Where would you go?

  • 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.

snarfinomicon
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 9:21 pm

Where would you go?

Postby snarfinomicon » Wed Feb 25, 2009 9:51 pm

Suppose you went to a small liberal arts college (undergrad), and by some deranged masochistic desire you want to go to graduate school for a physics phd. You apply to schools that seem attainable but decent, and despite your modest mentally unstable background get accepted in a bunch of closely ranked places. They give you a TA stipend or fellowship too, which is neat!!! oh and for some reason you applied to do research in condensed matter experiment and/or theory.

Indiana-bloomington $22k
Umass-amherst $18k
U Delaware $ 26k
FSU $21k
UNH $20k and possibly research fellow

Where would you go evaluating on a purely academic basis (money not a factor)?
Where would you go if you like money, cold mountainy places, and such like things as well? um...pretend you lived in New Jersey your whole life.

markl
Posts: 33
Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 11:09 am

Re: Where would you go?

Postby markl » Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:03 pm

Indiana-bloomington $22k - No opinion but it's Indiana, probably not the funnest place to spend 5 years.
Umass-amherst $18k - Umass is a good school, probably first or second best listed here, but it's cold and in the middle of nowhere, I'm from the area, I'd know.
U Delaware $ 26k - No opinion, but it is the most money.
FSU $21k Nice weather, good school.
UNH $20k and possibly research fellow- I don't think the 2k is worth it to pick it over Umass, if your going to go to New England than go to Umass, it is the far superior school.

I'm just looking at it from the the locations and prestige, of course you have to take into account whether or not they have a focus in what you want to research, holding all factors equal, Umass is the best school IMHO. But Florida's weather could pull it out for the win. Avoid Indiana and UNH, and Delaware is a complete unknown to me. Probably not a very helpful post, but just an opinion. :)

As a fellow Northern I think I am going to make a run for it to somewhere like CA when going to grad school, baring I get into Harvard or Columbia or something.

User avatar
dlenmn
Posts: 577
Joined: Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:19 pm

Re: Where would you go?

Postby dlenmn » Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:30 pm

I've heard good things about UMass-amherst's condensed matter research, so that might be my top choice.

I think that UNH's real strength is in space physics (I've heard that they're quite good), but I don't know about their condensed matter research.

I have little knowledge about the research of the others.

As for location, it's a lot like markl said. Umass is kind of in the middle of nowhere (if you like the outdoors, it's not a bad spot -- it's rail connection isn't really worth mentioning). UNH has a direct train connection to Boston, which is probably nice. U Delaware has even better rail connections with Philadelphia (and south via Amtrak to DC), so it's not a bad location (although I don't know much about Newark itself). If you really hate the cold, Tallahassee, FL is probably a great spot. Otherwise, I'm not sure I'd give it the location win.

User avatar
valentino
Posts: 48
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:29 am

Re: Where would you go?

Postby valentino » Thu Mar 05, 2009 4:23 pm

In need of sound advice. Cornell or Chicago in HEP theory?

Factors:
1. Competitiveness/Rank
2. Significant other was admitted to Cornell as well (0 hours away). Significant other was also admitted to UIUC (~2 hours away from Chic) and to Michigan (~4 hours away from chic, top choice).

Of course I will have to read up on faculty researches, etc.

User avatar
WhatCanYouDoFermi?
Posts: 49
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2009 12:32 pm

Re: Where would you go?

Postby WhatCanYouDoFermi? » Thu Mar 05, 2009 4:26 pm

I would also like to know any thoughts about Cornell and UIUC for HEP theory

User avatar
elzoido238
Posts: 37
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Where would you go?

Postby elzoido238 » Thu Mar 05, 2009 4:36 pm

valentino wrote:In need of sound advice. Cornell or Chicago in HEP theory?

Factors:
1. Competitiveness/Rank
2. Significant other was admitted to Cornell as well (0 hours away). Significant other was also admitted to UIUC (~2 hours away from Chic) and to Michigan (~4 hours away from chic, top choice).

Of course I will have to read up on faculty researches, etc.


Where does your significant other want to go? Not that her opinion should be the #1 influence on your decision, but if you plan on keeping your significant other, then you should probably consider his/her opinion. Honestly to me it sounds like a no-brainer; you both got into an ivy-league school, so I would say Cornell all the way. Not that Chicago isn't a great school, but I would imagine that your significant other would not choose UIUC or Michigan over Cornell. But that is also my personal bias speaking; I would much rather live in up-state New York for six years than anywhere in the mid-west.

User avatar
valentino
Posts: 48
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:29 am

Re: Where would you go?

