Everyone... chill.

  • Imagine you are sipping tea or coffee while discussing various issues with a broad and diverse network of students, colleagues, and friends brought together by the common bond of physics, graduate school, and the physics GRE.

peder
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Everyone... chill.

Postby peder » Sat Feb 16, 2008 1:33 am

We've been all going a little crazy lately, as some of us see this as the end all be all for the next major part of our life.

"If I don't get into such and such University, I'll never get an opportunity for a tenure track position at such and such University, and I'll never get that Nobel Prize, and I'll never..."

It's not. Remember how crazy we all were when were applying for our undergraduate schools? At the time (for almost everyone!) it was the end all be all. If I didn't get into a top-ranked school, I'd never have an opportunity to do well enough to go to physics graduate school and get my PhD. And really, for 99% of us, has that really been the case?

I go to a large state public institution. Large is good in a sense that there are many students, many faculty members, for which you can converse with... but at the same time, it's easy to get lost as just one of the numbers. I think I did the best with the situation I had, started research early by aggressively targeting professors with email, and landing my current gig through sheer luck and stubborn persistence. I imagine if I had went to a private institution I would not be as tenacious at pursuing academic opportunities as I am now (no offense to any Private schoolers here, but Im just the lazy type if there are opportunities abound!).

As I'm sure most of you have, you have dealt with a not-so-ideal situation. Some of us had to deal with grade inflation (or lack thereof). Some of us had to deal with getting exposed to the college scene for the first time. Some of us had to deal with the lack of research opportunities. Some of us had to deal with that god awful test known as the Physics GRE. But you can you honestly say that you aren't a better person for it?

I enjoyed my past four years, and I know wherever I land for the next 5~6 years I'll cherish them too, but I'll make the best of whatever is given to me. I'm pretty sure the base reason most of us went into physics (and astro) is because we enjoyed doing what we do ... isn't just the opportunity to be able to study and contribute (and to be paid to boot) one of the most amazing things? I have dozens of friends who will make much more money than I ever will but are miserable with their jobs and take to escapism to make life bearable. All we have to do is go to work/school.

I've pored through the applicant profiles (as I'm sure most of you have!). Most of you had the good sense to apply to a "safety" school, but that's neither here nor there. I am sure the vast majority of you WILL find a Physics graduate school that is right for you, and to hell with admissions committees. If you're not deemed worthy, you can only get ahead by making sure they regretted that they aren't able to put you in their list of honored alumni.

We should all calm down. :D

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will
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Postby will » Sat Feb 16, 2008 3:13 am

Even though you didn't mean it to be, that was a little condescending.

Actually, choosing and getting accepted to an undergrad institution was not a stressful or difficult process at all. I was a teenager, I'd lived on my own before, and knew my way around the country. Hell, I had very little to my name, and I wasn't even really dead set on being a physicist.

Now I'm an adult, with a family that I'll be moving across the country at the whim of some admissions committee, getting paid a slight above minimum wage. Granted I'll be passionate about the job - just awful skinny. Once I do know where I'm going, I'll have a couple months at best to find an apartment that's reasonable close to campus, in a good neighborhood, and where I can actually get in with, what? 3 months notice? And if I don't go to a good school, then my Ph.D. will actually be worthless. Sure, tons of people get Ph.D.s from Bumfuck U... Then they either postdoc for a century or become high school teachers - neither are routes I want to be going down.

It is an impossible feat to describe how much more important these admissions decisions are to someone in my place than undergrad admissions ever possibly could have been.

peder
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Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2007 4:01 pm

Postby peder » Sat Feb 16, 2008 3:23 am

I'm sorry Will, I guess my targeted audience is for those who are going straight from undergraduate to graduate.

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will
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Postby will » Sat Feb 16, 2008 3:28 am

Oh, I am. I just had a busy 4 years. :wink:

peder
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Postby peder » Sat Feb 16, 2008 3:30 am

Wow. :shock:

I guess my target audience then is those of us who have about as much responsibility come out of college as we did coming out of high school. Fair?

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will
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Postby will » Sat Feb 16, 2008 3:48 am

Fair enough. :)

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twistor
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Postby twistor » Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:18 pm

Remember how crazy we all were when were applying for our undergraduate schools?


Am I the only exception to this? I only applied to one undergraduate school.

For graduate studies I have doubled my number of applications to two.

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dlenmn
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Postby dlenmn » Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:47 pm

twistor wrote:Am I the only exception to this? I only applied to one undergraduate school.


You're not the only exception. (I only applied to two undergrad, so you've got me beat.) Was kind of funny watching people go crazy for undergrad -- too bad I didn't avoid it this time around.

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butsurigakusha
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Postby butsurigakusha » Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:50 pm

I only applied to one. I researched other schools and was thinking about applying to some more, but when I got my acceptance letter, I didn't bother applying anywhere else.

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twistor
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Postby twistor » Sat Feb 16, 2008 2:46 pm

I was reading that in Illinois they're considering making it a law that undergraduate institutions in that state would automatically have to accept the top 10% of all Illinois students. Apparently this is already being done in Texas. Too bad there is no law like this for graduate students.

tnoviell
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Postby tnoviell » Sat Feb 16, 2008 2:48 pm

I only applied to one undergraduate school too, and only a couple graduate programs. I can't say in either scenario I was stressed out.

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quizivex
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Postby quizivex » Sun Feb 17, 2008 2:19 am

Yea my applications to undergrad were a completely different experience... I wasn't applying to reach schools, the only nervousness was whether the state schools were going to give me free tuition...

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twistor
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Postby twistor » Mon Feb 18, 2008 2:24 pm

I wasn't applying to reach schools, the only nervousness was whether the state schools were going to give me free tuition...


I wish I had free tuition.




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