Number of REUs?

  • Thread starter l'Hôpital
  • Start date
  • #1
258
0
Hey PF,

So, I'm a sophomore math student, looking to apply for REUs for my first time. So I've read a few things here and there, and it seems like a lot of people apply to about 8 programs, yet only get accepted into 2 or 3. So, when I was looking at the REU programs in NSF, I was expecting I'd pick out about 7 or 8 programs, and I'd be set.

Upon inspection, however, I only found about 4 programs that I could see myself applying for (whether because I'm interested in the topic or because I think I'm qualified to actually be of use for the project). And of those, only two programs that I could actually see myself being happy to go.

So, what should I do? Should I apply to programs that I think I have a chance of liking in order to widen my scope of programs? Should I just try really hard to get into those two programs?

I should probably mention that I do have a few advantages to my side (I'm a minority, for example) so I'm not sure if the thought of "securing" a spot in a REU is complete tomfoolery.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
eri
1,034
20
You haven't gotten too far in college yet; you'll probably change your sub-specialty a few times before the end of grad school. For now, any experience is better than no experience, and REU advisers don't expect you to know much - apply to 7 or 8 and see what, if any, offers you get. Doing something even if you don't think it's going to be all that interesting is better than doing nothing. I did 4 REU/internships as an undergrad, all in different areas of astrophysics, and ended up doing something even different again for my dissertation.
 
  • #3
394
2
You haven't gotten too far in college yet; you'll probably change your sub-specialty a few times before the end of grad school. For now, any experience is better than no experience, and REU advisers don't expect you to know much - apply to 7 or 8 and see what, if any, offers you get. Doing something even if you don't think it's going to be all that interesting is better than doing nothing. I did 4 REU/internships as an undergrad, all in different areas of astrophysics, and ended up doing something even different again for my dissertation.

This is very sound advice. In fact my previous advisor for a REU stated that he specifically tried to stay away from people that were completely "sure" what sub-field they wanted to get into at such an early stage in their career. So I'd apply to several, the more the better. Competition is always very high, some even say it's harder to get an REU than to get into graduate school... not sure how true it is. But for example, the program I got selected into had about 130 applicants with 6 positions. But yeah, they don't expect you to know much, so don't really worry about that. As long as you get there and work hard, I think you'll be fine.
 
  • #4
143
0
My program had ~550 applys for 30 spots. Apply to lots.
 
  • #5
114
1
As a side note, as a freshman that just completed my first semester, is it even worth applying to REU's?
 
  • #6
491
2
Probably not unless you've had some research experience, if you have pretty good computational or lab or similar skills, or if you have some really good recommendations by professors that specifically cite your research potential.
 
  • #7
20
0
I got an REU without really having any of those as a freshman (well, I never saw my recommendations but I'm not sure how much they could have talked about any "research potential" I have).
 

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