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Admissions Graduating in Five Years and Admissions

  1. Jan 9, 2007 #1
    Hello, I am a fourth year student at a decent public school. My GPA is 3.986, I haven't taken the GRE yet but I got 99th percentile on my SATs, and I have done very well on practice tests, so I am hoping to have very high scores. I also did an REU last summer and have been doing research with a professsor for two quarters now.

    My question is this: I decided on the physics major late, so that I am behind the traditional coursework. I am torn between two options: I can graduate in the spring as I am supposed to with a degree in astrophysics, or I can stay an extra quarter to get a degree in physics.

    My problem is that, although my interest is primarily in astrophysics, I don't want to shut the door on the option of physics graduate school. I am curious as to how the astrophysics major would be perceived for physics admissions. The coursework between the two is very similar except for one thing: I wouldn't have taken a formal thermodynamics course (astrophysics has a similar course that covers much of the material, but is not the same).

    Another problem is that I intend to apply for graduate school in Fall 2008. So, I am not sure what to do with myself in between graduating and going to graduate school. It seems that most programs require you to be a continuing student, so that I would not be eligible. But I am not sure how realistic it is to get a real job, since I can only commit to the short time period. Any suggestions about this? Sorry again for the long question, I appreciate the help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 9, 2007 #2
    There's nothing wrong with taken an extra year to graduate. No schools I'm familiar with would look down on you for doing so. Use it as an opportunity to take some graduate and extra classes. Maybe even keep working on your research and submit it for publication before you apply.
  4. Jan 10, 2007 #3
    I also don't know of any schools that "require" you to be a continuing student (that seems dumb in my humble opinion :yuck: )... especially if you continue working in the lab after graduation. I agree with Jacob in that getting out a publication on your research would be impressive... and you could do that as a continuing student or as a hired laboratory researcher if your faculty mentor keeps you on.

    Many physics graduate programs' applications state that you should have a degree in physics OR a RELATED field (and astro is certainly that :biggrin: ) If you decide to apply to a physics, versus astrophysics program, you could point out in your personal statement that the only course missing for a degree in physics is a thermo course. Most physics graduate programs require statistical dynamics versions of thermo in their comps courses anyways, so you'd be learning some of the more interesting (non-intro-level) thermo anyways in required grad classes if you went the phtysics route. Good luck!
  5. Jan 11, 2007 #4
    Alright, excellent, thank you both. I think I've pretty much decided then too stick around the extra quarter. Hopefully, I can take the opportunity to take some more in-depth courses or some graduate courses that might interest me. But, unfortunately, I go to a public school that is very very strict about units and will not allow students to take extra classes under pretty much any circumstance (which is unbelievably annoying). Anyway, thank you very much for the advice, the forums have been helpful.
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