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Schools What Schools Should I Apply to as a Transfer Student?

  • Thread starter SloshyUser
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Hello everyone so I currently am a first-year college student attending my local state university but am wanting to transfer out after this year and I was wondering what schools I should look into. Any input would be very appreciated as I have to pay for my own applications and well, college applications are expensive.

Why I want to transfer: Course Work is very unchallenging, due to AP testing I was placed in a junior physics course my first semester, along with other non-freshman courses such as Calculus 3 and at least so far everything seems extremely easy and I'm afraid that if I'm not challenged in my undergraduate studies I will be underprepared for grad school. My school's student body is also extremely undriven academically, even in my physics courses I have not met anyone else that has any intention of attending graduate school after undergrad, and while it's good to not be in an echo-chamber it makes it kinda hard to fit in sometimes when the people I meet in my classes don't share a common drive. The research at my school is poor, I am currently working on a research project at Fermilab and while this sounds good on paper, it is in fact terrible, the professor treats everyone on the team like garbage, all I get tasked to do is send emails, and from what I've heard in speaking with upperclassmen nearly every "research" position for undergraduates in physics is like this at my school, and the only way to get real research is to be a graduate student.

Here are some basic stats to help narrow down what schools I should look at:

So I've only been in college for about two months now but currently have a 4.0, (let's assume this continues for the sake of this post), I'm also in the honors program at my school

I am a physics major and am currently doing research on a project over at Fermilab and taking 19 hours of class.

I had a ~103 GPA in high school however I had significantly higher junior and senior year grades with my GPA's for those years being (~107,108.5) respectively

I scored 1510 on my SAT (while in high school if that matters) 710 E, 800M and scored 800's on the Math 2, Physics, and Chemistry SAT subject test

I've done some volunteer work while in high school however nothing extraordinary
Got 5's on a lot of AP's if that matters

Any input is greatly appreciated,
Thanks!
 
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This is really hard to answer with what you’ve said so far.

Are you looking to move to another state? Are you looking for a scholarship?

What schools did you apply to out of high school? Why not reconsider those as transfer options?

I remember my highschool friend went to a state school to save money but decided it wasn’t working out and so he transferred to my school a small liberal arts school with a strong and engaged physics dept where the student to prof ratio was better.

Perhaps the thought of doing research is clouding your decision. Undergrads seldom if ever can find a decent research area because it requires more knowledge than they have. Consequently, grad students get these positions. The prof just doesn’t have the time or inclination to hand hold an undergrad unless they are truly exceptional and they see something in the student that they can use in their research.

I think you should look for a challenging program, and also consider doing self study now in things not taught by your school in preparation for grad school. What those things will be are something you need to decide. @ZapperZ has written an excellent sequence of articles on traversing to a PhD in physics that could guide you toward your goals.
 
This is really hard to answer with what you’ve said so far.

Are you looking to move to another state? Are you looking for a scholarship?

What schools did you apply to out of high school? Why not reconsider those as transfer options?

I remember my highschool friend went to a state school to save money but decided it wasn’t working out and so he transferred to my school a small liberal arts school with a strong and engaged physics dept where the student to prof ratio was better.

Perhaps the thought of doing research is clouding your decision. Undergrads seldom if ever can find a decent research area because it requires more knowledge than they have. Consequently, grad students get these positions. The prof just doesn’t have the time or inclination to hand hold an undergrad unless they are truly exceptional and they see something in the student that they can use in their research.

I think you should look for a challenging program, and also consider doing self study now in things not taught by your school in preparation for grad school. What those things will be are something you need to decide. @ZapperZ has written an excellent sequence of articles on traversing to a PhD in physics that could guide you toward your goals.
I apologize for making it hard to determine with the given information, Ill try my best to answer those questions here to help clear things up.

The state is pretty irrelevant to me when it comes to schools, the only one I have a slight preference towards is New York as my grandparents live there one of which is terminally ill and going to school in New York would make it easier to see them. I would likely need scholarships or good need-based financial aid at the school as I'm not getting a ton of money from my parents for school.

Out of high school I applied as a physics major into UIUC, RPI, my current school + other state schools and MIT, the only one I was rejected from was MIT but I chose not to attend the rest due to the cost. I still can't afford UIUC or RPI but I might be able to make some of the better state schools within my state work since I wouldn't be attending for four years. I don't see any point in re-applying to MIT as I still feel as if I'm unqualified in terms of extracurriculars for those top-tier schools and would likely be rejected again.

I've heard that liberal art schools have strong teaching programs I just have no clue where to look to try and find one with a strong physics program - and of the ones that I do know are good like Williams their transfer rate is like 2%.

For the research I never expected to be doing groundbreaking work or anything during my undergrad, I thought that I would likely do stuff like data collection as like you said doing real research requires more knowledge than what I currently have. Instead, it seems that I became the professor's personal secretary and I just don't find it particularly beneficial to practice my email writing and phone conversation skills a significant amount every week. I just figured that it's probably not this way at every school, though I could be wrong seeing as I only have experience at my school.

I will check out @ZapperZ articles.

Thanks for your input, I really appreciate it!
 
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You mentioned RPI. I went there for one year of grad school. My undergrad was at Union College. At that time, the physics program was pretty decent with most physics majors going on to grad schools.

In my case, i got burnt out from school, time pressure of assignments and working 30 hrs per week to pay for it. My profs would tell me my homework was always excellent but because it was past due they had to drop it a grade point.

In one CM class, we met on mondays and fridays with homework assigned on monday to be due the following Monday so i didn't get a couple solved and then on Friday he assigned a few more to be due on Monday and i just couldn't do it. This was in the 70’s so things have changed a bit since then.
 

gleem

Science Advisor
Education Advisor
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I am going to be a little critical of your assessments and plan. You originally applied and were accepted to some respected schools but did not attend because of cost. Two questions; is your current school not of the same quality then why did you attend what was your criterion for this choice, second why apply to a school you had no intention of attending? You are only in the first part of the first semester and the courses are easy. So you are smart. I think it is too early to truly assess your situation adequately. Jedishrfu is right in his statement about your research adviser, you need to demonstrate some value to the program to be given significant responsibility. You mentions the research is poor, what competence do you have in making that judgement? Are you showing this professor sufficient interest in his research. If you haven't why should he care much about you?

You state the physics students you have talked to show no interest in graduate study. What percentage of the physics majors is this and how many are there? I assume that your university has a graduate program. Being placed in advanced courses as an undergrad will give you an opportunity to take these courses before you graduate.

Is there an independent study program which you can challenge yourself. If you are that good demonstrate it, talk to you professors ask for extra work. Anyway when you get to grad school you will have to learn to motivate and challenge yourself so why not learn now.
 

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