switching research area after acceptance

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chewy
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Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2009 6:13 pm

switching research area after acceptance

Postby chewy » Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:46 pm

Has anyone ever or considered switching research areas after being accepted to a school. I was just thinking about that and if someone might be interested in doing so, how to go about it as to not piss-off half the department or w/e. I feel like they accept you based on your interests stated in your SOP. can you switch, is that looked down upon as you tried to "fool" them. I did not and not even sure. But I was just curious if anyone had this experience and what happened.

Ryalnos
Posts: 33
Joined: Sat Nov 14, 2009 1:14 pm

Re: switching research area after acceptance

Postby Ryalnos » Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:10 am

Don't worry about it. Grad schools attempt roughly match their admissions to future research positions, so you should be honest about your research interests. However, they realize that many students have not been exposed to the broad research opportunities of graduate school and expect a significant number to eventually pursue a different interest than they first thought they would when they arrived.

jmason86
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Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:14 pm

Re: switching research area after acceptance

Postby jmason86 » Wed Mar 03, 2010 1:07 am

Every school and department is different, but I think it is very rare that they expect you to stick with what you put in your SOP. Most people's interests at this point are just what they did as an undergrad. Stanford, for example, FORCES you to try out new research areas. They have a system of "rotations". During your first year, you spend each quarter with a different research group of your choosing. This allows you to expose yourself to all sorts of new research with absolutely no pressure.

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grae313
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Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 8:46 pm

Re: switching research area after acceptance

Postby grae313 » Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:26 pm

As an example, Cornell doesn't even try to admit people in groups of "experimentalist" or "theorist," they just look for the best applicants. You should state a research interest if you have one but except in rare circumstances (such as making prior arrangements to join a group that you mentioned in you SOP), it is never binding. Nobody comes to you and says "you can't work in this theory lab because you said in your application that you wanted to work in condensed matter." In fact, nobody would notice or care. Once you're in, you are just competing with the other students in your year for the available research positions and that's all there is to it.

matonski
Posts: 121
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2008 5:03 pm

Re: switching research area after acceptance

Postby matonski » Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:49 pm

I keep going back in forth in my mind whether I should of stated the research interest that best matches my application, instead of the research interest that I am most interested in. I ended up doing the honest thing and stating what I really want to study (hep-th). However, I have excellent research experience in optics and computational physics, and I wonder if things would of panned out differently if I said that's what I was interested in studying.

geshi
Posts: 200
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 12:01 am

Re: switching research area after acceptance

Postby geshi » Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:21 pm

I'm gonna do my usual thing and link 2 articles you should read. While these articles don't answer your question directly, your question should be answered by reading between the lines.

First article is from the Cosmic Variance blog (written by a faculty member at CalTech):
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmi ... te-school/
Read the part about the personal essay and the part about theory versus experiment.

The second article is written by a student who asked (very keen) questions to faculty members:
http://pages.physics.cornell.edu/~larri ... chool.html
Particularly read the part about the personal statement.

TL,DR version: no, it doesn't matter (just like everyone else in this thread told you).

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grae313
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Re: switching research area after acceptance

Postby grae313 » Wed Mar 03, 2010 6:18 pm

matonski wrote:I keep going back in forth in my mind whether I should of stated the research interest that best matches my application, instead of the research interest that I am most interested in. I ended up doing the honest thing and stating what I really want to study (hep-th). However, I have excellent research experience in optics and computational physics, and I wonder if things would of panned out differently if I said that's what I was interested in studying.


This is a separate issue than doing something in graduate school that is different than what you put in your statement, and this question is much more highly debatable. I think hep-th is a lot harder to get into so it is possible that you may have done better expressing interests that match your research background in computational physics and optics. Who can really say, though?

Mataka
Posts: 160
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Re: switching research area after acceptance

Postby Mataka » Wed Mar 03, 2010 6:50 pm

matonski wrote:I keep going back in forth in my mind whether I should of stated the research interest that best matches my application, instead of the research interest that I am most interested in. I ended up doing the honest thing and stating what I really want to study (hep-th). However, I have excellent research experience in optics and computational physics, and I wonder if things would of panned out differently if I said that's what I was interested in studying.


I was in a similar dilemma while writing my SOP, and I also ended up doing the honest thing. But in the end I think it's better off this way. I think that switching to Hep-Th can be really hard if you said you wanted to do something else. You have to consider the fact that some universities accept more theorists than they should, and hope they will end up experimentalists ... And getting in is not all, once you're in, you still have to compete to get the supervisor you want ... so if the admission committee though that you were a good applicant in spite the fact that you don't have research experience in Hep-Th than perhaps you still have a fighting chance to get a good supervisor in that area ...

chewy
Posts: 23
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2009 6:13 pm

Re: switching research area after acceptance

Postby chewy » Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:09 pm

Well for me its experimental either way. I'm not even interested in theory.
I got accepted into atmospheric/applied physics. I was just seeing if one could go into either?




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