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What are my odds? Sophomore Chemistry REU

  1. Aug 17, 2011 #1
    Hi everyone,
    This summer I spent a lot of time looking at possible research sites for next summer. I was wondering if anyone out there could gauge the odds of me landing a research project.

    I am entering the sophomore year at St. Olaf College (a small Liberal Arts school in Southern Minnesota). I am a Math/Chem double major with a Stats minor. I have a 3.82 GPA overall. I tested out of the General Chemistry class, got an A in Kinetics and Thermodynamics, and I will be taking Organic I next semester. In high school, I did some research at the University of St. Thomas, working one-on-one with an Analytical Chemistry professor for about two months.

    Anyone like to venture a guess about my chances of getting a REU? Also, does anyone have any advice for getting in?

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 17, 2011 #2
    Getting good letters of recommendation can be a big part of it.
  4. Aug 18, 2011 #3
    At my school, we have different profs for class and lab. Which do you think it would be better to get recs from? I'm a little concerned that my professors don't know me well enough to write good recs because I did research with them. Is that a problem, do you think?

  5. Aug 18, 2011 #4
    Are the lab instructors TAs? There are varying opinions on this, but if they are still students you may want to reconsider the prospect of using them for recs.

    Also, I don't understand how these professors (who you say you did research for) don't know you (given that you did research for them)...If they gave you a shot at researching this early on, they must have some opinions about you; likely good ones. Is there someone (amongst the research hierarchy) who knows you better (perhaps a post-doc)?

    edit: I didn't realize you are at a "small lib arts college" so the post-doc thing may not apply directly, but the idea remains.
  6. Aug 18, 2011 #5
    My lab instructors are professors, so I might be able to use them as recs. I guess I'll just talk with them one-on-one to determine whether they think they can write a good letter.

    I did my research at a different college during high school. I guess I could go for a rec from him, as the experience I had with him is most relevant. Are REUs ok with recommendations outside of your own institution?
  7. Aug 18, 2011 #6
    I don't see why they wouldn't be okay with it.
  8. Aug 18, 2011 #7
    So, would you, the wise ones who have gone through the applications before, say that if I apply to about 10 programs, I would have a good chance of getting into at least one? I will also be applying for some on-campus research and some non-REU sites. I really, really do not want to end up doing yard work for another summer...
  9. Aug 18, 2011 #8
    Won't know until you try =]

    However, I just want to say that If I was you I would be very cautious about sending recs from someone you worked with pre-high school graduation. I don't know enough about this to say that it is definitively a bad thing to do, but it is something that I would personally be very concerned about doing. But the answer to your direct question "Do your recs have to be from your home institution" is absolutely not.

    Good luck =D
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