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Best Undergraduate School for a Physics Major

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  • Thread starter SkoolDaze
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Hello everyone!

Our son wants to pursue physics as a major (eventually getting a Ph.D.) and wants to ultimately become a research physicist. He has narrowed down the schools that he has been accepted to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Case Western Reserve, and the University of Rochester. We have seen ratings for graduate school physics programs, but there really isn't much out there on the undergraduate level.

We would welcome the thoughts and opinions of the people in this forum as to what they think is the best of his three choices. We recognize that he probably can't go wrong in any one of these, but he'll be the first scientist in the family, and we want him to both enjoy his college experience and succeed.

Thanks in advance!
 

Answers and Replies

In my opinion, the undergraduate school you go to is not of much importance compared to which graduate school you will attend after.

But here are some observations about undergraduate schools:

1) The bigger the university, the less they care about YOU.
2) The bigger the university, the harder the competition is for scholarships etc.
3) At the bigger universities there will be tons of people better than you at everything, so it is that much more difficult to shine and get opportunities.
4) Every university has good and bad professors.

2) and 3) are pretty much the same
 
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2) The bigger the university, the harder the competition is for scholarships etc.
3) At the bigger universities there will be tons of people better than you at everything, so it is that much more difficult to shine and get opportunities.
I disagree with these two. As far as 2 is concerned, the competition isn't necessarily harder. There's more people applying for scholarship, that's true, but there may also be more funding available. As for 3, again, it's true that there will be lots of people better than you, but that doesn't mean it's going to be more difficult to stand out and get opportunities. If the school is bigger there are usually a lot more opportunities, and as far as standing out, I don't think it's harder to be top 6 in a class of 300 than the best in a class of 50. It might be, but then again there's a greater margin for error compared to a place where you have to be first, and second place isn't acceptable.
 
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URoch Physics undergrad here; I don't know if I have anything worth saying regarding a decision since my knowledge of the other two schools is limited, but if you have specific questions, I'll answer to the best of my ability.
 

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