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Graduate School Advice

  1. Jul 18, 2004 #1
    Hello everyone, Im looking for some advice about a decision im about to make.
    I am just finishing up degress in math and physics at U of MN and am starting to look at grad schools for fall 2005. My problem is that I want to incorporate aesthetic beauty into the whole operation.
    Heres the deal. Ive always wanted to go to Alaska for some extended amount of time, for the obvious reasons, and so i thought, "why not go there for graduate school?". Ive looked over the U of Fairbanks math dept, and it seems to be decent, but it is of course no where near the top of anyones list ( in fact, on some lists of grad school rankings it doesnt even appear!) They do offer MS and PhD programs though. If I go there it will only be for a MS degree, because they are very limited compared to other schools. I figure that i could study general mathematics for another 2 years without having to specialize too much (just take classes), and then move on somewhere else for a PhD. I may not even stay in mathematics. At the moment my interests are in mathematical neuroscience (although that has not always been the case, and I cannot be sure it will remain that, as there are soo many interesting areas). That is what i would really like to go to grad school for later. But i think i could use some more math first. So , what i really want to know is, in doing this, will I be restricting myself by going to a "more limited" school? Will getting accepted for a PhD program in a "better" school later be more difficult because of this?
    "acedemic suicide" as the saying goes.
    I believe I could get accepted into a more high powered program elsewhere, if i couldnt I wouldnt really be worried about this and I would just go there anyway (If they would let me!). But I do not think this to be the case.
    Understand my dilemma?
    Any professors or grad students who can offer any advice?
    Thanks for reading this and taking the time respond, it is very appreciated. :smile:
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 18, 2004 #2


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    How about trying to do some summer REU work at Fairbanks to give yourself a better idea ? Also, you might find that 3 months in Alaska is about all you'd really like to get.
  4. Jul 18, 2004 #3
    hmmm. that doenst really help me any. whats wrong with alaska? do you know something I dont? as far as i can tell its a place of stunning natural beauty. but all that is beside the point. that wasnt my question, and I dont think going there is going to help me find it out.
    Am I asking a stupid question? is there something im not seeing?
    If i am, someone please let me know.
  5. Jul 18, 2004 #4
    well an REU can be an eye opener and its always good for your application.
  6. Jul 18, 2004 #5
    Why don't you ask Ron Graham? He did his MS @ U of Alaska & then coauthored more papers with Paul Erdos than just about anybody, and did many other things too. I don't know what he'd say but it doesn't seem like going to school in Alaska was academic suicide.
    graham at ucsd dot edu
  7. Jul 18, 2004 #6


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    Ah, the famous Erdos' number crops up again. I'm surprised that there's only one Graham at UCSD ...or how did he get that email address ?

    Solomonshort, I did not intend to imply that there was anything wrong with Alaska - except for the cold, maybe, but you Minnesotans know enough about that - and I've always wanted to visit there, myself. I would still recommend an REU, if it's not too late.
  8. Jul 19, 2004 #7
    Thanks fourier, thats the kinda thing I wanted to hear :smile:
    Ive never heard of Graham, but i will certainly look into it.
    hehe perhaps his inspiration was alaska itself :smile:
    I watched on Sagans Cosmos once that Einstein probably developed some of his ideas while riding his bike around the beautiful italian coutryside.
    not that i have all delusions about being the next einstein, but just that those kinds of places can be excellent environments to spark the imagination and concentration.

    sorry gokul, perhaps i was a little rude. youre suggestion is appreciated, and im sure youre right, that it would help to get a better idea of the place, i just think it is too late for that. it just wasnt as direct as i wouldve liked and it was the first reply that i got. hehe and i was rereading some chtorr books(solomonshort quotes) and well....thats another story, theres no need for me to ramble on anymore than i have.

    thanks guys!

    I miss the dinosaurs. -ss
  9. Jul 19, 2004 #8
    wow & I thought Graham was one of the most famous mathematicians alive. He managed to get into Calif Berkeley after his MS @ U of Alaska, so I would say that it's worth something. Maybe you'll still have to get a good advisor & write a good enough thesis, but that's something you'd have to do anywhere else.

    hey I'm in Canada; maybe I'll ride my bike & walk all over the Canadian "countryside", and that will inspire me to do that unified field threory thingy. I mean if Einstein only biked all over Italy, imagine what someone could accomplish by biking all over Canada... :wink:
  10. Jul 19, 2004 #9


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    If you're a Ron Graham, you'd be noticed and grabbed if you graduated out of the "three little pigs University", so that's not a fair evaluation of the standing of U Fairbanks.
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