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REU: Which would you choose?

  1. Mar 11, 2010 #1
    Which would you take?

    Penn State:
    -Grad program in Mat. Sci. Ranked 7
    -$4,800 stipend
    -$500 travel
    -free housing
    -In the middle of no where

    -Grad program ranked 16
    -$4,000 stipend
    -Working under department chair (future letter of rec?)
    -No travel stipend
    -No housing stipend
    -In the middle of Philly

    If you could give me your input I would really appreciate it. I can't decide, the only thing thats stopping me from choosing Penn State is the possible letter of rec from a department head. How much weight would that carry in grad school apps?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 11, 2010 #2


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    Personally, I would choose Penn State.
    State College, PA is a wonderful place to spend a summer (I would know), it has an excellent materials science program (apparently is a better than U Penn., according to the ranking), and they are giving you a much greater financial package.

    I do not think the department chair title will be as important as you think it will be when it comes to grad school applications. Letter's of recommendation are a very important factor in grad school applications, but the best letters are from professors who know you and what you are capable of well, not necessarily from people with big names or titles (but I guess those things never hurt). Whoever you work for, just work very diligently, creatively, intelligently, …, and exhibit good qualities that they can write about you in letters of recommendation in the future.
  4. Mar 11, 2010 #3
    Thanks, that's exactly what I was looking for. You spent time at the Penn State main campus? What was your experience like? My program is through the materials science and physics departments, did you spend time in either?
  5. Mar 11, 2010 #4
    which programs are you considering going to graduate school for? consider the REU as a pre-graduate school visit. both so you know what the school/program is like and so they know you personally.

    btw- it seems like you're gonna lose money on the penn program. 4000 for housing and food over summer?
  6. Mar 12, 2010 #5
    Go with Penn State. The financial situation pretty much seals the deal. Plus, Penn State is just as good as Penn in that field. The letter of recommendation from a department head shouldn't necessarily be of more value than one from another professor who can write a good letter on your behalf.
  7. Mar 12, 2010 #6


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    Yes, I spent a summer working / researching at Penn State in the Physics department. I had every intension of staying there much longer but some unusual (and unrelated) circumstances came up which caused me to move. I think the summer is the best time I think since the weather is so pleasant and the crowds are greatly reduced (since most of the student population is gone). Make sure and attend the 4th of July Festival.

    “flemmyd” brings up the good point that if you are considering either of those two schools for grad school then this would be an excellent time to do a thorough check-out to see how you will like it, as well as make connections while you are there.
  8. Mar 12, 2010 #7
    To quote someone who's pretty important in college football:

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