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Help choosing undergrad school?

  1. Mar 23, 2010 #1
    hi, i'm currently a junior in a very competitive public hs in MA. i want to pursue a degree in physics and eventually a PhD in physics or astronautical engineering (MIT hopefully!) i wasn't a stellar student in HS mostly because i didn't care my freshman year and i had some personal issues this year. but anyways, these are my stats so far-

    4.0 weighted (out of 5.0)
    3.3 uw
    2100 SAT
    taking subject tests in Math2 and Chem in may
    29 ACT, 30 eng, 31 math
    only 2 non-honors classes in HS, one ap this year and 3 senior year

    my ec's aren't great but they have depth:
    i've played basketball year round on different teams for all of HS, didn't make varsity but played aau (similar to club teams for soccer) in both the spring and fall for all of HS, making up about 12-ish seasons of basketball
    and i've worked 15-20hrs a week on average since Aug 2009, sometimes more
    member of a couple clubs but nothing big
    and sadly thats it for the most part

    right now, my top choices are probably Vanderbilt, USC, and William & Mary, although i don't know for sure if those are worthy schools of shooting for for physics or not. Also on my list are Boston U, Elon, Richmond, Illinois U-C, VaTech, McGill, and my guidance counselor said i have a great shot at Washington & Lee although somehow i don't believe that

    So if anyone has any other schools i should shoot for for a degree in physics and a chance to make it into top grad schools, i would love to know!
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 23, 2010 #2
    Might try University of Texas. Much less competitive than, say, MIT, and it's a very good school. Not very expensive, either.
  4. Mar 23, 2010 #3
    I would look at University of Michigan, SUNY Stony Brook (a public university, but very much racing to the forefront in physics and sciences in general), Carnegie Mellon (likely a stretch, but worth a shot). If you are willing to go to Canada you have a shot at University of Toronto and McGill, they are competitive, but you have a chance.
  5. Mar 24, 2010 #4
    thanks for the quick replies, ill check those schools out. two additional questions though: will the schools i listed above give me a good physics education, or are they really not worth it? and will not going to a top-tier undergrad school for physics not allow me to get into a top-tier grad schools later?
  6. Mar 24, 2010 #5
    All Of the schools I listed are very good schools for physics.

    Being in a top tier school helps with grad school, but it's not the only factor. Make sure that the school you go to has undergrad research opportunities (u of m, cmu and stony brook all have this)
  7. Mar 27, 2010 #6
    thanks, i'll try to look into more schools that will give me some research opportunities in addition to education. i checked out those schools, u of m did sound appealing to me but i wasnt sure if i had a shot at it. texas as well, and cmu. but there were a few schools i had looked at that i was wondering if it was worth looking into more or if i would be wasting my time getting a physics degree from the school.

    UM-College Park
    UI- Urbana Champaign
    Boston University
    University of Richmond
    Elon University
    Villanova University
    Wake Forest University

    also, how are UMCP, UIUC, and BU's aerospace engineering programs? that is my second choice major if physics doesn't work out like i hope
  8. Apr 1, 2010 #7
    The undergraduate physics curriculum is pretty standard, and the best physics program is one that you finish, so your first consideration is to find a school that doesn't leave you hating physics after two years. The other thing is that the difference between "top" and "middle" physics graduate schools isn't that huge, and as long as you finish the undergraduate program with decent grades, you'll make it in somewhere.

    Also, you need to apply to one or two "shoot the moon" school since you might just get lucky, and at least one school that you absolutely positively know that you are going to get into.
  9. Apr 2, 2010 #8
    really? wow that honestly makes me feel quite a bit more relaxed about this. so it really won't matter that i didn't get into mit or ucb or stanford or one of their ilk come grad school time?
    in that case, would it be a better idea to go to a smaller private school where ill get the increased attention and such or a large public school where i could get opportunities at research and internships and such?
  10. Apr 3, 2010 #9
    The first priority is to go somewhere that you will get the physics degree. It's better to get a physics undergraduate at Noname University then to burnout at MIT (which I've seen happen to people).

    That depends on the way that you learn best. One thing is that you should do is go to a graduate school that is different from undergraduate school.
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