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H.S. Senior Year Blues (HELP!)

  1. Aug 24, 2005 #1
    I am entering senior year in a Private High School and I feel a little trapped. As my old School Counselor has retired, my new counselor doesn't have the feel for my wants and needs. I was wondering if some people on this MB could give me some advice. Of course I am not going to take each response with a grain of salt and not entirely base my decisions on them. My background is as follows. I have a 3.75 GPA on a hard grading scale, my ACT score was only a 27 :cry: (no calculator on test day), Eagle Scout, Varsity Debate, National Honors Society Treasurer, and all that bunch of crap. I have been wondering what college should I go to (or get into) that would best prepare me for a science career( I am currently looking at Physics, Aerospace Eng., or another Engineering/Math related field). I also would like to go to Grad School. I have been looking at Univ. of Mich, MSU(they sent me a letter basically saying I would be accepted by October 30th if I sent in an App), Rose Hulmann, and have been oggling Harvard and MIT (although I seriously doubt that my App would make it to the table before hitting the garbage can). I was just wondering what some of your thoughts were. If you have made it into one of these colleges, please tell me your experience and your thoughts on my chances.

    Thank You
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2005 #2
    well, one possible route is to go to a state school for undergrad, and THEN going to a prestigious school for grad school (and, of course, basing that decision on the opportunities for research that will hold your interest for six-plus years, not because of the name).

    that's what i'm doing, somewhat unwittingly. :/

    my advice right now, before you begin your apps, is to make a list of schools that interest you (for some reason--i might be off base, but there is a certain degree of homogeneity in undergraduate physics).

    the typical classification or grouping you can use is thus:

    "safety" for schools you think you can get into with absolutely no problem

    "meet" schools are the ones that you think are on your level.

    "reach" schools are the ones that are kind of a pipe dream.

    in my opinion, i would try and concentrate on "meet" schools, include maybe one or two of reach and safety.

    the hard part is gauging which schools are on your caliber.

    and again, this is a rough guideline--i didn't quite use it, myself, or at least consciously.

    in retrospect, my "safety" was university of florida (where i am, as it so happens), "meet" were tufts, boston college, and u miami (boston college's calculus curriculum wasn't up to my standards, it turned out! :biggrin: ), and "reach" was MIT. didn't get into that one.

    and if i could do it all over, i would have applied to more than just five schools. (and, even then, i did minimal research on any of them. man, that was stupid of me!)
  4. Aug 24, 2005 #3
    As an undergraduate, if you get your degree in some kind of engineering, can you go on to graduate school for a physics degree?

    while i plan on doing engineering, my second choice is definitely physics.

    just looking for options in case i find an engineering job to be boring and i want to go back to school.
  5. Aug 24, 2005 #4


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    U of Mich is very prestigious for math, and a superb choice. if you are guaranteed entrance there you have no worries at all.

    my friends and acquaintances there who are all super teachers and researchers include William Fulton, Igor Dolgachev, Hyman Bass, Mel Hochster, Rob Lazarsfeld, gee whiz, the list goes on and on. if you turn out anywhere near as good as those faculty you will be a star. relax. your fortune is made. just apply, and do your best.

    At MSU I know of Akbulut, Kulkarni, Fintushel, Newhouse.

    Look, basically, there are fantastic people everywhere, vastly better than most of us can hope to live up to. That is the facts of life in the current academic world. Almost all the faculties are superb. If you go wherever you get in, and work hard you will achieve all you can expect.

    Best wishes,

  6. Aug 24, 2005 #5
    THank you

    Thanks everyone for the great responses.

    What does this mean?

    Also, when are my best chances of gettin into a good school as Application timing? I heard that to get into U of M or any good school easiest is to like aplly right now. Is that accurate?

    Also, how hard is it to go from a undergrad program to a prestigious Grad program? If I couldnt make it in the Prestigious now, wont it even be harder later?
  7. Aug 24, 2005 #6
    I too would like answers to these questions.
  8. Aug 24, 2005 #7
    Just because a school is more prestigious doesn't necessarily mean it is harder.
  9. Aug 25, 2005 #8
  10. Aug 25, 2005 #9
    I don't know much about school in the states. All I would say is don't get to caught up on prestige... of course within limits, obviously you would go to Harvard or MIT. Once you get into undergrad you realize to a certain degree they are all very similar, and the institution where you study has limited impact. Apply as soon as possible everywhere, there is no bonuses for waiting.

    As far as grad studies go: don't plan too much in advance. See how your undergraduate degree goes and then plan from there, I don't mean to be pessimistic, but you have to realize you might not do as well as you hoped, and then again like some you might do a lot better. Going into a prestigious grad program is only much easier if you are applying to the same school as your undergrad. Otherwise, in general, if you are a good student it should only have so much effect.

    Life is a game of chance. Get into the best school you can and improve your odds, but it doesn't necessarily mean you are going to be any better off then someone in a less reputable school.
  11. Aug 25, 2005 #10
    The school you go to for ugrad doesn't mean much when applying to grad schools.
  12. Aug 25, 2005 #11

    i meant by "research" actually getting to know the schools better. at the very least, how their physics programs and departments compared--what the courses were, which electives were available, how big or small is the dept. hell, even a few emails to the dept. could have helped out, i'm sure.

    and, yes, the stats i've seen about early decision/early action make it apparent that it is somewhat less difficult in getting accepted, as compared to the regular admissions date.

    look up early decision and early action, and find out the schools' policies on the matter. applying early decision to a school is tantamount to deciding that that is the school that you want to go to; no change of mind allowed.
  13. Aug 25, 2005 #12
    THank you All!

    Are there any other pieces of advice, you all have been so helpful.
  14. Aug 26, 2005 #13
    Umich is a special case - rolling admission. Everything there is heavily first come, first serve, including ease of acceptance, financial aid, merit aid, and housing.
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