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Undergraduate School Dilemma.

  1. Dec 1, 2009 #1
    I am a Canadian living in BC. I am a senior and going to university next year. However, here is my big dilemma.

    I plan to go to Graduate school in the States, but the undergrad school I will be going to - University of British Columbia - is not very well known in the States.

    So I might go to University of Toronto, which is more well-known.

    But here is the problem. The AP credits in Toronto are really bad. They do not even accept AP Calculus BC and I do not want to waste a year repeating the stuff I did again. I want to go further.

    On the other hand, UBC has an unlimited AP credits (except for Physics, which I am actually fine with because UBC is not the only university that does not accept AP Physics C or B for substituting first-year) that I can cash in, allowing me to skip a lot of courses.

    I am also taking AP Chemistry this year.

    I plan to major in Physics. I want to become a theoretical physicist. Please shed some light on me.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 1, 2009 #2
    The second paragraph might be of interest to you, since you seem to be concerned about the rankings or prestige of your undergraduate institution.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_British_Columbia" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  4. Dec 1, 2009 #3


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    I wouldn't worry about that. The reputation of the undergraduate school you go to has little or no direct effect on graduate school admission. Go to a school with a solid physics program, get good grades and GRE scores, do research and/or other independent work, and get good letters of recommendation from your professors.
  5. Dec 2, 2009 #4
    Like what type of research or independent work? Doesn't/wouldn't that cost money? Would my professors need to be world-class physic professors to write them for me?
  6. Dec 2, 2009 #5
    What type of work depends on what you are interested in. You can almost always find a professor who is willing to accept volunteer labor... :smile:

    If you are asked to pay though, something is wrong.

    While a strong letter from a world-class physicist couldn't possibly hurt, most people who apply to graduate school don't have letters of recommendation from such people. A strong letter from any professor will help you. (Of course it is much better to have a rave review from a relative unknown than a lukewarm letter from a Nobel prize winner.)
  7. Dec 2, 2009 #6
    Don't worry about the reputation of the school... just do well, do research, take full advantage of everything offered to you as an undergrad and you will be really limitless when it comes to grad school!

    I really suggest you do research in your undergrad, it will open a world of opportunities for you. Good luck!
  8. Dec 2, 2009 #7
    Being able to skip some classes will help a lot because you can start taking upper level classes sooner and have more time for research. Maybe even fit in a few graduate level classes.
  9. Dec 2, 2009 #8
    Get to know your proffs while youre there. See them out of class time to ask them thoughtful questions about the material they are teaching and take as many laboratory based courses as you can. Im an undergrad in my fourth year on to my third research project and through those projects Ive met loads of profs (the other day I unknowingly had a lengthy discussion about one of my experiments with the head of the biomedical department of my university. He managed to help me solve a problem Id been having) Ive spoken to a few profs about grad school as Ive considered doing a masters degree and Ive come to understand that a strong background in laboratory work and good references can sometimes be even more important than grades. Im into pathobiology with my eye on medical school so maybe things are different in physics, but Ive found that working with my profs has gotten me two jobs, and three potential advisors in the event that I do get into the masters program here. I feel confident that I would have no trouble finding an advisor at another university. Ive learned so much through my research projects, more than just lab methods. You learn to problem solve, manage time, present your research to faculty and write real lab papers. I go to school in Ontario, and University of British Columbia is pretty well known here for being excellent. You may through out your university career decide you want to go to a different university for your grad studies too. Four years is plenty of time and youll do a lot of growing up while youre in school. My boyfriend went to U of T and I decided not to go because I wanted to have my own space to do my own thing when I moved out. He hated living in Toronto, and after a short time I hated visiting. The school is excellent, but remember you have to live with the whole package. Its a really expensive place to live and in my opinion not worth the hassle. Ive been to BC and its beautiful, I think you may be disappointed with Toronto. You may love it, but its something to consider. U of T was my first choice, and I was excited when I got accepted and was ready to go, but thinking back now, if Id gone there my first year I would have been miserable. Theres more to choosing a university that simply looking at the programs they offer.
  10. Dec 2, 2009 #9


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    The Canadian university system is a little different from the American one, I believe. My experience has been that Canadian undergraduate physics programs are reasonably uniform across the board. The reputation of your school won't matter nearly so much as what you've done during those years.

    I've always been a little cautious around "advanced placement" high school courses. My understanding is that the curriculum is such that some universities may accept such courses for credit. But I don't think there's any criteria for the teachers. Unfortunately there are a lot of high school physics teachers out there who've never taken a university physics class and unfortunately this has the potential to put students into a place where they haven't received the proper foundations in a field before moving on to the more advanced topics.

    On the other hand there are some amazing teachers out there who do a better job giving that foundation than most university professors.
  11. Dec 2, 2009 #10
    In order to receive college credit from an AP course you have obtain a certain score on a standardized test. So if you scored well on the test then you should have the fundamentals down pretty well.
  12. Dec 2, 2009 #11
    No no no, I actually know that for a fact. ANyways that isn't raelly my problem...
  13. Dec 3, 2009 #12
    Do the Mathematics and Physics Joint Specialist at University of Toronto
    No matter what kind of AP credits you have and how much you think you deserve credit for first year - you won't be repeating anything in your math courses (MAT157, 240, 247).
  14. Dec 3, 2009 #13

    Vanadium 50

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    I don't think that's the case.
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