Seeking Advice For Schooling and my Physics Future

Another question is, do you think I should try to get into a research program in college? I mean, I like the idea of doing research, but I'm not sure if I'm cut out for it. Would doing research during college help me get into a good research program afterwards? I've been told that research programs are very competitive, so I'm not sure if it's worth it to try and get into one if I'm not sure if I'm cut out for it. In summary, I'm considering the Applied Physics undergraduate program at IIT, and I'm wondering if it's a good quality program, and if doing the City Year program will increase my chances of getting accepted into IIT.
  • #1
Hello, kind people of PF! It's been a few days since I've registered for this forum, and I have a good amount of questions for you guys. Mostly it's be describing some special circumstance I have or special want I have, and asking a question about it. Feel free to answer some, all, or none (if you hae anything else to say). I'd very much appreciate it! The first nine questions are copied/pasted from a PM to someone on the forum, actually.

1) I am thinking about the Applied Physics undergraduate program at IIT. So far, it looks like a mix between regular Physics and Engineering - simply, learning how to apply it, as the name suggests. Would you say this is a good quality program at IIT, especially considering the presence of FermiLab and Argonne nearby?

2) Related, does going to IIT increase the likelihood of getting an internship at those labs? If not, are there other good opportunities available to me at IIT that I wouldn't get at another university, internship/research-wise?

3) Supposing I did get an internship, does that increase my future career prospects as I go on to graduate school and get a Ph.D? I'm assuming that I'll know more specifically what I want to do as I complete my undergraduate degree (I like the idea of an Applied Physics degree), but for now that's about as much as I'm sure of. I like finding out more about the very small and subatomic world (the thought of massless-neutrino double beta decay is neat! As are the possible applications of neutrinos, and even antimatter, in technology and medicine), as well as the large (astrophysics), but I haven't decided a specific field yet.

4) Would you recommend staying at IIT for graduate school, supposing I don't want to go into engineering or architecture? Or would you recommend trying to get into the so-called top-tier graduate schools, if I can? Cost is important to me, as I am going to be an independent according to the FAFSA, and I have no money of my own. So what'd be ideal is a school with a really good program that has a lot of potential for scholarships. Maybe not full tuition, but I'd rather not have debt in excess of $150k by the time I do undergraduate and graduate school, nevermind the Ph.D.

5) Speaking of scholarships, do you know if doing the City Year program will increase my chances of getting into IIT? City Year has a partnership with IIT that allows everyone who does it (it's a 10-month program for tutoring and mentoring elem-to high school students in needy areas) to get a $15,000 per year scholarship for their undergraduate degree, as well as $2,500 annually for housing. This is given to all those admitted to IIT that did City Year. But I don't know if doing that would increase the likelihood of me getting accepted into IIT or not. I mean, it'd be a gap year, essentially. I could keep up my studies, but I don't know the process IIT would take in evaluating to see if I'd be a good student.

6) I'm in a program right now that allows me to, instead of take high school classes, take community college classes. It goes on a quarter system, so three quarters of Calculus 1, 2, and 3 would be equivalent to two semesters of Calculus in semester institutions. Now, my CC has various classes, including General Physics 1, 2, and 3, as well as Physics For Engineers 1, 2, and 3. Both are for science majors. The class descriptions are relatively similar, so I'm not sure if the latter (for Engineers) offers more or not, but would it be better to take that if I wanted to go into an Applied Physics program? Or should I just do General Physics? I think I'll be able to do enough by the end of the year to skip one semester of physics in the IIT program, as well as two semesters of Calculus if I wanted.

7) Another question is, aside from math and physics classes, would it be better to take a Chemistry class at the CC? Because of my high school's requirements, I don't have enough space to take enough classes to skip a semester of Chem in the IIT program, but would it be better to take it anyways, to introduce me to it? Or perhaps an Astronomy or Computer Science class? Or should I simply not worry about it, so long as I'm doing math and physics classes?

8) Should I try and double major? If so, what should my second major be? I'm interested in almost everything. Would a double major in Applied Physics and Mathematics be good? Or double major in AP and Computer Science? I'm not sure if a double major is possible, though, so I might try and go for one or two minors. If so, what'd be good minors to have? Computer Science would be one, most likely. The other could be math, Chemistry, I don't know what else...

9) Is there any other advice you'd like to give me?


Now here is one more.

10) Given what you've learned about me and my wants with the previous questions, dear audience and members of PF, are there any other paths or colleges you'd recommend for me? I have a weighted GPA of 4, and I think my unweighted is about 3.6-3.7. My total SAT score was 2030. I've volunteered some and been a member in some clubs, but not any leadership positions. It's a special circumstance because this is my senior year, but during my HS career my family has moved three times, the third being this summer, and each had me going to a different school. I didn't have the opportunity to know people or stay in a club long enough to get any leadership position.
--- There is Cornell University, I've heard, which has a good Undergraduate Engineering Physics program. Its acceptance rate is 18%, so I'm definitely not going to count on getting in, but if I do, would it be better to go there? I've seen that the financial aid can be phenomenal.

That is all. I hope to get some feedback! ^_^
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  • #2
You seem to have a high-level six year program outlined to get you to the steps of your Phd site.. This is the time when the pace of that up curve goes ballistics.. That's a good thing because our field has all kinds of personalities to grab your hand and snap you on a cause that drives the rest of your days.

Given you seem to want something succinctly molded, point your thrusters toward Stanford. Let NOTHING DETER YOU - EVER. WHEN YOU GET THEIR, let nothing stand in your way of pursuing ANY AND ALL COURSES, LESSONS, BRIEFINGS, TECH TALKS, RETREATS, COURSES, YEAR-round emersion... As much as you can possibly take of LEONARD SUSSKIND...HE IS THE MAN... ACCEPT NOTHING LESS

  • #3
hey mate, some of your questions you can answer yourself, trim it up a bit, no?
  • #4
@Raioneru: I can't seem to find the edit button. But you're right, I can trim it up a bit. Really, it all boils down to a a couple main questions. How about this:
Given my want to go into Applied Physics/Engineering Physics, is location important? i.e., being near FermiLab and Argonne. Because their summer internship programs can be accessed and applied for by anyone in the U.S., and I don't really know if a college like IIT would have a partnership with those labs for internships or not... I suppose I could look it up, but if it doesn't say, then *shrug*.
And: Should I try to intern at the company/agency I want to end up working for?

PS: Seems like the edit button is on this post, but not on my original post...
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  • #5
Unfortunately we had to put a time limit on the "Edit" button because people have abused it.

What year of high school are you in? (this fall)
  • #6
I'll be a senior this year, sir.
  • #7
OK, it's definitely time to think seriously about choosing colleges, then. I asked because we've had high school freshmen and even middle-school students who were already agonizing about getting into graduate school. :rolleyes:
  • #8
*nods* And thus my questions. IIT isn't world-reknown for its applied physics program, but its near FermiLab and Argonne, and its Engineering program is apparently good, so the Applied part of it would be good. Hmm...

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