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Looking into Graduate School

  1. Feb 21, 2006 #1
    Hi, I am currently a physics major at CalPolyPomona(California), and I'm just have been spending a lot of time thinking of my educational future. My deepest interests are with Astronomy, more along the lines of cosmology (studying stars, universe, the things "out there"), and was wondering how should I plan out my years in College so I am able to get into a good gradute school. And what graduate schools should I be looking into for my particular interests. Thanks.

    Edit: Sorry, Can someone edit the topic name to Physics,Astronomy,Cosmo Grad School.. I was a bit too general in the topic name.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 21, 2006 #2


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    Do very well in school, and independently study areas that are interesting to you.

    Participate in the odd events.

    Most importantly do well in school, and keep some contact with the professors.
  4. Feb 21, 2006 #3
    Do research too. I hear it's not too difficult for astronomy undergrads to get involved in research, so if you have the opportunity, make sure you take it.
  5. Feb 22, 2006 #4
    I was also thinking of minoring in writing (good/bad?). Because I'm not that great of a writer and all, would the grade drop to my overall GPA look bad?
  6. Feb 23, 2006 #5
    Well, the grade drop won't help to get into grad school. But I think if you want to be a professional scientist, one of the most important things you have to learn to do is write very well. Your livelihood depends on it. You have to be able to write well to get grants, and then your university expects you to be actively publishing papers in journals. These have to be written very well to be accept (well depends on the journal I guess). So if you are not that great of a writer, it may really pay off to minor in writing. But you really should get into some research as soon as you can. The summer before you enter your Junior and Senior years you should be trying to get into a REU program or a similar program at one of the national labs or with NASA.

    Getting involved with research early is one of the major initiatives in undergraduate physics education currently. So it will be one of those things that gets your application to graduate school noticed.

    Hope this helps.
  7. Feb 28, 2006 #6
    I agree with Norman, as an undergrad about to make the transition to graduate school there are a couple things I wish I had done differently:

    1.) Made a list of potential grad programs I wanted to attend *earlier* and try to get into REUs at those particular universities.


    3.) Prepared for my GREs so I could take them in my junior year, not my senior year when I had the added stress of doing a thesis project and applying to grad schools.

    To be honest with you I don't think the grade drop from taking a few writing classes will hurt your chances too much. With the little experience I've had thus far, grad schools are more concerned about your capabilities as a researcher, and less about your overall GPA. Definitely keep your GPA high in math/physics but if you want to minor in writing, you should go for it. As Norman said, good writing skills are essential in science. Don't let something like a GPA dictate your interests.
  8. Mar 1, 2006 #7
    Thanks a lot for the feedback. I really appreciate it.

    I really had no idea what researching was until one of my friends mentioned it. I have been a passive learning throughout my pre-college years. There is nothing that has set me apart from any other person. I have (or at least I like to believe I do) aspiration for learning yet nothing to show for it. Watching those NASA shows with the children on the show, I often wonder how far I will go compared to them. I don’t own a telescope, subscribe to any magazines, seen any eclipses, etc. I don’t have the aptitude that some of the people have, nor creativity. I’m hard working and do what I can to improve. Just a little background.

    I don’t believe that I’ll be a failure because of my past though; I just liked to give some information on where I’m coming from. I'm very passionate for the career path I have chosen.

    Aside from that, I was wondering what graduate schools, or sites that will give me more info, should I be looking to going to?
  9. Mar 1, 2006 #8


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    Maybe you should try being creative. It's really fun.

    I think being creative really tests your ability to understand what you are learning.
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