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Conduct research in final year or not?

  1. Aug 6, 2015 #1
    Should I opt to do research which would be very time consuming or focus primarily on my remaining upper level this year and get As? Thinking to do research after I graduate next Summer. I've only had 1 "REU" so far.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 6, 2015 #2
    What do you mean by you want to do research after you graduate? I assume that means you want to go onto graduate school? If so, research experience is the most important thing you can get.
  4. Aug 6, 2015 #3


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    This post has so many unknown, there is no way anyone can give you any reasonable answer.

    1. How well are you doing in your classes so far? Do you have high grades/GPA already?
    2. How many classes will you be taking? Will research work interfere and possibly affect the grades in your remaining classes?
    3. Why would you want to do another research work, considering that you've done one REU already?
    4. Is this research work an Independent Study course with a professor? Do you have one lined up already?
    5. Have you discussed this with the person who should have a better idea on what you should do - your academic adviser?

  5. Aug 13, 2015 #4
    [Mentor's note: This post and the two below it have been merged into this thread]

    I just did a medical/partical physics REU/internship. I have the option to do independent study/research HEP in my final year. However, my GPA is only 3.43 and I'd like to Ace all my final classes and bring it up to 3.5 and really master the material left (thermal,quantum). My question is would it be better to hold off and focus on the classes, graduate in the spring and then do research in the summer after my degree is done? Or would a year long independent study be a game breaker?
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 13, 2015
  6. Aug 13, 2015 #5
    People going to top schools are able to ace their classes, master the material and do research at the same time. Taking time for your classes in one year, and then focusing on research in another year is not going to fool anybody.
  7. Aug 13, 2015 #6


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    I did research for 5 semesters during undergrad and during three summers. My PI required at least 15 hours a week on average during the semester. I did this while taking three physics courses most semesters with two being grad courses (I started taking grad courses my junior year). So yes it does really help to be doing research full time, I think most people in the U.S. I know did that (although they are all at top 15 schools so the standards might be higher). It also makes you more likely to get a publication. If you have a first or second author publication in undergrad, then that is definitely a game changer since being that high on the author list showed you really contributed.
  8. Aug 14, 2015 #7


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    When facing a decision like this, I think you really need to think about what there is to potentially gain from the experience.

    If, for example, you were happy with your REU and got a lot of out of it and know that one of those fields is the one you want to go into, and you would just be taking on this research project because you felt you had to, it might not be the best idea.

    On the other hand, if you're still exploring different areas, another project might be a good idea.

    Doing research in the summer between finishing undergrad and graduate school is great, but it's going to be too late to help you get into graduate school if that's the plan. You would have already been accepted by that point - unless you're planning to take a year off. That said, I've observed that some of the most successful researchers are the ones who take every opportunity they can to do research, not to get them to the next step, but because for them, doing research is what it's all about.

    It might also be worth pointing out that for someone in that 3.4 - 3.5 GPA range, research experience is likely to play a big factor in any competition for graduate school positions. For many places that ballpark can be the cutoff for getting in or not and so having your name on a paper or an amazing reference letter can become a decisive factor with respect to whether you get in or not.
  9. Aug 15, 2015 #8
    I do plan on taking a year off
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