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Help to find best high school in the US to become a theoretical phyicist

  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Dear everyone,

My younger brother who is 15 years old and me, both live in the UK. He is determined to become a theoretical physicist like Zeldovich or Ginzburg.
We have an opportunity to send him to a US high school because it is the best place to become and be a physicist.
Could you please suggest good (potentially the best) physical and mathematical high schools in the US to start becoming a physicist?
And of course he will apply to Caltech and MIT because he wants to do physics his whole life.

Thank you for your attention,

My brother and me)
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
berkeman
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  • #3
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What's wrong with Cambridge or Oxford? I doubt they would be any harder to get into than Caltech or MIT especially as an international applicant. Sending him to high school in the US on the minute chance of getting into one of those highly highly selective schools doesn't seem like a well thought out plan. Also it is not necessary to go to one of those schools to become a physicist. More important than the school he attends for undergrad will be the school he attends for graduate studies.
 
  • #4
berkeman
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  • #5
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If your post is serious (I'm not sure about that yet), it looks like some of the "Specialized" high schools in the US require citizenship in the state where the school is located:

https://www.schools.nyc.gov/enrollment/enroll-grade-by-grade/specialized-high-schools

What did your brother score on the SHSAT? It also looks like a very high score on that test will be required...
No I am not joking about the school searching. I was joking about physicists: there is still a little chance for him to be like Zeldovich but not a chance to be like Landau or Einstein) No, my brother did not pass any tests. Is that SHSAT important to do now? We just did not think about that test-exam stuff.

Thank your reply and this info.
 
  • #6
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What's wrong with Cambridge or Oxford? I doubt they would be any harder to get into than Caltech or MIT especially as an international applicant. Sending him to high school in the US on the minute chance of getting into one of those highly highly selective schools doesn't seem like a well thought out plan. Also it is not necessary to go to one of those schools to become a physicist. More important than the school he attends for undergrad will be the school he attends for graduate studies.
I think that US education is the best for physics and my brother is more comfortable to study in the US because he decided to move there with his mom. Oxford is not so good for Physics as Cambridge and Cambridge is worse than MIT and Caltech is the best.
 
  • #7
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The fact that you are ranking some of the world's best schools as to which is preferable leads me to believe you don't have a grasp as to how incredibly difficult it is to get admitted to those schools. If your brother is going to be moving to the U.S. then it makes sense that he will attend high school there. If you want more information about potential schools you might try College Confidential - https://www.collegeconfidential.com/.

BTW most rankings put MIT on top but it really doesn't matter because the chances of being admitted are infinitesimal.
 
  • #8
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The fact that you are ranking some of the world's best schools as to which is preferable leads me to believe you don't have a grasp as to how incredibly difficult it is to get admitted to those schools. If your brother is going to be moving to the U.S. then it makes sense that he will attend high school there. If you want more information about potential schools you might try College Confidential - https://www.collegeconfidential.com/.

BTW most rankings put MIT on top but it really doesn't matter because the chances of being admitted are infinitesimal.
Yeah I see, thank you for the usefull website!
To be honest, Oxford is not the case because it is world leading in humanities but not the best in physics and mathematics. Of course Oxford is cool university and I respect it but I i just want to focus on and to do the best.
 
  • #9
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So to be clear really we're talking about you and not your brother...
 
  • #10
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So to be clear really we're talking about you and not your brother...
Lol, no sorry, thats really about my younger brother. Unfortunately, I am too old for that stuff.
 
  • #11
berkeman
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Of course Oxford is cool university and I respect it but I i just want to focus on and to do the best.
I would hope that you think so, since you've said previously that you went there for your degree...
I am 25 and I have graduated from Oxford university in Chemical Biology but strongly believe that I want to do Physics all my future life. I did my Masters by research on the department of Chemistry and I was co-supervised by Professor in Organic Chemistry and Professor in Physical Chemistry. So thats why I fell in love into Physics. I was doing a lot of NMR and quantum mechanics and started to like Maths which I hated before.
 
  • #12
Vanadium 50
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I also question how serious this is, but:

1. The quality of high school makes little difference. What matters more is how well your brother takes advantage of the opportunities that he has.
2. What will matter is US citizenship or, failing that, permanent residence status. He should be working towards that immediately.
 
  • #13
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I also question how serious this is, but:

1. The quality of high school makes little difference. What matters more is how well your brother takes advantage of the opportunities that he has.
2. What will matter is US citizenship or, failing that, permanent residence status. He should be working towards that immediately.
Thank you for the important comment.

Could you please describe and give more advice about taking advantage of the opportunities?
Do you mean doing electronics and mechanics hobby or going for special courses and societies? Should I search for a special physics tutor for him or this is enough for me to teach him some stuff I think is important (for example, I recently told him about Pascal triangel and binomial coefficient so now he can do exponents of sums, I found that no one in his class do not know that!)
 
  • #14
berkeman
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I recently told him about Pascal triangel and binomial coefficient so now he can do exponents of sums, I found that no one in his class do not know that!
Sorry, that sentence parses as "my brother was the last in his class to learn that". Is that what you intended to say?
 
