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Colleges, Universities, and Rankings

  1. May 8, 2007 #1

    I am a high school student who is currently looking at my options for different colleges, cost, rankings, quality of education, and student to teacher ratios. I am a national merit semifinalist and am in serious contention to become a finalist. I hold a 35 out of 36 on the ACT, and have not yet received results from SAT. I am looking for a college with a reputation for success in Engineering and Physics as I am considering a career involving physics or engineering, and would like to spend a negligible amount on the cost of my undergraduate education (3,000-4,000 a year). This means that I am looking for a university with a large amount of scholarship money available. I would like to know how different univerisities within the U.S. rank. Current schools that I am looking at are Auburn University, Texas at Austin, Texas A and M, Mississppi State, and Florida. If anyone has an opinion on any of these schools or on any college in the U.S., your advice and comments would be much appreciated. Lastly, I would like to go to a school where I the student teacher ratio is not immense. Thank you in advance for all your comments.

  2. jcsd
  3. May 8, 2007 #2
    UT at austin and aTm are both very good schools, but especially in engineering. I can't speak to much about aTm, but I have a friend who goes there as some type of engineer major, and he tells me he is not disappointed with his education there and enjoys it very much so.

    I also have a few EE majors at UT. The school is very competitive, so if you decide UT make sure you want to work. Professors here tend to have little time, so you have to fight for attention.
  4. May 9, 2007 #3
    Of your listings, I personally veer to UT Austin or Auburn. (I'm physics, obviously.. and that's ME...)

    YOU should visit all places you apply that give you competitive scholarships. When you do so look at faculty-student ratios both in the department and university-wide, the department's commitment to undergraduate education (including research opportunities), and because you are up-there academically, look at the honors programs available both in the departments and university-wide. Then look at the size/location/weather/townlife (to get something good for you since you'll want to grow personally but also stay sane... whether that be an environment with sun or rain, that's large or small, conservative or liberal, etc.

    Have fun -- it's an EXCITING decision!
  5. May 9, 2007 #4
    thank you physics girl phd for your input. out of curiousity, why did you pick UT Austin and Auburn. Personal experience? Hearing good things, ect.
  6. May 9, 2007 #5
    Bitter, thank you as well for your comments on UT and aTm. having to fight for attention cannot be a positive sign. Good to take into consideration
  7. May 9, 2007 #6
    More posts would be greatly appreciated by anyone with a comment
  8. May 9, 2007 #7
    It really depends on who you are. I am self motivated student and don't need a professor to walk me through classes. I enjoy it. I know if a professor knows me, I am doing what I need to do.
  9. May 9, 2007 #8
    I am not so worried about getting walked through classes as much as I am about building valuable networking connections for job placement and graduate school. Its not that I am worried about struggling as much as I am about preparing for my future. Do you see what I am saying? I would like to have a relationship with a professor so that graduate school is a possibility and so that when I enter the real world, I have a strong enough relationship that recommendations are not a problem.

  10. May 10, 2007 #9
    i just completed my third year at UF and am quite satisfied with my education as a physics major.
  11. May 10, 2007 #10
    Brad, out of curiosity, how many students major in Physics at Florida? Is the student teacher ratio low enough that you are able to have a relationship with the professor? Also, what types of research/projects are being done at Florida?

  12. May 10, 2007 #11
    What i'm trying to say, if you do well and put forth the effert to be notice, you will be notice. The program is not design for you to be automatically noticed by the professor but for you to seek out this attention. In this way, I see that this can only be good. You are rewarded for your efferts. The more work you put into the program the more you get out of it.

    Furthermore, Austin is a good size city. You should also look at the type of city and political standing you want to live in. I know it doesn't sound important, but it does.

    I used to attend a school in the midwest. I found that since I was from a large city (houston texas) a lot of the farm boys found it hard to grasp how I formed my opinion. With that said, I did gain a new view on rural america and getting along with different people.
  13. May 13, 2007 #12
    if you go through the honors sequence, the class sizes are cut down tremendously. the regular physics I and II classes were held in the large lecture hall (maybe 200+ students), but in my honors phys I and II classes, we had maybe 20-ish students. and then when you get into the physics major only classes, you don't have more than 50 students ever, and most of the time, it's hardly over 30 students.

