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Does the school I graduate from matter?

  1. May 19, 2015 #1
    OK so I currently attend The University of North Texas, which is by no means a prestigious school for physics. I am a physics major with 72 hours of coursework under my belt. I plan to attend graduate school and would like to get into a good school for something in the realm of theoretical physics. Recently I have been debating whether or not to transfer to Texas A&M as it's physics program is more well known and harder. My GPA in my major at UNT is a solid 4.0 and I have a very good reputation / close connection to many physics professors aswell. This is my GPA with many senior level courses (qm, stat mech, mech, act) I am very sure I would keep a 4.0 through the rest of my undergrad career if I stay at UNT. If I was to attend A&M there is a possibility that my GPA could drop and I would being starting fresh with no connection to any professors there.

    This being said, is it a better idea to graduate from A&M simply because it is prestigious or would it be a better idea to just graduate from UNT with a 4.0 in my major?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 19, 2015 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Since you've already taken the upper division courses, I don't see much benefit in transferring. Besides, more Miss Americas come from Denton, Texas than any other city.
     
  4. May 19, 2015 #3
    What do you mean by that? Haha
     
  5. May 19, 2015 #4

    SteamKing

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    Just because you might transfer to A&M and possibly graduate from there does not expunge from your academic record the courses you took at UNT. The folks reviewing applications at graduate schools know how to read an academic transcript.

    The late Robert Noyce, one of the founders of Intel Corporation, took his undergraduate physics degree at Grinnell College in Iowa, certainly not a physics powerhouse by any measure. However, Noyce became Phi Beta Kappa and graduated from Grinnell, then enrolled at MIT to take his PhD in Physics.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Noyce
     
  6. May 19, 2015 #5

    jtbell

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    In a previous post you mention that you're currently a junior. Since you're doing well at UNT and will presumably get strong letters of recommendation from your professors, I don't think you would gain anything by transferring to A&M (or elsewhere) for just one year, unless you know of some specific research project or other opportunity at the other school, that strongly appeals to you.

    Grinnell is one of the top 15 or 20 small liberal-arts colleges in the country, and has a large physics department for a school its size.
     
  7. May 19, 2015 #6

    robphy

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    "any measure?" I'm not so sure about that...
    http://www.thecollegesolution.com/the-colleges-where-phds-get-their-start/
    http://www.aip.org/sites/default/files/statistics/undergrad/bachdegrees-p-10.pdf#page=11
    http://www.aip.org/sites/default/files/statistics/rosters/physrost134.pdf#page=6

    Having been on the faculy at a liberal arts college, I see that many liberal arts colleges are overlooked for various reasons.

    (I am surprised by how large some of their endowments are (compared to their student enrollment)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_colleges_and_universities_in_the_United_States_by_endowment )
     
  8. May 19, 2015 #7

    SteamKing

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    Well, the OP certainly wasn't aware of Grinnell's reputation in physics, but he seemed impressed with A&M physics for some reason, maybe because they built that ill-fated bonfire on campus several years ago.

    The point is, jumping around from school to school in an effort to burnish your academic record is questionable. It's better to do well at one school, IMO, than to be a mediocre student at several different schools.
     
  9. May 25, 2015 #8

    one

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    If you have completed junior year, don't transfer. It wouldn't be worth it.
    If you still have a couple years left, you can consider transferring if you truly think that you would do better at A&M. It's not something to do lightly, though, and certainly not because of the "name".
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2015
  10. May 25, 2015 #9

    QuantumCurt

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    I agree with the above. If you've completed your junior year you aren't going to get any great benefit from transferring. If you had only completed freshman/sophomore level classes and were yet to take any of your upper level classes, the case would be different. The graduate school admissions committee that reviews your application will be able to clearly see that you had taken the majority of your upper level classes at UNT rather than Texas A&M. This somewhat defeats the purpose of transferring to a more prestigious school.

    I think it would be much better to stick with your current school. You'll get much stronger letters of recommendation and an overall more cohesive education. Issues with course transferability can often arise, and that could potentially mean extra semesters. Given that you've already developed at least some kind of relationship with the physics faculty at UNT, you'd have a much greater chance of finding some research opportunities by staying there, which is of great importance for graduate school admissions.
     
  11. May 26, 2015 #10

    Astronuc

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    Chances are whether one stays at UNT or transfers to Texas A&M, one will end up in the same spot.

    Some examples - http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/15/o...o-survive-the-college-admissions-madness.html

    It would seem possible to look at the TAMU Physics curriculum and take the same or similar courses at UNT.

    So don't worry about the school and it's prestige, but rather focus on one's program and coursework, and work diligently.
     
  12. May 27, 2015 #11

    Chronos

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    You should culivate contacts in your current university. Rest assured they have more connections than you can imagine. Contacts are more important than you can currently imagine. They are like a key to a key vault.
     
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