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Schools Mathematics in university

  1. Mar 12, 2007 #1
    If Cambridge don't accept me, which universities would be second or third best for mathematics at undergraduate level?
    Oxford or Bristol for example?

    and why does it actually matter?

    thanks
    roger
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 12, 2007 #2
    It really depends on what you're looking for from your degree. Why did you apply to Cambridge? Theres the obvious distinction factor some Universities bring, but that doesn't necessarily mean that their course will be best for you. League tables of Universities are, I suppose, a help if you're looking for a non-biased objective - still though, those observations take nothing on your personal interest in the course content.

    If you're asking why does it matter, it might be best to sit back and think about what you actually want from your degree, see what places offer that then compare their content.

    In saying that, the University you apply to matters for tonnes of reasons other than personal interest - better recognised institutions generally have more funding, so a better staff-student ratio, better facilities etc.
     
  4. Mar 12, 2007 #3

    cristo

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    It depends what matters to you. If you go to any of the top ten universities then you'll get a good degree! It matters more, IMHO, that you enjoy your time at university. There are different "styles" of universities i.e. campus or city; there are some in large cities, and some in smaller cities. Go and visit a few universities and the cities that the universities are in-- that's how I decided where to go. One university campus just stood out more than the rest, and I've enjoyed my time here!
     
  5. Mar 12, 2007 #4

    mathwonk

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    Unless you are a future star, and even if you are one, it matters very little what undergraduate svhool you go to for maths.

    LET ME GIVE AN EXAMPLE. Have you ever heard of Reed College in Oregon? Maybe not. I just looked at theor math dept webpage and found thius guy:

    Jerry Shurman. He got his PhD at Princeton, under Shimura. yet he teaches primarily undergrads at Reed.

    He has writtena book updating Felix Klein's work on the icosahedron and solkving quintic equations.

    There is hardly any likelihood at all that in 4 years you can learn all he has to teach you, and that does not count the other faculty members there.

    Hyperventilating over what undergrad school you get into is onkly slightly differtent from people who try to find the kindergarten that will insure the highest likelihood of entrance into Harvard.

    gom somewhere decent, do well. Then see what comes. It is niot where you get into, but WHAT YOU DO THERE that matters. (caps intended.)

    bless you, young foolish person.
     
  6. Mar 12, 2007 #5
    So there's no actual benefit to being taught analysis by say Timothy Gowers (Fields Medal) than by anyone else?
     
  7. Mar 12, 2007 #6

    mathwonk

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    forgive me, but unless you yourself are a future timothy gowers, and perhaps even then, no it probably means very little.

    the time you want to be taught by tomothy gowers is in grad school, or even on a postdoctoral appointment.

    but i suppose the reason you ask me twice the same question, is either you did not get it the first time, hence are not very bright, or you doubt me, hence think of yourself at least, as extremely wise beyond your years.

    this is the last time i will answer it however.
     
  8. Mar 12, 2007 #7

    JasonRox

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    Listen to mathwonk.

    I just went to a decent school when I had the chance to go the much better school. (Money played a role.)

    Of course, the courses aren't the best, but like he said, if you know what's going on and you have a future for yourself, then it doesn't matter. Just keep at it. Do work on the side and learn things on your own.

    I think I'm getting more out of the school I'm at now then I would have anywhere else. I know great professors that will help direct me with anywhere I need to go, or simply talk to see that I got my ideas or the ideas straight. I got a position as a research assistant in which I probably wouldn't have got in a highly competitive school.

    Personally, I see a future for myself. I do have a lot of catching up to do in some places, but I do put in my own work and that in itself is great. For those reasons, I think my current school is doing just fine although a lot of things do irritate me. :smile:
     
  9. Mar 13, 2007 #8

    J77

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    Get into the university with the best reputation - if only for it to look good on your CV.

    I did maths at Bristol - it's a nice place and still holds a reputation amongst UK unis. It's too late to choose Oxford now, is it not? (Or is it just too late for med/law. ps: I prefer Oxford to Cambridge as a place of study; from visiting and knowing people from both camps.)

