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REU Competition/Statistics

  1. Jan 20, 2012 #1
    Alright, so I've done some significant research these past few weeks on the various REU opportunities I have in Physics and Math and I feel like I'm qualified for at least 75% of them, but I also am aware that they take very, very few people at each. I come from a small school, so despite my qualifications, I feel like I might be swept under the rug. I was wondering if anyone had any statistics on applications, even rough estimates.

    There are some REUs where they accept less than ten applicants and I would like to have some idea how big the application pools are. Clearly, application numbers will vary greatly from location to location, but any information would be helpful in making my decision.

    I'm currently working on applications for ten locations, but clearly if I've got acceptance rates less than 10% for each then I'm not likely to get into anything at all and I will consider expanding my search. With abysmal acceptance rates, I think I will apply to about fifteen at maximum, but I'm not sure I would be able to give my best in each application with that many. . .Ideally, I would actually like to only apply to about five or eight, but I'm not sure that's realistic.

    If you're willing to share the number you applied to, and perhaps how many you were accepted into, that would be great as well.

    Thanks for any additional information!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 20, 2012 #2
    I don't have any general stats but here is my personal experience (coming from school ranked ~80 in US News):

    2009: 3.98 GPA, Sophomore, no research experience yet, applied to 3-5 schools
    MSU - Accept 3-27 (Attended)
    (couldn't locate other records)

    2010: Research through previous REU and McNair Program, applied to 7 schools
    UCLA - Accept 2-16 (Attended)
    Duke - Accept 2-23
    Cornell - Accept 3-17
    Chicago - Reject 3-30
    Stonybrook, Washington, FSU - no reply

    I realize this is not comprehensive by any means but hopefully it helps a little. I would suggest applying to many programs (but don't let it negatively affect coursework). The students I met at these programs had 3.7+ gpa and often some sort of research experience.
  4. Jan 20, 2012 #3


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    When I was applying for REUs (11 years ago) I got into about 50% of the programs I applied to with a 3.7 from a great liberal arts college and some previous research experience at my school. Some of those got as few as 80 applicants, some as many as 250 (for about 10 spots in each). Application numbers have only gone up since then. I helped out with a pretty good but not fantastic REU program over the last few years, and we took about 10% of 100 applicants each year. High grades, hard classes, good letters of recommendation, and previous research experience is what I was looking for.
  5. Jan 20, 2012 #4

    Okay, then I can maybe hope to get into one of the places I've applied to. I am in the correction range of gpas and I'm taking (arguably) difficult courses. I'm just going to have to hope that my letters of recommendation adequately reflect my preparation, which contrasts the typical course at my small school. I think I can stick to about ten applications in total.

    Sadly, I've already been rejected from the U Michigan/CERN program. Though, I didn't send it until three weeks after the deadline, and the email I received implied that I might not have even been considered because of the lateness of my application... I'll never know for sure and it kind of bothers me how vague the responses can be.

    Thanks for the information though!
  6. Jan 20, 2012 #5
    I will hope for something then. My biggest concerns are my lack of impressive things on my CV (it's really hard to find awards or competitions worthy of putting on there =| I'm not exactly a Putnam fellow) and that I don't have previous research, yet. I'm doing research this semester in QCD, assuming I can get through my renormalization material sometime soon @.@ . . .but that doesn't really help me now with nothing published or in pre-print or even started at this point.

    Thanks for the information, though. The formatting reminds me of the PGRE forum, haha.
  7. Jan 25, 2012 #6
    Ha! There is a reason for this. I'm anxiously awaiting admissions results myself :) On a side note, I didn't have any publications (or pre-prints) prior to applying.

    Best of luck to you!
  8. Jan 26, 2012 #7
    Good luck to you, too.

    @.@ One of my professors is soooo slow with sending letters.

    Edit: I'm grateful he is, but he did send one of my references late once....two weeks late
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2012
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