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Good Undergraduate College(s) for an Aspiring Physicist

  1. Aug 14, 2008 #1
    Hello, I am a Junior in high school who lives in Massachusetts and I am looking for recommendations for what would be a good college to attend at the undergraduate level for someone who wants to be a physicist as their profession. (I'm not sure what I want to specialize in yet, though I probably want to be either an astrophysicist or a particle physicist.) Please consider location and the existence of a music program within the college as well when giving me recommendations. Thanks a lot!
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 14, 2008 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    How? Some people want to stay close to home. Others want to get as far away from home as they can get. Some people prefer large urban cosmopolitan settings. Others prefer the intimacy and quiet of a small town.

    Also, questions like this asked over and over again here, so you might benefit from scrolling back through several months' worth of threads in this forum. At least you'll identify the "usual suspects" that everybody's heard of (MIT, Caltech, Chicago, etc.).

    As a native of Ohio, the first place that comes to my mind is Oberlin College, which has a well-known conservatory of music, and (I understand) a pretty good undergraduate physics program.

    Don't give your ultimate specialty too much weight in making your decision, because (a) undergraduate physics degrees are non-specialized anyway, (b) you can get research experience in specific fields during the summer at other universities, and (c) you may very well end up changing your mind about which fields you like, after you've studied a few years of "real physics."
  4. Aug 14, 2008 #3


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    UMass Amherst is good. Several people from there are in my physics grad program, and I attended a small liberal arts college in MA. You could go to one of the big schools - or you can go to a small college and spend your summers at the big schools doing REU (research experience for undergrads) program. UMass used to have a kind of pre-REU for the 5-college area students that would be a good stepping stone for getting into a great REU the year later. That's what I did. Either way, you'll get the chance to do research. If you go the liberal arts route, I just recommend studying a lot for the physics GRE.
  5. Aug 15, 2008 #4
    I go to UMass Amherst. I like it, some professors suck badly, but there are many who care for you. If you put a lot effort into the program then you will be rewarded. If you have good grades, then it's easy to get into a lab to do research and get paid for it.

    And for music program, there's a good one and lots to get involved with here.
  6. Aug 15, 2008 #5
    Consider the competition for theoretical physics at the moment before looking for a school that has a good graduate program for it (because they don't have undergraduate programs in it, and this is the only way to base a school's reputation in the said field). You should look for an all around nice school where you will feel at home, to start with. Furthermore, if you're interested in research, look for a smaller college, since from my experience, they are more supportive of their students in that aspect and it's not particularly hard to start as a freshman.
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