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Stony Brook or Auburn or Virginia?

  1. Mar 22, 2008 #1
    Im transferring as an undergrad next semester and planning to study physics. Ive been accepted into Auburn and stony brook so far. Im still waiting to hear from VA. since i live in VA its my top pic, but it is very competitive so im ready for rejection.
    I believe both stony brook and auburn have great undergrad physics programs, maybe even better than UVA.
    Do you folks have any advice?
    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 22, 2008 #2
    Certainly all three are well-respected.

    Virginia offers a top-notch public school experience together with a good in-state tuition. And, if he remains on faculty, Mike Fowler is incomparable.
  4. Mar 22, 2008 #3
    I would say Stony Brook, BUT, be warned, a lot of people hate it at Stony Brook. I go to Stony Brook for math and it is a really good program here. I have a bunch of friends who are physics majors (some are going to UT-Austin for PhD studies) and I really don't think Auburn or Virginia can compare in terms of preparing you for grad school.

    So the academic aspect, Stony Brook wins hands down. I know grad school rankings don't matter, but Stony Brook is generally regarded as a top 25-30 school for grad school. (If you don't believe me check the US News Rankings and the NRC rankings). To me, it matters a little bit since Stony Brook has some really really well known faculty members in both math and physics and because of this, you at least have an opportunity of working with them and getting some great research experience.

    However, undegrad is not completely about studying (as opposed to grad). Stony Brook is a very dead campus. I'm talking to you from experience. I live on campus and it is seriously a ghost town on the weekends. I am fortunate enough to have good roommates but some people really hate it here. The main reason is that it is a big commuter school and a lot of the kids that do dorm, are from long island and so they go home on the weekends. I'm nearly positive Auburn and Virginia are much better socially, but not really as good academically. I would go to UVA personally. I feel like UVA is probably a good school for physics, NOT GREAT, but it's probably much more fun to attend.

    My advice, VISIT these schools. Stony Brook has an AWESOME faculty for physics. I believe that going to Stony Brook, getting involved in research with some professors and doing well will definitely give you the best shot of becoming a physicist. But, I really have to stress, it's not as active of a campus as UVA or Auburn, not by any stretch. Visit Stony Brook on a weekday but also visit it on a Saturday afternoon. The weekday can be very deceiving, the weekends will show you what it is like. I'm assuming you are not from around Stony Brook, so this might be a big deal for you.

    Either way, good luck with everything.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2008
  5. Mar 22, 2008 #4
    Stony brook did seem like a pretty depressing place. All that dirty concrete was a little scary.
    Thanks for your advice. I do like to go out on the weekends but two hours into NYC is a little far.
  6. Mar 22, 2008 #5


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    When I was there, Thursday nights was the night for parties... and the weekends were relatively quiet, as described above. You don't have to go into NYC to enjoy being off-campus. If I recall correctly, Port Jefferson is nice. You may need a car... or know someone with a car.

    Oh... academically, I thought Stony Brook was pretty good. I transferred into the junior year and double-majored in Physics and Math... and enjoyed the interaction between those departments. (For example, they attended each others' seminars.) It's convenient that their buildings are connected. I had access to faculty and was able to take a few graduate courses as an undergraduate.
  7. Mar 22, 2008 #6
    If you're looking for the most academically challenging school, I'd certainly switch my recommendation to Stony Brook. But, transferring after (I presume) your sophomore year usually means there was something lacking at your present school. What was that and which of the three best meets that need?
  8. Mar 22, 2008 #7
    ha, that sounds just like the question all the schools i applied too wanted a 1 page answer for.
    I will be earning my associates degree at my community college at the end of this semester.
    so ill need two more years for a bachelor.
    I like the sound of academically challenging.
    This is the main attraction that stonybrook has. But its only undergrad right. So i am also very attracted to the greatness of SEC football at auburn.
    Also at Auburn there is a high ratio of faculty to students in physics. But Stonybrook works with Brookhaven laboratory.
    and then stony brook requires me to make a decision by may 1st, and i probably wont have heard from UVA by then.
  9. Mar 23, 2008 #8
    A bit of unsolicited advice: I'm guessing you're transferring out of a VCC school. If so, you're in for a bit of a rude shock your first semester, and you should be prepared for that infamous dip in grades and the "Thanksgiving depression". You're now gonna be in classes with some amazingly smart people. Just be prepared for it and hang in there.

    Did Stony Brook close its graduate program?
  10. Mar 23, 2008 #9
    Yeah i have been a bit scared of this. Ive got a 3.7 at nvcc which, at a university, would probably be just a 3.0 or even less.
    In preparation for this i have decided not to work for my fist year at the university and get a cot in the Library!
    Also i think it would be helpful for me to study over the summer. E&M , Quantum, math.
    Any good, reasonably priced book recommendations?
    Thanks again
  11. Mar 23, 2008 #10
    I would say monetary concerns should be number one, or at least they would be for me. I know plenty of people who got into MIT for undergrad but decided to go to NCSU because of the prospect of graduating with so much debt. In the end, it is usually not worth it career wise, but maybe, academically it may be worth it. The way I see it you should consider your options in this order

    cost>academic strength>university life.

    I say this because as you say you are transferring, and so will only be there for 2 to 2 & 1/2 years.
  12. Mar 23, 2008 #11


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    i suggest you read this study.

    http://www.physicstoday.org/vol-56/iss-9/p38.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  13. Mar 23, 2008 #12
    Ha, that's funny, a guy in the picture for NCSU is now a math grad student here. He is in my Galois theory course and my Algebraic Topology course.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  14. Mar 24, 2008 #13
    Interesting study. Thanks for the link. I'm not completely sure what to make of it.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
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