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Schools Selecting a university (chances and choices)

  1. Apr 23, 2005 #1
    I'm aware many of you are finished with or are currently in universities with good physics programs... so for those of you that fit into that category especially, what do you think my chances are of getting into your alma mater or current institution? What institution do you recommend, instead of or in addition to that?

    My GPA is about 3.9 (placing me in the top 20% of my class... very competitive) and my SAT score is a 1490 (Math 730 Verbal 760). With the new SAT, my composite score is a 2180 (Crit. Reading 720, Math 740, Writing 720). By the time I graduate my senior year, I'll have 13 AP credits, including Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and Calculus BC (advanced Calculus). I speak three languages with a level of fluency (English, Turkish, Spanish) and am learning Latin as well as Korean. As far as extracurriculars go, I'm part of the school's UIL science team (UIL is a statewide competition sponsor here in Texas). I'm also head of the badminton initiative here. I work a 15-20 hour week as an office monkey concurrently with school, which can explain why my grades aren't higher (and also why I get no sleep. :/). I've placed on the state level in Junior Classical League competitions. As I'm sure my schedule proves, I simply love to learn, especially when it comes to mathematics and the physical sciences. As such, I plan to follow through with a doctorate in whatever field of study I choose (almost certainly in either physics or chemistry... heavily leaning towards physics). The big thing is I like to challenge myself, and challenge my education. There's always more I could know. It's almost a sickness. I'm a dataphiliac. :P.

    I can post a more detailed account if necessary. As far as my interests go, heavily into physics and chemistry, and I really love the theoretical physics.

    Where should I shoot for?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 23, 2005 #2

    If i were to be truly honest here, if you are actually asking that question considering the biased topics you have done towards sciences, then you shouldn't do sciences.

    Read this thread for more information: https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=64966

    Another thing...lets test your korean. what does 물리화학 mean?
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2005
  4. Apr 23, 2005 #3
    That's the kind of information I was looking for. Thanks! I'll read through that and get back to you.

    And as for the word... I know the first three syllables mean "phyics," and the last is "bird," but am not quite sure how to put them together. Just started with Korean. :)
  5. Apr 23, 2005 #4
    화학 = chemistry

    물리학 = physics
    물리 = physical

    It means physical chemistry, not bird.
  6. Apr 23, 2005 #5


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    Um... the thread Bladibla pointed to is about getting into graduate school. It looks like SahinTC is currently in high school and is looking for information about getting into college/university to work on a bachelor's degree. Big difference!
  7. Apr 23, 2005 #6
    ouch..my fault. :rolleyes:

    Well, i am sorry for the bad information that i gave. However, my previous statement still stands.
  8. Apr 23, 2005 #7
    Indeed, following that thread, it started to not make much sense. ;-).

    I'm still not too clear on your original statement though... yes, I'm highly biased towards the sciences, but that doesn't help me in figuring out which schools have good physics programs for undergraduates. :). Obvious choices are MIT, Caltech, and UC-Berkeley, but there are obviously more choices.
  9. Apr 23, 2005 #8
    I think the only way you are going to figure that out is to actually look into the universities and find out, visiting them if you can. Perhaps there are other considerations like culture, and even weather!. When (and if!) you have a choice among top schools, I don't think anyone on an internet message board is going to help you very much!
  10. Apr 23, 2005 #9
    Still, top schools tend to be out of my reach financially, which is why I was looking for good-decent schools that cost less.
  11. Apr 23, 2005 #10
  12. Apr 23, 2005 #11


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    If cost is a factor, definitely look into your state's "flagship" state university. Many of them are very good to excellent overall: Massachusetts, Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Texas... Students from in-state generally pay much lower tuition than out-of-state students. (Your parents' tax dollars at work.)
  13. Apr 23, 2005 #12
    If you are accepted, alot of those top schools will basically figure out a way for you to afford it in with a combination of grants, student loans, parental loans, etc. The $30K/year is simply to soak the the rich as much as they can. They do expect you to give them every penny you make on internships and other jobs, however, and I actually was a participant in a little "money laundering" operation for a family member who wised up after his freshman year at M**.
  14. Apr 23, 2005 #13
    Not necessarily so, and not in this particular case. The credentials cited are good enough in general for the top private universities, but not spectacular. The SAT in particular is not that impressive, and the math score is low (relatively speaking, of course). So places like Princeton and Chicago won't exert themselves that much to find a financial solution for you. Outstanding candidates display different credentials altogether: advanced university courses completed, references from university profs, national standing in, say, the math olympiads, and in rare cases even a published paper or two (though nothing spectacular).

    But this is all moot: undergrad programs in the US are pretty much alike. The program at Wisconsin won't differ that much from MIT. You have to take the standard courses in mechanics, electrodynamics, statistical physics, math methods, optics, quantum theory, and so on. Pretty much the same books are used, and the brilliance of the prof isn't going to affect the delivery of the lecture that much. It's at grad school level that serious differences emerge, and so the grad school you go to can make or break your career.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2005
  15. Apr 24, 2005 #14
    Well, I can all too well understand what it is like to think about which school should I go and so on...I've been there. So here's my advice, just apply and see who will accepts you then it's not too late to worry about which school fits you the best. So for now, I recommend you to put all that besides and study Physics more!
  16. Apr 24, 2005 #15


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    For that matter, don't overlook the small private colleges. Some of them have very good reputations and draw students from all over the country: Harvey Mudd (California), Grinnell (Iowa), Kenyon and Oberlin, (Ohio), Davidson (North Carolina), etc. The basic courses are going to be the same as at bigger schools, and you'll be able to interact with the professors more, especially outside of class.

    I went to a small college myself, and teach at a similar small college now. Neither of them are in the same league as the ones I named above, but I can speak from experience that a good student is likely to have the run of the department, with access to all the labs at any time and help from the professors. You won't find the range of resources and equipment that you find at a big school, but there are plenty of big schools that take undergraduates from other schools for summer research projects. We get a couple dozen flyers every year for these programs.

    The small colleges are usually pretty expensive, although most of them probably have scholarships for especially bright students.
  17. Apr 25, 2005 #16


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  18. Apr 25, 2005 #17


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    I must agree that there's no reason to limit yourself to brand names. State universities do an excellent job of providing you with a strong education, and are far more affordable. You may also qualify for a scholarship at a state university with your grades and SAT scores that you wouldn't qualify for at a brand name school.

    But, there's no need to limit yourself when you apply to the schools. Apply to a range of schools in different geographical locations and of different sizes and student body types, private and public, and see where you get accepted, what sort of financial aid they can offer you (especially if you're thinking you'll continue on to grad school, you'll have a long road before you start earning a decent salary, so the fewer debts you accumulate for your undergrad education, the better), and then from among those you can afford, choose the one that suits your personal needs the best (climate, student attitudes, class sizes, extracurricular activities, dorm life, grassy lawns or concrete jungle, big city or tiny college town, etc).
  19. Apr 25, 2005 #18
    If you want to get into "brand name" schools I would definitely mention that I was "Physics guru of the year 2004" on PhysicsForums ... heck I see this whole website as something big and something credible.
  20. Apr 26, 2005 #19
    Well, that would be lying, so I'd be greatly against doing it. ;-)
  21. Apr 26, 2005 #20


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    You're finishing your junior year now, right? You still have several months to rack up enough "points" here for an award in time for your college applications!
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