Postby valentino » Thu Mar 05, 2009 4:45 pm

I indicated her top choice (michigan), in fact it is michigan > uiuc > cornell. She is in a different field.

My first consideration is program rank/competitiveness. Both are nice places to live in and give enough financial support. If I were sure that Cornell is a better program or that Chicago is only marginally better, then it would be a no-brainer, as you say. I would love to do physics and be with my partner. However, based on the advice I've received so far it seems that Chicago has an edge. Not sure about this myself, that's why I'm asking for information.

nonick
Posts: 123
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2008 5:16 pm

Re: Where would you go?

Postby nonick » Thu Mar 05, 2009 5:13 pm

WhatCanYouDoFermi? wrote:I would also like to know any thoughts about Cornell and UIUC for HEP theory

Same dilemma but for CM theory.

WhatCanYouDoFermi, see you at the open houses.

User avatar
WhatCanYouDoFermi?
Posts: 49
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2009 12:32 pm

Re: Where would you go?

Postby WhatCanYouDoFermi? » Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:04 pm

nonick wrote:WhatCanYouDoFermi, see you at the open houses.

Haha, sure enough. It's crazy that we applied to 7 of the same places and go the same result at every one. Good luck to you!

User avatar
noojens
Posts: 187
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:59 pm

Re: Where would you go?

Postby noojens » Thu Mar 05, 2009 7:35 pm

valentino wrote:I indicated her top choice (michigan), in fact it is michigan > uiuc > cornell. She is in a different field.

My first consideration is program rank/competitiveness. Both are nice places to live in and give enough financial support. If I were sure that Cornell is a better program or that Chicago is only marginally better, then it would be a no-brainer, as you say. I would love to do physics and be with my partner. However, based on the advice I've received so far it seems that Chicago has an edge. Not sure about this myself, that's why I'm asking for information.

Oof. The old two-body problem. I've been there, and it ain't easy. :)

If you want to clarify your academic priorities, then take a close look at each department's research, keeping an eye out for potential advisors. Read those professors' papers, and make sure to meet them when you visit the schools. Ask if they're taking on PhD students, talk to other grad students to see how competitive it is to get your desired advisor, etc.

As for the other half of the picture... I think that if you and your partner are both sure you want to spend your lives together, then Cornell is a good choice. It may not be the best place for either of you to be - IMO, Chicago has a better HEP theory program than Cornell - but Cornell is still a world-class institution. And so much of your success and happiness in grad school depends on the friends you make and the advisor you end up working with, anyway.

Is your partner doing a master's or PhD? Because if it's only a 2 year MS, then I think a long-distance relationship between Chicago and Ann Arbor would be doable. Tough, but doable.

Best of luck.

nowhereguy
Posts: 39
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 7:21 am

Re: Where would you go?

Postby nowhereguy » Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:11 pm

valentino wrote:I indicated her top choice (michigan), in fact it is michigan > uiuc > cornell. She is in a different field.

My first consideration is program rank/competitiveness. Both are nice places to live in and give enough financial support. If I were sure that Cornell is a better program or that Chicago is only marginally better, then it would be a no-brainer, as you say. I would love to do physics and be with my partner. However, based on the advice I've received so far it seems that Chicago has an edge. Not sure about this myself, that's why I'm asking for information.


Needless to say, in terms of overall reputation, both Cornell and Chicago are world-class institutions. Regarding research on high energy theory (and by that I mainly mean string theory, since that is what I am most familiar with), Chicago has an edge. The group is larger, a mix of senior and junior faculty, good productivity; overall a very strong group. Cornell on the other hand has Tye and McAllister. About the former, I think he is in China right now? Don't trust me on that one, though, check his website or something. McAllister is a young faculty who does great research in string theory, focusing more recently on the cosmological side (though he is also interested in other aspects of the theory, as stated in his website). I haven't met him personally, but I have attended one of his seminars and he seems like an extremely nice and enthusiastic person! I think he would be a great supervisor.

I think you should contact the faculty you would be interested in working with at both places and ask them if they will be taking new students, etc. Personally, I would choose a place where I could be with my girlfriend. Just my two cents ;) Good luck making up your mind!

User avatar
valentino
Posts: 48
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:29 am

Re: Where would you go?

Postby valentino » Thu Mar 05, 2009 10:00 pm

thanks for your replies.

nowhereguy, actually im not into strings. i want to do field theory related work. does chicago also have an edge in that area?

User avatar
spershog
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:18 pm

Re: Where would you go?

Postby spershog » Fri Mar 06, 2009 6:36 am

Guys,

What would you say about UMD vs UIUC in Condensed Matter Theory ?

Thnx




Return to “Prospective Physics Graduate Student Topics”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest