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Discus: College Search and Selection: August 2004 Archive: WHAT MAJOR AND COLLEGE!!!
By Sk0rn (Sk0rn) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 04:47 am: Edit

I love quantum and theoretical physics, but im no genius and jobs in theory are scarce. So, why not engineering you love math and science, but everyone and their mother is becoming an engineer...So, study mathematics and physics and become a professor, but you'll be poor and would you like teaching???

Everytime I think I know what I want to do or what college to go to I find an article or a reveiw of the career or college that strays me away.

MIT-too selective
UoM-too big
Purdue-too big
kettering-horrible neighborhood
Rose-hulman-horrible aid
Carnegie Mellon-not sure why but just not sure about it
Most other "TECH" schools have horrible happiness rates for their student and professors that are too busy working than teaching. I want a small school where the teachers are passionate,but is also a powerhouse for math science and engineering. I'm also very conscience about job security...

My Stats:
act 30 M32 E27
sat M1370 V1360
GPA 3.8 Unweighted
Rank 45/480

took all hon classes available
Ap chem, Ap Eng,
Dual Enrolled at the CC: Calc 1,2,3, econ, intro to the arts, composition, sociology

work 15-30/week more during the summer to help support my family(and myself)
NHS, executive board
Who's Who
Small volunteering maybe a total of 30 hours

11th-Nominated by teacher to compete in Chem olympiad
10th-Departmental award for english
8th- America and me essay winner 3rd place

Well read on the sciences
Built a 2m tall trebuchet with friend without plans(better than any summer engineering expo at a college in my opinion)
Very passionate about knowledge(I dont do anything as a resume filler only for self fufillment,hence the small ec's)

I was very optimistic about MIT but realize its nearly impossible and everyother college seems to expensive for what they offer...

any advice on a career path or a college that would give me freedom to develop as an intellectual, nothing too large and must be strong in the math and sciences


By Sk0rn (Sk0rn) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 05:06 am: Edit

BTW, I'm a crew trainer at my work if it matters

also, I could get a full ride to some of the local universities but I would find my self rather unhappy there. It's your graduate degree that matters should. So, should I go to the easy university and then try for MIT grad or should I shell out alot of money for undergrad and then try MIT grad?

the universities are Wayne stateU, OaklandU, UoDetroit and most other small college in MI that offer full rides

By Gih (Gih) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 05:51 am: Edit

So here is what I would do,

First of all, majoring in Physics or math doesn't necessarily force you into becoming a professor. I have lots of friends who are phys majors who ended up going to Wall Street or going into economics. Also, it is still possible to work as a physicist or mathematician at various companies or with the government. Jobs like these offer less freedom than being a professor but pay better. You might have to get a Phd anyways though.

Since the path to the above mentioned careers is the same as the path to being an academic physicist or a mathematician, you can proceed without committing yourself to something you might not like later on.

As far as colleges are concerned, yes it would be nice to go to someplace like MIT or Caltech to study physics. But there are alternatives that are still acceptable. Unfortunately, you don't want to consider large schools. I would rethink that, because there are lots of large research universities with world class (arguably equivalent to caltech, mit or princeton, for example) that have very few undergraduate majors in Physics. As an example, the University of Texas at Austin has tens of thousands of students and a world class physics department. However, I think they have about 10 physics majors per year. It would be relatively easy for you to get some sort of research job in the Physics department there, for example. You might be worried that your physics classes would be taught by grad students or something like that. You shouldn't worry about that because most of the grad students will be used as TAs in extremely large and basic physics classes, that you wont have to worry about. Your upper division physics classes will be taught by professors, who are likely very passionate about what they do. Your physics classes will probably have very few students, even compared to schools like MIT or Caltech or Harvard or wherever.

There are a number of large state schools where you could be accepted that would be able to provide great research opportunities, and that have few phys students so that you would be able to stand out. I would very strongly suggest
UCSB, UT austin, UC Boulder, UCSD, etc. UCSB has an amazing department that is focused in theory. However, this is somewhat dependent on what state you live in. If I were you I would consider University of Michigan at Ann Arbor if those other universities end up being prohibitively expensive. You should seriously consider this, despite its size. By the way, Carnegie Mellon would be excellent, but it isn't easy to get into.

Anyways, you asked for smaller schools, and I haven't answered you. You could try liberal arts colleges like Reed, which produces lots of Phds.
I know a bunch of people who came from Reed and I have lots of respect for them, so I figure Reed is good. But there are other little schools like Macalaster or Wesleyan, etc, that have the property of being small.

The problem is they don't have great Physics departments, (they don't have grad schools, for example). Caltech is very small as far as undergraduates, but has the same problem as MIT.

So if I were you I would apply to UT-Austin, UCSB, UofM, Reed, CMU, MIT. I think, but I am not sure that you can change your residency to get in state tuition for schools like UCSB after the first year. I would look into it very very seriously.

Anyways, I'm majoring in Physics, so if you have more questions I can probably help you out.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 09:31 am: Edit

You have a nice selection of safeties unlike most of the kids I know, so you can go to town on some reaches for yourself. Pick a few ideal schools that offer merit aid and have some nice financial packages, (if your family is eligible for financial aid) and see what comes in. There are a number of smaller schools in the midwest that are absolutely outstanding and would love a physics/math major. I would not worry too much about fixating onto a job or field of work. So much changes so quickly that it is better that you enjoy your undergraduate experience and get a firm grounding in some field.

I can tell you that my H is a math/physics type person who has been working in the business/investment banking field for the last 15 years after spending years in academia and research. He hires many kids out of school and strong math skills is an important criterion that most resumes do NOT include. For many analyst type positions which are stepping stones for bigger jobs, math is very important, and is a field that few US undergrads pursue. Engineering is one of the few fields where kids study advanced math and most of those graduates are pretty much pursuing jobs in the engineering field, not switching to business, so you will probably be in good shape with your major. Since you seem to want a well rounded environment, you are right to stay away from the tech schools, and should have no regrets about the expense of MIT. You could probably get a half scholarship at Case which is closer to you, and get money at any number of tech schools but you seem to know that you do not want that for atmosphere reasons. Good luck--you are half way there. Now is the fun part of picking some colleges. You have already done what most kids find the most difficult--finding good safeties.

By Arthurd (Arthurd) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 10:27 am: Edit

You might want to consider Rochester Inst. of Technology. It's very similar to Rose-Hulman in that it emphasizes undergrad education. It used to be on the list of schools that only offer BS and MS degrees with Rose, but they created a PhD in microsystems engineering which moved them to the other list.

You're looking for a school where the professors' primary interest is education, and RIT is exactly like that. Professors don't spend most of their hours researching, although some do as at any college... but primary interest is undergad education.

As far as your major goes... if you're interested in engineering, why not pursue it? Sure everyone wants to be an engineer, but it's about what you put into it to set yourself apart from the other engineers out there. OR, if your interest is physics, don't let people scare you by saying you'll be unemployed and/or poor. There are many jobs for physics grads out there.

My 3 cents.

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 03:47 pm: Edit

You might also want to consider some of the LACs that offer great physics programs. Take a look at Reed, Carleton, Amherst, Lawrence U, Trinity U (TX), Harvey Mudd, Haverford, Middlebury, Whitman, Macalester, Oberlin, Occidental.

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