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College? Where?

  1. Nov 20, 2004 #1


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    I'm a junior in high school now, and am having a hard time figuring out exactly which college i should apply to/go to.

    I'm interested in physics, math, and engineering, but i don't know what field im interested in yet. I am fortunate enough to be goign to one of the better high schools in the country. (best/2nd best in alabama at least, alabama school of math and science). I have a lot of really good science and math classes here (ap phys c, AP calc 1, 2, diffeq, multi calc, linear alg, complex analysis, elec. engineering, digital electronics, robotics, mechanical eng., lasers and holography, astrophysics, quantum physics and theory of relativity, and i might be able to get a teacher to offer a nanotech class next year ( :biggrin: ), MOST of these classes i will have completed by the end of this year (junior year), i won't have had multi, complex, mechanical, lasers, or quantum this year, but i'll have had all the rest. But i don't know what i want to do/where i should apply.

    Right now i'm thinking cal tech for my first choice, but i really don't know. Any suggestions for college or field that i should consider appreciated ;)

    Edit: forgot to mention, Money IS a serious consideration.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2004
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 20, 2004 #2
    Thats an awesome high school you are in. My school doesn't even have half of those subjects.
  4. Nov 20, 2004 #3


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    Staff: Mentor



    http://www.gradschools.com/engineeringsearch.html (I know it says grad schools, but a good grad program may indicate a good undergrad program too)

    MIT, Stanford, Caltech are top private schools, no doubt. There are many good public/state universities, but going outside Alabama, you would pay out-of-state tuition, which could be $20K-$30K. The private schools start at about $30K.

    If you want to do pure math or science, then look at:

    Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, Columbia, Caltech, Stanford, and numerous others, and all state universities.

    Perhaps if you try to read math, scientific and engineering journals in the field of interest, you can find out who is doing what in your field at which university (ies).

    Also, there are many scientific and engineering societies who have members from academia, government labs, and industry, who are more than willing to help.

    American Physical Society (http://www.aps.org/)
    American Institute of Physics (http://www.aip.org/)
    American Chemical Society (http://www.chemistry.org/portal/a/c/s/1/home.html)
    American Society of Mechanical Engineers (http://www.asme.org/)
    Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc (http://www.ieee.org/)
    American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (http://www.aiaa.org/)
    American Society of Metals (now ASM International) - (http://www.asminternational.org)
    The Metallurgical Society (TMS) - (http://www.tms.org)
    American Nuclear Society (ANS) - (http://www.ans.org)

    Just some of my favorite places, and I am a member in several.
  5. Nov 20, 2004 #4
    I looked at the matriculation of the c/o 2004 and I have no doubt the school will set you up for Caltech and it's actually incredibly easy to get in with good standardized test scores (a few students from my class of 110 were accepted but none went). I will tell you right now though that although you are taking advanced courses, there is 1. no corresponding AP test and 2. no credit given for them. Colleges don't want you to skip through all your major's curriculum before you ever get to them.

    Now for the not negative stuff. That is a very nice school you go to. I went to a NCSSSMST school as well (of which Caltech is a part of) in FL. Caltech is in my opinion the hardest school in the nation and the work is massive but it pays off. My current physics prof. went to Caltech and he now does research at CERN in Geneva. Other choices to consider are Georgia Tech, UMich and IIT. Each has a strong department in each of your interested fields and aren't hard to get into (I got into the two I applied to but this school threw money at me). Not to mention that but they've got well above-average student bodies (and they're public so they cost less). Georgia Tech has a great co-op program where you work for a semester and go to school for a semester at some great companies/organizations like Lockheed Martin or NASA, so if you're looking for something to build your resume for later in life you may want to consider there. I can't say much about the other two but considering the other two are in large cities there are similar programs there.

    Anyway, good luck with your college search. If you have your heart set on Caltech then go for it
  6. Nov 20, 2004 #5


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    Thanks for the advice. I am aware that most of the better schools will not accept AP credit and the such, i'm fine with that. I was thinking they would 'think' better of someone that already has AP credit/done well in higher classes than others. As for Georgia tech, im sorta planning on that being one of my 'backup' schools, though not sure yet. UMich i haven't looked into that much, but i was planning on doing so, and ITT, i hadn't looked into at all yet. Also, what are your thoughts on MIT? I'm probably going to apply there, but i'm not really sure. Should i try to apply early admision to anywhere?

    And Astronuc, thanks for the links, i'll definately look into those sites. :smile:

    edit: and lol vsage, i was born in gainsville. :tongue2:
  7. Nov 21, 2004 #6
    I didn't really want to mention MIT because it was an obvious choice for a good student (judging by what you say) such as yourself. There's plenty of people out there to sing the praises of that institution. I applied there but eventually decided against completing my application after receiving an e-mail from one of my relatives (who went through MIT's grad program) that was very downcast about the undergraduate experience there and said essentially I was better off getting a degree at another school, socially and mentally (healthwise).

    I have two good friends going through their first year at MIT right now and one of them has pretty much given up on becoming an engineer and is settling with either a business degree or some odd physics degree that only requires 4 classes a semester. I'm not saying you're as underprepared as them since you appear to come from a boarding school (I briefly looked at your website and that's the feeling I got, I may be wrong).

