Any advice on getting an REU? Seems almost impossible

etg
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon May 07, 2018 1:22 am

Any advice on getting an REU? Seems almost impossible

Postby etg » Fri Jun 29, 2018 1:18 am

So, I will be a freshman starting August in UC Berkeley. I am pretty scared when it comes to GPA and research. I know most people apply after completing sophomore and junior year, but I would really like to do an REU after my freshman year. Several reasons:
1) I have never been outside of California, I really really want to see the rest of the U.S, preferably the East Coast. One day I think I would like to live in New England.
2) I really want to see what culture is like at other schools, I've been in large public schools my whole life but would like to at least experience some privates. I don't mind public school at all, I've liked my experience, but I still want to try other environments.
3) Obviously, research is very interesting and especially completing a project. Also helps for grad school, won't pretend that's not a factor.
So my question is; how can I optimize my chances starting today of getting into an REU? I know nothing is a guarantee, but what can I do to be considered a top candidate? Thank you for your time. Also any advice about anything research, physics grad school, REUs, whatever you want is more than welcome. I look on REU pages and the kids are either from top 5 private schools with amazing resumes or from schools with little resources for research ( as I understand this is the target demographic for REUs).

jabennett2194
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:54 pm

Re: Any advice on getting an REU? Seems almost impossible

Postby jabennett2194 » Fri Jun 29, 2018 3:31 pm

Afternoon!
I was in your shoes (small liberal arts not super smart Berkley :lol: ) 3 years ago.
This info is from my experience, which is based on small liberal arts, but my advisor went to U Richmond, Princeton, and Bryn Mawr, so he has more range to compare and this info is from his mouth.
The summer after your freshman year is veerrrrrrrry hard to get some kind of extracurricular work. Even at your home Uni it will be very hard to convince a prof to take you on over the summer. It is not financially feasible for them either, they pay you from their grant.
My experience was:

-freshman year summer I spent it preparing for research credits during the academic year sophomore year, as well as getting nearly half way through all the courses I was taking in the fall through self study. While I think my summer was well spent, I wish I would have reached out to my advisor and instead of asking, "Hey can I do research with you this summer?" I had asked, "Hey can I work for you for free?" I think as a freshman who is clearly looking ahead to the future in a very laudable way, this would be my advice to you!:) work for free and your resume will shinnnnnee!

-sophomore year summer I took part in a Summer Fellow research program at my home uni under my advisor. This prepared me for the REU application process next summer (more info later) verrrry well. I was much more prepared than other applicants. HOWEVER, I was misinformed in how likely it is for sophomores to get REUs. There are something like 63 physics REUs on NSF, as a sophomore, you will not get into the MIT or CAL TECH program, but FROM MY RECENT EXPERIENCE at my REU right now, there are at least 33% of sophomores comparatively. So I would HIGHLY reccomend applying not only for research at your home uni sophomore year, but also some second REUs at non-toptier unis!

-junior year I applied to nearly 20 REUs from NSF including the Perimeter Institute program (I think theoretical stuff) and I feel my application and profile were very strong (unlike my PhD applications right now because Im stressed about my abysmal pGRE scores! :shock: ) and I got into 4 programs!:)

Reply with any questions you have!:D

etg
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon May 07, 2018 1:22 am

Re: Any advice on getting an REU? Seems almost impossible

Postby etg » Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:07 pm

jabennett2194 wrote:Afternoon!
I was in your shoes (small liberal arts not super smart Berkley :lol: ) 3 years ago.
This info is from my experience, which is based on small liberal arts, but my advisor went to U Richmond, Princeton, and Bryn Mawr, so he has more range to compare and this info is from his mouth.
The summer after your freshman year is veerrrrrrrry hard to get some kind of extracurricular work. Even at your home Uni it will be very hard to convince a prof to take you on over the summer. It is not financially feasible for them either, they pay you from their grant.
My experience was:

-freshman year summer I spent it preparing for research credits during the academic year sophomore year, as well as getting nearly half way through all the courses I was taking in the fall through self study. While I think my summer was well spent, I wish I would have reached out to my advisor and instead of asking, "Hey can I do research with you this summer?" I had asked, "Hey can I work for you for free?" I think as a freshman who is clearly looking ahead to the future in a very laudable way, this would be my advice to you!:) work for free and your resume will shinnnnnee!

