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REU review!

  1. Feb 10, 2005 #1
    Ok, now that I have applied to six (six!) REU's, I would basically like an objective look at my chances at these programs. Here are the schools I applied to:

    Iowa State
    Mount Holyoke
    Clarkson (SUNY Potsdam)

    Basically, I'd just like to know the relative competitiveness of these programs (I'm bracing myself for the worst). Here are my basic stats:

    -Currently in Analysis II and Complex Analysis after having taken Analysis I in the fall
    -A's in all math classes
    -I come from a small institution
    -I wrote a pretty good personal statement (it was interesting, as opposed to dry and choppy, and opposed to only specifically answering the questions they ask)
    -Letters of Rec from professors who taught me in Analysis and Calc3.

    (Once again, I brace myself for the worst). Please offer as much criticism as you'd like.

    Thanks again.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 10, 2005 #2
    I pretty much had the same application as you. All A's in math, taken plenty of adavanced math classes, and wrote a good essay. I got rejected by every REU. If there aren't that many minorities or women that applied to the REUs that you applied to, I would say you have a better chance of getting in. Basicallly you just have to hold your breath and hope.
  4. Feb 10, 2005 #3


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    A lot will probably hinge on the quality of your letters of recommendation. Almost everyone who applies to REUs are top students with high ambitions, so that essay and your letters of recommendation are often what make or break the application. Basically, don't let it discourage you if you don't get it. There are a lot of other ways to get research experiences, including contacting professors directly about summer employment in their labs. As a sophomore, you might have to suck it up a bit and just volunteer some time, but if you prove yourself, volunteering can often lead to a paid position the following summer or during the course of the school year.

    Edit: I just looked up the Rutgers REU, being an alum of RU, to see what they're up to lately. Just so you're aware, they state that they give preference to current RU students in Jr and Sr years. I don't know if other programs similarly give preference to their own undergrads, but that might make it a bit tougher to get in if you're a sophomore coming from a school that doesn't offer such programs. Did you also look through the list of faculty and what they are doing to specify research interests that align with the faculty in the program? They also give preference to students who specifically state research interests that fit with the projects available. That's a really important one. I know from experience that taking in students without a specific interest in your research area can lead to frustration for everyone.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2005
  5. Feb 13, 2005 #4
    Sorry Moonbear, I never saw your edit. That's interesting that you're an alum of RU. I didin't know that they give preference to current RU students. I can imagine preferring Jr. and Sr. (I anticipated this), but I thought that most programs were accepting of all universities.

    I do indeed experess interest in the specific areas that are mentioned as research areas. I don't know how much you read of the programs, but a few of them concentrate on graph theory and some of its applications to game theory. Well, lucky me! I happen to be a double major at my university in mathematics and economics, and did some work in my intermediate microeconomics class on game theory. Do you think it was good that I mentioned this?

    Thanks again for your help.
  6. Feb 13, 2005 #5


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    I didn't look into the others you listed. RU specifically said they give preference to RU students, but if you look at the list of past participants, it doesn't seem that prevented students from other universities from getting involved.

    Absolutely! The closer fit you are to what people are doing there, the more likely you are to get accepted. And even if most are going to prefer Juniors and Seniors, it never hurts to try.
  7. Feb 22, 2005 #6
    I thought I'd update everyone on what happened. The first REU letter I got was an acceptance letter: I plan on sending the confirmation in a couple days. I think I'm an example of hope for people, just look at my "stats":

    -upper level courses: real analysis I, II, complex analysis, linear algebra
    -strong statement of interest and (presumably) letter of recommendation
    -accepted into a program that i really didn't have a strong background in (graph theory, i had a little bit in linear algebra)

    I really hope this gives hope to sophomores and people who don't exactly have a 4.0.
  8. Feb 22, 2005 #7
    Congrats! :smile:

    But may I just ask, what is the highest possible GPA? 4?
  9. Feb 22, 2005 #8
    Yep, 4. And thanks!
  10. Feb 22, 2005 #9


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    Congratulations!!!! So, are you going to share which one you'll be attending?
  11. Feb 23, 2005 #10
    I was thinking about it, but I then started thinking that if I did, one could end up finding a lot of information about me. Soooo I'm not going to, sorry!
  12. Feb 23, 2005 #11
    Congrats philosophking! I didn't apply to any REUs because I didn't have ten weeks to spare this summer/ am a freshman so that wouldn't be too good anyway, but an astro prof on campus offered me a job for a few weeks this summer so I guess that'll be my hilight.
    Anyway, here's to hoping you have an awesome summer! :biggrin:
  13. Feb 24, 2005 #12
    Thanks for the congratulations.

    Are you a math major? For freshman it is really hard to get into a math REU (probably impossible), and the only reason I think I got in one as a sophomore is because while normally I'd b e taking calc3/linear algebra courses, I was a year ahead and was able to take my first theory courses this year. I don't know what kind of REU would accept someone with only background in calcs and linear algebra.
  14. Feb 24, 2005 #13
    No I'm astro/physics, which isn't much better either regarding REUs your first year. But a girl can dream...
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