Cornell folks

  • This has become our largest and most active forum because the physics GRE is just one aspect of getting accepted into a graduate physics program.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

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noojens
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Cornell folks

Postby noojens » Sat Aug 02, 2008 10:44 pm

When are you all moving? Have you decided what classes to take yet, or connected with any potential advisors? Is anyone else in the applied physics department?

I'm moving in just about a week, and I'm starting to get nervous! I've had a great summer, but haven't put any thought into physics stuff since May (the calm before the storm, I suppose). I'm a little intimidated by the imminent switch to grad classes, not only because they're probably tougher than undergrad classes in general, but also because Cornell is a gigantic step up, in terms of reputation and most likely rigor, from my undergrad institution. Anyone else feeling jitters?

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quizivex
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Re: Cornell folks

Postby quizivex » Sat Aug 02, 2008 11:39 pm

I absolutely feel your concerns too. Fortunately, I'm already settled into Princeton though classes don't start until 9/8, I have a nice apartment with a cool apartmentmate and for the first few weeks here I'm just expected to converse with as many physicists as I can and get an idea for a first year experimental project. There are 78 physicists at PPPL, tons of engineers and technicians and the atmosphere is really awesome. I've had problems driving up and down Route 1 without getting lost but my GPS helps me out.

But yes I'm also worried.

noojens wrote:I've had a great summer, but haven't put any thought into physics stuff since May (the calm before the storm, I suppose).

Same here, though I haven't really done anything since the GRE last October. I was pretty good about reviewing for the GRE but after that I figured nothing mattered anymore in undergrad in terms of applications. I was so worried about getting in for a while that I didn't even keep up with physics since I might not even be doing it next year anyway. And then once I got in I was too caught up with the idea of enjoying the last months before grad school that I still didn't do anything. And then I ended up just vegetating all summer and watching movies lol. So I'm kindof concerned not only that I forgot a lot but also that I didn't try to bridge some of the gap between what I learned at my school vs. Princeton's.

noojens wrote:I'm a little intimidated by the imminent switch to grad classes, not only because they're probably tougher than undergrad classes in general, but also because Cornell is a gigantic step up, in terms of reputation and most likely rigor, from my undergrad institution

Yeah same here, grad class material is extremely hard though some say that the profs are easy with grades so students might get by without doing great. But yeah anytime I've opened up a grad student's textbook just to take a glance it was very intimidating. Equations that take two lines on the page and have nested summations, integrals, vector operators, all combined into some contorted formula of torture. I decided the first thing I should to is try to understand more firmly the math we'll be using so often, so I've looked at proofs of divergence and stokes theorems, fourier series, calculus stuff etc... That way I'll hopefully be able to follow the steps in these advanced physics derivations more easily.

trupti
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Re: Cornell folks

Postby trupti » Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:25 am

haha...I know how it feels. My ugrad education was more focused towards making us smart enough to work in industry and was not so mathematically rigorous..But now my present boss is an astrophyscist and an engineer. He make me read all mathematically dense stuff. I keep rereading the pages 10 times before grasping those equations..phew!!

marten
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Re: Cornell folks

Postby marten » Sun Aug 03, 2008 9:17 am

Ditto on the math review. I've been in industry for 2 years now, so my math is pretty rusty. I pulled out my old math physics text (Hassani) but wasn't getting very far with it, so I got the Mary Boas text and I've been reviewing with that, as well as my diff eq. and linear algebra texts.

Marten

tokamak
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Re: Cornell folks

Postby tokamak » Sun Aug 03, 2008 7:54 pm

quizzivex

I read from your post that you are attending pppl so I just wanted to ask you a few things if you don't mind.
I am an international student with Master's degree in plasma physics and I am planning to apply next year but I am not sure if I can get in. I was wondering if you have met any international students accepted at pppl or know about their background such as plasma physics research or if they come from top universities in their home country. I will not bother applying if I am not competitive but I don't know for sure. Also what is the proportion of international students at pppl and roughly how many apply every year??....thanks

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quizivex
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Re: Cornell folks

Postby quizivex » Sun Aug 03, 2008 9:17 pm

Hey tokamak, it's nice to see another fusion dude on here.

I don't really know the ins and outs of the program yet. There's a good amount of information on their website:
http://w3.pppl.gov/gradprogram/

This subpage has a list of the current and former students and the schools they came from:
http://w3.pppl.gov/gradprogram/Misc/Stu ... l#Students

The 6 accepted domestic students this year came from strong schools except for me. There was a Canadian and a Chinese international student accepted too. 4 enrolled, which is less than they wanted but the other students turned down the offers too late for them to admit more. They said that the quality of applicants in recent years has been very strong but there were some dry spells in the past. Most of hte students had experience in plasma physics, and were involved in research at their school and/or at the NUF summer program, though I'm sure not all of the past students had that much background, and my case proves it's not a prerequisite.

The applicant pool each year can vary drastically in a small program like that, so don't feel like you don't have a chance. Since you already have a master's in plasma physics I'm sure you'd be one of the best prepared applicants they'll get next year. Just do well on the GRE and you'll be in good shape. I don't know the exact percentage of international students but I'd say it's about 1 in 5 to 1 in 4. I definitely encourage you to apply.

tokamak
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Re: Cornell folks

Postby tokamak » Mon Aug 04, 2008 7:57 am

hi quizivex

Thanks for the encouraging words. I actually met a prof from UCLA last month at a small fusion gathering in spain where I presented my thesis work and I asked him about phd admission there and he wasn't very encouraging even though he was interested in my work and it was something they haven't even done at UCLA. Then I started having doubts, and now I am looking for a really crap university which pays decent TA, also not necessarily in plasma. This prof told me that european masters and phd are too narrow and at his university students have to master everything and his students study landau's papers in basic plasma course, and I was scared. He suggested me to apply for engineering physics or applied physics instead. May be I should apply for applied physics program at princeton and later collaborate with fusion group. I don't know how difficult it is to get into applied physics or engineering phd.

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noojens
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Re: Cornell folks

Postby noojens » Mon Aug 04, 2008 11:53 am

tokamak wrote:I don't know how difficult it is to get into applied physics or engineering phd.

I got in, so it can't be that hard. :P

Don't sell yourself short. Just nail the PGRE, get a few good recommendations, and put some time, thought and collaborative effort into your personal statement and hope for the best. It's all any of us could really do. :)

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quizivex
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Re: Cornell folks

Postby quizivex » Mon Aug 04, 2008 7:10 pm

@ noojens

By the way, grae313 is going to Cornell too this year, though for the moment she's doing some wild motorcycle stunts through the open country, so she probably has forgotten just as much as you have.


@ tokamak

Ah I'm sorry to hear that about the UCLA prof. But keep in mind that the UC schools are known for admitting very few international students. It's been discussed a lot before and it's mainly because of California funding issues. So even though UCLA isn't a top-5 school, for an international student it may be as much of a reach as Caltech or Harvard, so maybe that's why the professor wasn't very encouraging. So the point is that you could still have a realistic chance of being admitted to other schools of reputation comparable with UCLA. I don't know much about other fusion programs, but I've heard that Wisconson and Columbia are big in fusion, and that Maryland as well as some other schools do have plasma physics research but it isn't necessarily fusion-related.

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grae313
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Re: Cornell folks

Postby grae313 » Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:55 pm

quizivex wrote:@ noojens

By the way, grae313 is going to Cornell too this year, though for the moment she's doing some wild motorcycle stunts through the open country, so she probably has forgotten just as much as you have.


hehehe...




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