-sophomore year summer I took part in a Summer Fellow research program at my home uni under my advisor. This prepared me for the REU application process next summer (more info later) verrrry well. I was much more prepared than other applicants. HOWEVER, I was misinformed in how likely it is for sophomores to get REUs. There are something like 63 physics REUs on NSF, as a sophomore, you will not get into the MIT or CAL TECH program, but FROM MY RECENT EXPERIENCE at my REU right now, there are at least 33% of sophomores comparatively. So I would HIGHLY reccomend applying not only for research at your home uni sophomore year, but also some second REUs at non-toptier unis!

-junior year I applied to nearly 20 REUs from NSF including the Perimeter Institute program (I think theoretical stuff) and I feel my application and profile were very strong (unlike my PhD applications right now because Im stressed about my abysmal pGRE scores! :shock: ) and I got into 4 programs!:)

Reply with any questions you have!:D


Thanks very much for the thoughtful reply. Would you also happen to know about URAP/SURF/UROP those types of things and how to get those? Also how can I tell if the research i am doing is worth my time and will look impressive and I'm not just a lab monkey?

jabennett2194
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:54 pm

Re: Any advice on getting an REU? Seems almost impossible

Postby jabennett2194 » Fri Jun 29, 2018 9:42 pm

etg wrote:
jabennett2194 wrote:Afternoon!
I was in your shoes (small liberal arts not super smart Berkley :lol: ) 3 years ago.
This info is from my experience, which is based on small liberal arts, but my advisor went to U Richmond, Princeton, and Bryn Mawr, so he has more range to compare and this info is from his mouth.
The summer after your freshman year is veerrrrrrrry hard to get some kind of extracurricular work. Even at your home Uni it will be very hard to convince a prof to take you on over the summer. It is not financially feasible for them either, they pay you from their grant.
My experience was:

-freshman year summer I spent it preparing for research credits during the academic year sophomore year, as well as getting nearly half way through all the courses I was taking in the fall through self study. While I think my summer was well spent, I wish I would have reached out to my advisor and instead of asking, "Hey can I do research with you this summer?" I had asked, "Hey can I work for you for free?" I think as a freshman who is clearly looking ahead to the future in a very laudable way, this would be my advice to you!:) work for free and your resume will shinnnnnee!

-sophomore year summer I took part in a Summer Fellow research program at my home uni under my advisor. This prepared me for the REU application process next summer (more info later) verrrry well. I was much more prepared than other applicants. HOWEVER, I was misinformed in how likely it is for sophomores to get REUs. There are something like 63 physics REUs on NSF, as a sophomore, you will not get into the MIT or CAL TECH program, but FROM MY RECENT EXPERIENCE at my REU right now, there are at least 33% of sophomores comparatively. So I would HIGHLY reccomend applying not only for research at your home uni sophomore year, but also some second REUs at non-toptier unis!

-junior year I applied to nearly 20 REUs from NSF including the Perimeter Institute program (I think theoretical stuff) and I feel my application and profile were very strong (unlike my PhD applications right now because Im stressed about my abysmal pGRE scores! :shock: ) and I got into 4 programs!:)

Reply with any questions you have!:D


Thanks very much for the thoughtful reply. Would you also happen to know about URAP/SURF/UROP those types of things and how to get those? Also how can I tell if the research i am doing is worth my time and will look impressive and I'm not just a lab monkey?


Wow, see, you're already looking ahead more than I did! I didn't know what those were until 5 minutes ago!:)
So these are my guesses/thoughts on those:

http://urap.berkeley.edu/urap-application-0 this looks great!!! What I would recommend would be, after your first week at school and you're all settled in, you will most likely either know who the TA is for your Lab section for the intro physics course you're taking, or have a meeting with your freshman advisor. If the TA is an undergrad (i need to remember that not everyone goes to small liberal arts colleges, haha for example I have been a TA since I was a sophomore, but my friends at research unis only have TAs that are grad students), go ahead and introduce yourself to them and ask about the program and if it is generally regarded as a program for both freshman. This looks to me very similar to the Research program at my school, the Summer Fellows experience https://www.ursinus.edu/offices/researc ... r-fellows/ I talked about earlier, and this was reserved for sophomores and above! If the TA is a grad student they will likely have no idea what this program is, and in that case I would ask your freshman year advisor these same questions, as the program is not solely physics based, they will be able to give you a better answer!

https://www.nist.gov/summer-undergradua ... pplication so this looks, again , liek an incredible experience, however I would say this looks like the hardest to get. Notice that this program, similar to scholarships like the Goldwater or Fulbright, requires nomination by your home uni. It was not make sense for them to nomination a freshman when there are juniors applying for this as their big junior year REU who already have research under their belt. ALSO this does not pay you, and you must secure funding from your home uni. Looks like a very arduous task.

