Help with REUs!!!!

axiomofchoice
Posts: 199
Joined: Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:45 pm

Help with REUs!!!!

Postby axiomofchoice » Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:56 am

How does one evaluate which REU to go (assuming that there are more than one acceptances)? Some of my top choice (or I thought...) programs' deadline is just past, so I assume I won't hear from them till later, but I got an acceptance from a decent program that I have to reply by next Wednesday!! I'm afraid that if I turn down this offer I might be ending up nowhere (there is such a possibility anyway), but... How does one deal with this weird difference in time between having to accept offer in one place and waiting to get offer another place?

Other advice on how to pick a REU program to go? Is there "ranking" somewhere for REU programs? How can I tell whether one is better than another?

sterculus
Posts: 116
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 2:16 am

Re: Help with REUs!!!!

Postby sterculus » Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:48 pm

Yeah, welcome to REUs. I had that exact problem two years in a row. Last year, for instance, I ended up turning down one of my middle choices to wait for my top choices to respond (which I did end up getting in to), but it was a gamble. One thing you can do is send e-mail to the coordinators for the programs you're waiting on to see where they are in the process. When I did that one of them hinted that I was a top applicant, which helped my decision to wait.

In terms of rankings, as far as I know these don't really exist. The best metric is probably the prestige of the host university/lab. If you know who you would be working for, of course, the reputation of that group is the most important (especially if you could work for somebody famous and get a rec letter). Or just go by where you'd like to spend the summer.

User avatar
grae313
Posts: 2297
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 8:46 pm

Re: Help with REUs!!!!

Postby grae313 » Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:47 pm

sterculus wrote:Yeah, welcome to REUs. I had that exact problem two years in a row. Last year, for instance, I ended up turning down one of my middle choices to wait for my top choices to respond (which I did end up getting in to), but it was a gamble. One thing you can do is send e-mail to the coordinators for the programs you're waiting on to see where they are in the process. When I did that one of them hinted that I was a top applicant, which helped my decision to wait.

In terms of rankings, as far as I know these don't really exist. The best metric is probably the prestige of the host university/lab. If you know who you would be working for, of course, the reputation of that group is the most important (especially if you could work for somebody famous and get a rec letter). Or just go by where you'd like to spend the summer.


This advice sounds good. I would add that in the absence of hints as to your chances at your top choices, I personally would accept the offer you have now before the deadline, then if you get a better offer, I would very politely and apologetically explain this to the first REU, and withdraw (assuming there aren't huge ramifications from doing this).

axiomofchoice
Posts: 199
Joined: Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:45 pm

Re: Help with REUs!!!!

Postby axiomofchoice » Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:46 pm

sterculus wrote:The best metric is probably the prestige of the host university/lab. If you know who you would be working for, of course, the reputation of that group is the most important (especially if you could work for somebody famous and get a rec letter). Or just go by where you'd like to spend the summer.

How can I gauge the prestige of the lab or the group? Somewhere I can look? Last summer I basically chose by location and ending having a great time but not so good a project :(

grae313 wrote:This advice sounds good. I would add that in the absence of hints as to your chances at your top choices, I personally would accept the offer you have now before the deadline, then if you get a better offer, I would very politely and apologetically explain this to the first REU, and withdraw (assuming there aren't huge ramifications from doing this).

Is it okay to withdraw though? Would it get me a bad name?


Would it be okay for me to ask for an extension of the deadline to accept the offer? I mean, they give me less than a week... Is is bad to talk "conditions" before I accept the offer? Specifically I wanted to know more about the project that I will be working on (which they haven't specified; just kind of stated the broad objectives) and whether I can actually find a piano to practice around where I'll be living...

Also I'm kind of hesitating of accepting this offer I have because I'm mostly looking for some theoretical project, but this seems to be more experimental (though in the field I want). I'm really hoping for some experience in theoretical research; what do grad schools think if you have been doing experimental research but you apply as a potential theorist?

User avatar
grae313
Posts: 2297
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 8:46 pm

Re: Help with REUs!!!!

Postby grae313 » Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:18 pm

axiomofchoice wrote:Would it be okay for me to ask for an extension of the deadline to accept the offer? I mean, they give me less than a week... Is is bad to talk "conditions" before I accept the offer? Specifically I wanted to know more about the project that I will be working on (which they haven't specified; just kind of stated the broad objectives) and whether I can actually find a piano to practice around where I'll be living...


They're just people on the other end of that phone/computer. If you are respectful I don't think anything bad can happen. Get in touch with them and explain what's up. I won't be the first time, I'm sure.

YF17A
Posts: 94
Joined: Sat Aug 30, 2008 4:42 am

Re: Help with REUs!!!!

Postby YF17A » Sat Feb 21, 2009 2:01 pm

@axiomofchoice: I don't know what year in school you are, but if you're doing another REU next year and are interested in theory, I would suggest applying to Jefferson Lab in Virginia through the SULI program (run by the department of energy). I know for a fact they have a piano in their main amphitheater and you can enter the building whenever you want to practice, as long as you are nice to the custodial staff :D

User avatar
zxcv
Posts: 402
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 11:08 pm

Re: Help with REUs!!!!

Postby zxcv » Sun Feb 22, 2009 3:11 am

Here's my advice:
1) Ask for an extension -- in the worst case, they'll just say no.
2) Absolutely talk "conditions." Talk to your potential adviser, figure out if this is something you'd be interested in or if you'll be able to focus your research to suit your interests. This is the one time you have bargaining power.
3) Contact those people at your top choice REU, especially if you've been in contact with any potential advisers. They may be able to either give you hints about your status, or better yet speed up the admissions process.

I was able to get into my top choice program after following steps 1 and 2 within about a week of getting into a second choice.

The best way to judge prestige is by asking people who would know potential advisers personally, perhaps from your home university. If you can't do that, look at publication records for quantity and prestigious journals (Nature, Science, Phys. Rev. Lett., etc). You could also try comparing something like a h-index, but that only holds within the same (sub?)-field.

axiomofchoice
Posts: 199
Joined: Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:45 pm

Re: Help with REUs!!!!

Postby axiomofchoice » Sun Feb 22, 2009 11:39 am

For the prestige part: what if I'm to decide between a top 10 school (also top 10 in the field I'm looking for) and a top 20-30 school (don't know its ranking in the field I'm looking for since I don't have subscription to USNews), but the project in the latter school sounds much more interesting than the project in the former school? Should I go by prestige alone? [As of now I obviously don't have this choice yet, this is just hypothetical given that I know more result before I have to accept or decline my current offer...]

LB
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2008 5:06 pm

Re: Help with REUs!!!!

Postby LB » Sun Feb 22, 2009 11:49 am

I am in exactly the same situation. I got accepted somewhere with an early deadline but I applied to six other programs that won't be notifying me until march, so I'm unsure what to do.

Did anyone here participate in the Caltech SURF/MURF program? I would really appreciate any opinions about it. I know it mostly depends on the faculty advisor I am assigned, but other than that, how did you find life at Caltech to be?




Return to “Research”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest