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Please yield me some recommendations!

  1. Sep 10, 2006 #1

    My name is nathan. Senior in highschool. Heartly want to be a physicist. and searching for a college with good undergrad physics programs that will satisfy me the most, but I truly need some recommendations.

    well, first of all I think it is my duty to introduce myself before asking for any comments

    I was born in South Korea and moved into the US in the year of 2002 because of an adoption. I live with me stepmother (my stepfather passed away an year after I came here) who is a retired old lady.

    I started my education here from 8th grade. In my first year of highschool, I didnt take any honors class due to the lack of my English.
    However, my English started to improve when I became a sophomore. I took 2 honors classes, Geometry and World History. Then, in my junior year, I took Composition H, American Lit. H, Physics H, Chemistry H, Algebra 2/Trig H, U.S History AP, Comparative Politics, and Marketing I.
    Total of 5 honors and 1 AP. And I managed to get straight A's.

    This year, im taking Calculus AP, Chemistry AP(my school doest offer a physics AP), US Government AP, Composition/Language AP, and Modern Lit Honors

    My GPA is 4.3 and I'm top 7% in my class out of 434 in a public prep school.

    However, I do not have ANY working experiences, for it has only been an year (or less) since my Perminant Resident Card was issued and before that, I didnt even have my SSN. Moreover, because I dont have any insurance since my stepfather passed away, I wasnt qualified to play any kinds of sports besides chess.

    My extracurricullar activities are The National Honors Society, Mu Alpha Theata (Math Club), and last year, I also was involved in DECA (business organization) and won a second place in NV state for a quiz bowl contest.

    I also do not have any credit in foreign language course, although I speak perfect Korean and am planning to take SAT II test to prove that.

    I took SAT I once in June and got 1800, but i'm going to take it one more time in October, aiming for 2200.

    For SAT II's, I'll take Math II C, Physics, US History, and as I mentioned earlier, Korean.

    I think that's pretty good for my bg info... and my question is,

    if I were to score more than 2100 in my SAT I and more than 750 in every SAT II subject test, to where should I apply for?? It would be excellent if you could recommend me 3 schools that you think will admit me for 100%, and about 5 schools that are little more of a challenge and about 3 schools that are extremely rigorious in terms of admission. Please do not consider the location, environment, or the cost of the schools you want to recommend.

    Thank you so much for reading this. I truly appreciate it.


    Last edited: Sep 10, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 10, 2006 #2
    It is my belief that you are in a unique situation by being from South Korea and recently moving here as adopted by your step parents. Your academic record sounds very promising so far. If you have an 1800 on your SAT due to the critical reading and writing secions, then you may want to look into the possibility of taking the TOEFL. If you do this and mention in your essays your situation, I am sure you will be very competitive.

    As for colleges with very tough admissions, there are a lot of really good ones. For example, MIT, Caltech, Princeton, Cornell, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc. For some reason or another, I prefer (or think I prefer) MIT and Cornell

    Good colleges with less demanding admissions are University of Chicago, University of Michigan, and countless smaller schools.

    Out of the colleges I listed, I know MIT, Cornell, and Caltech to have excellent research opportunities for undergrads. Other than that, I believe that your quality of education won't sway THAT much from other colleges.

    If you set your mind to Princeton or Cornell, you should apply early because the acceptance rates are significantly higher...

    I should probably make it perfectly clear that I am also a Senior in high school and am applying to Cornell University early.

    Good luck on all your upcoming tests! Oh, and remember, colleges want students to make the most of what is available for them. So, you won't be penalized for not being able to play sports and whatnot(as long as you mention it somehow).
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2006
  4. Sep 11, 2006 #3
    Hi Nathan,

    Unfortunately there's no magic formula that will tell you that you have a 100% guaranteed chance at admission at a given school. You seem to be doing well in school and have a unique background that admissions deans will look at uniquely.

    If you poke around the web or talk to your friends or even read US News' ranking of universities (which shouldn't be taken as gospel, by the way), you'll get a good sense for the 'big name' science schools.

    All of these schools (especially the wealthier ones, such as Harvard) have fantastic research opportunities for undergrads. If you're interested in a career in academia, this should be a major focus because it's where you get a feel for being a grad student in a particular discipline. It is almost prerequisite to have a strong research background in one's undergraduate career if one wants to attend a prestigious graduate program.

    Deciding which particular schools are the top schools is a matter of taste (and sometimes luck). Really big name research schools may not focus much on actual undergraduate courses, though they provide the opportunity to work with top professors. Smaller schools may give more individual attention, perhaps at the cost of graduate level coursework and flashy research opportunities. Ultimately, you should pick the school you attend based on many factors, including overall atmosphere and culture--something you only experience when you're an admitted student and go to their open houses.

    So it's kind of tough to pick a set of schools to suggest that you apply to, since a lot of it may boil down to your personality and the personality of these schools. Further, anyone giving you advice has their own perspective of these schools and that should be taken into account!

    I am a first year graduate student doing theoretical particle physics and have had a chance to interact with students from other schools while visiting graduate programs. From my (limited) perspective, these are the schools that, in retrospect, I would look closely at for an undergraduate education in physics:

    Stanford, Harvard, Cornell, MIT, Princeton, Caltech

    Each of these schools have very strong research programs that trickle down into the undergraduate life. As far as an undergrad is concerned, the biggest differences between them are very, very unique personalities. (I suspect the quality of education is roughly equivalent--though this also depends on how well one's personality matches the university.)

    As far as second tier undergradute schools (again, please note that these are my own opinions based on limited information):

    UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara College of Creative Studies, Rutgers, Johns Hopkins, University of Texas Austin, Reed College
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