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The Freshman Physics Major

  1. Aug 7, 2016 #1
    So I will be starting undergraduate study in Physics in the Fall. As of now, I am planning to get a Ph.D. in Physics, though it might be a bit too early for me to be saying this. What should my priorities be? My goal is to get into a top graduate school (e.g. MIT, Harvard, Princeton). Also, how many credits should I be taking during my freshman year? Any advice would be well appreciated.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 8, 2016 #2
    Just work as hard as you can... While it's often tempting to get sidetracked on thinking about what you may want to do in the future as a graduate, it's crucial to focus on the fundamentals as much as possible.

    That being said, try to use the bit of extra time you may have as a freshman to work on some projects/research on the side.

    Joining groups and building networks is also an important aspect of it all too. Get to know some seniors maybe, and your professors, come to grips with your field and it's direction, and what direction you might like to take it in etc.
  4. Aug 9, 2016 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    Divide the total number of credits required for graduation by four. That gives you a general benchmark. Also, your college or university probably specifies the number of credits needed to attain sophomore, junior and senior status.
  5. Aug 10, 2016 #4


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    A 'top graduate school' really depends on what you plan to study. The top overall schools don't offer everything. Smaller schools are often specialized in certain areas and have the top researchers in those particular fields. Don't focus on the school overall, focus more on what they can do for your career specifically, whatever that's going to be in.
  6. Aug 10, 2016 #5
    This was me a year ago! I decided to go the CS route, but I've taken as many physics classes as I could. IMO, it's wayyyy too early to determine if a PhD in physics is right for you. Keep the dream a live, but keep an open mind. Physics is beautiful and touches on so many other disciplines, it just might open another door for you. Don't let the ego-idea of being a PhD in physics allure you; find something that truly excites you AND you have the potential to do well in (notice potential, you don't need to be an expert right away). Maybe it is physics, but you never know.

    The other posts cover the rest of your questions.

    Good luck!
  7. Aug 10, 2016 #6
    My adviser says that GPA is the most important thing right now, so I guess I'll just focus on making it as perfect as can be.
  8. Aug 10, 2016 #7
    Yeah. Batten down the hatches and focus on getting good scores. Then in the holidays or breaks you can try to get exposure to various fields and hopefully discover an interest.
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