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Undergraduating math student

  1. Jan 20, 2010 #1
    graduating from undergrad

    i never thought i'd write one of these but here goes (a fishing for reassurance type thread)

    i'm graduating this semester and i'm nervous about my qualifications. i'm graduating from a typical state school with decent gpa(~3.7) with what i consider a bare-essentials math degree: adv calc sequence, abstract algebra sequence, 1 semester topology at a really low level, 2 semesters linear alg, 1 semester pde, 1 semester applied complex analysis class, a fortran class, a physics degree minus 1 lab class, and no research.

    the thing is i'm not applying to grad school because i've decided to take some time off and fill in gaps. i already know that if i had applied the best i could hope for is a decent master's program, probably even unfunded. i also know that won't change if i take time off and study on my own - the point of which is be prepared for the rigors of even just a decent program. what i am trying to do is find some a dynamical systems group in brazil (don't ask why) in the interim to basically tag along with so that at least superficially(to show masters programs) i can look like i'm doing something productive.

    what i'm concerned about is what kind of expectations will people have of me? i know i'm not ready for research - i'm barely ready for baby rudin. is such a thing completely unheard of? am i insane for doing this? ideas? comments? concerns? i'm kind of not comfortable talking about this with any professors so i come here.

    what i'd really love is to be able to be honest with professors but i think that that would disqualify me from anything. this is because essentially i only feel as comfortable as telling people i'm know better than an almost completely fresh student and academia isn't a charity...
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 20, 2010 #2
    Why? Professors take in vastly unqualified students all the time, and have many techniques to get them up to speed. Easy/basic projects and pairing them with someone who's been working in the lab for a while are standards, and as long as you're alright with that it shouldn't be a problem. Lying to a prof is just gonna annoy him when you show up and can't do that thing he expected you to.

    The whole trick with research is that it starts at the level you're comfortable with and you slowly teach yourself how to do progressively scarier stuff. There really isn't a "not ready for research" So fine, you can't do the heavy analysis for a publishable paper yet; you still may be perfectly capable of doing the grunt work of coding some mathematical simulations.
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