Chapman University vs. Lawrence University

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  • Thread starter 4everphysics
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  • #1
Okay... probably no one knows both of the university.
They are both extremely small school.
But please read this post, and I think anyone can help me out here.
Before I describe my situation, I thank you for your help.

Like many of you here, I am a physics enthusiast.
When I first took my physics course at my community college, I fell in love and almost
immediately changed my major.

I am now trying to transfer, and I actually got admitted to many universities:
UCB, UCLA, UCSC, UCI, USC, Chapman, Lawrence, CSU Pomona.

My first choice would definitely be UCB, but being an international student, I would have to pay $50,000 tuition. For similar financial reasons, I am left with Chapman and Lawrence University as my choice (they offered me enough scholarships.)

So if I do attend Chapman University,
the pro would be, I would get lots of attention from the professor. They literally have 'one' physics graduate thus far, because their physics department was created only three years ago. However, there are four teaching faculty (all theoretical) and something like 10 research faculty. Because there are only very few physics majoring students here, I will definitely get lot of intention. In fact, one of the professor wishes to do one on one study with me during the summer. Also, if I do attend Chapman, I can continue my research at UCI. I have been doing research at UCI since about half a year ago (this is legitimate research), and the UCI professor wishes me to work with him until I go to graduate school. I will soon be published as well.

However, there is one thing that I feel some what risky about attending Chapman.
Because Chapman's physics department is really new, I feel like I am taking a risk to attend a university with a physics department that is still trying to define itself.

Lawrence, although it is not the best physics department, seems to have established its program fairly well. They ranked top 10 in the nation in terms of the ratio of physics graduate pursuing phD after they graduate.

However, Lawrence has 1 theoretical and 3 experimental physicist.
My interest is more toward theoretical aspect of physics.
I am also very interested in particle cosmology, and although it is too early to say in my career, I would definitely want to study more about "quantum gravity".
All of the teaching faculties at Chapman have specialized in something related to "quantum gravity / string cosmology" in some ways.

What do you think? Do you think I will be taking a risk if I attend Chapman?
Is Lawrence University a better fit for me?

Does anybody actually know these universities' physics department?

Thank you so much for your help and thank you for reading this long post.


Answers and Replies

  • #2
I don't know either of their departments very well, but I grew up near Lawrence University - actually just North of it. Lawrence has a reputation for a strong arts program. As you already know, it is a very small school with a very small physics department. It is not necessarily well known in physics, but that is not always important. Also it is very expensive - almost $50k USD per year for undergrad but you said you got some scholarships.

As for your theoretical versus experimental notions of physics - throw it away. All physicists take the same core classes regardless of their research focus. So, don't use that as a metric. In addition, you are not stuck doing the same work in graduate school that you were doing as an undergrad. The important point about undergrad research is to find out what research really is and to actually do some - get your hands dirty.

Have you read ZapperZ's 'So you want to be a Physicist?' If not, I suggest reading it very closely:

Have you asked your research professor what his thoughts are? Have you gone and met with these departments yet? I would suggest doing those two things first and then base your decision off your own experiences.

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