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Schools Undergraduate Studies (Bachelor) at Universities, does it matter which university?

  1. Feb 4, 2012 #1
    I have heard multiple times that where you study and get you bachelor is not that important, at least relative to the importance of where you do your graduate studies. How much influence should the factor of a university having some prestige in the field of physics have on the decision making of where you want to go? Are the studies at the undergraduate level pretty much the same all over?
    Also, I am looking at Australia for a potential place to study. But so far my search for good physics departments in universities has not left me with much option. Any suggestion or maybe even reports of experience in studying at Australian universities?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 4, 2012 #2
    Re: Undergraduate Studies (Bachelor) at Universities, does it matter which university

    There are some differences depending on what you are studying.

    Take my former university as an example. I am a math major and at my former university they didn't offer a class on writing basic proofs to undergraduates. They claimed it was graduate level stuff....

    I ran and I ran fast.
  4. May 25, 2012 #3
    Re: Undergraduate Studies (Bachelor) at Universities, does it matter which university

    That is the biggest load of BS. Going to school is not just about studying for your major its about developing yourself and becoming a more mature person. Going to a school with a good program should be second priority to how you feel when you are at the school.
  5. May 25, 2012 #4


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    Re: Undergraduate Studies (Bachelor) at Universities, does it matter which university

    There are a lot of factors that can influence your decision. In some situations going to a school with a "big" name can be helpful.* Is it worth an extra sixty thousand dollars in debt? No. Remember a 2.9 GPA from a big name school is a still a 2.9 GPA.

    It's important to look for opportunities that apply to you in particular. Here are some good questions to ask:
    Do the undergrads have opportunities to get involved in research?
    What kinds of projects do senior students take on?
    Does the school offer only a "core" curriculum, or do they offer a selection of courses in the various sub-fields that you might be interested in?
    How active is the undergraduate physics society? Do they organize trips to conferences? Do they have a highschool outreach program?
    How much emphasis does the department place on teaching skill? Have any professors won teaching awards?
    What condition are the labs in? Do they have modern equipment?
    Where are their graduates ending up?

    In conjunction with questions like this it's also important to ask questions about campus life, volunteer and work opportunities, clubs, sports, and all the other factors that are going to play a big role on your day-to-day life.

    *These include cocktail parties where you try to one-up the other patrons with facts about yourself, and happening to have that "GQ goes to college" look that make you appear quite dashing is a sweater with a "big name" across your chest.
  6. May 26, 2012 #5
    Re: Undergraduate Studies (Bachelor) at Universities, does it matter which university

    Let's step back a bit.

    The typical situation is that you have a high school student that has their entire life planned out and then worries about getting into the "best" college that will get them into the "best" graduate school. Yadda... Yadda...

    That's not the main thing that you should be worried about. The main thing that you need to think about is whether or not you will finish the physics degree. Typically, you have someone who wants to go into physics, then declare their major, and for what ever reason, they never finish it. And sometimes that's a good thing. If you go to college, take a few physics classes, and then discover that you hate physics, then *great*, it's better that you learn that early, and hopefully the college you go to has some other choices.

    So the main thing that you need to be concerned about is going to a school that "fits". You will come out of your undergraduate experience a different person than the person you came in, and that's the thing that you need to worry most about.

    Yes and no. There is something of a standard physics curriculum, but a lot of what you will learn in college occurs outside of the classroom. Obviously a school in the big city will be different than a school in the middle of nowhere.

    What you need to do is to do campus visits and figure out if you just like it there.
  7. May 26, 2012 #6
    Re: Undergraduate Studies (Bachelor) at Universities, does it matter which university

    Check out the Group of 8 website


    These are the 8 "best" univeristies in Australia, i.e. have longest histories, largest research funding and most successful graduates.

    Any is as good as the other from what I've heard. They are all big universities, with 30k-40k undergrads each, so classes can be quite large at first and second year level (I had a maths class at Sydney Uni that had 350+ in lectures).

    You'd have to look at specific research of each group to see what you're interested in, as it does flavour the content of their courses. This is particularly true if you do an honours year (4th year).
  8. May 26, 2012 #7
    Re: Undergraduate Studies (Bachelor) at Universities, does it matter which university

    My opinion is that if you are significantly smarter/more dedicated then th average person at your school you may not have a great time.
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