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Graduating early, Grad school in Spring

  1. Apr 16, 2012 #1

    So I was hoping to get anyones opinion on a situation I'm in. I'm currently planning on graduating in 4 years with a honors in mathematics and physics (it would entail a thesis in math and some research credit in physics). I'm on track to complete that, however, I'm currently thinking of graduating early, in 3.5 years with an honors in physics and just a math major.

    My question is, does anyone know of any good graduate schools that offer spring? I know MIT does, but besides that I'm unaware of anything else. I was also wondering if graduating early and possibly doing some research would look better or worse than taking more classes?

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 16, 2012 #2
    As far as I'm aware, you'll be applying to graduate school in the winter, i.e, in the year *before* the year you're gonna be graduating in. This means that whatever research you do after your graduating, while likely beneficial to you, will not be able to be part of your application! Instead of getting the degrees in 3.5 years and spending the last semester on research, you could get the degree in the usual 4 years, but spread your courses out a little so that you can have more time to focus on your research project(s).

    [Note that I haven't started college yet, so I may be wrong]
  4. Apr 16, 2012 #3
    Places that start in the spring are uncommon, especially PhD programs. Taking some time off before grad school isn't a bad idea - you can still graduate in 3.5 years but start the following fall. That is what I am doing right now, actually. I graduated in December and start grad school this fall, and I am just working full time in my old lab in the meantime.
  5. Apr 16, 2012 #4


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    Spring admission at most schools is either not possible or considered on a case-by-case basis. I started a grad program in the spring semester, but I had a professor who wanted me to go to that school and was willing to push through a spring admission for me even though they normally would not have considered it.
  6. Apr 16, 2012 #5
    OK, so you are doing an undergrad degree; your major is Math AND Physics, you are doing some sort of honours program which requires research in BOTH areas. This is going to be very difficult to do in 4 years, let alone 3.5 years, and I don't really see how this could be much of a benefit.

    At BEST, you will finish graduate school 6 months earlier. But, in the grand scheme of things, who really cares? Also, when I start grad school, I plan on taking classes like Real Analysis I, Algebra I and Advanced Linear Algebra. Now, where I'm going, all math people have to take Real Analysis I/II and Algebra I/II. But, guess what? Algebra I is offerered only in the Fall, and, up until recently, Real Analysis I was only offered in the Fall (and Real Analysis II is offered in the Summer and Spring.) So, I imagine that something is similar with the math/physics classes at the shools you'll be applying to. So, it might turn out that you won't even get to graduate a 6 mos early. Additionally, I don't think that any grad school would care that you finished in 3.5 years instead of 4; that is, I can't really think of why this would be considered a Good Thing.

    Now, you could rush through in 3.5 years. But, even if you complete everything that you are planning to complete, you are still going to have to rush. Some semesters you will take more than 5 classes. And, since you are doing Physics AND Math, you are going to be taking several difficult classes. I am graduating this semester, and I one that I have noticed is that it is much easier to earn a bunch of A's and complete everything "on paper" than it is to actually develop a deeper understanding of things. Now, if you rush through, you might get everything done "on paper" and you might have a good GPA, but there is going to be a bit of sacrafice in the form of missing some cirtical connections between topics and missing out on being able to independently develop some deeper understandings of your courses.

    So, your gain is almost nothing, but you are losing A LOT, IMO.

    What is the highest math class you have taken? If you haven't taken any proof-based classes (like Analysis or Algebra, for example) then you don't really know what the math is going to be like, and I think that when you do, you would probably agree with me that it is better to take 4 years instead of 3.5.
  7. Apr 16, 2012 #6
    Mepris: That's true. For MIT my application would be due in november and if I got in it would be for spring. If i don't get in, or defer and apply to schools for the fall they wont see my research either. However, they wont see my course grades for that semester either! All they will see is the courses I've signed up for, not my grades. The question is, is it better to be saying I'm spending my last semester on classes and research or purely research?

    Monocles: That sounds cool to me. Spending the last semester before grad school doing work and being original, not signing up for more courses.

    Eri: Yeah I figured spring admissions would be rare and its tough to get financial assistance. If I don't get in, I'll still be applying for fall and if i were to get in w/o enough financial assistance I would defer my acceptance and try to work in a lab (at my school or at the grad school in the mean time

    I'll have to talk to my advisor, I'm grateful for the input though. I am worried about the difficulty of getting in in the spring and funding.
    Robert: Let me clarify my situation. I'm not a freshman, I've taken basically all my required courses. I have always planned on graduating in 4 years and I took schedules some people would have considered "rushed". That is 4 physics and a math class or more. I did it because I found I could and I thought some of the classes were easy.

    All I have left is a single class in my math major and a single class in physics (along with research if i want honors). My original plan was to complete the honors programs in mathematics and physics individually. That meant an honors thesis for math and research credit for physics. That would take me 4 years. Just an honors in physics would take me 3.5. So basically all I have to do is take one analysis class, one lab class, and one class for research (along with some gen ed requirements) and I will graduate next semester. I've taken classes in algebra, topology, linear algebra along with a class on PDEs. I'm going to go to grad school in physics anyway, I just enjoyed the math.

    I don't care about finishing graduate school 6 months early. I can take my time or defer my enrollment and work in a lab in between. There's no reason to be hanging out taking more classes at my undergrad institution if theres no real need or if I can do my own work full time. If I stayed an extra semester I could take more classes, I'm just not sure if its worth it.
  8. Apr 16, 2012 #7


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    The same happened to me!. By the way, if this is not the case for others, another issue of spring admission is lack of funding. Most funds are allocated each fall.
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