Where to go for physics undergrad?

In summary, the senior in high school is planning to major in physics and is taking college courses to prepare.
  • #1
Kalebh03
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1
Before I get to the question, I'll introduce my current education. I am a senior in high school at Yadkin Early College. At this school, students are dual enrolled in high school and community college. We also go to school for an additional year (5 instead of 4) so we have finished our required high school courses (normally by Junior or beginning or Senior year) and received an Associate's in Arts, Science, or both.

I will be graduating in May of 2022 with my Associate's in Science and, most likely an Associate's in Arts. I think I want to major in physics, and I am planning to take the following college courses by then: Calculus 1, 2, and 3; Physics 1 & 2, and differential equations.

I do not know anything about what colleges I should apply to, but I know it most likely needs to be public because I will be applying as a TRANSFER student. I do not know my GPA, and I do not know if the college courses I have taken in the last four years count toward my High School GPA. I have a 29 on the ACT, but I plan to take it at least one more time before I apply to colleges. I live in North Carolina, and I was thinking Chapel Hill or NC State for in-state schools, but I do not know how good their physics programs are or how good the research opportunities are for undergraduates.

Are there any undergraduate schools that anyone would recommend in-state or out-of-state? Are there any that would be easier to merit-based scholarships?

Extra Personal Information:

I have been a part of my school's Robotics Team for 3 years. Because of COVID-19 we have not been able to meet this year, so I am not including this as my 4th year. We have made it to the state tournament once. I do not know anything about programming because I was a builder/designer, but I plan to start learning about Python (not for robotics, just because I want to) during Christmas break and over the summer.

I have participated in my schools Quiz Bowl team for the same amount of time.
Same with chess
I have been a part of my school's Math Team for the last two years (not including this year again).
I am a member of the National Honor Society.
I have over 40 volunteer hours...but I haven't gotten any signed off on since 9th grade because I always forgot to.

I am a member of Sigma Alpha Pi (National Society of Leadership and Success).
I might become a member of Phi Theta Kappa.
I have participated in school leadership opportunities, such as talking to Middle School students about the opportunities at my school and convincing them to apply.

I am currently learning to play the ukulele, guitar, and piano during my free time, and I used to be really good at playing trumpet, but I haven't played since middle school band.
I am receiving baking lessons as an "intern" at a bakery in my town.

Thank you
 
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  • #2
Why does being a transfer student mean you have to apply to public schools? Do you think the acceptance rate for transfer students is just too low at private schools, or is there something else preventing applying there?
 
  • #3
  • #4
Policies will vary depending on the state and the universities. In my state, credits earned at designated community colleges are automatically accepted by the state university. A number of students I know have told me it's cheaper to spend two years at a community college and transfer to the state university than to spend all four years at the state university. They still need to apply and be accepted by the state university. But if they are, they transfer in as a junior. With private universities, there will be an individual determination of credit for the courses taken at the community college.
 
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  • #5
robphy said:
It's not clear why private schools might not be good for transfer students.
While private schools might have a high sticker price, it's possible that there is enough financial aid to offset a significant fraction of that.

It is to my understanding that private schools are less likely to accept transfer credits from a community college. I may be wrong about this, but I remember reading this policy while looking at transfer information at some private universities.
 
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  • #6
For an in-state student, UNC Chapel Hill and NC State would be my top recommendations for a physics major in NC. It provides a good undergrad physics education and your best opportunity to graduate debt free or with minimal debt. Other options that involve substantial debt are simply not worth the additional debt.

I've taught in the NC university system, and I'm also familiar with their early college high school programs. Some of my friends still teach there. For a physics major, there are some other choices, but none as good as Chapel Hill and NC State.
 
  • #7
Kalebh03 said:
It is to my understanding that private schools are less likely to accept transfer credits from a community college. I may be wrong about this, but I remember reading this policy while looking at transfer information at some private universities.
This depends very much on the school. I wouldn't be surprised if elite schools like Stanford and MIT don't accept such transfer credit, but there are plenty of "lesser" private colleges that do.

I taught at a small private college for many years. Our policy was for department chairs to review other schools' courses for transfer credit for incoming freshmen, transfer students, and our own students who wanted to take courses elsewhere during the summer. I had to do that a few times every year when I took my turn as chairman. Many of the courses that I accepted were at community colleges. This was on a course-by-course basis. A transfer student would be admitted at the level corresponding to the number of credit hours that were accepted for transfer.

If your CC has a transfer agreement with 4-year schools in the UNC system, such that an associates' degree gets you into the other school at the junior (3rd year) level or something similar, then the CC courses that are part of that agreement should be considered equivalent to the corresponding courses at UNC or NC State or wherever. They should be accepted (or not) by other schools on that basis.
 
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1. Where are the best physics undergraduate programs located?

The best physics undergraduate programs are located at top universities around the world, such as MIT, Caltech, Harvard, and Princeton. These universities have renowned physics departments with experienced faculty and cutting-edge research opportunities.

2. What are the key factors to consider when choosing a physics undergraduate program?

Some key factors to consider when choosing a physics undergraduate program include the strength of the physics department, research opportunities, faculty expertise, class sizes, and location. It is also important to consider the curriculum and whether it aligns with your interests and career goals.

3. Are there any specific requirements for admission into a physics undergraduate program?

Each university may have different requirements for admission into their physics undergraduate program. However, most programs will require strong grades in math and science courses, as well as standardized test scores. Some programs may also require letters of recommendation and a personal statement.

4. Is it necessary to attend a top university for a successful career in physics?

No, attending a top university is not necessary for a successful career in physics. While top universities may offer more resources and opportunities, it is ultimately up to the individual to make the most of their education and pursue their interests and goals in the field of physics.

5. Are there any specific programs or tracks within a physics undergraduate program that I should consider?

Some universities may offer specialized programs or tracks within their physics undergraduate program, such as astrophysics, biophysics, or engineering physics. It is important to research these options and choose a program that aligns with your interests and career goals.

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