-on experience in research, develop specialized skills, and make valuable connections in the field. It also provides a break from traditional coursework and allows for a deeper focus on a specific area of interest.

4. How do I find opportunities for an astronomy/astrophysics gap year or 5th year of undergrad?

There are a few ways to find opportunities for an astronomy/astrophysics gap year or 5th year of undergrad. One option is to reach out to professors or researchers in the field to inquire about potential openings. Another option is to search for internships or research programs through universities or organizations such as NASA. Networking at conferences and events can also lead to potential opportunities.

5. Can an astronomy/astrophysics gap year or 5th year of undergrad be beneficial for graduate school or career opportunities?

Yes, an astronomy/astrophysics gap year or 5th year of undergrad can be very beneficial for both graduate school and career opportunities. It allows students to gain valuable research experience, develop specialized skills, and make connections in the field. This can make them more competitive for graduate programs and job opportunities in the future.

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