    Other places: Warwick, Manchester, Nottingham, Imperial... the list is pretty obvious.

    (The above posts are more about the US system, where they chop and change between schools a lot.)
     
  10. Mar 13, 2007 #9

    JasonRox

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    I think mathwonk knows what he's talking about.
     
  11. Mar 13, 2007 #10

    J77

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    Sorry, do you know me?

    mathwonk has some good advice but I don't know his experience in the UK system.
     
  12. Mar 13, 2007 #11

    JasonRox

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    His experience as a mathematician speaks for itself.
     
  13. Mar 13, 2007 #12

    cristo

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    I think application dates have passed for all UK universities now (the end of january is normally the deadline) so I can only assume that the OP is looking to apply for the academic year 2008/09.

    Also, I agree that, in the UK, one should look at attending one of the top 10, say, institutions (employers, for example, look at where the university is from, as well as the classification). It is a lot different to the US; firstly, we have less universities here! Secondly, it is almost unheard of that students do the first year or two, say, at one university, and then move to another.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2007
  14. Mar 13, 2007 #13

    J77

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    Exactly.

    We don't want to be giving roger advice to go to the "Univeristy of Centrally West and In a Bit to the Right" because in the UK it does matter.

    Not only when potential industrial employers look at CVs but a lot of academics over here on the continent will know the reputation of the big-name UK unis and, perhaps unwittingly, base a reputation on that.
     
  15. Mar 13, 2007 #14

    JasonRox

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    Don't you understand what you're saying.

    mathwonk is speaking of exceptional students. For them, it makes no difference literally. It can help, but if you have a bright future and great potential, then you will go as far as you'd like as long as you use that potential.

    So, you're saying, if you're anything like Andrew Wiles or any other well-known mathematicians, then you will go nowhere unless you go to one of the top universities.
     
  16. Mar 13, 2007 #15

    J77

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    You'd have a much easier time of it if you did go to a top uni - not only in the quality of teaching but also through the networking opportunities.

    <google's andrew wiles... :tongue2: e2a: he did Oxford and Cambridge, so that's a bad example... >
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2007
  17. Mar 13, 2007 #16

    JasonRox

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    Not really. E-mail him and ask him what he things about this.

    He is no doubt grateful to his professors, but I'm sure he knows more than enough people who got up the ranks without going to Oxford or Cambridge.
     
  18. Mar 13, 2007 #17
    In many foreign country, reputation of university plays the fundamental role when you join the society (saying this as a foreigner who studies in US). As a student who has experience in good school, bad school, US system, UK system, traditional society and US society which really stands alone.
    Of course the most important is THE LAST SCHOOL YOU WILL ATTEND before you join the workforce. However for many people they dont know what is the highest degree they shall get. Thus it is better to get into the best school you can go. In addition, my professor who had the statistic told me that 29/30 NSF scholarship recipent came from a famous school in his son's application year. Thus you will be given a lot more chances if you can attend famous school.
    Technically, undergraduate topics are fairly standard. You cant learn too much less if you attend a normal school. On the other hand, the attitude of particular school has major infleunt to learn. For example, if everyone in your topology class trying to understand the proof of poincares' conjecture, i suppose you will more likely to look at the proof also. In the opposite, if everyone is playing sodoku in your class (like the university that i am attending), you are less likely to focus in academia.
    To answer the original question in a practical sense, apply every school you can and wish yourself luck. But isn't it a little bit too late for this year?
     
  19. Mar 13, 2007 #18

    JasonRox

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    I'm pretty sure it's too late here (Canada) as well, as it is the US.

    PS. If my whole class was trying to understand the recent proof to Poincare's conjecture, than I'd be wondering if this was planet Earth!

    You do make a good point though.
     
  20. Mar 13, 2007 #19
    You know what I am wishing after all these years in undergraduate? I wish I went to a school with a bigger mathematical collections.... Then I will learn much more than I know now.
     
  21. Mar 13, 2007 #20

    JasonRox

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    How small is the collection right now?
     
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