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To what extent do subfields matter for an undergrad choice?

  1. Mar 12, 2015 #1
    I am about to take part in an undergraduate recruiting event at my school, and prospective undergraduates were invited to ask questions to current students of the school.

    One such prospective undergraduate claimed that he crossed one school off his list because that school only did condensed matter as far as physics research is concerned, claiming that the research done at a school influences upper-division electives or otherwise affects what one can get out of an undergraduate physics degree (e.g. research opportunities) I wonder to what extent the second claim is true, knowing that the first is true to an extent.

    When all is said and done, to what extent do subfields matter when choosing an undergrad?

    I know not everyone that come to an undergrad with the idea of doing physics will actually major in it, but I don't want to mislead anyone.
     
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  3. Mar 14, 2015 #2

    mfb

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    Switching is possible. You don't get that much specific research experience as an undergrad anyway.
     
  4. Mar 14, 2015 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    It's true that a school's research interests influence which upper-division electives they offer. If nobody is working in, e.g. nuclear physics, they probably won't have an upper-division special topics on nuclear physics, and certainly not anything on recent areas of active research. That said, how much influence do you think a single class should have on one's decision?
     
  5. Mar 14, 2015 #4

    Choppy

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    For someone considering undergraduate schools I think it's fair to take into consideration what research is being done at the school.

    When I was trying to figure out what school to go to, I remember getting out course calendars and figuring out what courses I would take at each institution over the duration of my degree. When I started to realize that one school had (what seemed like) more interesting senior courses, I began leaning in that direction.
     
  6. Mar 14, 2015 #5

    Vanadium 50

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    I think it's fair, but I don't think I would give it all that much weight. If I thought I might do nuclear physics, would I cross Harvard off my list? Probably not - although given a choice of Harvard or Yale, this might tip the balance.
     
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