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University of Chicago, Brown University or Cornell?

  1. Apr 1, 2015 #1


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    My son is interested in studying Applied Math and Physics as an undergraduate and has narrowed down his choices to the University of Chicago, Brown or Cornell. They all seem like wonderful places for an undergraduate education. He tends to like the location of Chicago or Providence a bit more than Ithaca.

    We are wondering if all of these programs will give him a solid chance at acceptance to a top ranked graduate program. The University of Chicago seems to have a stronger physics program and access to national labs such as Argonne and Fermi. He is also drawn to the open curriculum and applied math program at Brown. I would appreciate any advice you may have.
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  3. Apr 1, 2015 #2


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    If he likes the atmosphere at Chicago and is okay with having the core, he should definitely go there. The campus is very beautiful and it's about fifteen minutes from the loop. Two of my friends are first year PhD students, in physics and astrophysics respectively, and they both absolutely love it there. When I visited the department when I was considering it for grad school (it was one of my top three choices) I really liked the professors and the department overall. I also have a few friends who did undergrad there and they all really liked it. I would say that Chicago students were among the top five most represented schools at open houses for top 10 physics grad programs I went to. Cornell would be in that list too. Chicago is also putting a lot of money into the physics department. They've built a new building, have hired some great new faculty members, and recently created the institute of molecular engineering.

    Cornell is also great for physics and has a great department. My friends who went there had a great time. However, Ithaca is very remote and someone who wants an urban environment may not be happy there. Greek life has a much bigger presence there which can be good or bad depending on what you want.
    While Brown is a great institution and will provide him with a great education, it's physics department is just not the same caliber as Cornell or Chicago.
  4. Apr 2, 2015 #3


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    Thanks for the feedback. We are going to tour the schools and make a final decision soon. He does like the enthusiasm and positive environment at Brown -- hopefully he will like Chicago or Cornell too! I'm sure he will do well and be able to study math and physics at any of the schools. Thanks again -- it is very helpful to hear about graduate student experiences at these schools.
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