Deciding Between Two REU Programs - Tips & Prestige Advice

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In summary: The questions I asked professor were mainly about the program itself and the research opportunities available. I also asked about the teaching style and how challenging the classes would be.
  • #1
tierradelfueg
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Hey guys, I've been following the forum for some time,

I am a sophomore, and I applied to about 12 REU programs this semester, since I have a 2.9 GPA and was not even expecting to get into any since they are so competitive.
Turns out I got into two! and I have to make a decision by monday.

On one hand I feel lucky that I have the ability to even choose, but at the same I still wish/hope that I get into my top choice REU program, but I do not think I will hear from them on monday. I already emailed asking for the status of my application, and they said they were still not finished.

I am conflicted if to choose one of these REUs or take a chance and hope that my first choice or the other 8 accept me.

what should I do? And does prestige matter when it comes to REUs

thanks for your time
 
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  • #2
Personally I think taking a chance is stupid unless you have some kind of guaranteed back up plan that is at least as good as one of the two REUs you have been accepted to. A less prestigious REU is infinitely more valuable than a summer doing nothing.
 
  • #3
Well, it sounds like you'll have to make a decision then. You have to weigh the guaranteed options that you have against the probability that you'll get into a more desirable program each mulitiplied by the desirability of the respective program.

The one hint I have is that from my experience "prestige" is highly subjective and you should avoid making decisions based on it.
 
  • #4
My recommendation is to not take the chance. REUs in general are all really selective and "prestigious." I don't think you need to worry about how different REUs compare to one another in prestige.
 
  • #5
hey thanks for the responses

the prestige question was mostly curiosity.

The only reason I wanted to take a chance was mostly because my first choice is a little different since its CS/engineering research with an emphasis on engineering ethics. But I guess that If I do not hear from them, I should not risk it and I should make my decision on monday.
 
  • #6
I'd wait until the last minute to reply. If your top choices haven't made a decision by then, I'd probably go with what you got. Otherwise you may very well end up missing out on something good.
 
  • #7
Thanks, yeah. I actually got into another one today!which I have to reply by next friday. But still. The reason i applied to so many is because i did not think I had a chance, and now I am not even sure under what criteria to choose.
 
  • #8
I was sort of in the same boat, but my situation was slightly different. I have a pretty good GPA and letters of rec., but I am from a very, very small school that I can guarantee nobody has ever heard of. I applied to 9 and, to my surprise, got into 4 (one had the funding yanked by the NSF).

My final decision was based on a series of emails that I had with the professor. I asked him some pretty specific questions about the program and he did a fantastic job of answering them -- basically he made me feel important. Ha! Some of the other programs treated my questions like a chore. Not cool.

I also decided that I didn't want to gamble. I didn't want to give up this REU for a chance at my top choice. That later proved to be smart, since I didn't get into the other program. And, actually, the more research I did, I'm sort of glad I didn't get into my "top" choice. I don't know if it would have suited my interests as well.
 
  • #9
yeah that's very well true. Well at this point i would not be gambling anymore since I have a third choice which to answer to by friday. but i think I already know what I am going to do. What type of questions did you ask in order to decide, union68?
 

1. How do I decide between two REU programs?

The best way to decide between two REU programs is to carefully consider the research projects offered at each program and determine which aligns more closely with your interests and career goals. You should also consider the location, duration, and potential mentors at each program. It may also be helpful to reach out to past participants or faculty members for their insights.

2. Is prestige important when choosing an REU program?

Prestige can be a factor to consider when choosing an REU program, as a program with a strong reputation can provide valuable networking opportunities and may carry more weight on your resume. However, it should not be the sole deciding factor, as the most important aspect is finding a program that will provide a meaningful and fulfilling research experience.

3. What are some tips for making a decision between two REU programs?

Some tips for making a decision between two REU programs include creating a pros and cons list, researching the faculty and mentors involved in each program, considering the location and potential living expenses, and reaching out to current or past participants for their insights. It may also be helpful to prioritize your own interests and goals in the decision-making process.

4. How important is the research project when deciding between two REU programs?

The research project is a crucial factor to consider when deciding between two REU programs. It is important to choose a project that aligns with your interests and allows you to gain valuable skills and knowledge in your field. Additionally, the research project will likely be a significant part of your experience, so it is important to choose one that you are passionate about.

5. Is it possible to participate in multiple REU programs?

Yes, it is possible to participate in multiple REU programs, but it is not recommended. Participating in multiple programs may spread your focus and energy too thin, and may also create conflicts with scheduling and commitments. It is generally more beneficial to fully immerse yourself in one program and make the most out of that experience.

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