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Schools REU -> Grad school at that University

  1. Mar 14, 2012 #1
    This summer I am going to participate in a REU program at a top school for my field. I'm not a super spectacular student but get decent grades and do some quality research (but no publications yet). Honestly, I'm not quite sure why they picked me, as several of my peers with better grades (but less passion) were rejected. Regardless, I'm super stoked.

    If this REU goes well and I continue being a good student and "great" researcher at my decently respected undergraduate institution, would I theoretically have a solid chance of going to grad school at this place? It is literally my dream school.

    Is it even common to go to grad school at the school one does a REU?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 14, 2012 #2


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    I did an REU at a top school in my field, and it often felt like the REU was one big plug for the schools graduate program. Like you, not really sure how I got in (good grades and recommendations, but I didn't think I had much of a shot at this top program) but I did well there, got a publication in a good journal, and a great letter of recommendation from a professor for their grad program. I didn't get into their grad program. Apparently I didn't even come close. So while I've seen people get into lower ranked schools based on the connections they made in an REU there, don't count on it helping for a top school, no matter how strong of a candidate you appear to be at that point. They get more than 10 times as many applicants as they can take, and grad school admissions are a crapshoot.
  4. Mar 14, 2012 #3
    I'm sorry to hear that. I imagined that would the be the case for many of these programs, but I will try to remain optimistic as I hear REU admissions are also a crapshoot. Perhaps one could get lucky twice.
  5. Mar 15, 2012 #4
    The same thing happened to me as eri. Worked at dream school last summer, but did not manage to get in for grad school. On the bright side, the connection was made and the professor I worked for is willing to be my adviser if I go to the nearby similarly-ranked school (which is probably what I will end up doing). That being said, I know a couple of people for whom this played out exactly like you would wish. It certainly can't hurt your chances but it is definitely not a guarantee.
  6. Mar 15, 2012 #5


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    Don't think that getting into the REU means you will get into grad school at that university.

    The criteria they use to choose students is different for the REU and graduate program. For one, at the REU they are choosing students for a 10 week stint, and for the grad program, the stint is ~6-7 years. At the REU, they are only choosing students that they think will get some research experience out of the program, without regard for results. For grad school they are choosing students that they think will be able to be successful in research, that means publishing, conferences, finishing a thesis, etc.

    That said, an REU at the school, with a good recommendation from your summer mentor cannot hurt to have on your application when you apply for grad school. REU's are very competitive, and having one on your CV when applying to grad school looks great (assuming it is accompanied by good rec letters from your research adviser). The REU will definitely help your application. Just don't consider it, by itself, a golden ticket to any grad school including the host school, especially if it is a top program.

    Congratulations on getting accepted and enjoy your summer!
  7. Mar 15, 2012 #6

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    It's true that it will help your chances if during deliberations on who to admit a professor says, "He was an REU student here, and he's stronger than his packet suggests."

    It's also true that it will hurt your chances if during deliberations on who to admit a professor says, "He was an REU student here, and he's weaker than his packet suggests."
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