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Summer REU programs - question about chances for people from small schools

  1. Oct 28, 2009 #1
    Hey guys. I'm a currently a junior physics major at a state school in the south. It's not known for physics in any way. My question is how difficult is it to get into a Physics/Materials Science REU program? My school does not have many research opportunities in physics, though the department just started becoming more active in research over the past three years. This semester I am working with a professor on solar cell technology. I will be working with him for the rest of the academic year. My GPA is good at the moment (3.8+). I have taken math up to differential equations and linear algebra. Physics-wise I haven't done E&M, intro. to quantum, and stat. thermo. I should have intro. to quantum and stat. thermo done by the end of the academic year. My college doesn't offer upper-level physics courses as readily as others do, so it is hard for me to take all the physics courses I need.

    Another thing is that I am also pre-med. I have taken the majority of my pre-med requirements and I have also taken several courses that do not pertain to mathematics/physics, like courses in the arts, philosophy, sociology, etc. I've also done volunteering and have been involved on campus, if that matters.

    Basically, I have scant research experience (just some clinical research at a hospital). I was wondering how difficult it would be to get into a summer physics or materials science REU program.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 28, 2009 #2
    I'm assuming you're a Physics major? As far as REU's go, I believe part of the purpose of the REU program is to give students from smaller liberal arts schools a chance to work in a research lab. I did an REU at Illinois this summer and my roommate was from a smaller liberal arts school in the south who hadn't taken intro to e.m. or quantum yet. The best advice I can give you is to apply; it only costs you time not money. Also, don't worry so much about it. If you're applying there's not much else you can do.
  4. Oct 29, 2009 #3
    The chances are small for anyone due to the competition. There are too many students applying for few positions. Even very good students get rejected somewhere.
    This does not mean you don't have a chance. What I'm trying to say is to apply to A LOT of programs. It doesn't cost you anyway.
    I'm also from a small college. I got into some of the programs I applied when I was a junior. But I also got rejected from many programs.
    And having personal recommendation (connection) with someone in programs you're applying to help your chance a lot.
  5. Oct 29, 2009 #4
    I got accepted to a Physics REU at Boston College at the end of my sophomore year. I come from a small liberal arts college in Kentucky.

    It doesn't cost anything to apply, so why not?
  6. Oct 29, 2009 #5
    Thanks for the response guys. I will definitely apply to several programs.
  7. Oct 29, 2009 #6
    Good luck!
  8. Oct 29, 2009 #7


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    If you do some research on the history of the REU program, you will see that part of the reason it was created was to give students from smaller schools the chance to work in a real research environment.

    In that respect, being from a small school won't hurt you. However, apply to alot of programs. I was in a similar situation as you are when i applied to REUs and I applied to 12 programs my sophomore year and only got into 1. As a junior with one REU under my belt, I applied to 12 programs and got accepted to 4. So, remember to apply to lots of programs and don't try to limit yourself to one geographic region if at all possible.
  9. Oct 30, 2009 #8
    I just have a few questions about the process. Did you guys tend to do REUs that were similar to research that you might have been doing at your home university? I think I would like to do materials science research that is similar to what I am doing right now. Does it help to have to have some correlation with the institution's research interests?
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