1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal 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!

Importance of Extracurriculars

  1. Oct 2, 2014 #1

    Rocket50

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I've recently been wondering whether it is better to spend one's time doing research or prepare for competitions like ACM ICPC or the Putnam exam? I currently have the opportunity to participate in some research, but it is very time consuming. That, with my course-load makes it pretty difficult to have time to prepare for such competitions. And anyway, I don't particularly enjoy preparing for them much.

    My question also applies in context to graduate school applications. Would doing a significant amount of research be valued more than doing fairly well in competitions?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 2, 2014 #2

    analogdesign

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    It is good that you put your question in context. The answer is it depends on who is evaluating your application. When I select students I prefer research experience. I suspect this is generally true. When we select students part of our job is to pick people we think will succeed. A candidate who already has research experience and yet still wants to go to graduate school is usually a safer bet.
     
  4. Oct 2, 2014 #3

    Rocket50

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Thanks for your reply. Hypothetically, when I apply for graduate schools, I should have about 3 years of experience doing research. I think that should be a good indicator that I'm ready for graduate school?

    On top of that, I may not even do so well in those competitions.
     
  5. Oct 2, 2014 #4

    analogdesign

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    If you combine that 3 years of experience with strong letters of recommendation from the people who mentored you in that research then yes, that would be an excellent indicator you're ready for graduate school. It is surprising how few candidates have strong research experience and how rare it is for undergraduates to ask to get involved in the research in my group. I almost always get students through large programs but the very few that contacted me directly are the ones I remember.
     
  6. Oct 2, 2014 #5

    Choppy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I agree with Analogdesign.

    Research experience also helps you to decide on a specific field to go into, or a specific project you want to do. And if you aboslutely hate it, it's much better to figure that out as an undergraduate than once you're two years into a PhD.
     
  7. Oct 2, 2014 #6

    Rocket50

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I like research a lot so far, so that's not an issue. In fact, I don't particularly enjoying preparing for the competitions as well.

    So I guess the general consensus is that I should spend my time on research instead of competitions?
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Importance of Extracurriculars
Loading...