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Does the university matter for an undergrad student?

  1. Jan 5, 2014 #1
    Hi I am a 20 year old college student currently studying at my local community college. I am getting the itch to transfer sooner than expected. This coming spring will be my second college semester and I should have 26 credit hours done by the end of May. If I continue with my grades I don't see why I would have a problem transferring to a university by fall 2014.

    I am looking at colleges now, being located in Texas. I plan on applying to public schools only. The big name universities I can think of are UT and Texas A&M. Either of which I will be extremely grateful to be accepted into. What should I look for in a university when applying for their physics program? Also, does it truly matter if I go to a lesser name school, say UTSA? It's a lot closer to home and I could still live at home and save money.

    Thank you for reading my post. I appreciate the time.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 5, 2014 #2

    D H

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    Yes, it matters. If your degree is in physics, that means you are planning to go to graduate school. (If you aren't planning to go to graduate school you probably shouldn't be majoring in physics.) Graduate schools do pay attention to the school from which you obtained your baccalaureate.

    If your degree is in engineering and you plan to go straight to industry, corporations similarly pay attention to the school from which you graduated. The better employers will selectively recruit from the better schools. The not-so-good employers will selectively recruit from the not-so-good schools.
     
  4. Jan 5, 2014 #3
    I'm majoring in physics and definitely have no plans to go to graduate school. What's wrong with getting a simple bachelor's in physics?
     
  5. Jan 5, 2014 #4
    I'd recommend at least double majoring I an engineering field if you don't want to go to graduate school. It is very difficult to get a job (at least a relevant and decently paying one) with a physics degree alone. You could always major in engineering and minor in physics or take physics as your concentration, you would still be able to learn physics and have a marketable degree as well.
     
  6. Jan 5, 2014 #5

    D H

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    The purpose of a physics baccalaureate is to prepare an undergraduate for a career in physics. You don't get a career in physics with a mere bachelors degree. A career in physics requires an advanced degree, preferably a PhD. Your undergrad program in physics is geared toward teaching you the knowledge you need to make you competitive for a graduate school program. It is not geared toward making you competitive for a job in industry.

    You will need to take some applicable (i.e., non-physics) classes and/or some training (e.g., internships) that will make employers want to hire you if you want to go directly to industry after obtaining your physics baccalaureate.
     
  7. Jan 5, 2014 #6

    analogdesign

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    Your undergrad school does matter somewhat. Both UT and TAMU are top universities with a lot of respect in academia and industry. You would have no doors closed to you coming out of either. UTSA is not well known so you might have a bit of an energy barrier to overcome (see a bit of physics humor) if you try to get into a top graduate school from there. I'm not saying it isn't possible but it will be more difficult.
     
  8. Jan 5, 2014 #7

    Choppy

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    Perhaps this goes without saying, but I think it's easy to fall into a fallacy where one expects the name of the school to work in one's favour, which I don't think is the case. Mediocre grades will not be compensated for by the name of a school. A lot of physics courses are pretty standard and admissions committees do pay attention to those core courses. I don't personally know of any admission committees that have adjusted with weighting of a students GPA based on the name of a school (outside of converting to a common scale).

    I think the "bigger name" schools essentially offer more opportunities. Bigger schools tend to have more research going on, and more opportunities for undergraduate student involvement. They likely also have a broader range of courses. So whereas someone going through a smaller school may be limited to senior courses in what the faculty members happen to be interested in, at a larger school one would have more options to explore one's interests.

    The real question is whether such opportunities are worth paying the extra-high price for.
     
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