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Do I have any shot at REUs?

  1. Jan 21, 2008 #1
    i've done no research experience, i'm a junior and completed all of my lower-div math and physics. i'm currently taking upper-div mechanics. i'm further in math: i've completed upperdiv linear algebra and complex analysis, and currently taking ODEs and real analysis (doesnt matter for REUs, right?)

    most of the reus i'm considering require 2 letters of rec. the 2 physics profs who i plan on writing my letters probably dont remember my name, I only saw of them at office hours weekly, mostly with help with concepts. but i got an A and A+ in their classes.

    so despite barely knowing my profs and not having any prior research experience, do i have a shot of getting into REUs?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 21, 2008 #2

    G01

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    While prior research is a BIG plus, it's not impossible to get into an REU without it. How is your GPA?

    Also, I would try to get the best recommendation letters as possible. Good recommendations are a must for things like this. Do you have any physics professors who know you well?
     
  4. Jan 21, 2008 #3
    i just transferred from a community college. last quarter was my 1st quarter here, and i got a 4.0. only 1 of the professors knows me even relatively well, because he noticed i asked him specific questions about the lectures
     
  5. Jan 21, 2008 #4
    Gonna be rough. I would say try to get some research experience ASAP.

    As G01 said, recommendations are your best road. So get to know some professors ASAP too!
     
  6. Jan 21, 2008 #5
    whats the point in getting research asap? its not like it'll help with my REU applications since the applications for the schools I'm applying to are due in february and march

    get to know my professors from last quarter?
     
  7. Jan 21, 2008 #6
    Are you going to graduate before u have another chance to apply for REUs? Are you planning on going to grad school? If the answer is yes to either of those questions you should get into some research ASAP. And being able to put in your statement that you are about to start some research looks way better than not being able to say that.

    Also, yes, stop by your profs office from last semester to say how you enjoyed their class. Also, if you went to weekly office hours they will likely remember you. And get to know your new profs too, in case you might need to get future letters (which you will).
     
  8. Jan 21, 2008 #7
    im probably not gonna graduate before i get another chance to apply for REUs. i plan on going to grad school, but for either math,physics, or engineering.

    i only saw 1 of my profs weekly last quarter. the other, i rarely saw
     
  9. Jan 21, 2008 #8

    mrjeffy321

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    I will use myself as an example….
    When I applied last year to an REU program, I had no formal research experience and two decent (i.e. could have been better, but were still good) letters of recommendation. I was accepted into 100% of the programs I applied to…but then again, I only applied to 1.
    Things that I think proved beneficial to my application were my personal statement and, perhaps more importantly, the fact that my school had a good reputation in the eyes of the program I was applying to since they had previously worked with some of our students.

    So if you don’t already have research experience or knock-their-socks-off letters of recommendation, all is not lost.
     
  10. Jan 21, 2008 #9

    G01

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    When I applied to REU's last year, I applied to around 12 and got into 1 of them. I don't mean to discourage you, but am pointing out that they are very competitive and you should expect that.

    I had great letters of recommendation (as far as I know) and had a high gpa. The thing that help me back was that I was a sophomore without ANY research experience. Research experience is so important that, as mrjeffy said, it will be a good idea to get involved in some research ASAP and put that you are starting a project on your REU applications. Even if it doesn't get you into an REU, you'll want to start some research before you go to grad school.

    Try your best and see what happens. You are a junior so that's a plus. You'll have one up on many of the sophomores applying just for that reason. Also, the fact that you had a 4.0 your first year at University is also great and the REU committees will see that on your transcript. Good luck!
     
  11. Jan 21, 2008 #10

    mrjeffy321

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    I did not mean to imply that REU programs are not competitive by my little story. As G01 says, they are indeed competitive and because of this it is not unusual for students to apply to many different programs in the hopes of getting accepted into at least 1.

    Having prior research experience is a definite plus on an application. Even if it might not help you for next year, getting involved in research now at your own institution would at least help you for next years REU and/or grad school applications.
     
  12. Jan 22, 2008 #11
    maybe i shouldnt even try for the REUs. after all, recently, i am leaning slightly more towards math than physics - even though i'm a physics, not math major for now. but then, it'll be boring in the summer
     
  13. Jan 22, 2008 #12
    It cannot hurt to try. You could also apply to math REUs if you want.
     
  14. Jan 22, 2008 #13

    G01

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    Well, if you don't try, then your definitely not going to get an REU. It can't hurt to apply. There are no application fees and, many schools will accept an unofficial transcript until they accept you. Not applying is probably the worst thing you can do in this case. Apply! Apply to ALOT of REU's! Good Luck!
     
  15. Jan 23, 2008 #14
    btw, can TAs write letters of rec? 1 of my TAs from last quarter recognized my intellectual capabilities and being a top student, but it was for a math class and this is a physics reu...
     
  16. Jan 23, 2008 #15
    It is not going to carry nearly the same weight as a professor. And if the TA is a typical grad student- I seriously doubt he/she has the time to write you a good letter of recommendation.
     
  17. Jan 23, 2008 #16

    G01

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    You definitely want professors to write your recommendations.
     
  18. Jan 25, 2008 #17
    ok i had my profs write letters for 14 different schools, though 1 basically doesnt count since the application is due next week and i just gave my profs the addresses to send the letters to today.

    btw, for the schools that require essays for you to describe your research interests, i just vaguely talked about some of the research projects the schools were doing that i seemed interested in. do i have to be very specific in what i say or is that good enough?
    -for example: "I became interested in laser and optics while taking my Modern Physics class, as it covered it broadly yet still intrigued me. At Stony Brook University, the project involving soft X-ray diffraction to provide 3D images of cells and other non-crystalline objects at high resolution catches my attention." is this too vague?

    thanks very much for helping, guys
     
  19. Jan 26, 2008 #18

    G01

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    Do you have any side projects where you built anything, designed something, etc.? If you do, it would be a great idea to mention and describe some of those.
     
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