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Non-ivy league schools for math, physics?

  1. Sep 25, 2009 #1
    Chances of entering a "prestigious" university are very slim. What are the best non-Ivy league, non-MIT, non-Caltech schools for math and physics? curriculum must be comparable to those schools
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 25, 2009 #2

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    For undergrad, the quality of the student is more important than the quality of the institution (within reason, of course). Most state schools are very good, and the Big Ten schools are exceptional.
  4. Sep 25, 2009 #3
    I don't understand which Big Ten you mean.
    By "Big Ten", I assume you mean the Ivy League colleges, MIT and Caltech.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2009
  5. Sep 25, 2009 #4

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    The Big Ten is a sports conference, mostly in the midwest. The members are Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio State and Penn State.
  6. Sep 25, 2009 #5
    No, as in the big 10 conference


    the only one on the list that I can think of that wouldn't be great is Indiana University. They have great humanities and a medical program, but aren't known for their physics and math.....and I'm a Purdue grad so I had to take a stab at them.
  7. Sep 25, 2009 #6


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    And yes, there are eleven universities in the Big Ten. :smile: When they added Penn State a few years ago, they kept the old name because it was so well established. "Big Eleven" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

    Many of the other "flagship" state universities are also very good: Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Texas, Colorado, Washington and Oregon come to my mind (not to exclude others).

    And then there are smaller private schools. Their pluses and minuses have been discussed here many times.
  8. Sep 25, 2009 #7


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    Cal Berkeley, UChicago, Harvey-Mudd College, Reed College, UT Austin, UCLA, and a few others
  9. Sep 26, 2009 #8
    oh god...first of all, the Big Ten can go to (censored), ACC being the best conference of them all.

    Second, if you do not know what the Big Ten is, I suggest you go to a school like Duke. Honestly, your undergrad education is basically the same everywhere, fluctuations are purely determined by the caliber of your peers, not the school itself (you will learn from your peers, and the rigor of your class will be set by the prowess of your peers). The prestige of a university, what I thought several years ago to be "how good" it is, really only helps attract those peers, and that's it. There's no magical difference in curriculum between "good" and "bad" schools in first year physics... if there is, it depends solely on whether you have a teacher who likes teaching in interesting ways or not. The best teacher I have ever had is not a star faculty in the least. He is actually a visiting professor the university keeps every year, but can terminate any year. So he's not a star, but he is ridiculously good at teaching.

    You have to remember that, even at "crappy" universities, the professors there were probably some of the best students in their undergrads, considering how difficult it is even for highly qualified candidates to get a professorship anywhere.

    But I do suggest you go to a school with both vibrant academic life and sports enthusiasm/good parties. There's a lot more to your undergrad years than just studying. That's what grad school is for.
  10. Sep 26, 2009 #9
    ok, thanks. does the school i attended as an undergrad affect my grad school admission?
  11. Sep 26, 2009 #10
    To some extent, yes. That's why you need good grades and do some research, if possible. GRE serves as a common denominator. Recommendations from professors who are reputable also count a lot.
  12. Sep 26, 2009 #11
    UW Madison

    (you might have a bit of competition at all of these schools.)

    good luck. :smile:
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2009
  13. Sep 26, 2009 #12


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    Just to be clear: the school you attend as an undergrad can have some effect on grad school admissions. Coming from a prestigious university can give a boost to an otherwise mediocre candidate, and likewise going to a... well, "unprestigious" (if there is such a thing) university can cause admissions committees to raise some questions. But don't think that your chances of admission to grad school can be seriously crippled just because of which undergrad school you attended, as long as you're well qualified.

    And incidentally, the world of higher education isn't divided into Ivy League and "other". There are plenty of non-Ivy schools with equally high-level physics departments, and in fact not all of the Ivies are particular standouts in that area. (Trivia: the Ivy League is a sports conference as well, that just happens to include a few of the country's most prestigious - or at least oldest - universities)
  14. Sep 26, 2009 #13
    ok, thanks
  15. Sep 27, 2009 #14
    Also, look for research. Undergrad research will help you get into grad school.
  16. Sep 27, 2009 #15


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    There are plenty of good Canadian schools as well. McGill, UofT, UBC, Waterloo, for example. I think it is at least worth your consideration.
  17. Sep 27, 2009 #16
    What is well qualified, GPA?

    By the way Georgia Tech is within top 10 in engineering program.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2009
  18. Sep 29, 2009 #17
    another silly question. if you are going to an x college's graduate school, do they care if you were rejected from x college when you were applying as a high school student?
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