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Schools Will Junior college for my first two years be a detriment?

  1. Mar 9, 2016 #1
    So, Basically the question is in the title. I'm just about to start My undergrad and For many reasons, I'm strongly considering getting an As in physics before transferring to a bachelors program. However, I really don't want to miss out on anything, or for my junior college roots to affect my chances at getting into a graduate program.
    Additionally I'm thinking about CLEPing out of as many non math and physics classes as I'm allowed. Does that look good, bad, or neutral to better schools?

    The other concern I have is that I hear it's really important to do undergrad research if your looking to get into a great graduate program. Is it bad to start in your junior year?

    I guess as well as my junior college question, how important is the reputation of your bachelors school for getting into higher programs? And where do I find what schools are better than others? I've been looking and not found any reliable advice on which schools are better than others. My wife thinks I should try to get into an ivy league school for my undergrad, and just keep a separate household, But I don't want to do that unless it's actually important to my chances of getting into the phd program of my choice...
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 10, 2016 #2


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    In a lot of ways, I think attending a community college or junior college for the first two years is not a bad idea. It's often a cheaper option. And really first year physics and mathematics courses are pretty uniform in content, so it's unlikely you'll be missing out on a lot. Also, the focus is on teaching, so you may have the opportunity for more interaction with your professors, rather than being one of three hundred students crammed into a lecture hall. There's also a good chance that your peers will be less competitive - it's a little easier to stand out in your classes.

    The disadvantages are that you will have to switch schools part way through - and that can mean making new friends and learning a new set of administrative rules. Often there are less opportunities to get involved in research, as you've indicated. Also, since the majority of "serious" physics majors tend to go to larger universities, the people in your classes are likely to have different objectives. The instructors may teach physics with a slant towards people who are going to go on to become nurses or technicians and have no intention of going on to graduate school - so you may see more breath, less depth, but this is going to be school dependent. If this happens, you may have some catching up to do when you go to a different school for upper year classes.

    It's fine to start getting involved in research in your junior year. The issue is really that you want to have some kind of research experience before you attend graduate school so that you will have an idea of what it's like for graduate school and this can help you make decisions. It will also help you build relationships with professor and graduate students who can mentor you through your upper year. And of course - research is why you want to do this after all, isn't it?

    The reputation of your school doesn't matter nearly so much as how well you perform where you're at. You want to make sure that you go to a school that has a high quality program, but after that, to the best of my knowledge most graduate school admissions committees don't assign weights to different undergraduate schools when ranking students. Try to choose the place where you feel you'll be able to do your best.
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2016
  4. Mar 10, 2016 #3


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    And there is NO rule that says you have to graduate with an AS degree. You can attend the local community college for the 1st year only AND then transfer to the better known or now better researched school vs making the mistake of attending the WRONG college out of High School. And if you CLEP or get college credit at the community college for any and all college credit, it will ALL transfer to an in state college of whichever state the community college is located in (and probably all other schools as well). That would allow you to avoid a lot of Freshman mistakes and still allow you to attend a larger college/university from your sophomore year on.
  5. Mar 10, 2016 #4


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    You've got to take advantage of it and really get to know/impress a couple professors. I did 3 years at community college, transferred to completely unknown cheap state school and ended up in a top 20 grad program.
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