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Is two research too much for one semester?

  1. Dec 20, 2008 #1
    Ok, so I am in kind of a dilema. This next semester I am planning to take Thermodynamics, Intro to Computational Physics, Intro to Mathematical Physics and Atomic/Nuclear Lab. I am a junior doing my BS in Physics. Besides this two of my previous professors have asked me to work with them on their research.

    Now I heard that most schools dont pay you for doing research but I know that at my university some of professors get funding and they pay their undergrad students that are working on it. Well, for one professor I know that he definately doesn't get funding yet but the other I am not sure.

    So now I don't want to say no to either one of them and I want to expose myself to research since I have never done research before, but I am worried that I wont have enough time to work on their research and put in enough time and plus study for my classes.

    Now there is another thing, which is more personal matter with my sister having a baby recently and me most likely having to start to take care of her baby in the middle of semester. I even thought of not taking thermodynamics to be able to do that, but now I have added two research experiences.

    So, what should I do now?
    Take only one research, or try to squeeze in both?
    Maybe drop thermodynamics and take both research with other classes?
    How about research, how to decide, since one professor, the one that doesn't have funding always gives me evil eye when I see him since he asked me twice in last month and I said I wasn't sure both times?
    Neither research are my first choice but I would like to expose myself to them since they are in physics area.

    Plus after this semester I only have 2 E&M's and 2 Quantum Mechanics to graduate. I am so uncertain because even without the research I was thinking of asking Thermodynamics professor to let me miss some classes because I would have to help my sister with the baby. I am just so uncertain about everything.

    I do plan to speak to an advisor but want to talk to him after holidays.

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 20, 2008 #2
    Doing two research projects simultaneously is very likely to rob you of the positive experience that undergraduate research can be. At least speaking of my own undergraduate experience, I had to spend more time than all my classes combined to really understand what my advisor was working on. I could have just pulled the levers and ran simulations, done the same work but spending much less time on it - had I done that, though, I would have learned nothing.

    Doing research as an undergraduate is vital for a good grad school application - you need to be able to talk seriously about the work you did though! If all I did was write some fortran code and do a lot of number crunching without understanding the physical significance of the work, no one would care that I had research experience at all, but this is what would have happened if I'd taken on more than one project.
  4. Dec 20, 2008 #3
    I thought so. Thats what I was worried about. I may not be able to enjoy or really put my time into it and probably be running to get all the work done, just so that its done without really understanding the significance of the research. And of course I am sure as a result of that my grades would suffer as well.
  5. Dec 20, 2008 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    I would also pick just one. Doing one well is better than doing two poorly, and it will be very difficult to put enough time into both of them. Besides, if you're looking at graduate school, having one professor willing to say you did a great job is better than having two professors saying you didn't put enough effort into it.
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