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Is finishing college in three years bad for graduate school?

  1. Apr 19, 2015 #1
    I'm curious as to whether completing one's undergraduate studies faster is a disadvantage for applying to graduate school. While there are many reasons to stay the full four years, many also have real reasons to finish earlier (financial concerns being a main one).

    I'm going to assume that all of the introductory/ general education courses are finished before the second year, by using AP credits, taking summer classes, and using college classes taken or knowledge gained while in high school. So, the second and third years will be basically the same as a typical applicant's third and fourth years.

    Of course, there are many indirect disadvantages, such as: less time to do research projects, less to time to get to know professors better (who will write one's letters of recommendation), less time to take advanced courses or explore topics, etc. However I would like to ask if there are any direct disadvantages, such as graduate application committees simply looking upon those who finished their undergraduate studies faster.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 19, 2015 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Asking for "direct disadvantages" asks us to read the minds of the committee, I am afraid. Will some people care. Probably. Will most "directly" care? Probably not. Will the indirect disadvantages be powerful - powerful enough for admission to be offered to someone else in some cases? Probably.
  4. Apr 20, 2015 #3
    Are you pursuing physics or something else? If you're interested in high energy particle physics the answer is going to differ from the answer you might get if you want to do materials engineering.
  5. Apr 20, 2015 #4
    I am pursuing physics, probably something like condensed matter or biophysics. But I believe graduate schools don't need you to specialize while applying, or only indicate a general area of interest. (is this true?)
  6. Apr 21, 2015 #5
    No reason not to do 4 years. What's the rush? Your application will be only 75% as good if you apply after only 3 years.
  7. Apr 21, 2015 #6
    The answer changes not because you need to specialize before graduate school but because getting into graduate school for pure physics is significantly harder than getting in to an applied physics or engineering school from what I can tell. Biophysics for instance has numerous interdisciplinary programs which are like biochemistry programs, and the requirements are much more akin to an engineering program than a physics program.
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