Hi everybody, I'm new to this. I'm about to start my sophomore year at Harvey Mudd. I have a lot of questions about what courses to take, what research to try out for, etc... Perhaps I could get some input? First, research. For someone who wants to go to a top graduate program (like top 10), when should one ideally start doing research? I'm thinking summer after sophomore year is when I'd start. Also, how important is it to be published in journals and have presented at major conferences? Should you have been doing research for about at least two years in order to be adequately prepped? Also, I'm still undecided on what kind of research I want to do. A part of me wants to do more theoretical stuff, but I know that that requires a lot of math, and I probably won't have enough to do meaningful stuff with the string theorist on campus until second semester junior year. So I'm thinking I'd also like to do some research in experimental stuff, like quantum optics or astrophysics, maybe as early as second semester sophomore year. Is it okay to work on an experimental topic of research for a year or so and then switch to more theoretical stuff for your senior thesis and what not? Or does that look like your indecisive and not committed? Also, I'm worried that I won't know what kind of research I want to do in graduate school. I'm worried I'll be very confused between experimental and theoretical. Is that a major problem? Do a lot of grad students go in not knowing what type of research they want or what topics they want to specialize in? And, would it be okay for me to go to Cambridge (assuming I can get in of course) for a year and get a Certificate of Advanced Study (equivalent to a Master's here) in Applied Math/Theo Physics, even if I'm indecisive about what I want to research? Would taking a ton of courses that are all mathematical and what not make it harder to explore other options? For the record, after my first semester at Mudd, I have a 3.7 GPA. The general trend here is that GPA's go up significantly after the first two semesters, once people start getting out of core requirements. I am thinking with what I am at right now, if I work hard at it I might be able to pull it up to a 3.8. Any comments, suggestions, answers - I greatly appreciate it!