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Small relatively unknown undergrad

  1. Sep 28, 2009 #1
    I'm currently a sophomore math major at a locally known, but nationally unheard of public liberal arts college. Recently, I've decided that I want to pursue a graduate degree in math. I was looking around at various institutions, and a couple listed the schools that incoming PhD students were coming from schools like MIT, Michigan State, Cornell, etc. There didn't seem to be any successful applicants coming from small liberal arts colleges.
    Am I at a significant disadvantage coming from a relatively unknown school without having something like a 4.0 GPA?
    Is there anything beyond taking all the math that I can, and trying to do as much research as possible that will help me out?
    Since there's no math research going on (with the exception of math being applied for biology, etc.) here, are there any research opportunities other than summer programs like REUs?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 28, 2009 #2

    jtbell

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    Staff: Mentor

    Graduates of small colleges do get into grad school. I was one myself, going from a small college in Ohio to the University of Michigan for a Ph.D. in physics. But fewer students graduate from small schools, overall, than from big ones, so they're a minority of the grad school applicant pool to begin with.

    Have you asked your math professors how many students from your school have tried to get into grad school, how many were successful, and where they went? The answers to those questions are the most relevant to your current situation. They should be available, because colleges have to collect statistics like that for the reports that they prepare for accreditation.
     
  4. Sep 29, 2009 #3
    I shadowed a physician last semester that did exactly what you are asking about. He went to a very small school nearby as a chemistry major. After graduating from this unheard of school he went on to receive a Ph.D in organic chemistry from Johns Hopkins University and later an MD. It's definitely not impossible to get into a great school after going to a small undergrad school.
     
  5. Sep 29, 2009 #4
    Numerous students from colleges similar to yours have been admitted to quality grad schools:

    http://www.physicsgre.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1847
     
  6. Oct 3, 2009 #5
    Thanks for the advice, I talked to a professor in my department and he said that relatively few people apply, but mentioned a couple people that he knew of that were successful at getting into PhD programs.
    The department mostly just serves as an area for secondary education majors to concentrate in.
     
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