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What are my chances at getting this REU?

  1. Dec 30, 2007 #1
    I am a sophmore in a physics BS program at University of Minnesota, and I applied for an REU at University of Indiana. What am I looking at for my chances of getting this? It seems like a really good deal as far as doing actual research, shopping around for possible grad schools, etc. Here is some of my relevant info:

    Overall GPA: 3.393
    Tech GPA: 3.64
    I've had all the prereq math, Calc1-4 plus a Sequences, Series, Foundations class as well as an Applied Linear Algebra class which was a fourth year math class that I got an A in. I got a B in physics 2 but otherwise an A in both physics 1 and 3, as well as an A in every other math class I've had except a B in my sequences. I've had a history of physics class on top of it, and by next semester I'll have a fourth year differential equations class under my belt, with hopefully an A.

    Should I look at applying other places, or for a math REU possibly? I applied for biophysics and medical physics at Indiana, but I can't really find any info on what they look for or who they accept. I am also looking into doing work for someone in the biophysics, but I've had nothing except intro bio here. Am I in any trouble here? In the words of Dr. Evil, throw me a friggin' bone here!
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 31, 2007 #2
    So you're from the U of M. Do you go to the Twin Cities campus? I did my physics BS at the U of M Twin Cities, just graduated back in December 2006. A word of encouragement: the physics program at this school is excellent. I was very well prepared for my first semester of graduate school, and I credit it to the U of M physics department. Incidentally, how's the history of physics class? Was it taught by anyone I might know? I meant to take it, but never got around to it since all of my math major classes kept getting in the way.

    Well anyway, I don't really have any advice for you. Just wanted to say hi to a fellow gopher.

    P.S. Don't take graduate cosmology if Dr. Peloso is teaching. Nice guy, but he'll kill your GPA.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2007
  4. Dec 31, 2007 #3
    Hell yeah I go to Twin Cities! The history class is okay, it has a lot of technical involvment but you are really discouraged to write any equations, ever. It's taught by some guy from the History of Science dept. I think - his name is Michel Jansen or some such spelling, he's dutch and knows roughly everything about physics. He has his masters in theoretical physics, as well as his Ph. D. in history of science, and works with Einstein history. It's a good class, history based but includes all physics majors so we're all not very good historians but it's very interesting, the guy is a good teacher and he isn't afraid to make remarks about the field or anyone in it, and he's very comical.

    But yeah, I'm taking it because they said I really shouldn't take any more IT classes, being done with my lib eds by my freshman year. So it's kind of middle of the road.
  5. Dec 31, 2007 #4
    The most surefire way to get in to an REU is to directly contact professors you would be interested in doing research with, and apply to the REU with their assistance and the intention of working for them. Your job is to convince whoever you contact that you are both skilled and very interested in their research. If possible, I would recommend contact in person.

    Since you would be funded by the REU program, you also would be free. So if you can make your contact want you, they have good reasons to help you get in to the REU program.

    I was accepted into two different REU programs (which I participated in) with this method. It's not certain as some professors ignore or dislike unsolicited letters, but it has worked remarkably well for me.

    Addendum: In general, getting into REUs (in physics at least) can be really hard. Popular sites receive one to two hundred applications for around ten slots. For example, one REU program that rejected me told me that I would almost certainly get into their graduate program. Another, at a relatively low-ranked school, rejected me only to send a graduate admissions brochure several weeks later. Part of the trouble is that applications are free, so applying to 10 programs is not uncommon, but in general, there are just not enough slots. It's important to keep in mind how the system works.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2007
  6. Dec 31, 2007 #5


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    I would suggest applying to more than one REU to be safe. As qualgorithm pointed out, REU's are extremely competitive. Even REU's at mediocre schools are hard to get into. My advice is to not limit yourself. Apply to as many REU's as you are able. The more you apply to, the greater your chances are of getting into one.
  7. Dec 31, 2007 #6
    Alright guys thanks for the advice, but I'm not done yet. I have two questions:

    1) Most of these REU places require two letters of recommendation. I have no problem filling out the application and sending my transcript, but do I just ask different profs, or have them write multiple? It seems like the schools are really straightforward with it: like a page is what each one requires, but I hate to burden a prof.

    2) arunma, did you do the UROP program here? I think it is pretty much like an REU except during the regular school year. Do you have any suggestions or comments regarding this program?
  8. Jan 1, 2008 #7
    Don't worry about burdening professors - they write letters like this all the time. But do ask them ASAP, because often it takes them quite a bit of time to get around to writing the letter. You'll have to ask 2 different profs.

    I did an REU after my sophomore year, and I agree that you should apply to a whole bunch, and also don't wait till the last minute. I didn't do either of these things, and I only got into one, didn't even hear from them until it was almost too late to look for another job...and I consider myself lucky.
  9. Jan 1, 2008 #8
    If I were to ask my professors for letters of recommendation, is a month too short of a period? The materials would be due Feburary 15th, and I would send out the emails in a day or two, but I don't want to ask them if you guys think that's not enough time for them. (this is at a non research university)
  10. Jan 1, 2008 #9


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    Ask as soon as you can. A month is doable, but don't wait much longer.
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