Boulder vs year off

Kinbote
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Boulder vs year off

Postby Kinbote » Sun Mar 03, 2013 4:26 am

Hi all
I got admitted to CMT at Boulder, but nowhere else. Both me and all my professors/research advisor are pretty stunned, but it is what it is.
I was wondering whether it is a better idea to go to Boulder - where I'll get to work with the faculty member I'd applied to - or take a year off and reapply. I don't see how I could make my application any stronger though - 900+ GRE, Publication in PRL, second publication in process, T.A experience, 4.00 GPA in Physics, double major in mathematics, well known recommenders.
Is CU really good for CMT?
Thanks!
Last edited by Kinbote on Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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qubits
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Re: Boulder vs year off

Postby qubits » Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:49 pm

Just as you say, there won't be much of a difference in reapplying. There's very little to strengthen your already strong profile. I believe you and Qfields are in the same sort of situation. And it hasn't helped much you being an international.

I am thinking, like you mentioned in the Acceptances thread, it's all got to do with the research interests. You have interest in both HEP and CMT?

fizzax
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Re: Boulder vs year off

Postby fizzax » Sun Mar 03, 2013 2:48 pm

Is it possible to stay at your current school to get a Master's then reapply, because that was my plan if I didn't get in anywhere

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qubits
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Re: Boulder vs year off

Postby qubits » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:26 pm

The masters is definitely a possibility. I cant remember exactly where, but in another thread in prospective grad student topics, a similar situation was addressed. Someone mentioned that a masters might actually harm than help. Because that would lend a sense of low value to the basic degree a person has.

The masters is a good option if you are an international student with a 3 year basic degree.

Kinbote
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Re: Boulder vs year off

Postby Kinbote » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:53 pm

I'm interested primarily in topological condensed matter, as an application of AdS/CFT. I think at most schools this counts as CMT.
The masters at my school isn't an option - they don't offer that.
I guess I'm just trying to gauge whether Boulder is a good option - they're ranked pretty high in quantum, which is a good sign.
Thanks!

bfollinprm
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Re: Boulder vs year off

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Mar 04, 2013 5:15 am

Why is it people apply to schools they have no interest in attending? Is there a money tree accessible to physicists I don't know about?


By the way, Boulder is a fine school, with many quality researchers doing important science. This includes--as you yourself have pointed out--Victor Gurarie, an NSF Career award winner with a high-impact publication history. Are we all so insecure that we need the affirmation of a top 10 school to feel like we belong in physics?

ol
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Re: Boulder vs year off

Postby ol » Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:40 am

bfollinprm wrote:Are we all so insecure that we need the affirmation of a top 10 school to feel like we belong in physics?

It has to do with the fact that the majority of faculty at, say, the top 50 or so schools went to the top 10 or so schools. It's not about belonging; it's about getting a job after we graduate.

Scotthew
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Re: Boulder vs year off

Postby Scotthew » Mon Mar 04, 2013 9:55 am

^ Bingo. See for example the plot at the bottom of this page: http://www.physics.utoronto.ca/~poppitz/Jobs94-08.pdf

Lavabug
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Re: Boulder vs year off

Postby Lavabug » Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:11 am

I second bfollin's post.

You do understand that correlation != causation, right? Has it occurred to anyone besides me that there's a huge selection bias when you look at tenured professors? The people who got into the more famous grad schools almost certainly had a good research track record as an undergrad. It is only natural to think this tendency continued throughout their grad school experience, making them the ideal candidates for prestigious postdocs, fellowships, prizes, and ultimately tenure.

The head of a theory group at a top 5 UK uni got his phd from what many here would call a mickey mouse university in the US (below top 50). Of course it helps that he has 120+ publications and hasn't hit his 50's yet (I think).

TakeruK
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Re: Boulder vs year off

Postby TakeruK » Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:45 pm

I also agree with bfollingprm. It's true that most (but not all) profs at the best schools got their PhDs from the best schools. But if this is the only type of job we are seeking our Physics PhD (i.e. tenured position at a top 50 school) then many of us will be disappointed. I think it would be very foolish to think "well, I'll just have to be the best and get that one or two positions that open up per year." The reality is that there are far more people with PhDs from top 10 schools than there are positions for top 50 schools!

I think it's a mistake to invest 5-6 years of your life working really hard for little pay if you are only going to be satisfied with a tenured track position at a top school. There are a lot of other things you can do with a PhD. So, sure, one should aim for the top schools but it doesn't make you any less of a scientist if you don't make it in! And it doesn't mean you are doomed to not have work either!

