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Schools Having a hard time deciding where to study physics

  1. Aug 3, 2017 #1
    First,a bit of context...
    I've just finished high school in Malaysia, and I'm a bit torn on which country I should go to further my studies.
    I have a deep interest in theoretical physics and I'm hoping I can get a physics degree. My current first choice is to attend a community college in the US(due to certain circumstances, I can't directly enter a university in the US) and complete a two year transfer program, but because I'll be taking more time, I might exert a bit of financial pressure on my parents, so they suggested that I further my studies in Australia instead because I can go directly to a university there with my results. It might cost a bit more but in the long run I might spend less since I won't be spending two years taking a transfer program in a community college. There's also a question of whether I can get a better physics education in the US, or Australia.

    TL;DR I'm torn deciding between the US and Australia, which is a better place to further my physics education?

    By the way, this is my first time on Physics Forums, I realize that my question may not be very concise, or my grammar may be a bit off since English is not my native language, and this post might be in the wrong section, feel free to call me out if I'm doing anything wrong.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 3, 2017 #2
    Minimize the debt that you personally take on as a result of your degree. That's your number one priority.

    Something to consider: depending on the state you live in here in America, you may be able to transfer to a 4-year school after 1-1.5 years of study at a CC. My school is one such school. Typically you get accepted here as a transfer from a CC as long as you have 40+ credits and a 3.0 GPA or higher.

    I am not familiar with Australian schools, but when investigating schools myself, I chose one with the best research options available to me. You may want to look up publishing rates for both US and Australian schools and compare them.

    Don't underestimate the personal toll a degree like physics can take on you as well. The fact that you are in Australia may make it easier for you to visit family and loved ones or have them visit you, and that may be a comfort to you during your education.
     
  4. Aug 3, 2017 #3

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    Do you have any friends who've gone to Australia? They might give you some insight there.

    Considering you're coming from Malaysia, I would think Australia would be the preferable location as its closer to Malaysia than is the US. Also if you can get into a four year school that preferable to getting into a two year school as the bar is always higher for transfer students at least for many schools in the US.

    Do you know how you'd be treated as a Malaysian in Australia?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysian_Australians

    or in the US?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysian_Americans
     
  5. Aug 3, 2017 #4
    As far as I know, I don't have any friends that have gone to Australia. On the other hand, I know 3 of my classmates who are heading to the US and are attending the same CC as I am should I decide to head to the US. So I was thinking that could help.

    The CC I'm planning to attend is in California, so if I'm transfering anywhere it's probably a UC. Most of my friends and almuni from my high school who go there usually finish their 2 year transfer program, so I don't know whether it's possible to transfer in 1-1.5 years for my CC in particular.
     
  6. Aug 4, 2017 #5
    I worked for the majority of the CC in California, as a math tutor and TA. What CC are you planning to attend?

    If you are going to Southern California (around the Los Angeles Area):

    LACC has a very strong physics program. A lot of students come here from different colleges. Dr. Arvidson and Dr. Bhakta are amazing. Dr. Arvidson is an entertaining lecture. He gives a few problems from KK on HW/Test. He is really approachable and helpful. Dr. Bhakta is also a good lecturer. He is easier than Dr. Arvidson. Avoid Mc Cudden, not very helpful can be hard to approach. Really boring lectures. Dr. Kiley is wonderful. Goes over mathematical derivations in great detail. I am a math major, so I did not need this, I needed physical intuition., but can be useful for physics majors. Neat project for the 3rd semester physics. He makes you write lab reports in LATEX. He teaches Fourier Series, Tensors, etc. Grades on a curve.

    LACC has a decent math department. However, it is becoming bad. Due to low pass rates all across the board. The department has dumbed down their curriculum. To my knowledge, they are no longer asking students to preform proofs. This is extremely bad for students who are in a Discrete Math/ Linear Algebra. As these classes are a great way to ease students into formal proof writing.

    East Los Angeles College: Has a very good math program. A lot stronger than LACC. Not sure if Thomas Harjuno is still teaching there. But he will either make or break you. Really challenged me. Strict guy, but is really helpful. He is also from Malaysia :). Physics and Engineering department is a joke here.

    West Los Angeles College: Is really excellent. If you decide to come here they have 2 programs that may help you financially.

    Base 11 (or 10?) and STEM (something). Base 11 (or 10?) leans more towards Computer Science and application of science (think of engineering). A lot of students due internships, because of this program. Cal Tech and USC. My friend did an internship at USC. He programmed a game. 6,000 per yr grant.

    STEM program offered 8,000 a year. I believe it is less now. Maybe 6,000? It has been a while since I was a part of it. You take an independent study every semester. Some can be time wasters, but I had a few good ones. The ones I enjoyed were: Astro Physics Course, Zoology Class (lots of outdoor stuff/learned a lot), Circuits, and a Biology class were we cultivated bacteria and stuff. You give a presentation at an end. Lots of events, guest speakers, and internships.

    West La has a really strong math program. Mr. Harjuno works here too. Dr. Swaminathan makes you prove things. Really helpful, she is a serious person but a real sweetheart. Dr. Mohamad really made me want to do math. He is an active researcher. I strongly recommend to take a math class with him. However, do so after a few classes. He has a really low pass rate. Really smart guy, but do not expect any sympathy on test day. Random quizzes. No partial credit! 2 out 30 points lol. I remember taking him for Liner Algebra, and most of my class consisted of CSLUB, UCLA, USC, CSLA, and a few people from Cal Poly. Only 4 people passed (I was one), and we were all his previous students.

    Mr. Butcher is also great. A little easier than Mohamad, but his lecture is better. Really funny guy, somewhat of a hippie. Stays late at school, to help students.

    The physics department here only has 1 teacher. Dr. Bell. She is nice (got me a job, internship). Her class may be too easy. But you can always ask her for work. She helped me with Kleppner and Kolenkow :). SO you have to be proactive!
    Professor Lai really cares. She gives candy, and always goes the extra mile. Has a way of simplifying complex material. Definition of a teacher.
    Nice and clean college. There is a study room inside the math department for students. Teachers stay around in there office. The math department is really inviting. They take an interest in students, and will help you with what ever they can. They actually approach you and talk to you. A lot of them are active in industry...

    I would avoid Santa Monica College. A lot of the math professors that teach here teach at West La and LACC. Very costly for Foreign Students, one of the most expensive for out of state/ out of country. Classes are packed. Always a hard time to get classes. Very packed. The college is over rated, and I would question their high transfer rate brag. Classes are easy here.

    Sorry for the long post.
     
  7. Aug 4, 2017 #6
    I'm planning to attend De Anza college, it's at Cupertino I think. Since most of the high school graduates from my high school go there as a platform to transfer to other schools it was naturally my first choice.

    Thanks for the suggestions! It's great to have some insight from someone experienced, I'll definitely check them out, providing the qualifications and admission requirements are allowing.
     
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