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REU(Research Experiences for Undergraduates).

  1. Apr 5, 2005 #1

    Simfish

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    REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates).

    Does anyone know about this program? There are so many universities with REUs, so how many of them should one apply to? Also, how selective are they and what do they expect? Will they look down upon a freshman with only single-variable honors calculus and linear algebra, mechanics/E&M/waves, and first year honors general chemistry? (as opposed to multivariable calculus, organic chemistry, and quantum physics?) I'm currently a high school sophomore going into university next year so I would love to be enlightened with information about REUs.

    Thanks!

    Also - is prior research experience required? It would be my first experience in actual research. And are students applying from the same university hosted by the REU advantaged? Also - are any of them friendly to freshman who aren't so exceptional?
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2005
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  3. Apr 5, 2005 #2

    Simfish

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  4. Apr 5, 2005 #3

    mathwonk

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  5. Apr 7, 2005 #4

    Hey,

    I think you will have a hard time getting into any REU programs as a Freshman. I did one last summer at OU (summer after my soph. year), and I was lucky to get in as a soph. even. Most schools like to grab folks about to start their senior year. I don't believe most places are going to be looking for prior research experience necessarily, but they will wanna see that you have a set of skills that are good for doing research. Things like programming ability, how strong your math and physics background is, etc..

    The reason you need to be an upper-level undergraduate is basically because you are doing actual research for a professor, and if you don't have at least a basic understanding of the various fields of physics it will be very hard for you to accomplish anything.

    What I would recommend for you, is to get involved at the University you are going to attend. Start talking to professors early on, and find out who needs some undergraduates to help them with research. After you get some experience that way, I would apply for an REU the next summer.

    As for where and how many to apply to, just be realistic. Understand that just like always, the top name schools are going to be very competetive and hard to get into. I would apply for 3-5 various programs, some top-notch ones, and some a step below that so you have something to fall back on.

    As a small plug, I enjoyed the REU program at OU a lot. I learned a ton, and had a great time working for my professor. The professors there are very nice, and the two that ran the program were fantastic, really caring about helping the participants learn and excel.

    Hope this helps,
    -Jason
     
  6. Apr 7, 2005 #5
    I would definetely apply to more than 3-5, especially your freshman year where it's nothing but a crap shoot essentially. Probably twice that number would be better in all honesty...
     
  7. Apr 10, 2005 #6

    Simfish

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    Thanks for the advice! :) I was thinking about applying to maybe 10 but honeslty it'll be overwhelming so maybe cutting down the number of REUs is a good idea because a research position at the local university isn't a terrible alternative.
     
  8. Apr 10, 2005 #7
    Is REU really that selective? ASU is participating and I thought of applying, but I didnt think it was a nationwide thing, if I want to get involved, I shoudl apply everywhere?
     
  9. Apr 10, 2005 #8

    SpaceTiger

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    In general, I hear that it's good to get REUs at places you plan on applying to for grad school/jobs. It gives them something other than GPA/test scores to judge you on.
     
  10. Apr 10, 2005 #9
    I think REU's are a very good way to get an in with graduate programs. I understand a lot of schools use REU's as an advertising devise.

    -Jason
     
  11. Apr 13, 2005 #10

    Simfish

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    Dang, they are really competitive.

     
  12. Apr 13, 2005 #11
    I think the best thing you can do is talk to professors at whatever university you end up at. They will be the best source of information regarding your chances. Your best bet is to try to get some background with a professor at your school. Volunteer in a lab or learn a bit of programming. I applied to 7for this summer and only expected to be accepted at 1-2. However, 5 have taken me, partially because I have extensive programming experience. Use your professors as resourses. I would also check to see if there is a Governor's School in your state (I know NJ has one)...that's something that you could participate in during HS, which would give you a taste for what you may be seeing in college.
     
  13. Apr 13, 2005 #12

    mathwonk

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    A few targeted applications are probably better than a large number of scattershot applications. I say this is true in every arena, REU, jobs, colleges, etc, etc....
    And make some human contact wherever you are interested in going.

    Today there is a huge mistake that everyone is making, which is applying to 500 programs just because the internet and the computer makes that possible. Guess what? We are human and can't read 500 applications. So most of them are not really processed well even though it is federal law that they all receive equal consideration!

    I applied to one college out of high school (I got in but went to a college I did not even apply to), and about 5 grad schools out of college ( I only got in one), and about 5 -10 universities for jobs out of grad school (I got three jobs).

    Namely I applied to the ones my advisor told me to apply to, as places where he thought I would be a good fit, and where he knew people. The one where I got hired was the one other offer I generated myself by talking to someone from there who asked me to apply (Actually I also got two offers from his places, so that was 3 offers out of less than 10 applications. But they all actually knew who I was.)

    It seemed I had the knack of answering at least one question of interest to the person who was interviewing me.

    I know this sounds simple minded, but just focus on being the best you can be, and learning as much as you can, and applying yourself as effectively as you can. After that, it is our job to find out about you. If you distinguish yourself academically, believe me, someone will be excited to tell as many peopel as possible about it.

    There is no trick to it. We are always beating the bushes for talent. Your job is to develop your talent to the point that we will want you. It is not like basketball, where there are more talented people than jobs. We are very short of talented people in science. I.e. it is much easier to be a rocket scientist than an NBA shooting guard. There is not as much competition, and the salary is lower.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2005
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