    i applied for (and won) the goldwater scholarship, and you have to come up with three letters of recommendation. i provided seven letters, with four coming from UF's physics department. i think i can now count on two more professors to provide me with solid letters of recommendation as well, to give you an idea of how easy it was for me to establish solid connections with the faculty. (the real trick is to show up to office hours as much as you can! ...and also do well in the class, of course. :tongue2: )

    and if you decide that the undergrad courses are a bit on the easy side, it's not a big deal at all to take grad level classes. it was pretty fun beating the snot out of the majority of the grad students in quantum 1 and 2. :biggrin:

    oh, research:

    we've been pretty well known for our low temperature stuff. we also have some well-known faculty in high energy theory (dr. field, dr. ramond), but i wouldn't expect to work for either of them! we've got faculty in all typical areas: astrophysics, theoretical and experimental condensed matter, theoretical and experimental high energy, chemical physics, biophysics, and mathematical physics (although that's mostly through the math department). i'm working with a condensed matter theorist this summer... and until i graduate.
    Last edited: May 13, 2007
  14. May 15, 2007 #13
    Does anyone know about the following schools: Auburn, Mississppi State, UAB (University of Alabama at Birmingham), UAH (University of Alabama at Huntsville), or Georgia?
  15. May 20, 2007 #14
    Anyone know anything about the aforementioned schools?
  16. May 20, 2007 #15
    Why are you aiming low with a high score on the ACT?
  17. May 20, 2007 #16
    Because schools don't give as much scholarship money as they used to give. I am not sure that I would be able to afford attending an elite school. All of the schools that I have written about have hinted that they would give me a full scholarship/ room and board/ the works. Do you think that I could get money to attend a better school?
  18. May 20, 2007 #17
    Obtaining scholarships at the top schools is notoriously tough, and insanely competitive. Many of the top schools, however, boast of their generous financial aid programs. If you don't qualify for aid, then that could be troubling. But I don't think you should keep these schools out of your consideration, regardless of your financial situation.

    Anyway, top private schools that offer full scholarships, as far as I can remember, are UChicago, Duke, Caltech, Rice and Harvey Mudd. Among the public schools include Berkeley, UCLA, Michigan Ann Arbor, and UNC. There could be a more of them, but my memory escapes me at the moment. Ivy League schools and MIT unfortunately offer no scholarship money, but they offer generous financial aid (judging by purely anecdotal evidence).

    You should realize that your high ACT score is not a ticket into any of these schools - but I think you already know that.

  19. May 20, 2007 #18
    Yeah, unfortunately you haven't mentioned any new info to me. I do not qualify for financial aid. Apparently I am too rich to get aid and too poor to afford it. Bummer. Anyway, I am really quite interested in Auburn because they have a interesting situation. Many of their students have chosen engineering over physics. As a result, there are significantly fewer physics students at Auburn. Something like a 4 to 1 student/teacher ratio. I believe that I can possibly receive a quality undergrad education in this before persuing graduate opportunities at an elite school. After all, almost all physics graduates receive RA or TA positions. This would act as a working scholarship for me to receive my degree from a big name school like the ones you mentioned. I believe that I will go ahead and apply to some of these schools and see what they offer, but I am not expecting much.

  20. May 20, 2007 #19
    From what I've heard, Case Western is pretty decent at physics and engineering. It better be since I'll be going there. :tongue: Case is also pretty generous with big scholarships. There's a very good chance you can get a $20,000+ merit scholarship. Hell, I got a $26,800 one. On top of that you can get up to $2000 for being a national merit finalist (I wouldn't know from experience: I was among those select few to not advance from semifinalist standing). So you could end up paying only a couple grand of tuition, but you'd still have to pay $10,000 room-and-board unfortunately.
  21. May 22, 2007 #20


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    Im a math prof at Georgia, and in our math courses we have a ceiling of 35 students, so everyone who does well gets notoiced by the prof. I know all my students by name in every class. I also can sometimes help them get into a grad school or get a job.

    But these things depend on many factors. As a student myself I went to Harvard, where it was almost impossible to get noticed, and even honirs calculus (the spivak version) was a class of over 125.

    Yet on graduation, I received a big boost on getting into grad school simpy because I was coming out of Harvard, as everyone assumes Harvard students are stronger than average, even if it was not necessarily true of me.

    Also the difficulty of meeting professors was balanced off by the value of knowing the other students, since they were so strong. I learned a lot from them that would not have occurred at a school with weaker students.

    If yoiu search the websites of various schools you will alkready find a lot of information about how they treat their students, whetehr they make a lot of activities avaiklable to them, etc..

    As far as faculty goes, most of our faculty here have also tught at places like Harvard and Yale and Brown and Penn during their earlier careers, so except for the most famous stars, you tend to get strong faculty everywhere. But the students at these places vary a lot. And the strength of the stduents determines the choice of books, the level of the courses,...

    Still here at georgia, we do still offer a spivak style calculus course for freshmen, which e.g. stanford does not, but U of Chicago does. So look around for more data before choosing.

    But just a high ACT or SAT score is not going to guarantee admission to any strong school.
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