How much is my lack of research going to hurt me?

saucylad
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 10:39 pm

How much is my lack of research going to hurt me?

Postby saucylad » Thu May 19, 2011 7:46 pm

I transfered to the school I'm currently at from a community college last year without having taking an introductory physics course. I anticipated taking 3 years to finish my degree here, and I was eager to get involved in research right away, since I knew how little time I had. I was excited when I was hired to work for a group at my school's accelerator lab last summer, where they told me I would undergo a brief training phase and then do data analysis. However, as the summer wore on it became increasingly clear that we were basically just getting a hands-on course in accelerator physics and wouldn't actually be doing anything. To this day I have no idea why they paid me thousands of dollars to do that, but I did enjoy it a lot. Looking back, I should have been more proactive in trying to ask for work, but we (there were two undergrads and five grad students among us) had almost no contact with the people we were supposedly working under. So I lost one of my summers doing that. Fast forward to now. I've been working with a professor this quarter and I'll continue with him through the summer and probably into next year, when I'll be working on my undergraduate thesis. He's told me he'll do his best to get me a publication out of this work if I can do my best to contribute.

Anyway, this is a lot of words, but my question is this: From looking at the admission profiles, it seems like most people have waaaaaaaaay more research than I do. One summer is like nothing. And this isn't even an REU or a trip to CERN or anything cool. I'm super worried that this is not going to be nearly enough to get into the schools I want to. My GPA is decent, and I'm going to study my butt off this summer for the PGRE, but I know that's not enough. I also know how important letters are, and since I've only really worked with this one guy, and only know other professors through classes, I'm worried that my letters will be very lackluster. Since I've heard research and letters are the most important part of the application process, I'm freaking out. Am I worrying too much, or is this a legitimate problem? Is there anything I can about it? This is all so terrifying...

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: How much is my lack of research going to hurt me?

Postby bfollinprm » Thu May 19, 2011 8:03 pm

The important part of research is to learn the skills of a researcher (and prove to schools that you've learned them). Sounds like you're doing that; don't worry.

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

Re: How much is my lack of research going to hurt me?

Postby grae313 » Fri May 20, 2011 10:16 am

The number of different projects you work on isn't so important, so don't become intimidated by long lists of projects. Don't discount your summer "doing" accelerator physics -- you got some exposure to the research environment and learned a lot. It's an important starting point and it's not always feasible to start doing productive research in a new field as an undergraduate in just one summer. Your expectations for what you should be accomplishing may be too high.

You've done two research projects, you should be able to get two letters from that and one letter from a professor will round things out nicely. I think you're in fine shape.

User avatar
HappyQuark
Posts: 762
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:08 am

Re: How much is my lack of research going to hurt me?

Postby HappyQuark » Fri May 20, 2011 11:17 am

saucylad wrote: Am I worrying too much


Yes

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: How much is my lack of research going to hurt me?

Postby bfollinprm » Fri May 20, 2011 1:26 pm

HappyQuark wrote:
saucylad wrote: Am I worrying too much


Yes


Worry like hell if your plan is a top 10 school. Everyone should worry like hell for that though, and there isn't much you can do but be (near) perfect, or else (somewhat) lucky.




Return to “Research”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests