Abt mentioning research preferences in SOP

krisna
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Aug 05, 2013 8:24 am

Abt mentioning research preferences in SOP

Postby krisna » Fri Nov 22, 2013 8:09 am

Hi,

What I understand is that mentioning a clear research preference in the SOP improves the application profile. But I still haven't made up my mind regarding the research I would want to do. I am interested in both Condensed matter and HEP (both theory). But I must say that I have a slight preference towards condensed matter theory. So I am planning to mention condensed matter as my research preference in my SOP. The problem is that, I still want to keep my HEP option open i.e. I might want to switch to HEP after I get admitted to a university. Do universities encourage this switching after admission??

One more issue. The way I found out my interest in condensed matter is by eliminating other fields. So I basically worked in most other fields before getting to condensed matter. I did a summer project in Astrophysics, then one in Quantum information and another in General relativity. Of course, now I am working on a condensed matter project, but it's a work in progress. So I have no projects to show in condensed matter (also none in HEP). So, will it affect my application profile, when I mention condensed matter as my research preference??

TakeruK
Posts: 813
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Abt mentioning research preferences in SOP

Postby TakeruK » Fri Nov 22, 2013 1:00 pm

krisna wrote:Hi,

What I understand is that mentioning a clear research preference in the SOP improves the application profile. But I still haven't made up my mind regarding the research I would want to do. I am interested in both Condensed matter and HEP (both theory). But I must say that I have a slight preference towards condensed matter theory. So I am planning to mention condensed matter as my research preference in my SOP. The problem is that, I still want to keep my HEP option open i.e. I might want to switch to HEP after I get admitted to a university. Do universities encourage this switching after admission??


This really depends on each program. Some programs want to admit students to a certain research group, so it might be harder to switch (mainly because if they had already admitted HEP to capacity, the profs in HEP might not have more funding for an extra student!). But remember that HEP and CM etc are still part of the same department (usually) so it should not be as difficult as say, going from Physics to Chemistry.

Also many other programs will just admit students to the department in general and let you sort out who/where you want to work after a year or so.

One more issue. The way I found out my interest in condensed matter is by eliminating other fields. So I basically worked in most other fields before getting to condensed matter. I did a summer project in Astrophysics, then one in Quantum information and another in General relativity. Of course, now I am working on a condensed matter project, but it's a work in progress. So I have no projects to show in condensed matter (also none in HEP). So, will it affect my application profile, when I mention condensed matter as my research preference??


Research experience in any context is super helpful and it's great that you have 3 projects already! So, you don't have to worry about not having experience in condensed matter or HEP, I think. Although it would have been helpful, having 3 projects already puts you far ahead of most applicants.

However, I am not sure I would say that I am interested in Condensed Matter because I tried everything else and wasn't interested. I know you aren't planning to present it that way in the SOP but you should think about how you want to explain your path to grad school and how you chose your research interest. Also, I would avoid mentioning any lack of interest in the above three fields at all. Profs from these fields might be reading your SOP! Instead, I would bring up all of the things you liked about each of the projects and what interested you and how these aspects are realised in possible condensed matter or HEP projects.

ol
Posts: 57
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2011 5:07 pm

Re: Abt mentioning research preferences in SOP

Postby ol » Fri Nov 22, 2013 4:21 pm

krisna wrote:Do universities encourage this switching after admission??
At some schools, the professors can be somewhat possessive of students who express interest in their work, but end up working for someone else. Trust me, you don't want to commit to anyone or anything during the application season, especially if the school takes those expressed interests seriously. You don't want to piss off the professors, especially the ones on your exam committees and whatnot. If I were you, I would state explicitly in your application that you are leaning towards condensed matter but are also interested in HET. This is specific enough that it won't hurt you (ie, knowing what you want to do will make the schools more likely to admit you) but vague enough that you get let off the hook later on if you do decide to switch.

krisna
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Aug 05, 2013 8:24 am

Re: Abt mentioning research preferences in SOP

Postby krisna » Sat Nov 23, 2013 11:25 am

Thanks a lot guys... That has cleared some fog out of the air...




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