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OK to transfer in the middle of undergrad, even if it takes an extra year?

  1. Jun 14, 2012 #1
    Because of the shortcomings that have recently come to light at the physics department (and math department, actually) of my current university, I am considering transferring to a stronger school for my area of study. I'm also a little behind on advanced and degree-specific courses because of attaining an associates degree prior to transferring to my current school. All-in-all, I'm starting this fall as a junior, but still have a lot of the lower-level physics courses to take (CM, Modern, E&M 1, Quantum 1, etc) before I can take any advanced classes, and there really isn't even much of a selection after completing those. Also, with such a lacking physics department, the math department doesn't offer many physical science-oriented math courses. No mathematical methods for physical sciences, for example.

    If I take some strong courses this fall and in the spring, it seems like I should be a pretty valuable transfer student, but will have around 100 credits completed already. First of all, would a good physics school still consider me, or want me, for transfer? Also, with such a lack of what I feel like are vital undergrad courses, it seems like it would be better to take the PGRE not next year, but the following year, right? After getting some more classes under my belt (ie Real Analysis, Numerical Analysis, Quantum II, another E&M course, etc) I would feel more prepared not just for the PGRE, but also I feel like I would have more to offer the grad school I go to and therefore would have access to better schools and research. Am I right about this? Or is an extra year of undergrad work frowned upon?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 15, 2012 #2
    Although I have yet to apply to grad schools, I think there are some benefits to a small department. Those people will know you inside out. The recommendation letters will really glow (only if you are good, of course). What good is a letter from a famous physicist if its a generic (reserved) recommendation? I am sure many people will disagree, but it seems more important to get letters from people who worked with you for prolonged periods of time. By transferring you will create a recommendation letter headache for yourself. Thus, what you gain by picking up advanced courses you will loose through relationships.

    That said, don't rush the transfer. See what independent studies and research you can get. If you have the right attitude, professors will work with you. Best of luck!
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