Astrophysics after the Navy?

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Hello all, I am going to college this fall and I will be studying physics with a concentration on astrophysics, I am a pretty good student and afterwards I will serve 5 years in the Navy as an officer. My question is, will the 5 years I spend in the Navy hinder my chances of getting into top grad programs for astrophysics? I might also get a Masters right after graduation or during my time in the Navy.
 

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Dr. Courtney
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Meeting your service requirement after your BS will not hinder your grad school chances. A few recommendations:
1. Keep your grades up, especially your math and physics grades. Depending on your undergrad school, you should probably have a GPA well above 3.5.
2. Take the GRE (general and Physics) your senior year. You'll forget too much if you wait until you are about to apply for grad school.
3. Ask your research supervisor and a couple teachers to write letters of recommendation while your work for them is still fresh in their minds. 4-5 years from now, they can pull them up and send them.
 
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Vanadium 50
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The GRE is valid for five years. Unless you are in the Navy for exactly five years, you will need to retake it. And it will not be fresh.
 
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Meeting your service requirement after your BS will not hinder your grad school chances. A few recommendations:
1. Keep your grades up, especially your math and physics grades. Depending on your undergrad school, you should probably have a GPA well above 3.5.
2. Take the GRE (general and Physics) your senior year. You'll forget too much if you wait until you are about to apply for grad school.
3. Ask your research supervisor and a couple teachers to write letters of recommendation while your work for them is still fresh in their minds. 4-5 years from now, they can pull them up and send them.
Thank you Dr. As Vanadium said, it might not be exactly 5 years. Do you think that a Masters will help me with my retainment of knowledge? Both the masters and bachelors of science won’t be in astrophysics. My major will have only 4 astrophysics/astronomy classes, is this looked down upon by grad school admissions? Also (sorry for asking so many questions) what do you think about a double major? In my school everyone takes some engineering classes, even the humanities majors, so I was wondering if it was a good idea to double major with aerospace/mechanical engineering or comp sci.
 
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Dr. Courtney
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Thank you Dr. As Vanadium said, it might not be exactly 5 years. Do you think that a Masters will help me with my retainment of knowledge? Both the masters and bachelors of science won’t be in astrophysics. My major will have only 4 astrophysics/astronomy classes, is this looked down upon by grad school admissions? Also (sorry for asking so many questions) what do you think about a double major? In my school everyone takes some engineering classes, even the humanities majors, so I was wondering if it was a good idea to double major with aerospace/mechanical engineering or comp sci.
For grad school in physics, focus on your math and physics courses and GPA. Double majors are rarely worth the hit in terms of lower GPA and also reduced time for research.

Masters degrees vary with respect to retaining core physics knowledge. If in the process you end up taking graduate level classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, electrodynamics, and statistical mechanics at a PhD granting institution, then you should be duly refreshed in a lot of physics. The same courses from a MS only granting school (no PhDs) would be much less valuable, since many of these schools gift lots of grades with little learning.

Are you actually at the Naval Academy? (I taught at USAFA, and my wife taught at West Point.) Humanities majors in engineering courses sound like a military academy? Coursework at the military academies is usually viewed more highly by grad schools than the same coursework at many ROTC schools. If you are going to Navy, contact me by PM and I'll share my email address. I mentored more published undergraduate research at USAFA in my four years there than any other faculty member. I'm a consultant now, but I still mentor a number of student projects for students who cannot find research opportunities at their home institutions. If the research doors open too slowly for you at Navy, we might find something you can collaborate on from a distance or perhaps even visit our lab in Louisiana if time permits.
 
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