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Schools Transferring Universities

  1. May 22, 2016 #1

    I have recently heard about this website, and it sounded like the right place to ask for some academic guidance. I hope this is the right subforum. I am a sophomore student at Iowa state university majoring in Physics. I was recently accepted at Ohio State university. All of my credits I earned at Iowa State will transfer to Ohio state. I have completed my introductory physics courses(the usual 2 calculus-based intro to physics courses), and I also finished all of my first year calculus courses(Calc I,II,III). I did very well in all of these courses when the usual average was around 50-60% for the physics courses and 40-60% for the math courses. I have been thinking about the transferring process, and things are not quite clear for me. Transferring to Ohio state university will be a tiring process. Therefore, I have compiled a list of question that I hope someone could answer them:

    1. I have been looking at the degree plans for both OSU and ISU, and I found that OSU does not offer intro to modern physics courses and jumps into classical mechanics(Phys 2300&2301) immediately after the two usual introductory courses(phys1250&1251). However ISU offers two intro to modern physics courses after the tow usual introductory courses(phys241&242). Is it better to have intro to modern physics before classical mechanics or is it better to just go into classical classical mechanics and not take intro to modern physics at all.(links to degree plans are below)

    2. I once heard that an A in physics or math at Iowa state is a B at Ohio State since OSU has a higher ranking and a lower acceptance rate. This seems true even though my classes at ISU were sometimes described as being brutal with averages around 40%to 50% on exams.Tell me what you think, does ranking and acceptance rate make a noticeable difference? and do both programs considerably differ?(keeping in mind that OSU has an acceptance rate of 55% and about 65k students enrolled while ISU has an acceptance rate of 85% and and about 35k students enrolled)

    Here are the degree plans:
    Here are a standard sample schedules:

    Rankings (by US news)

    Thank you,
  2. jcsd
  3. May 22, 2016 #2
    As far as I can tell you failed to answer one key question... why are you transferring?
  4. May 22, 2016 #3


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    I think both OSU and ISU are "mid-tier" schools in physics. While it's true that OSU has a higher ranking than ISU, I'm not sure that it is enough better to be worth transferring. If you were talking about moving to a "top-tier" school like Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Caltech, etc., then it would be a different story. I would recommend learning as much as you can at ISU, getting the best grades that you can, and getting involved in research as soon as possible. Then you can apply to better ranked schools for graduate school. This is my opinion - others may see things differently.
  5. May 22, 2016 #4
    I should qualify these remarks by first saying that I have no personal experience with either of these two universities, except I have known faculty members who graduated from each of their graduate programs. I have not noticed any difference in the quality of their doctoral graduates, although it is hard to assess because they studied different research areas.

    Question 1 is easiest. I do not think you can draw any conclusions regarding the physics curriculum based on the fact that one program offers intro to modern physics and the other throws juniors and seniors into quantum mechanics cold. I cannot see any reason why modern physics is helpful to learning upper undergraduate classical mechanics; it is more the other way around. Some educators believe quantum mechanics should be introduced early in the curriculum because most students want to get to the "exciting and new" areas, and may be unhappy when all the physics they are learning are two centuries old or older.
    When I was an undergraduate, I deliberately took Physical Chemistry to get to QM a semester sooner. I found the Chemistry QM did not really prepare me for the typical topics in the first semester of Physics QM.

    Long story short, the relative merits of not offering modern physics at Ohio State (or rather The Ohio State University) physics program vs offering QM at Iowa State, are balanced. As a student, you personally are in a position to judge if you are in a hurry to learn 20th century physics or can wait at the longest a semester or a year.

    Question 2: The Ohio State has a good physics reputation, but so does Iowa State. If I were examining a resume or transcript for graduate school, I think I would give The Ohio State the edge. However, the (one grade point) edge , that was suggested, is far too high. I think an admissions committee would (perhaps) treat a 3.8 at Iowa State on par with a 3.6 from Ohio State. I think no admissions committee would treat a 3.0 from Ohio State as highly as a 4.0 (or even a 3.7) from Iowa State. The difference in reputation of these two physics programs are nowhere near as great as suggested in point 2.

    From what you have written about class averages at Iowa State, it looks like Iowa State is putting its physics students through their paces. I suspect The Ohio State would be doing the same. It seems likely from what you wrote the Iowa State is not pre-selecting the easy problems for their exams. I suspect their graduates will be competitive with graduates from other good (possibly top) universities.

    First I want to congratulate you for your admission to The Ohio State University. You might keep in mind the very different milieu and locations that these schools offer. Ohio State is an urban campus. Iowa State is rural. The Ohio State website says OSU offers a vibrant and exciting city life with museums, concerts, .... Iowa State mentions high quality of life, 8th best place to get a job in the country, best quality of life ... . Just me, but personally, I would consider staying where you are. If you do stay, you can take great pride that you are there by choice, and you preferred your program to the (arguably) more prestigious one.

    On the other hand if you feel too accustomed to rural or suburban life want the adventure that city life offers you might want to switch. Ultimately it is up to you.

    Best of Luck.
  6. May 22, 2016 #5
    I'm sorry for not mentioning the reasons I am transferring. I'm thinking about transferring because Iowa State has a rural setting and I am not a big fan of rural areas(the place is empty during breaks and sort of isolated from the outside word, e.g slow internet and not many places to go). I forgot to mention that OSU seems to have more flexible options for students who want to do things other than physics in grad school such as the applied physics option they have which, according to OSU, facilitate the entrance to engineering grad school, while Iowa State seems to have a fixed path to graduation. Another reason is that I'm starting to feel like Iowa State is becoming associated with being a place where anyone can easily get in. Don't get me wrong, I believe everyone has the right to education and to follow their dreams, but I feel that the admission requirements and the high acceptance rate might put me at a disadvantage when it comes to graduate school admission at other reasonably prestigious schools. Also, my main concern about the intro to modern physics courses is that I feel that they are essential to take before jumping into quantum mechanics, but I am not really sure if that is really the case.

    A disadvantage I found about ohio state university is that they require students to either take a non-honor Q&M I class and take another class instead of Q&M II (e.g optics condensed matter)or take both classes Q&M I and Q&M II with each being an honor class, and the same thing applies to the E&M course sequence. I am not familiar with how challenging honor classes are, so will not taking Q&M II and E&M II have serious consequences when I apply to physics grad school or engineering grad school in general.

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my thread,
    Last edited: May 22, 2016
  7. May 22, 2016 #6
    I can't resonate with this, but I imagine it would be like if I went to school in NYC (I'd hate it). Transferring is a hard and frustrating process... think long and hard about how important this is to you.

    Do you want to go to graduate school in engineering?

    This would only put you at a disadvantage if the only requirement for getting into graduate school were a physics degree. Whether you went to Harvard, Iowa State, or University of Nowhere you need to stand out from your peers. This is not a valid reason to transfer.[/QUOTE]

    I'm sure that the department has structured their courses appropriately. They wouldn't leave you up a creek without a paddle, so to say.

    I think you'd be surprised at how many departments don't have E&M II or QM II. If the curriculum is designed this way, I'm sure that the non-honors QM and E&M will actually cover two semesters' worth of material but not in as much depth, though this is just my guess.
  8. May 23, 2016 #7
    Yes, going to graduate school in engineering or applied physics is what I mostly intend to do.
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