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Good physics programs?

  1. Aug 10, 2009 #1
    This has probably been posted a thousand times, but, I'm going to post my stats, class rank, etc. I'm entering my senior year of high school. I posted on here about a year ago, but didn't hang out like i should have. I got distracted by a female. However, I think I can stay here regularly and read and try to contribute at least in some form.

    Anyway, here are my stats

    GPA: 3.833
    Class rank: 3
    AP Credit: World, US, Biology. Will get Calculus and European History this year.
    Grades: A-B's. (I've never gotten a C in a single course.)
    Other stuff: Mu Alpha Theta Secretary, Academic Team Captain, NJROTC Admin Officer (I'm in charge of the paperwork for over 150 cadets. It's a nightmare.), NJROTC Academic Team Commander (We've placed 1st in the nation before. Of 1500 teams.), National Honor Society, and Science National Honor Society (President or Secretary, we have haven't voted yet.)
    I've done a good bit of community service.
    SAT: 1840 (630 Math, 640 Verbal, 570 Writing. Plan to retake. I expect at least a 2000)
    ACT: Taking. I aced the science portion and math portions on the Practice exam. If I did a repeat on the real macoy...
    SAT Subject Tests: Taking Mathematics Level 1 and Physics.

    I'd like to go to a school with a good physics program with professors that will work 1 on 1 with students. Or at least where I can get some sort of help. I'm always the person who understands the stuff no one does, but sometimes I get stuck on odd stuff.

    I want to finish school with the following degrees. But the most important is the Doctorate.

    Doctorate in Theoretical Physics (Or Astrophysics)
    Masters in Philosophy. (Could be REALLY useful in making sure I'm being logical.)
    Masters in Mathematics. (Useful for physics)
    Bachelors or Masters in Computer Science/Programming (For programming computational models, etc.)

    I'm from a low income family, and I'll be the first to go to college. But I want to go to somewhere like MIT or U of Chicago.

    Anyway, can anyone name some colleges with good physics programs I could potentially get into?

    I know of...

    UC Berkeley
    U of Chicago.

    That's about it. I need help with more. I'm getting ready to apply, so I want to apply to everywhere I can.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 10, 2009 #2
    MIT, U Chicago, and Berkeley are all great. They are also all MAJOR reaches for you. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't apply, but you really need to work on some things to have a chance. The SATs need to come way up for you to have a shot there, and even then it would take luck. Note that U Chicago puts a huge weight on the essay, so if you write a good one it could boost your chances.

    Here are some other schools to consider:

    U Washington - Seattle
    UC Santa Barbara
    U Illinois - UC

    If you're out of state, the costs might be steep at these choices. What state do you live in? If you have a good school in-state, you might consider going there and working hard for a great grad school.
  4. Aug 10, 2009 #3
    Yeah, I know. I live in South Carolina.
  5. Aug 10, 2009 #4
    One option for you, which you might not like, but probably entails a better likelihood of success, is to move to California and enroll in a Junior College. Your chance of, for instance, transferring as a junior from a California junior college to UC Berkeley or UCLA is a lot better than your chance of being admitted straight out of high school.
  6. Aug 10, 2009 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    If you want to end up with a Ph.D. in physics, you need to start with a bachelor's in physics. There's no way you're going to go from a bachelor's in computer science into a physics Ph.D. program, even at a place like USC (*), unless you double-major in physics or at least take enough physics courses that you might as well double-major.

    (*) For all you non-South-Carolinians out there, that's the other USC, the one in South Carolina. :wink:
  7. Aug 10, 2009 #6


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    Gold Member

    Harvey Mudd :smile:
  8. Aug 10, 2009 #7
    Duke's not best known for its Physics...but we kick butt! And we're a major research university, so you'll almost certainly get research opportunities.
  9. Aug 11, 2009 #8


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    Out of the schools you listed your not going to get one on one attention from professors. Your recitation will be taught by grad students or a professor if youre lucky have more than 10 students and office hours will typically have a few students. Lectures >> 10 people. Senior Year possibly have 20 people in a course.

    Those schools are also really big reaches.
  10. Aug 11, 2009 #9


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    Thats also a big reach with his score but is likely to give you that personal feel.
  11. Aug 15, 2009 #10
    Community colleges are probably the best choice for you if you want to get help from professors. The classes (particularly math/science) are small and the professors are there to teach, not to do research, which means they are more likely to help you.

    Since you are coming from a low-income family, going to a community college will exponentially increase your chances of getting the first two years of school completely paid for, which means that you can save a lot of money for transferring. Starting out at a community college also means that you can get really good letters of recommendation from people who are high up in the college system, such as the provost or associate provost; certain organizations that you can join at a community college (such as Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, which you would probably be eligible for) also provide you with a couple thousand dollar scholarships for your transfer to a baccalaureate program. Finally, if you are applying to baccalaureate programs with an A.A. degree (the two-year degree), some schools might not even look at your SAT scores (although that's not the case with MIT).

    In Florida, the general rule is that state universities have to accept transfer applicants with a two-year degree from a Florida community college. I'm not sure of other states' rules, but I would imagine that certain states would also be similarly friendly to transfer students.

    I'm graduating from a community college in Florida in May, and I would definitely recommend that path to anyone wanting to get into a top-notch program. Case in point...my friend graduated from a community college and is on a full scholarship to Stanford studying biochemistry...
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