1. Not finding help here? Sign up for a free 30min tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How do I rate in terms of Undergrad Research?

  1. Oct 21, 2008 #1

    G01

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    I go to a smaller, teaching university, and do not have much opportunity for research at my own school. I do have one professor doing actual research and have been working with him for several semesters now. I also have had 2 REU's. To summarize my experience:

    1. 2 REU's with the same program and advisor.

    2. ~2 Years of research at home institution.

    3. #2 has resulted in a conference presentation( I was third author) with another one on the way and maybe a publication, but not before my grad apps are due.

    4. Built an STM for a senior project.


    Does anyone know how this experience will compare with the standard applicant applying to a top 10 or top 20 school (in physics)? I believe I have a good research background for an undergrad from a school such as mine, but some people out there (especially on physicsGRE.com) have several publications as undergrads. Some of them have first author publications!

    Should I expect the majority of applicants at the top 20 to have more research experience than me? Will the top 20 schools take into account the small amount of research opportunities at my school when considering my application?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 21, 2008 #2

    cristo

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    It sounds like you have a lot of experience to me! But then, I don't know anything about grad school applications in the US!

    One thing to note about author order on papers: in some schools of thought, it means absolutely nothing which author is listed first on the paper. For example, my supervisor always lists the authors in alphabetical order (and my name's before his alphabetically!)
     
  4. Oct 21, 2008 #3

    G01

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Thanks cristo. Even if you don't know US admittance requirements, having someone who isn't an undergrad say I have a lot of research experience makes me feel better. I just got worried when I see undergrads with three publications and who have been working with a professor longer than some of the PhD candidates. I hope those people are in the minority.
     
  5. Oct 21, 2008 #4

    eri

    User Avatar

    I had more experience, as well as 2nd author on a published paper, and I still got turned down from the top schools. However, I think it might have had more to do with my crappy PGRE scores than my research background - I'm excelling at a lower-ranked program where few students had research experience. It can certainly be hard to compete with undergrads who were first author on Nature papers (I've seen it happen). People at the top schools just seem to have more opportunities - a friend of mine at a top physics school told me they were pushed from the start to get into research programs, whereas I had to beg for an REU after my first year at a liberal arts school (they didn't start mentioning them to students until junior year or later). So you'll definitely have a jump on some students, but don't expect your research alone to get you into the top schools (I'm sure you weren't basing your whole application on it).
     
  6. Oct 21, 2008 #5

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    That looks like a decent amount of research experience. Having an REU two years with the same person really looks good too...it means you did a good enough job the first year that they were willing to take you back a second year. That also means you probably got a lot more out of it the second year since you weren't starting from square one.

    Two years of research at your home institution is typical. Most students figure out they need research in their junior year, so can get two years under their belt. The REU in addition is what makes you stand out.

    It might actually help that you don't have a lot of opportunities at your home institution. It shows that you had to take more initiative to find opportunities for yourself. When you're at a large research university, anyone who wants a research experience can get it somewhere. When you're at a small school, there are a lot fewer opportunities, so usually only the best students get them, and even they have to work hard to find them.
     
  7. Oct 21, 2008 #6

    G01

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Thanks alot for the advice MB. Can I ask another question? Do you think there is anyway, I can point out the small amount of research opportunities at my school without sounding like I'm complaining about my situation? (There is only really one professor in Physics with an active project, and he has to teach 9 credits this semester!)

    Or do you think they'll be able to figure out the research situation at my school? My school is definitely NOT a research school. (And the physics department does even less research than the science departments.)

    I really enjoy my university and would choose to go there all over again if I had the choice. I just hope that decision doesn't hinder me when applying to grad school.
     
  8. Oct 22, 2008 #7

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2015 Award

    I think they'll be able to figure it out. After all, if undergrads know what are the strong research schools, even professors (!) should be able to figure it out.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: How do I rate in terms of Undergrad Research?
Loading...