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Graduate School Focus

  1. Jul 9, 2009 #1
    Hey everyone, I'm entering my second undergraduate year as an astronomy and physics double major. I've always had an interest in black holes, high energy astrophysics, and cosmology; consequentially, I've planned to study one of these in graduate school. However, over the summer I've been working full-time at NASA Godard Space Flight Center for two scientists on the STEREO spacecraft doing solar plasma physics research. We haven't gotten too deep into detail yet, but I still enjoy it. To get to the point, they just offered me job to stay and work for them until I graduate, so for the next 3 years, which I took without hesitation. They made it a point to let me know I can stop at any time I lose interest or decide not to move forward. My question is this - if after the 3 years my interest in solar plasma physics doesn't match up my interest in other topics, would you still suggest I go to graduate school for it since I'll have so much experience? The two scientists I work for said by the end of three years I'll know as much about plasma physics as any 3rd year graduate student, so naturally it seems like it would definitely be easier to succeed in graduate school with such a deep understanding. I know I still have plenty of time to decide, but I just don't want to regret my choice later on in my career. What do you guys think?
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  3. Jul 10, 2009 #2


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    My advice would be to take it for what it is: an excellent opportunity to advance your understanding of physics and gain some valuable research experience. While this position will certainly give you an advantage if you decide to continue in space/plasma physics, by no means will you be limited to graduate study in that area.

    Graduate admissions committees understand that undergraduates need to explore different areas and that often decisions about research are made based on the available opportunities at the time.

    This sounds like a great position with some mentors that are willing to help you out in your career. Best of luck.
  4. Jul 10, 2009 #3

    Andy Resnick

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    A gree with Choppy- you have an excellent opportunity to work with mentors who seem genuinely interested in you. That's a benefit that goes well beyond any specific knowledge you will pick up.
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