Any universities care about my religion / lack thereof ?

swestrings
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Any universities care about my religion / lack thereof ?

Postby swestrings » Mon Sep 19, 2011 6:21 pm

Hey there!

I am a European student wanting to apply to the US to do a graduate program in Physics. I had tried this before, and I remember most universities wanting to know my RELIGION!

So basically I only know one religious person in my entire life, the absolute overwhelming vast huge insurmountable majority 99.99999% are atheists. But I fear saying that I am an atheist in the application because, well, can it be taboo in some places in the US? I mean, surely universities tend to be more secular than other places and surely there is some tolerance. No-one will discard my application for saying I am atheist. BUT, I am worried about what is most optimal and what is most forthcoming.

Please advise :)

Thanks americans!

TheBeast
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Re: Any universities care about my religion / lack thereof ?

Postby TheBeast » Mon Sep 19, 2011 6:28 pm

Your answer to this question should have no impact whatsoever on your admission. Most likely, it is the university collecting statistical details about their applicants/student body. Answer whatever you're comfortable with.

negru
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Re: Any universities care about my religion / lack thereof ?

Postby negru » Mon Sep 19, 2011 11:56 pm

wait, isn't europe a country?

bfollinprm
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Re: Any universities care about my religion / lack thereof ?

Postby bfollinprm » Tue Sep 20, 2011 12:08 am

TheBeast wrote:Your answer to this question should have no impact whatsoever on your admission. Most likely, it is the university collecting statistical details about their applicants/student body. Answer whatever you're comfortable with.


As said, it's the university running statistics to make sure there isn't an organizational bias against any particular group--many public universities have to do this to show they aren't running afoul of any equal opportunity laws, and others do it voluntarily to make sure adcomms aren't taking things like religion into account. I figured I'd echo to give the OP more security in the answer.

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: Any universities care about my religion / lack thereof ?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Tue Sep 20, 2011 8:30 am

Is there an actual checkbox for this on the application somewhere? That would seem really weird. If you're contemplating mentioning that in your letter of intent, I'd avoid it unless there is a clear reason why you state it. I highly doubt they care much about your religion or lack thereof.

-Riley

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grae313
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Re: Any universities care about my religion / lack thereof ?

Postby grae313 » Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:53 am

I don't remember any of my 8 applications asking about religion. It's illegal for that to affect an admissions decision, just so you know.

admissionprof
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Re: Any universities care about my religion / lack thereof ?

Postby admissionprof » Tue Sep 20, 2011 2:34 pm

Under no circumstances would any admissions committee take religion into account. It would be illegal and unethical, and any institution that did that would be subject to loss of federal funding. I know of no graduate programs that would do so, except extreme Christian fundamentalist schools (like Liberty University) and I know of none of those with physics graduate programs.

Of course, if someone is a fundamentalist and applies to my department saying in their SOP that they wish to get a degree and prove that all of the stars/galaxies are less than 10,000 light years ago, in order to bring agreement with Biblical chronology, then we certainly would discriminate....

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: Any universities care about my religion / lack thereof ?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:02 pm

admissionprof wrote:all of the stars/galaxies are less than 10,000 light years ago


Light years = Distance
Ago = Time

Looks like admissionprof got his units mixed up.

-Riley

astroprof
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Re: Any universities care about my religion / lack thereof ?

Postby astroprof » Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:25 am

In defense of admissionprof, "10,000 light years ago" perfectly encapuslates
the problem christian fundamentalists must confront when studying astronomy,
as we can only observe objects for which the light travel time is less than the
age of the universe. If the universe is only 3000 years old, then we can only
observe objects within 3000 light years of us. Actually, I like this phaseology
so much I might adopt it for myself...

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: Any universities care about my religion / lack thereof ?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:30 pm

astroprof wrote:In defense of admissionprof, "10,000 light years ago" perfectly encapuslates
the problem christian fundamentalists must confront when studying astronomy,
as we can only observe objects for which the light travel time is less than the
age of the universe. If the universe is only 3000 years old, then we can only
observe objects within 3000 light years of us. Actually, I like this phaseology
so much I might adopt it for myself...


I was just poking as I was unsure of how they wanted it to come across. However, I think in general even if someone was a christian fundamentalist, most of the time I doubt it affects their research in Physics. (Of course the argument might change in Biology) The argument proposed is obviously not concerned with science as much as the person's belief system, but I highly doubt there will be many students even with this fundamentalist background that will conjure up a goal to write a thesis like this.

-Riley

admissionprof
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Re: Any universities care about my religion / lack thereof ?

Postby admissionprof » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:00 pm

astroprof wrote:In defense of admissionprof, "10,000 light years ago" perfectly encapuslates
the problem christian fundamentalists must confront when studying astronomy,
as we can only observe objects for which the light travel time is less than the
age of the universe. If the universe is only 3000 years old, then we can only
observe objects within 3000 light years of us. Actually, I like this phaseology
so much I might adopt it for myself...



All physicists use units where h-bar = c = 1. So a light year is a year. Some of us even like to set 2 pi equal to 1 (the small circle approximation)...

bfollinprm
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Re: Any universities care about my religion / lack thereof ?

Postby bfollinprm » Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:06 pm

Or, more to the point, you just get so used to equating distance with time in astronomy that there really isn't a difference in the mind of an astronomer. Anyhow, using different units for space and time is a somewhat arbitrary notion anyway--the magnitude of c is just a scale factor roughly approximating the ratio of how fast we move in {x,y,z} and how fast we move in t. No doubt spatially speedier species would rank C closer to 1.

To be clear I simply posted in order to say spatially speedier species.

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twistor
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Re: Any universities care about my religion / lack thereof ?

Postby twistor » Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:16 pm

admissionprof wrote:
astroprof wrote:In defense of admissionprof, "10,000 light years ago" perfectly encapuslates
the problem christian fundamentalists must confront when studying astronomy,
as we can only observe objects for which the light travel time is less than the
age of the universe. If the universe is only 3000 years old, then we can only
observe objects within 3000 light years of us. Actually, I like this phaseology
so much I might adopt it for myself...



All physicists use units where h-bar = c = 1. So a light year is a year. Some of us even like to set 2 pi equal to 1 (the small circle approximation)...


So the next time you get the wrong answer to a test just claim there is a multiplicitive factor which you have conveniently set to one.

I personally like to set 1 = 2 (really big units approximation).




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