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Admissions Which university should I choose for physics major?

  1. Mar 31, 2016 #1
    Hi everyone
    I am an international students from India. I have applied to few Canadian and American universities. I want to study physics and maths as a double major in college. I am a bit confused and not able to make a good decision.

    I have been admitted to the following universities.
    University of Toronto, Trinity college
    University of British,Columbia
    University of Wisconsin Madison
    Pennsylvania State University
    Ohio State University

    I am still waiting for :
    University of Minnesota
    McGill University
    University of Waterloo

    I have done a bit research for all theses universities and what I found was that Canadian universities have much more difficult courses than any other universities in United States. This is thing is preventing me from choosing Canadian university for undergrad studies. There are several post online stating that University of Toronto have a very bad reputation for the difficulty of its courses and average in most classes are around 60-70%. Students in Canadian universities are mostly treated as a number and professors are only concern about graduate students or their research work. What I am concerned about is that if I choose Canadian university for undergrad studies than I think that these type of scores would probably effect my chances for a good graduate college. I can study hard but what is the point of attending a university where courses are made unnecessarily hard. I want to know if I should choose a US university just for this reason. I also want to know which university has a strong physics department and will not effect my chances of getting into a good graduate school.
    Please help me to choose a university.
    Two more question : 1) Should i wait for McGill and University of Minnesota. Are they worth it.
    2) What are the differences in education system of a Canadian university and a US university
    Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 31, 2016 #2


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    I think you may be buying into rumour and speculation a little bit too much.

    Keep in mind there is a tendency for students to brag about how difficult courses are at their school - particularly those who aren't doing so well - because it justifies results when they are mediocre and it (seems to) make the student look even better when they're above average.

    I have experience with a number of larger Canadian universities (as student and instructor) and from what I can tell, at the undergraduate level the course content and difficulty seems reasonably uniform - at least to the point where other factors such as how you as a student perform in a given environment will play a far bigger role in graduate school admissions than the particular school you come from.

    You good try to look up PGRE performance statistics (if anyone publishes them) to see if there's any significant difference between students from Canadian schools and American schools, but I'd be very surprised if there was.

    The bottom line is that you should make the decision based on what school is going to offer you the most opportunity, and where you feel you'll be able to perform best, and don't forget to factor in cost..
  4. Mar 31, 2016 #3


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    To the OP:

    I am a graduate of the University of Toronto with a BSc in mathematics, and I can state that the rumours that you are hearing about the school regarding the math program specifically is greatly overstated. The difficulty of any given course is far more dependent on the specific subject matter and instructor than on any specific way that courses are developed or organized. I have known students from other Canadian universities who have graduated from math programs and I have not found the material covered to be substantially different, and I would be greatly surprised if the US schools to which you have been accepted to would be any different in terms of course content.

    I should also add that, at least for the math classes, most classes above first year tend to be quite small, so there are good opportunities for you to interact with both the instructors as well as with your fellow students. As for professors only being concerned about their graduate students or their research -- that is true for some, but this is by no means true for all or even most, at least in my experience.

    I would agree with Choppy overall that you should make the decision on which school to attend based on what school is going to offer you the most opportunity, as well as which school will feel most "comfortable" for you (e.g. things like the campus atmosphere, availability of extra-curricular activities, etc.) (I presume that cost is something you have already factored into).

    Since you are a student from India, one thing that the University of Toronto has going for is an extremely ethnically diverse student population in one of the most ethnically diverse cities in North America, with large and growing South Asian (i.e. Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Nepalese) communities, if that matters for you.
  5. Apr 1, 2016 #4
    I think you are right about all this. Students sometime exaggerate things a lot.
    which university should i choose and why? Which university has a strong physics department. Is there is a lot of difference between price for the international students at Canadian universities and price at US universities. Also should I wait for University Minnesota and McGil University ?​
  6. Apr 4, 2016 #5


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    My understanding about US universities is that there are no separate tuition rates for international versus domestic students, only for those who are "in-state" (i.e. citizens or permanent residents of a given state in the US where the university is located) versus "out-of-state" (i.e. citizens or permanent residents not from the state in the US where the university is located -- international students would by definition fall into the "out-of-state" category).

    At any rate, I do not have any comparisons available about the differences in tuition rates for international students in Canada vs "out-of-state" students in the US.

    As far as which university you should choose, that is something we cannot do for you, but all of the schools you've been accepted to have strong math and physics departments.
  7. Apr 4, 2016 #6


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    At many/most US universities, I think few domestic students pay the "sticker price", but instead receive some amount of financial aid which effectively reduces it. International students are less likely to get financial aid.
  8. Apr 5, 2016 #7
    Yes you are right. International students get very few or no financial aids. This can be wrong for private universities but I am pretty sure about the public universities in US. And also international students have to pay little bit extra tuition and the also have to pay some international student fee.
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