1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Peace Core+ Physics Undergrad = ? Grad school?

  1. Apr 18, 2009 #1
    Peace Core+ Physics Undergrad = ??? Grad school?

    So, I am two years younger than the rest of my undergraduate peers. I will graduate from undergrad at age 19, hopefully with a decent GPA and high GRE scores (I usually do well on standardized tests), as well as research experience starting from freshmen year.

    Now, that's my goal, so subtract a couple tiers worth of glory and you'll probably know what my record will look like when I graduate.

    So far, I can't imagine NOT doing Physics, but I also have a strong desire to at work on some underlying social justice issues; My family comes from a very poor background (International poor, not American poor) and I have been exposed to a lot of human suffering that pretty much demands that I do something about it. So, combining these dual urges, I'm pretty sure I will join the Peace Corps and teach Physics or Mathematics to kids who don't have all the opportunities my parents ended up being able to provide me.

    My question is, will Peace Corps service negatively affect my graduate school application?? I have been reading a lot about grad school and have come across the fact (many times) that grad schools primarily look for excellent research potential so their own departments can prosper from the work the grad student produces...so they want very very very focused applications, and that having too much variety (aka seeming distracted) can actually hurt. So, will grad schools consider Peace Corps service as another "distraction"? Or can it actually help?
    Is there any general policy of physics graduate programs towards returning PCVs? Especially if they taught Physics?

    Oh, and the Peace Corps would "use up" my "extra" two years. Is being two years younger considered impressive in grad school applications or not considered at all or maybe even considered negatively? How does this angle factor into the equation?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 18, 2009 #2
    Re: Peace Core+ Physics Undergrad = ??? Grad school?

    Many old people visiting the site also claim they are young with playful posts. But as you have made a question on the subject I am interested in, I would certainly post free replies in a respectful way although none of this site managers ever invited me to join the funs.

    That sounds really nice of you. Like a genius!

    Why do you think your backgrounds play a part in graduate acceptance ? You "undress" yourself on board to have a feel of satisfaction don't you ? Absolutely not at all I would be ashamed if I were you since it is actually not about incentive cases for earning more black money!
    Your thoughts on helping people is considerate enough to be appreciated.
    Where will you live and work after graduation ? Impressive features should be based upon such locations's social structures instead.

    If you are not actually young, then I would like to suggest you not to take what people say to heart at first especially when it comes to replies to your questions. Many old people tend to think they are being lectured instead of being listening to what others are saying...I am old too, and I know that when I speak to those younger
  4. Apr 18, 2009 #3
    Re: Peace Core+ Physics Undergrad = ??? Grad school?

    Um...huh? I'm actually pretty well off, as are my parents, however when they were children they were not at all and their home community was not (lived on the streets of Calcutta) and we go back very often so I have lived in Kolkata for a few years. Not pretty.
    Dunno what it has to do with "black money" or satisfaction or graduate school at all...I was simply explaining why I wanted to do the Peace Corps :confused:
  5. Apr 19, 2009 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Re: Peace Core+ Physics Undergrad = ??? Grad school?

    With respect to the age thing: so far as I know, it's not factored in to any graduate admission decisions that I'm aware of. It's not all that uncommon for a few applicants to have fast-tracked somewhat.

    I'm not sure that peace corps work would appear as a distraction. I think the only way it might affect you negatively is that in some ways it might be seen as you having taken a couple of years off from your studies. Overall, I don't think this would be a major factor though. And some admissions committees do look favourably on community service work.
  6. Apr 21, 2009 #5
    Re: Peace Core+ Physics Undergrad = ??? Grad school?

    I don't think any academic institution would look down on you for having participated in the peace corps...

    want further proof? It didn't stop http://uncountable.org/" [Broken] from getting his graduate degree...feel free to email him, I'm sure he would be happy to let you know his history.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  7. Apr 22, 2009 #6
    Re: Peace Core+ Physics Undergrad = ??? Grad school?

    I also feel (as a former member of an admissions committee at a top 25 or so school), that your time as a physics/math instructor in the Peace Corps would be not detrimental to your application, but rather helpful. Not only is this "community service" but also experience in teaching. So I think readers of your application would tend to give you a small boost in their rankings. However, do be sure that your pre-service research experience is also strong... research experience is typically the factor that committee members look for the most when they read the application.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook