Moral & Legal Hazards of Accepting Poor School REUs

In summary, the conversation discusses the dilemma of being accepted to only REU programs at lower-ranked schools and the potential hazards of accepting these offers while waiting for responses from better schools. The speakers advise not to jump ship and instead ask for more time from the lower-ranked schools while reaching out to the other programs. They also emphasize the importance of not judging the quality of a program solely based on the reputation of the school, and instead considering the nature of the project, the people involved, and the skills that can be gained. Lastly, they mention the importance of strong letters of recommendation from individuals who know the applicant well, and how this becomes even more crucial when applying to graduate schools.
  • #1
To my great dismay, I have been accepted to only REU programs at poor schools while having not heard from their betters. The nature of these acceptances is such that they require a definite answer almost immediately.

I am considering accepting these poor schools; but to jump ship if better schools accept me. What moral and legal hazards would accompany this decision?
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  • #2
Don't do it. Just tell them you need more time, then e-mail/call the other programs that you have not heard back from. Ask them for as much information as they have, such as if you are still in consideration, etc.
  • #3
First off, why are you judging the project by the school? The nature of the project you're involved in, the people you work with, and the skills that you learn are far more important and the prestige of a school ranking.

But let's say that by "better school" you mean, what you feel is the better REU project. I don't think you'd run into any legal trouble if you accept a position and then jump on something better that comes along, but this kind of thing burns bridges. I like Winterwind's advice.
  • #4
Don't judge the REU program by the school alone. Some top schools don't have good programs in everything, and some smaller schools or lower-ranked schools actually have excellent programs. My university is part of a large REU program, but not one that most people would rank highly just by name. But all of our REU students presented posters at the AAS meeting this January, and all of them published in our undergraduate journal. A few I've talked to got into very good grad programs as a result of doing that REU.
  • #5
for undergrads, letters of rec that actually mean something/say something really positive about you are far superior compared to fairly generic letters that come from the super big names/department chairs (does that even matter?)/whatever.
and when you start looking at graduate schools, it almost becomes more like applying to specific profs.
my understanding is that in germany, you literally apply just the prof.

if you're a grad student or a post doc, that name matters a lot more though... although at that point, you're probably working a lot more with the prof.

1. What is a REU?

A REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) is a program funded by the National Science Foundation that provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to participate in research activities at universities or research institutions.

2. What are the moral hazards of accepting a poor school REU?

The moral hazards of accepting a poor school REU include potential exploitation of students, inadequate supervision and mentoring, and lack of resources and support for students to successfully complete their research projects.

3. What are the legal hazards of accepting a poor school REU?

The legal hazards of accepting a poor school REU may include potential violations of labor laws, such as not providing fair compensation for the students' work, as well as potential liability for any injuries or accidents that may occur during the program.

4. How can I determine if a school's REU program is of good quality?

You can research the school's reputation and track record for REU programs, as well as the qualifications and experience of the faculty and mentors involved in the program. You can also reach out to previous participants or contact the NSF for more information.

5. What should I do if I encounter moral or legal hazards during my participation in a poor school REU?

If you encounter moral or legal hazards during your participation in a poor school REU, you should immediately report the issue to the program coordinator or the NSF. You may also consider withdrawing from the program and seeking legal advice if necessary.

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