Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Schools Which university?

  1. Mar 20, 2010 #1
    I'm currently a final year student at high school, and I'm not sure what the best options for an undergraduate course are.

    I'm thinking about:
    • Cambridge
    • Oxford
    • MIT
    • Harvard
    • Princeton

    if I go overseas, and

    • Australian National University (to complete the PhB program)
    • University of Sydney (Advanced Science with the Talented Students Program)

    if I stay in my home country. Obviously the international universities that I've listed are far more prestigious and offer superior physics undergraduate courses, but I'm worried about being able to afford them - they're all notoriously expensive, and I'm not sure if I'd qualify for aid (my financial situation's complicated, and most Australians don't put aside large university funds). I'm fairly confident that I could gain entrance to ANU and USyd, most probably with scholarships, but I'm not sure if these will offer me a competitive platform to gain admission to a top PhD program. I don't want to say too much about my physics background, but I'll be competing in physics overseas and I've done very well in my country's final year physics courses (as an accelerant in the subject). So, my question is, which universities should I aim for? What kind of assistance is there for the international ones? Will I be disadvantaged for my PhD if I stay in Australia?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 20, 2010 #2
    Damn you only applied to those schools? All of them are extremely competitive...
  4. Mar 20, 2010 #3
    I haven't applied yet. Our school year finishes in December, so I'll be applying for 2011 entrance. I'm fairly confident about the Australian schools though - I've already completed 1/3 of my HSC and I can graduate in the top 1% if I obtain mediocre results this year. I've also heard that with the background I have in physics, a place in PhB is guaranteed... although I'm not 100% sure.
  5. Mar 20, 2010 #4
    My personal perspective...I visited Berkley (for grad school); and to my regret didn't attend (though was accepted). But I was of the opinion that a sound education at a good school was probably good enough to qualify me for a PhD program. I only went to a state university for my undergraduate, and was able to get into these grad programs.

    And I guess it depends on what you want to do at the Grad level. High Energy Physics? Astrophysics? Geophysics? Theoretical Physics? I would think that this is the element that would determine your grad school selection.
  6. Mar 20, 2010 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Where I go to the university there was a student who did telecommunications engineering and math (An australian university) and received the university medal and now is doing a PhD at Stanford university in california. Also one of the professors here who does statistics ended up as a professor in harvard before coming back here (he got his undergrad here and his PhD at ANU).

    So really these examples illustrate that you can succeed no matter where you go if you really want to. To me spending however many tens of thousands of dollars per year seems a little ridiculous when you can still get a quality education that is subsidized.

    It's like two-fish quant said in another thread: its not the school per se that gives it prestige but the students and alumni. In other words the people that get in are more than likely going to succeed regardless of whether they went to MIT, Harvard or whatever or not. I can't remember the thread off by heart but maybe he might stop in to verify those comments (and he did go to MIT for graduate physics).
  7. Mar 21, 2010 #6
    Stay in Australia. The most immediate reason being the subsidized tuition. Also, those schools you listed are notoriously harsh towards international applicants, so even with outstanding results there is no guarantee you'll be accepted.

    You are certainly not at a disadvantage in completing your undergrad here. Both ANU and USyd are outstanding schools, and the PhB and USyd Adv courses are phenomenal programs, with ample opportunities to get involved in research early on. There are also plenty of opportunities to go on exchange to places such as UC Berkeley, Cornell, etc (as far as I know, places such as Harvard, Princeton, etc do not accept exchange students).

    And for the record, I know quite a few people who have completed their undergrad here and gone on to do their postgrad work at those very schools you mentioned. So, it is certainly not impossible. In fact, it's what I am aiming to do myself.

    Good luck!
  8. Mar 21, 2010 #7
    You've basically named the top 5 most prestigious/difficult to get into undergraduate schools in the world.... and your banking on acceptance? even at one of them? as an international?

    Just to put it this way... unless you have a 2350+ SAT/perfect grades/intel finalist/worked in labs/started your own business/did other amazing things.... you don't have a huge shot...

    I am not saying it is not a possibility... but I wouldn't count on it as much as you seem to be..
  9. Mar 22, 2010 #8
    I have got admission in USC and UC Berkeley for Aerospace. Which one is better ?
  10. Mar 22, 2010 #9
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook