Finding the Right REU Program for You

In summary: I'd say go for it if you think you have a good chance, but it's not really necessary.In summary, a sophomore math student is looking to apply to REUs for the first time. He has read a few things and found that a lot of people apply to 8 programs but only get accepted into 2 or 3. He was looking at the programs in NSF and found that he could only see himself applying for 4 programs. He has read some advice and decided to apply to the 2 programs that he can see himself being happy to go to. He also has advice for a freshman who just completed their first semester. He states that it is not necessary to apply to REUs if you have good research skills, computational or
  • #1
258
0
Hey PF,

So, I'm a sophomore math student, looking to apply for REUs for my first time. So I've read a few things here and there, and it seems like a lot of people apply to about 8 programs, yet only get accepted into 2 or 3. So, when I was looking at the REU programs in NSF, I was expecting I'd pick out about 7 or 8 programs, and I'd be set.

Upon inspection, however, I only found about 4 programs that I could see myself applying for (whether because I'm interested in the topic or because I think I'm qualified to actually be of use for the project). And of those, only two programs that I could actually see myself being happy to go.

So, what should I do? Should I apply to programs that I think I have a chance of liking in order to widen my scope of programs? Should I just try really hard to get into those two programs?

I should probably mention that I do have a few advantages to my side (I'm a minority, for example) so I'm not sure if the thought of "securing" a spot in a REU is complete tomfoolery.
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
You haven't gotten too far in college yet; you'll probably change your sub-specialty a few times before the end of grad school. For now, any experience is better than no experience, and REU advisers don't expect you to know much - apply to 7 or 8 and see what, if any, offers you get. Doing something even if you don't think it's going to be all that interesting is better than doing nothing. I did 4 REU/internships as an undergrad, all in different areas of astrophysics, and ended up doing something even different again for my dissertation.
 
  • #3
eri said:
You haven't gotten too far in college yet; you'll probably change your sub-specialty a few times before the end of grad school. For now, any experience is better than no experience, and REU advisers don't expect you to know much - apply to 7 or 8 and see what, if any, offers you get. Doing something even if you don't think it's going to be all that interesting is better than doing nothing. I did 4 REU/internships as an undergrad, all in different areas of astrophysics, and ended up doing something even different again for my dissertation.

This is very sound advice. In fact my previous advisor for a REU stated that he specifically tried to stay away from people that were completely "sure" what sub-field they wanted to get into at such an early stage in their career. So I'd apply to several, the more the better. Competition is always very high, some even say it's harder to get an REU than to get into graduate school... not sure how true it is. But for example, the program I got selected into had about 130 applicants with 6 positions. But yeah, they don't expect you to know much, so don't really worry about that. As long as you get there and work hard, I think you'll be fine.
 
  • #4
My program had ~550 applys for 30 spots. Apply to lots.
 
  • #5
As a side note, as a freshman that just completed my first semester, is it even worth applying to REU's?
 
  • #6
Probably not unless you've had some research experience, if you have pretty good computational or lab or similar skills, or if you have some really good recommendations by professors that specifically cite your research potential.
 
  • #7
I got an REU without really having any of those as a freshman (well, I never saw my recommendations but I'm not sure how much they could have talked about any "research potential" I have).
 

1. What is an REU program?

An REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program is a funded summer research opportunity for undergraduate students in fields such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). These programs provide students with hands-on research experience and the opportunity to work closely with faculty and other researchers in their field.

2. How do I find the right REU program for me?

To find the right REU program for you, first consider your academic interests and career goals. Look for programs that align with your interests and offer research opportunities in your desired field. You can also research the reputation and success of the program, as well as its location and funding opportunities. Additionally, reach out to faculty or advisors for recommendations and advice.

3. When should I start looking for REU programs?

It is recommended to start researching and applying for REU programs at least 6 months before the program start date. This will give you enough time to thoroughly research and compare programs, as well as prepare your application materials.

4. What are the benefits of participating in an REU program?

Participating in an REU program can provide numerous benefits, including hands-on research experience, mentorship from experienced researchers, networking opportunities, and the chance to enhance your resume and graduate school applications. Additionally, many REU programs offer stipends, housing, and travel expenses, making it a financially feasible option for students.

5. Are there any eligibility requirements for REU programs?

Each REU program may have its own specific eligibility requirements, but in general, students should be enrolled in an undergraduate program and have a strong academic record. Some programs may also have specific requirements for certain majors or courses completed. It is important to thoroughly review the requirements for each program you are considering before applying.

Suggested for: Finding the Right REU Program for You

Replies
3
Views
521
Replies
29
Views
13K
Replies
6
Views
1K
Replies
2
Views
1K
Replies
77
Views
17K
Back
Top