    It's good you're considering Georgia Tech. One of my other friends who went to RSI at MIT chose that school over a free pass to get into MIT because of the "stress to succeed". I think she eventually settled on UMich though because her parents thought Atlanta was too dangerous (laughs). Definitely look more into UMich because they're a top engineering/math school as well. One thing I did hear about UMich from an alumnus that getting a good GPA can be very difficult compared to other schools, which may impact your chances of getting into a good grad school in which where you go is a little more important than undergrad.

    I neglected to take into account you were also interested in a pure science degree. You can't get much better than Ivy-league in that department. I don't really know anyone that goes there and am just going on "friend-of-friend" information. Speaking of the Ivies, since when has Harvard had an undefeated football team? :)

    Anyway this got long. I hope I made my stance on MIT painfully clear :P

    Edit: You should probably know this but yes I am partial to Georgia Tech. I'll be starting there as a junior next fall provided they accept me again.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 21, 2004
  8. Nov 21, 2004 #7


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    Honestly, I sorta got that impression of MIT myself, even though i really hadn't heard all that much about it. I'm thinking i will still apply, but chances aren't good that i'll go. I looked a little bit a UMich, and it looks pretty good really. I'll probably apply there. My parents are partial to both UMich and Georgia tech because my mom's brother actually teaches at UMich (he does something sorta physics related, and something sorta related w/ nasa, i'm gonna have to ask him about it), and her sister lives in chicago. Whereas my grandparents and my dad's sister live in atlanta. (and funnily enough my dad's brother lives near cal tech).

    I'll look into the Ivy leagues, but i'm not sure if i'll apply to any. Im not sure i want my major to be pure science, so i'd like a little flexibility. Besides, the Ivies have always seemed 'more' humanities oriented than math/science (not that i think their programs in math/science are bad).

    And yeah, you were right, ASMS (ala school math & science) Is a boarding school. :wink:

    Edit: and are you at U of F right now? if so, how is it there?

    Edit 2: Should I consider university of alabama? I'd really rather not stay in the south (i'm one of the few non-rednecks :frown: ) but i could get a free ride + lotsa credit + Probly a free laptop.. :tongue2: So i dunno if i should go for that...
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2004
  9. Nov 21, 2004 #8
    I am currently in UF's (dubious) honors program. It's much better than attending the university itself because you're sort of kept with other people in the honors program but these people yet are usually not academics-oriented. I was wooed here by their full scholarship and $2750 a semester via national merit, but even that can't keep me here now that I've learned about their weak math/science departments. Apparently math isn't even highly regarded enough here to compete in the Putnam competition, which really irks me (http://www.unl.edu/amc/a-activities/a7-problems/putnam/)

    The facilities are nice and you're practically treated as royalty if you're academically inclined, but I always preferred to be one of the commoners to being one of the elites. You should apply to Alabama in case something goes terribly wrong with your admissions process (like mine did. I was going to go to Georgia Tech until April 29, literally 1 day before my acceptance of my acceptance was due).

    Socially, there are a lot of opportunities but the whole "my dad just bought me a new mercedes" attitude carried by a lot of the people here (especially the girls) gets old. I love the football though :) If worse comes to worse, you can cut costs by going in-state for the first year and transferring, but keep your GPA up. Most decent schools require 3.5 GPA's to transfer. Good luck!
  10. Nov 21, 2004 #9


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    Well, that dashed any thoughts about applying to U of F :tongue2: that is really lame that they don't compete in that. I 'spose i will apply to UA, and consider going there for a year or so, save up some money, etc. (i also grew up in tuscaloosa, where ua is, so i know some people and the city). And my GPA dropping isn't a problem. I'm OCD and a bit of a perfectionist, so my GPA stays high. ;) (3.94 right now, DAMN those 2 humanities classes :grumpy: ) :tongue2:

    As for the 'socially' aspect is, if you went to asms, you would understand that no matter where i go, i'll be screwed socially. i don't even know what 'real people ' are like any more. :tongue2:

    thanks again for the advice though. :cool:
  11. Nov 21, 2004 #10
    If money is a factor don't completely close the door on technical universities that are strong in the fields you described yet lack some prestige- they tend to give out a lot of scholarships to prospective students with a record such as yours. You can get a strong education out of the deal just as acceptable as the big name schools yet at a fraction of the cost (free rides not out of the question).
    I don't really know schools in the south but further north two examples are Carnegie-Mellon University and Case Western Reserve University. Both are great schools and prime research institutions who attract intelligent people via merit based scholarships. I know many a friend going to both who got into Ivy-league schools but opted for the scholarship money instead.
  12. Nov 23, 2004 #11
    Although Caltech doesn't accept AP credit, that doesn't mean it doesn't facilitate appropriate placement for advanced students.

    It's possible to test out of first and second year core (math, physics, chem), or any subdivision of them, but it rarely happens.

    However, Caltech is expensive. The institution will meet all need-based financial aid and will support its students in securing any addition money in the form of loans or such, but if you don't qualify for financial aid then you've got a pretty price tag on your education. Also, scholarships are extremely sparse, but if you do get one, it's probably a full ride. Scholarships typically go to people who have already done meaningful research or have otherwise shown a large aptitude for a subject, i.e. winning the International Chemistry Olympiad.

  13. Nov 23, 2004 #12


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    Holy jesus. And I ***** and moan about the 4.5k I have to pay here.

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