Kinbote
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Re: Boulder vs year off

Postby Kinbote » Mon Mar 04, 2013 2:28 pm

bfollinprm wrote:Why is it people apply to schools they have no interest in attending? Is there a money tree accessible to physicists I don't know about?


By the way, Boulder is a fine school, with many quality researchers doing important science. This includes--as you yourself have pointed out--Victor Gurarie, an NSF Career award winner with a high-impact publication history. Are we all so insecure that we need the affirmation of a top 10 school to feel like we belong in physics?


I chose the schools I applied to assuming they were the only schools I'd get into - for instance, even if I'd gotten into Cornell and only only Cornell, I wouldn't have gone there, so I didn't apply. I considered Boulder very carefully and as you say, they have really good people like Gurarie and Hermele doing really great stuff, and this alleviates my concerns, since it's the advisor that matters.

At the same time, my concern is simply what others have stated - that it's much easier to get a tenure track position from a top 10 school.
Last edited by Kinbote on Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bfollinprm
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Re: Boulder vs year off

Postby bfollinprm » Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:39 am

Kinbote wrote:
bfollinprm wrote:Why is it people apply to schools they have no interest in attending? Is there a money tree accessible to physicists I don't know about?

By the way, Boulder is a fine school, with many quality researchers doing important science. This includes--as you yourself have pointed out--Victor Gurarie, an NSF Career award winner with a high-impact publication history. Are we all so insecure that we need the affirmation of a top 10 school to feel like we belong in physics?


I chose the schools I applied to assuming they were the only schools I'd get into - for instance, even if I'd gotten into Cornell and only only Cornell, I wouldn't have gone there, so I didn't apply. I considered Boulder very carefully and as you say, they have really good people like Gurarie and Hermele doing really great stuff, and this alleviates my concerns, since it's the advisor that matters. And at this point, even if I got into Columbia, I'd prefer Boulder over it.

At the same time, my concern is simply what others have stated - that it's much easier to get a tenure track position from a top 10 school.


I think that's entirely, as Lavabug points out, due to selection bias. The most respected researchers are mostly found at top 10 schools (which is why they're top 10), so the number of people getting quality academic positions from top 10 schools is greater than those from elsewhere. But that's a statement about statistics. If you find an advisor that's well respected, the school doesn't matter. The impact of the school's reputation in getting postdocs is small compared to the impact of your advisor's recommendation letter, and the impact on a tenure track position is even smaller--by that time you should be working on the merits of your own publication record.

Kinbote
Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:30 pm

Re: Boulder vs year off

Postby Kinbote » Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:19 pm

bfollinprm wrote:
Kinbote wrote:
bfollinprm wrote:Why is it people apply to schools they have no interest in attending? Is there a money tree accessible to physicists I don't know about?

By the way, Boulder is a fine school, with many quality researchers doing important science. This includes--as you yourself have pointed out--Victor Gurarie, an NSF Career award winner with a high-impact publication history. Are we all so insecure that we need the affirmation of a top 10 school to feel like we belong in physics?


I chose the schools I applied to assuming they were the only schools I'd get into - for instance, even if I'd gotten into Cornell and only only Cornell, I wouldn't have gone there, so I didn't apply. I considered Boulder very carefully and as you say, they have really good people like Gurarie and Hermele doing really great stuff, and this alleviates my concerns, since it's the advisor that matters. And at this point, even if I got into Columbia, I'd prefer Boulder over it.

At the same time, my concern is simply what others have stated - that it's much easier to get a tenure track position from a top 10 school.


I think that's entirely, as Lavabug points out, due to selection bias. The most respected researchers are mostly found at top 10 schools (which is why they're top 10), so the number of people getting quality academic positions from top 10 schools is greater than those from elsewhere. But that's a statement about statistics. If you find an advisor that's well respected, the school doesn't matter. The impact of the school's reputation in getting postdocs is small compared to the impact of your advisor's recommendation letter, and the impact on a tenure track position is even smaller--by that time you should be working on the merits of your own publication record.


I agree - thanks for quelling my doubts!

Lavabug
Posts: 66
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:19 pm

Re: Boulder vs year off

Postby Lavabug » Thu Mar 14, 2013 7:45 am

By the way, I don't know if anyone realizes this, but a Boulder prof in CME got last years nobel prize:

http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/ ... eland.html

Now if going to a school with that reputation doesn't propel your career, nothing will.

Kinbote
Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:30 pm

Re: Boulder vs year off

Postby Kinbote » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:48 am

This is a fact.




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