Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Does it matter which college you go to for science?

  1. Dec 19, 2011 #1
    I am a sophomore at University of Colorado Boulder and I don't like it here. I feel like I am in wrong place here. I am majoring in Molecular biology and nobody in my major seems to like this major, even science in general. I am considering to switch my major into chemistry at this last point, because I hope I could learn more technical skills with that.

    Well that raises the question, does it matter what college you go to for science? I don't like the students here, they are not very scientifically inspired people. The library is closed after midnight and they make us go home from dorms during the break (nobody is supposed to stay). And when I go out and talk to the professors, nobody needs undergrad in their labs. I am not doing anything extra except my classes and wondering that maybe it is the state school and I am in wrong place.

    How is it in more prestigious schools and does it make a difference for what school you go to as long as you do well?

    By the way, I am planning to do my PhD in chem or biology, so science is essential to me. Actually it is everything to me.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 19, 2011 #2
    Not really. Well, I think I heard a saying that once you got your PhD, no one cares where you got your bachelors, when you got your bachelors no one cares where you went to high school, etc
  4. Dec 21, 2011 #3
    I think it does. If you go to a college that doesn't "fit" you then you could burn out before getting your undergraduate.

    Different schools have different cultures, and different cultures influence how you look at the world. So it matters in that sense. If I had gone to a different college I would have met different people and I'd be someone different.
  5. Dec 21, 2011 #4
    I think that the school you go to matters very little. Some schools will give you a more hands-on approach while others will be all bookwork, and depending on how you learn and what you see yourself doing in the future would decide what type to go to. Smaller schools seem to be more hands-on with more reachable faculty, will bigger schools are necessary for a chance to do research as an undergrad.

    If you are going to get your PhD eventually research is important, but there are ways besides through the school to get this experience, such as REUs and industry or government labs. I went to a small "2nd tier" school for undergrad and am now a graduate student doing just fine at a large "tier 1" research school. Given it's a bit different for me because I was engineering and they are all accredited by the same group. I feel that general science should be similar though, since it's a bit more fixed curriculum that humanities, and you'll be fine if you transfer. Just make sure you find a way to get experience, either by transferring to another big school or through a summer REU or internship.

    I will throw in the caveat that there are some who will look down on you or think they are better than you because they went somewhere "better". The result is there's some small % of professors who may not want you in their research group in graduate school and will not offer you a TA/RA position, but, personally, I wouldn't want to work with those people anyhow.
  6. Dec 22, 2011 #5


    User Avatar

    Don't place any value in the 'prestige' of a school other than, perhaps, the quality of your peers.

    Emphasis on education is not correlated with college rankings.

    It usually only takes one or two special professors to make the undergraduate experience worthwhile - that's not something that can be captured by any ranking scheme.
  7. Dec 22, 2011 #6


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Breakthrough Nobel prize winning work in Molecular Biology came from your uni so at first sight I am a bit surprised. Also had impression there is very good science there over a whole range. It may be true that this sort of distinction does not always filter down to students, especially in first years.

    I may be wrong but had the impression that general liveability there compares well with most places.

    I got the impression that maybe you don't know when you are well off.

    For instance if you find libraries being closed at midnight is a bind, don't ever come to Europe, that's all I can say. :rofl:

    I suspect the advice you need and I hope you will get is, rather than where else to go, how to get the best out of where you are. I don't know how staff student relations are, maybe there is someone you could approach for a project or something. IMHO once an institution is above a certain level, there are very few students able to get the maximum possible out of what there is, so talk of where is better or best whatever that means is somewhat idle. With the proviso that there may be personal temperamental factors that click better in one place than another.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook