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Dunno where to go to school

  1. May 2, 2010 #1
    So, first off, I haven't even completed a degree yet, but wanna get some info set straight. This also isn't a "Whats the best school to go" thread.

    I'm planning on doing either an Astronomy or Astrophysics degree, but I'd either have to go out of state and pay a huge amount for tuition, or manage to get into Rice University and also pay a huge amount for tuition.

    Apparently from what i've been reading, I can just get a general Physics degree from an in-state college and then just pursue a graduates degree in Astronomy/Astrophysics. This seems like the cheapest way to do things seeing as how I can get very cheap tuition at an in state university for a Physics degree. But are there any down sides to not just majoring in Astronomy/Astrophysics in the first place? Are graduate programs more difficult to get into than undergraduate programs?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 2, 2010 #2


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    I don't see a problem in majoring in physics first and then going to graduate school if you find that you like astronomy/astrophysics. It might be best to seek out a school that at least gives a few astro classes as options throughout your undergrad degree.
  4. May 2, 2010 #3
    First, the following is my personal option. If anyone feels it is misleading or not true, I apologize.

    Now, back to your question.
    Yes and no for both questions, although the second one is really more a yes than a no.

    Well, it is obvious that start early has advantage. While you are an undergraduate, you should approach professors and research programs, and get into their research programs as soon as possible. Graduate program looks for people with good academic achievements: both GPA and research experiences. They expect you to have research experience. There are many colleges in United States. But why would you waste money to go to a graduate program that does not even care if you have or haven't have any experience in research? Most of your day in graduate program is research. I am not saying that you have to go to MIT, Standford, Calctech, Duke, Princeton. Their graduate programs are extremely popular and difficult to get into.

    So if you major in physics (or astrophysics) as undergraduate, you should go ask for research opportunity. Having major in something that you want to apply for graduate study will help your graduate studies.

    I spoke to the undergraduate advisor (Physics), and he told me if I want to do physics as graduate, I am recommended to take standard Physics major (our school offers Standard Physics, Applied Physics, Biophysics, and maybe one or two more). I am a double major in computer engineering and physics. The reason to get major in standard physics being that other majors the physics departments omit certain courses which are offer in standard physics major curriculum. He said that getting expose to more physics will help me in future study.

    My experience tells you that you should major in something that you want to do in graduate program can be extremely helpful. If you think about it, it would be extreme for a liberal art person to major physics in graduate program. This is no way. One doesn't have the pre-requirits to do it. In your case, since it is still physics (which means you will have to take most physics courses a standard physics offer), and that you want to continue it in your graduate study, I would say it is fine.

    But in my opinion, those great physicists often graduate with standard physics. It can be very helpful. We don't have astrophysics, so I can't comment what are the omitted courses that are not offer in astrophysics.

    To your second question: Of course. Again, I am saying that you have to apply to MIT and other powerhouse. There are many very good graduate programs that are not top 50 in national ranking. But graduate program and possible Ph.D programs are so critical to your future career. A good program can provide sufficient resources and people to help you study. College degrees are just papers. When you are in college, you have to think about how can you excel your talents. The reason you go to college is that you learn things from professors, and then apply them and excel your talents whenever possible. Simply states, experience is the real subject in college, whether it is the network, research, or just social life.

    * Dr. Kaku is in my college. He is a famous astrophysicist. but he did standard physics as undergraduate anyway. I say take astrophysic for graduate program,and do standard physics as undergraduate. You will learn that undergraduate study is critical - you have to be ready for graduate study.
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