  • #15
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Sorry, that sentence parses as "my brother was the last in his class to learn that". Is that what you intended to say?
Ah, sorry, no, I meant that they do not cover this at school, at least at his grade, and other students do not know that.
 
  • #16
berkeman
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Could you please describe and give more advice about taking advantage of the opportunities?
Do you mean doing electronics and mechanics hobby or going for special courses and societies?
I would think that at his level, doing inspired science fair projects and research would be one of the best things that he (and you) could pursue. In the US, the Intel science fair competition is a wonderful and impressive affair:

https://newsroom.intel.com/press-kits/2019-isef/#gs.u2x1h0

I don't know if there is an equivalent affair in the UK or EU, but I'm guessing that there should be something similar.
 
  • #17
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Sorry, that sentence parses as "my brother was the last in his class to learn that". Is that what you intended to say?
I want to teach him differentiation and integration because it would be very usefull push for his physics knowledge. I am telling him now about sequences and preparing to study limits for differentiation.
 
  • #18
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I would think that at his level, doing inspired science fair projects and research would be one of the best things that he (and you) could pursue. In the US, the Intel science fair competition is a wonderful and impressive affair:

https://newsroom.intel.com/press-kits/2019-isef/#gs.u2x1h0

I don't know if there is an equivalent affair in the UK or EU, but I'm guessing that there should be something similar.
This sounds cool and I did not now and think about that and in that way.

Thanks a lot for this!
 
  • #19
berkeman
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I want to teach him differentiation and integration because it would be very usefull push for his physics knowledge. I am telling him now about sequence and preparing to study limits for differentiation.
As a medic, I need to ask you an honest question. How does your brother feel about all of this "help" from you? Do you think he might feel a bit pressured? How do your parents feel about all of this?
 
  • #20
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As a medic, I need to ask you an honest question. How does your brother feel about all of this "help" from you? Do you think he might feel a bit pressured? How do your parents feel about all of this?
Honestly, he does not like maths and physics and prefer playing video games on his own. But if we start a lesson he is happy for knowing new interesting things. For example, he was really exited with Pascal triangle, I think that was like a wonderfull discovery for him and he even says that he likes "this sort of maths". Please do not think I am violently doing maths with him, I am just telling him not boring and interesting things I am also exited about.

Of course, my mom is happy if we are doing lessons.
 
  • #21
atyy
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And of course he will apply to Caltech and MIT because he wants to do physics his whole life.
To be honest, Oxford is not the case because it is world leading in humanities but not the best in physics and mathematics. Of course Oxford is cool university and I respect it but I i just want to focus on and to do the best.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to go to Caltech or MIT, but one should be aware that there is no generally "top" school in physics or mathematics. There are many good places in the world. For example, Andrew Wiles is currently Regius Professor at Oxford http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2018-05-31-sir-andrew-wiles-appointed-first-regius-professor-mathematics-oxford. And while the experimental work for this year's Wolf Prize was done at MIT, the theoretical work was done by Bistritzer and MacDonald at UT Austin http://nanoscale.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-wolf-prize-and-how-condensed-matter.html. Also, I don't think Zeldovich or Ginzburg went to Caltech or MIT.
 
  • #22
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@jirnyak said:
Honestly, he does not like maths and physics and prefer playing video games on his own.
I'm sorry but this does not seem to mesh with
He is determined to become a theoretical physicist like Zeldovich or Ginzburg
What this really seems like is that this is your dream for him.

In any case one of things you need to realize with regards to admission to most "top" colleges in the U.S. is that they are holistic (though MIT is less so). This means it's not just about grades. Yes he will need top scores in high school and on the standardized tests (SAT or ACT) but they are going to be looking for more than this.

He will need "most rigorous courses" designation on his transcript as indicated by the guidance counsellor which usually will require him to have taken a number of AP courses, counsellor or teacher letters of recommendation, meaningful extra curricular activities, compelling essays (one about himself and one about why he wants to attend x school) and possibly an interview.

The application process is very lengthy and time consuming and many students start crafting their essays the summer before senior year. They also usually take the standardized tests at least twice after extensive prep (sometimes on their own but more and more through a test prep company) so time for that needs to be factored into the planning process. It's not like applying to university in the U.K.
 
  • #23
Dr Transport
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Have we heard from the individual yet, or just his sibling who with the family thinks that the child is the next Einstein. This thread is confusing.
 
  • #24
ZapperZ
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I think that US education is the best for physics and my brother is more comfortable to study in the US because he decided to move there with his mom. Oxford is not so good for Physics as Cambridge and Cambridge is worse than MIT and Caltech is the best.
This is one of the most ridiculous thing I've heard on this forum. The level of ignorance here is unbelievable.

Zz.
 
  • #25
Dr Transport
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Honestly, he does not like maths and physics and prefer playing video games on his own.
Maybe the first thing he needs to do is step away from the games and get interested in doing something else.
 

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