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I am leaving high school early and starting to look at colleges

  1. Apr 20, 2008 #1
    I have been very bored at my high school. I took the hardest math and physics classes at my high school my freshman year (Calc BC and Physics C:E&M/Mechanics) and I am now a sophomore taking classes at the community college. However, I have pretty much exhausted the courses there. Given my situation, the school will be flexible with graduation requirements, and I will probably graduate early.

    I want to study physics in college, but my dad wants to make sure I get a liberal arts education as well. I am qualified for many "top schools" (i.e. Caltech, University of Chicago, MIT) but I not one of those kids who needs to go to a "top school."

    Do you know of any liberal arts schools with good physics programs? Will I pretty much get the same physics undergrad education anywhere? Does anybody know if Carleton has a good physics dept?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 20, 2008 #2
    Big schools tend to require liberal arts education in order to graduate anyway. I go to UW in Seattle and I have to take a bunch of art-type classes and things like social studies, etc.
  4. Apr 20, 2008 #3
    Carleton in Ottawa?
  5. Apr 21, 2008 #4
    If I were you I would look at Reed College in Portland Oregon, it is a small liberal arts school but they have a good physics program (the well known textbook writer David Griffiths teaches there). They also have mandatory humanities requirements of all undergraduates so that should make your dad happy. It's a really selective school though so if that's not what you're looking for this might not be the best.

    I would also look at places like UC-Berkeley or the University of Washington (or any other university commonly categorized as a public ivy).
  6. Apr 21, 2008 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    Some other good small colleges that come to my mind (in no particular order):

    in California: Harvey Mudd

    in Iowa: Grinnell

    in Ohio: Oberlin and Kenyon

    in the Carolinas: Davidson and Furman

    in the Northeast: Swarthmore, Middlebury, Williams, Dartmouth
  7. Apr 21, 2008 #6
    Also one thing to consider is that you have shown that you are fairly advanced already. If you go to a school that accepts your AP credit then you will be well ahead of the game assuming you come in with credit for Calc 1,2 and Physics 1,2 plus what ever other AP's you take and also classes from CC.
    What this means is that a "normal" freshmen would start the physics curriculum in Physics 1 and Calc 1 for their first semester. You are already ahead of this so you could spend some time taking humanities classes at any point in your undergrad career and not really worry aboutt falling behind too much.
    You could either start ou with humanities and then catch back up with the physics program second year when most of the other students would then be at your level. Or you could try and finish your physics degree requirements asap and take an easy 4th year studying what ever you feel. Or more likely just take it easy on the math sci classes and only do one or two each semester while you fill the gaps with plenty of other classes. I would recommend taking foreign language.
  8. Apr 21, 2008 #7
    Carleton in Minnesota (Northfield I think)
  9. Apr 21, 2008 #8
    to clarify, i am qualified for well-known/top schools (i.e. 36 on ACT, good grades) but am willing to explore other options
    essentially i want a college that will give me a good foundation in physics (i.e. grad school would be an option), but also has good humanities.
  10. Apr 21, 2008 #9
    Consider University of Wisconsin Madison. The physics program is quite strong in terms of theory and research. The instructors are not great, but the with your intellect you should be fine. The school also offers a lot of humanities both in the classroom and elsewhere.

    The physics department requires only 30 out of 120 credits be from the department and the remaining 90 credits are math and some science but are largely composed of liberal studies.
  11. Apr 22, 2008 #10

    I believe that 1/3 of your undergraduate education is outside of math/science.
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