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Prospects as a US student in Mexico

  1. Aug 1, 2014 #1
    I was born in the US but have lived in Mexico all my life. I'm studying Engineering Physics at the international honors program at the Tecnológico de Monterrey and currently have a 4.0 GPA.

    I wanted to know what you think about this path, especially considering that I want to go to grad-school for physics and become a physicist. I know of several guys who did do quite well after graduation, but I'm starting to believe my university is kind of crappy (consider the fact that I barely saw series and sequences in my Calc II class).

    I guess I want to go to grad-school in the US or to any prestigious place after graduation. I would really like to become a mathematical physicist, but if you think that's too hard for an engineering physics major, please tell what grad-school programs are more suitable for me.




    What do you think about this? I am sorry if my question is too general/uninteresting. Also, I guess I could apply to universities in the US but only ones in Texas because I was born in TX and that way I get a discount on my tuition.

    EDIT: Also, the engineering physics program at my university is basically a physics major but with some engineering subjects intertwined.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 1, 2014 #2

    jedishrfu

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    Have you looked at UT Austin ? it's got a very good physics program both in mathematical physics and applied physics so you should be able to your path.

    For a mathematical physicist you need a few more math courses under your belt. T'Hooft's website has some discussion on areas you need to strengthen.

    http://www.staff.science.uu.nl/~Gadda001/goodtheorist/index.html
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2014
  4. Aug 1, 2014 #3
    The thing is, while I was doing my application I saw "send us your resume of your previous five years, including extra-curricular work"... And I simply gave up because my resume would surely suck, haha. Except for relatively decent grades at highschool. :( I'm probably thinking of Texas A&M, what do you think about that?
     
  5. Aug 1, 2014 #4

    WWGD

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    Maybe you can consider a master's to build yourself up and then do the PHD.
     
  6. Aug 1, 2014 #5
    I guess one side of my question is : Do you think a mexican student has any opportunity for grad school in the US or any other prestigious place? I know of several guys who have done this, and all of my professors have. But I would like to know what you guys thought.
     
  7. Aug 2, 2014 #6

    verty

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    The impression I get of grad schools is that they will take anyone with good enough grades who will pay the fees. You could always flunk out, right? My gut says that they will take someone from a university that perhaps is less renowned, safe in the knowledge that you'll either float or sink.
     
  8. Aug 2, 2014 #7

    WWGD

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    I assume he does not want to flunk. Otherwise, why bother?
     
  9. Aug 2, 2014 #8
    Oh, I am a second-semester student at college and have a very good GPA. I definitely don't want to flunk. What I was saying about a mediocre resume was because i've never been the "president of the book club and 10000 hours of community service" kind of guy. Which I think is what UT is into.
     
  10. Aug 3, 2014 #9

    verty

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    Oh, that is a very good point. Graduate schools are not going to know every school in the world to be able to judge, I think they would take it on faith but yeah, one would definitely want the best start possible.

    According to Wikipedia, Monterrey is the second wealthiest city in Mexico and has many international corporations. Companies like Sony, Samsung, Boeing are located there. It says it is cosmopolitan and is the most Americanized city in Mexico. It also has a lot of Mexican companies who need to employ people, so I think the university must be quite good.
     
  11. Aug 3, 2014 #10
    Absolutely. I don't know why you're asking the question, you've got numerous examples showing this. I know one postdoc at my school (US) that went to Oxbridge after his bachelors in Mexico, which I think is an even greater feat competition-wise compared to most US grad schools (much bigger applicant pool). It's not like US grad schools place any constraints on nationality.

    The engineering slant of your degree won't hurt you, in fact it may help (it is an immense asset for a theorist to be able to build something and be able to talk to experimentalists, as well as making all the TA lab work you'll have to do in the US as a beginning grad student dead easy for you). Along as you've got at least a semester (preferably two) of quantum, proper E&M and stat-mech/thermo, you are on par or ahead preparation-wise compared to any US student you are competing with. All that remains to make you competitive is being able to point to some research experience and taking the standardized exams (GRE, PGRE, and TOEFL due to having attended college in a non-English speaking school, unfortunately. Did you do high school in the US? That might make it waiveable at some schools, it did not for me though and I finished HS in the US.)

    I will say one thing though, do not go about applying to schools saying you want to do "theory" or "mathematical physics", this would show IMO that you don't have a clue what you want to do. Find a specific topic you like, say laboratory plasmas, or quantum optics, then look into programs that have active profs that publish theory papers with their grad students. They may not be in separately advertised "theory" research groups. If you're thinking of particle physics, cosmology and GR, the amount of schools that do this are much less and will require more legwork to find good fits (also the former is insanely competitive).

    We are talking about grad school in the US. This costs the university money, as in physics they will likely only admit a grad student under the vise of a TA/RA-ship.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2014
  12. Aug 3, 2014 #11

    jtbell

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    Not for grad school (in physics, anyway). I can't speak for UT specifically, but in general, grad school admission is based on your academic record, letters of recommendation, research experience, and GRE scores. Extracurricular activities don't matter, except maybe slightly if they're physics-related, e.g. volunteer tutoring of other students, or working at a science museum, or something like that.

    Extracurricular activities are a big deal for undergraduate admissions at highly competitive schools, but much less so (if at all) for graduate admissions.
     
  13. Aug 3, 2014 #12

    jedishrfu

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    You thought wrong. It is a top flight school.
     
  14. Aug 3, 2014 #13

    WWGD

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    I don't think he disagrees ; instead, I think he is confusing the reqs. for grad school with those for undergrad, at least for many undergrad schools.
     
  15. Aug 3, 2014 #14
    I understand that the Tecnológico de Monterrey is one of the best universities in Mexico. I think with a 4.0 GPA there there shouldn't be a problem getting accepted in the U.S. My company recently hired a PHD from U of C Santa Barbara with a 4.02 GPA who is from Guatemala.
     
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