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REU anxiety

  1. Jan 15, 2007 #1
    I have been asked to help out with an experiment at the Advanced Photon Source here in the US. As I understand it, there will be several experiments taking place several weeks apart from one another. I will be up there for only about 4-5 days each time. There is even a possibility (though I'm not holding my breath) that I may be able to get my name on a paper.

    Needless-to-say, I'm really excited (and grateful) to have been given such an opportunity, but, given that I'm currently only taking freshman-level math/science courses, I'm a little worried. I guess my question is: how much help can I really be? What can I expect? Thanks in advance.:smile:
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 15, 2007 #2
    Honestly, from my experience doing undergraduate research... expect to be completely and totally confused as to what is going on. However, don't get discouraged and keep working hard. The professors/scientists will notice the hard work and determination-- not to mention they don't expect you to understand absolutely everything.
  4. Jan 15, 2007 #3
    Thanks Beeza, that makes me feel better. I guess that's what I figured; I sort of have one of those nightmare scenarios in my head where all the other undergrads seem to know what's going on and I'm the only clueless one. I'll just do the best I can and soak up as much experience as possible while I'm there.
  5. Jan 15, 2007 #4
    I start an REU next tuesday and have some of the same concerns.
  6. Jan 15, 2007 #5
    REU is meant as a learning experience most of all. You're not supposed to come in as an expert, so don't worry about that. As long as you have some use, you'll be fine ;)
  7. Jan 15, 2007 #6
    How hard is it to get an REU if you have a really good GPA, but no research experience? I would think the point of an REU is to get that experience, but some of the programs I am applying for ask about your previous research experience so it got me wondering.
  8. Jan 15, 2007 #7
    I am having some anxieties as well... the most worrying part for me is asking professors who barely know me to write me a recommendation letter (has anyone ever done that?)... I guess it doesn't hurt to ask them.. the worst they can do is refuse to write me one.
  9. Jan 16, 2007 #8
    Well what would they be able to say about you? Do you not know them at all, or would they be able to say something good about you?
  10. Jan 16, 2007 #9
    that's exactly my point... I know they don't have much to say about me..

    but how else am I gonna get a recommendation? it's either do or nothing... I have to get recommendations in order to get a shot for the REU. Anyway, my professor said that my grade turned out to the one of the top 3 of the class... so he might be willing to help me out...
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2007
  11. Jan 16, 2007 #10
    Is this a huge school, or a somewhat small school? If it's a somewhat small school, the professor will still probably write you a good letter even if he/she doesn't know you too well. It just might not be super personalized.
  12. Jan 16, 2007 #11
    I just asked my other physics professor today... and he agreed! woho!! I'm gonna apply for at least 10 REUs and hopefully, I will get into at least one of them.

    I am planning to get all the envelopes done and stamped and give them to my professor so that they don't have to go through the trouble of sending them to multiple institutes... Now I've got to do some more research and pick the Reus that I like. (previously I have crossed off the ones requiring two recommendations)
  13. Jan 16, 2007 #12
    Best of luck to you on that research. Good luck guys. I've never done an REU but it sounds somewhat scary xD
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