Research vs Home for the summer

  • Thread starter ahsanxr
  • Start date
  • #1
350
6
So I finish my first year as a Physics and Math double major in a couple of days. I was all set and excited for going back home for the summer [bought my plane ticket and everything (its Pakistan)] until I found out that a couple of my friends were staying back and doing research with a professor in either Physics or Astronomy. I got kind of concerned and started worrying that I'd be wasting my summer going back home and doing nothing "productive", when I could be doing research. So I asked around the Physics department and everywhere I got the answer, "The earlier you start, the better." And then I decided to talk to a couple of professors and it turned out that one of the professors, who I had an Introductory Physics class with my first semester and did really well in, may have a position available for me. From how he was talking, it seemed like he pretty much did have a position but said he'd let me know for sure, and in detail tomorrow (Wednesday).

So assuming he does offer me the position, I would have to decide between going home for the summer, or staying back and doing research. I really do wanna get ahead in my undergraduate studies, but I also really wanna go home, as I haven't seen my family and my friends in a really long time and I just miss the place in general (especially now that I've told everyone I'll be coming). In theory I could do both, as in go back for three weeks or a month or so and then come back and do research for the remainder of the summer, but that plan isn't consistent with the availability of plane tickets and all, as my original ticket was for early June. So from what it seems like its either one or the other.

If I stay back, its probably gonna be much better for my eduction and for my financial situation as well. But if I go back, it would give me a well needed break and I guess financially I would survive. But educationally I don't know if I'll be missing a really good opportunity to get a head start and what not. So my question is should I take the research position without hesitation and forget about going back, or should I do what I want to and start research in my sophomore year? Sorry for the somewhat long post and thanks for any advice.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
266
2
You need to consider your mental health too. Yes undergraduate research is great early on, but you still have time to do it.
 
  • #3
350
6
So I intend on asking my professor whether it would still be possible to do research if I start in July. I don't think its likely but that way I'd be able to go home for June and still put in about a month and 20 days worth of research.
 
  • #4
106
1
It's hard to get anything substantial done within the first month of joining a lab. A month and 20 days will improve your odds, but it's really best to stick to it for a few months, at least, so you can see a project or two through to the end. If you join this professor's lab for the summer, would you plan on continuing to work there during the semester, and perhaps through next summer?

As far as seeing your friends/family back home goes, definitely try to make time for that. You won't be as productive in the lab if your mind is elsewhere, or if you have misgivings about being there. Talk to your professor; most of them are pretty decent people, and if you explain it to them, they'll probably tell you it's ok if you want to spend the first and/or last couple of weeks of vacation at home. They've been through school themselves, so they know full well what it's like.
 
  • #5
350
6
It's hard to get anything substantial done within the first month of joining a lab. A month and 20 days will improve your odds, but it's really best to stick to it for a few months, at least, so you can see a project or two through to the end. If you join this professor's lab for the summer, would you plan on continuing to work there during the semester, and perhaps through next summer?

I mean I could start in say July, and at least try to continue doing it through the year (with the classes I'll be taking its gonna be a hell of a semester).

As far as seeing your friends/family back home goes, definitely try to make time for that. You won't be as productive in the lab if your mind is elsewhere, or if you have misgivings about being there. Talk to your professor; most of them are pretty decent people, and if you explain it to them, they'll probably tell you it's ok if you want to spend the first and/or last couple of weeks of vacation at home. They've been through school themselves, so they know full well what it's like.

See, that's why I said its one or the other. Other factors aren't consistent with this plan. I can't go at the start of summer as there are no plane tickets available at this point (or at least ones I can afford). Going back towards the end won't be a wise move because August is Ramadan in Muslim countries and in that month isn't exactly ideal for visiting. If I am to go, its gonna have to be on the 31st of May til about the end of June.

Anyway, I'm talking to him in a couple of hours. We'll see how it goes.
 
  • #6
1,006
105
Any research experience you can get is very valuable for graduate school admissions, if that's where you think you want to go.
 
  • #7
133
2
If this is the summer between your first and second year then definitely go home and see friends and family. Spend your quality time during the summer having a break and just don't worry about school! If this was in between your second and third year then I may have different advice, and if this was between your third and fourth then I would say DEFINITELY stay and research.

You're not too much use after taking 10 classes, you'll probably end up compiling crappy data and cleaning test tubes, GO HOME AND HAVE FUN!
 
  • #8
350
6
So I'll be doing research from mid-July til late August. I don't know if I could do anything meaningful during that time but I'll be paid 8 bucks an hour along with getting some research experience, so it can't be bad. Plus, I can continue doing it over the semester as well. I also get to go home for about 5-6 weeks which is good enough for me. I probably would have just sat around if it was any longer.
 
  • #9
Andy Resnick
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
7,621
2,300
At this point, I would recommend taking summer vacation and instead focus on working in the lab next summer- you will have a whole year to think about what you want to do, build a relationship with a PI, take ownership of a specific project, etc.
 

Related Threads on Research vs Home for the summer

  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
768
Replies
2
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
2K
Replies
15
Views
751
Replies
1
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
9
Views
3K
Replies
1
Views
4K
Top