Question for those who have done an REU.

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In summary, the conversation is primarily focused on comparing the experience of participating in a REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program to doing research independently with minimal supervision. The person asking the question is trying to decide which type of program to participate in and is seeking input from individuals who have experience with both. The response suggests that the REU experience can vary depending on the advisor, but it is typically more group-oriented and may involve writing a paper or giving a presentation.
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rodigee
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Hello, I'm a math major so this is primarily posed at people who have done math REUs, but I welcome comments from the physics people as well.

My question is: How does taking part REU compare to just doing research on your own under minimal supervision by a professor? Are REU's just more structured? More group oriented? If you have done both do you prefer one over the other?

I ask this because all the decisions from the summer programs I've applied to are starting to come back, and I'm trying to decide which genre of program to partake in before I chose a specific program.

Thanks for your thoughts.
 
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Your REU experience is really going to depend on your advisor. It does tend to be very group-oriented (you will spend a LOT of time with the other REUers) but how structured the research is will depend on how good your advisor is. Most likely you will have to write a paper and/or give a presentation at the end of the summer, so that by itself will provide some structure.
 
  • #3


As a scientist who has participated in both REUs and independent research projects, I can say that they both have their own unique benefits and challenges. REUs (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) are typically more structured and involve working in a group setting with other students and a faculty mentor. This can be a great opportunity to learn from others, collaborate, and develop teamwork skills. Additionally, REUs often have a specific project or topic that students work on, which can be helpful in providing a focused research experience.

On the other hand, doing research on your own under minimal supervision can also have its advantages. It allows for more independence and the opportunity to pursue your own interests and ideas. However, it can also be more challenging as you may not have as much guidance and support from a mentor.

In terms of which one I prefer, it really depends on the individual and their goals. Some people may thrive in a structured and collaborative environment, while others may prefer the freedom and independence of working on their own. It's important to consider your own learning style and what you hope to gain from the experience when deciding which type of program to participate in.

Overall, both REUs and independent research projects can be valuable experiences for undergraduate students. They offer opportunities to learn new skills, explore different research topics, and make connections with other researchers in the field. My advice would be to carefully consider your options and choose the program that aligns best with your interests and goals. Good luck with your decision!
 

1. What is an REU?

An REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) is a program funded by the National Science Foundation that provides undergraduate students with hands-on research experience in their field of study.

2. Who is eligible to participate in an REU?

Most REU programs are open to undergraduate students who are currently enrolled in a college or university and have completed at least one year of coursework. Some programs may also have specific eligibility requirements, such as a minimum GPA or specific major.

3. How do I find and apply for REU programs?

The best way to find REU programs is to search online through the NSF website or other science organization websites. Once you find a program that interests you, carefully read the eligibility requirements and application instructions. Most applications will require a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and transcripts.

4. What can I expect during an REU program?

During an REU program, you can expect to work closely with a faculty mentor and other undergraduate students on a research project. You will also attend seminars and workshops to enhance your research skills and may have the opportunity to present your findings at conferences. Some programs may also offer stipends, housing, and travel expenses.

5. How can participating in an REU benefit my future career?

Participating in an REU program can provide valuable research experience, networking opportunities, and a chance to develop important skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication. This experience can make you a more competitive candidate for graduate school or job opportunities in your field of study.

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