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Prestigious schools vs where i go

  1. Feb 7, 2006 #1

    Pengwuino

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    Prestigious schools vs.... where i go

    What is the difference between the average person who graduates with a BS in physics from say, Princeton or Harvard vs. the average person who graduates from... ohhhh, say... CSU - Fresno... and other crappy places like that :) Do people in the "better" programs know a lot more then people in programs such as the one I am in? Are they just vastly superior human beings!!??

    It seems like the only people who are really known are people who get phd's from those big name institutes.... am i going to be a nobody! :surprised :surprised :surprised
     
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  3. Feb 7, 2006 #2
    Two of my old mentors told me to start worrying about the "name" of my school when I start looking into graduate school. Other than that, they told me not to stress too much over where I went for my undergrad degree.
     
  4. Feb 7, 2006 #3

    JasonRox

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    There is a difference in my opinion, but not enough to imply that the average student doesn't get a Ph.D.

    If you challenge yourself, there is no doubt in my mind that you will be more superior than other students at prestigious schools.

    I'm not sure what it's like in the US, but in Canada there is a difference. I wouldn't be surprise if it were the same in the US. They may be similiar, but they might teach more advanced, and that's where the difference comes in.

    The way I look it, if you push yourself, there is nothing stopping you.

    Note: When I say challenge yourself, I mean something that would challenge most students.

    The best way to look at it is to check what they expect out of you in graduate school. If you think you can handle it, then what's stopping you from succeeding.
     
  5. Feb 8, 2006 #4

    matt grime

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    A student at a prestigious school in an undergraduate program *could* know a lot more than one from a crappy place if they pushed themselves to take full advantage of the courses and faculty on offer to them, but that by no means implies that they will do that, nor do they need to do that in order to graduate with a good GPA.

    Those ''famous" people are the well motivated and clever ones who probably went out of their way to get into a good undergrad school (or possible it never even occured to them to go anywhere else; most research pure mathematicians educated in England will have gone to Cambridge, and probably never considered going anywhere else for their undergraduate days) and then to take full advantage of the program once there. Truthfully they'd 've been brilliant wherever they went. In the US it is far more important where you go to grad school than for your undergraduate course. That is almost certainly not true in the UK. But UK undergrad maths programs are far larger than the in the US (Cambridge graduates about 250 mathematicians a year compared to say Harvard which graduates about 12 I think.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2006
  6. Feb 8, 2006 #5
    They don't always get their BS from a big name institute though :wink:

    Oh, the head of NASA who has like 7 or so degrees didn't go to any HUGE name universities. The most known would probably be John Hopkins if I recall correctly.
     
  7. Feb 8, 2006 #6

    Pengwuino

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    What I want to know is how much people are taught in comparison. I have a strange feeling that they use some sort of super textbook that teaches you 10x as much and they all go into secret clubs to laugh at all us state schooled losers

    :cry: :cry: :cry:
     
  8. Feb 8, 2006 #7
    Pengwuino, thats just because the media likes to glamorize MIT based on the work their GRAD STUDENT LABS do, yet they always fail to mention that. Why dont you just watch the MIT open course videos. The linear algebra teacher puts me to sleep. MIT is not even all that great. There are allot of better schools internationally that make MIT look like a community college. Just worry about learning what your taught and you will be fine.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2006
  9. Feb 8, 2006 #8

    G01

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    State schooled??? I didn't know Antartica had states? Lol couldn't resist. But seriously, stop worrying! Learn the stuff, and you'll be fine. Sometimes the smaller schools are better, cause the professors care more about the Undergrads.
     
  10. Feb 9, 2006 #9

    Pengwuino

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    I'm going to be a bad physicist
     
  11. Feb 9, 2006 #10
    While I agree with the overall point of your post, I think you are going a bit overboard with this statement.
     
  12. Feb 9, 2006 #11

    matt grime

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    Berkeley would be a State School, and would be considered better than MIT, at least for maths. I doubt many people place much academic store by the university of your undergraduate days in the US if you get a good PhD from a good grad school. Sure, there's intellectual cachet from going to Harvard as an undergrad but in terms of academic stuff it won't matter one jot at graduate level that you didn't go there. Look at the faculty list of some departments, they often list the school that gave their staff their PhD's, and they never refer to their undergrad schools.
     
  13. Feb 9, 2006 #12

    matt grime

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    The MIT exchange students who went to Cambridge (UK) often struggled to cope with the different environment. It wasn't that they didn't work hard enough, far from it, in fact they seemed to work far too hard, but that they didn't understand that staying up all night writing out huge chunks of notes wasn't going to get you any marks. The fact that work isn't positively marked (ie if you say the right thing and 100 wrong things you get the mark) seemed to put them at a disadvantage.
     
  14. Feb 9, 2006 #13

    Along this line, people do tend to underestimate state schools. UCSB is a top ten physics graduate program in the US, so is Berkely. U of Michigan is also a very good one, IIRC. UCSD and UCLA also have very good programs. Stonybrook in New York as well. It doesn't have to be Ivy League, or even a Private institution to have a very good physics program.
     
  15. Feb 9, 2006 #14
    As far as a graduate school goes, different graduate schools have professors and a majority of their money, time and effort put in to specific fields of physics. For instance, is MIT the best grad school to go to if you want to research high-energy astrophysics or would Rice or Cal-Berkley be better options. But if you wanted to research string theory, MIT might be the better choice.
     
  16. Feb 9, 2006 #15

    Pengwuino

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    How bout plasma physics? I hear Princeton and UCSD are the top 2 choices.
     
  17. Feb 9, 2006 #16
    The level of taching has to be different from school to school. But that doesn't mean you can't get just as much out of school than a person at an Ivy school, You might have to work harder.

    Take a look at the textbooks used and the syllabus for classes. I think you'll see a stark difference, udergrad level, between great school and crappy schools.
     
  18. Feb 9, 2006 #17
    I heard somewhere that UM - ann arbor has the best plasma physics program in the country.
     
  19. Feb 9, 2006 #18
    Why on earth would you even consider leaving such a nice place as Fresno (I only hear it is great) to head to the frigid and gray NE of the US (I only hear it is miserable)? I suspect you want to do graduate work leaning towards fusion, plasma control, spectroscopy, etc?

    Always consider more than just the 'prestige' of a school; consider the city, the food, the night life and the women. If I were in your mindset I would much rather stay put in Cali or choose UTexas-Austin or something similar. But no one is forcing you to choose.
     
  20. Feb 9, 2006 #19

    Pengwuino

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    :confused: :confused: :confused: :confused: :confused: Have you ever been to Fresno? I don't care about the food or the night life, my employer wont ask me what kind of clubs ive visited or what famous restaurants ive visited over the years :biggrin:
     
  21. Feb 10, 2006 #20

    I haven't laughed that hard all day.

    Fresno is to California what Fargo is to the rest of the country. Well, its not that bad(Boron I think wins that dubious distinction), more like Omaha maybe (is there a state more boring than Kansas? I mean really, its miles and miles of nothing in every direction.).

    But still that made me chuckle. Fresno is definitely not on the list of places people hope to live in California. Unless they're in Bakersfield. Then Fresno might look ok. I could go on all day about towns in that valley. Sacramento? Yeesh. Lodi? If you like traffic wrecks in the fog, great place. Hmmmm. Stockton? Yeah, 'nuff said.
     
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