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Physics undergrad degree (→theoretical high energy physics) in the US?

  1. Apr 19, 2009 #1
    I am currently a high school student (in my final year) in South Africa. I am passionate about physics, and can frankly see myself following no other career path. Ultimately it is my goal to become a theoretical high energy physicist. (And then unify quantum mechanics with general relativity. And then win the Nobel prize. Hey, a guy can dream, right?)

    At any rate, I suspect that my infinitisimal chances of achieving the above goals might be improved somewhat if I managed to get into a world-class university. I have heard that the actual coursework is similar at most institutions, but I am also looking for stimulation from professors and peers as well as prestige, opportunities etc.

    I understand that admissions at US universities are extremelly competitive (especially for international students), so essentially I need to know if (a) I have any hope of getting in and (b) if so, which universities I should apply for. I'm aiming for MIT/Caltech/Harvard/ Princeton if at all possible. (Hey, a guy can dream, right?)

    So, here's my CV: (Not sure how relevant everything is; I hear prospective universities look at personality and extracurriculars as well.)

    My average marks are as follows:
    Physics, Mathematics, Biology, Accounting: High 90's, the occasional 100.
    Geography, English and Afrikaans (a South African language): High 80's, the occasional 90.
    From what I understand of the American grading system, I have a 4.0 GPA. (I think.)

    I participated in the National Physics Olympiad this year. The results have not yet been released, but based on past results and an internet search of all the answers, I believe I stand a good chance of winning it.

    I started school at the age of 5 (In SA the required age at the time was 7) and will thus matriculate at the age of 16.

    I was selected last year to participate in an SA TV gameshow (not as a contestant, more of an obstacle to contestants) for 1 season based on both academics and personality.

    I take part in the National Mathematics Olympiad every year. 4 years ago I was placed in the national top 100. Last year I was placed in the regional team. This year I hope to do better.

    I am Deputy-Head Boy of my school, and have won the annual Public speaking competion 3 times. Further extracurriculars include the chess and debate teams.

    I think that's it, other than to add that English is my first language, but that finances are going to be a problem (and the exchange rate doesn't help either). MIT will waive course fees (family income < $75 000p.a.) if I get in (not sure about the others). I'll still need bursaries, though...

    Anyway, please, oh Good Samaritans of the Physics Forums community, advise me!
  2. jcsd
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