so for the UROP, it looks like the google search for this gives specific research program only for students at that uni, so for example berkley's would be the first option we discussed above!:) https://www.ecosia.org/search?q=UROP&addon=firefox

etg
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon May 07, 2018 1:22 am

Re: Any advice on getting an REU? Seems almost impossible

Postby etg » Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:15 pm

jabennett2194 wrote:
etg wrote:
jabennett2194 wrote:Afternoon!
I was in your shoes (small liberal arts not super smart Berkley :lol: ) 3 years ago.
This info is from my experience, which is based on small liberal arts, but my advisor went to U Richmond, Princeton, and Bryn Mawr, so he has more range to compare and this info is from his mouth.
The summer after your freshman year is veerrrrrrrry hard to get some kind of extracurricular work. Even at your home Uni it will be very hard to convince a prof to take you on over the summer. It is not financially feasible for them either, they pay you from their grant.
My experience was:

-freshman year summer I spent it preparing for research credits during the academic year sophomore year, as well as getting nearly half way through all the courses I was taking in the fall through self study. While I think my summer was well spent, I wish I would have reached out to my advisor and instead of asking, "Hey can I do research with you this summer?" I had asked, "Hey can I work for you for free?" I think as a freshman who is clearly looking ahead to the future in a very laudable way, this would be my advice to you!:) work for free and your resume will shinnnnnee!

-sophomore year summer I took part in a Summer Fellow research program at my home uni under my advisor. This prepared me for the REU application process next summer (more info later) verrrry well. I was much more prepared than other applicants. HOWEVER, I was misinformed in how likely it is for sophomores to get REUs. There are something like 63 physics REUs on NSF, as a sophomore, you will not get into the MIT or CAL TECH program, but FROM MY RECENT EXPERIENCE at my REU right now, there are at least 33% of sophomores comparatively. So I would HIGHLY reccomend applying not only for research at your home uni sophomore year, but also some second REUs at non-toptier unis!

-junior year I applied to nearly 20 REUs from NSF including the Perimeter Institute program (I think theoretical stuff) and I feel my application and profile were very strong (unlike my PhD applications right now because Im stressed about my abysmal pGRE scores! :shock: ) and I got into 4 programs!:)

Reply with any questions you have!:D


Thanks very much for the thoughtful reply. Would you also happen to know about URAP/SURF/UROP those types of things and how to get those? Also how can I tell if the research i am doing is worth my time and will look impressive and I'm not just a lab monkey?


Wow, see, you're already looking ahead more than I did! I didn't know what those were until 5 minutes ago!:)
So these are my guesses/thoughts on those:

http://urap.berkeley.edu/urap-application-0 this looks great!!! What I would recommend would be, after your first week at school and you're all settled in, you will most likely either know who the TA is for your Lab section for the intro physics course you're taking, or have a meeting with your freshman advisor. If the TA is an undergrad (i need to remember that not everyone goes to small liberal arts colleges, haha for example I have been a TA since I was a sophomore, but my friends at research unis only have TAs that are grad students), go ahead and introduce yourself to them and ask about the program and if it is generally regarded as a program for both freshman. This looks to me very similar to the Research program at my school, the Summer Fellows experience https://www.ursinus.edu/offices/researc ... r-fellows/ I talked about earlier, and this was reserved for sophomores and above! If the TA is a grad student they will likely have no idea what this program is, and in that case I would ask your freshman year advisor these same questions, as the program is not solely physics based, they will be able to give you a better answer!

https://www.nist.gov/summer-undergradua ... pplication so this looks, again , liek an incredible experience, however I would say this looks like the hardest to get. Notice that this program, similar to scholarships like the Goldwater or Fulbright, requires nomination by your home uni. It was not make sense for them to nomination a freshman when there are juniors applying for this as their big junior year REU who already have research under their belt. ALSO this does not pay you, and you must secure funding from your home uni. Looks like a very arduous task.

so for the UROP, it looks like the google search for this gives specific research program only for students at that uni, so for example berkley's would be the first option we discussed above!:) https://www.ecosia.org/search?q=UROP&addon=firefox

Wow, you're better than any major advisor haha! Thanks so much, I appreciate all this advice, I'll be looking more into this stuff. And good luck in your grad applications don't fret

jabennett2194
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:54 pm

Re: Any advice on getting an REU? Seems almost impossible

Postby jabennett2194 » Sat Jun 30, 2018 5:52 pm

^^^^
Hey, I wish I had someone to take me serious when I broached these topics instead of replying, "You're a freshman! Go socialize!" Haha yeah no thank you ;) hehehe So I'll always try to answer questions on here that I can! Good luck and feel free to reach out whenever!




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