how to make most of year off?

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creepypasta13
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how to make most of year off?

Postby creepypasta13 » Sat Feb 26, 2011 6:01 pm

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Last edited by creepypasta13 on Fri Apr 15, 2011 6:07 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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midwestphysics
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby midwestphysics » Sat Feb 26, 2011 6:20 pm

Outside of draping a noble prize around your neck and sending in a picture of yourself wearing it there is no "guarantee" of getting into a top 5 or top 10 school. That being said, if you're going to take a year off I'd focus more on research than classes. Classes are good and all, but doing great in class isn't as strong as doing great research if you ask me. Don't worry about age, 25 is nothing. Are you going to give up at only 25 because you're 25? I'm in the same boat with age and had one kid comment on that before to me and it just sounds so stupid. I'm not 60 years old, I'm 25, why would I stop living my dream at 25 because I'm 25.

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kubikat
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby kubikat » Sat Feb 26, 2011 6:53 pm

I will be 24 when I will be starting my graduate school this fall; some people don't start till they are much older. I don't think age matters much once you're over 18 so I wouldn't worry about being older than the rest of the incoming students (in all likelihood you won't be).
I took a year off, did some (very little) research, tutored and improved my PGRE. More importantly I got a better idea of what I want to do, which is reflected in my personal statement. Last year, I couldn't get into any Top-50 programs. This year, I got into Yale (which isn't top 10, but still pretty decent).
Good luck :)

negru
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby negru » Sat Feb 26, 2011 6:56 pm

how would it be awkward? in relation to what? you do realize 97% of your time in grad school will be spent alone in your cubicle/lab working on research, right? you could be 60 no one would care, because no one will care about you in general.

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sphy
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby sphy » Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:59 am

negru wrote:....because no one will care about you in general.

Don't be so cynic. Friends would definitely be there to share their griefs and joys of Grad school.

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midwestphysics
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby midwestphysics » Sun Feb 27, 2011 1:36 am

sphy wrote:
negru wrote:....because no one will care about you in general.

Don't be so cynic. Friends would definitely be there to share their griefs and joys of Grad school.


I agree with that, to add to it the friends you make in grad school are also future contacts so don't forget to make yourself known. Why go 4-8 years playing it solo, neglecting social skills, when you'll have to use them to death when you get out. Physics is no different from any other field when it comes to networking, and networking is built off of not just working relationships but comaraderie. As for profs, they're not heartless machines. Granted they are busy but they are human too and most enjoy the company of like minded people.

creepypasta13
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby creepypasta13 » Sun Feb 27, 2011 2:26 am

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grae313
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby grae313 » Sun Feb 27, 2011 2:42 am

creepypasta13 wrote:which is why I thought it would be awkward if I'm 25 and most (I'm guessing 90% or so, right?) of my peers would be 22-23 years old.


As you get older, a couple of years makes less and less of a difference. You might be the oldest one in your class at 25 but you won't be so by more than a year. No one will notice and no one will care.

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midwestphysics
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby midwestphysics » Sun Feb 27, 2011 3:01 am

Grae313 is right on the money, people won't notice nor will they care. If anything it will work to your advantage not disadvantage.

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razor
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby razor » Sun Feb 27, 2011 3:21 am

creepypasta13 wrote:
which is why I thought it would be awkward if I'm 25 and most (I'm guessing 90% or so, right?) of my peers would be 22-23 years old.


I think this only applies when you're with teen-agers who are singing Justin Bieber song and the like.

creepypasta13
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby creepypasta13 » Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:53 pm

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bfollinprm
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby bfollinprm » Thu Mar 10, 2011 7:38 pm

creepypasta13 wrote:So I have gotten admitted to UCSD and UT-Austin for physics but rejected from Berkeley and UCSB for Physics. Since my main interest is now in computational astro, and I see that UCSD and UT-Austin are good but not great in those areas, I'm seriously considering reapplying. I did get into Arizona for applied math, but they only have 1 decent prof in comp astro. Also, I didnt think the school was a good fit at all after I just visited their open house. I also got into Maryland for math, but they seem weak in comp astro.

I did 2 undergrad research projects, including an REU 3 years ago, but that prof there just told me that if I reapply, then he won't write me an LOR again. Assuming that my recent research prof is still willing to write an LOR for me, I'll still have to obtain 2 decent LORs. Is it feasible to try to get 2 more research projects with 2 different profs in astro during the year off? And both at the same school?

Or am I better off just going to Arizona, Maryland, UT-Austin, or UCSD?

Right now, I'm about 50/50 in terms of if I want to become a prof or go into academia. In terms of a grad program fit, I really want to go to a grad program with the best grad students possible.


Nix Arizona. You didn't like it.

UCSD has a very strong astrophysics program, and their physics PhD recently introduced a computational science (CSME) concentration, which gives you the opportunity to take classes outside the physics department towards your PhD (in say Stats or Comp. Sci). I think that's a great opportunity, because it (1) gives you an opportunity to learn very useful tools that you might not find otherwise, and it (2) makes you attractive as a faculty hire, where cross-disciplinary skills are all the rage. I also think the physics coordinator for their CSME program is an comp. astro man himself, so that's a plus.

UMCP is also supposedly strong in computational astro (their computational facilities are top notch and they have strong ties to NIST = even more toys). This is what people told me, but I don't really see it either. I'm mad at them right now, though, so I don't really want to say anything nice.

UT Austin--the only real place Physics and Astro play with each other there is in their theory group, which isn't exactly what you want. i assume you've visited, so you'd know better. Doesn't seem as good a fit as the other two to me, though.

As far as reapplying, sounds like a bad idea. The professor is saying no to you for a reason; reapplying, whether true or not, shows lack of commitment to grad school. Schools wont necessarily accept you again if you reject them this time around (I've heard of many times when this doesn't happen), so unless you have a very good reason for not going this year (would like to get into better schools isn't one) I would leave well enough alone. UMCP and UT Austin are top 15, and UCSD is top 20, so these aren't bad schools.

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Thu Mar 10, 2011 7:47 pm

creepypasta13 wrote:So I have gotten admitted to UCSD and UT-Austin for physics but rejected from Berkeley and UCSB for Physics. Since my main interest is now in computational astro, and I see that UCSD and UT-Austin are good but not great in those areas, I'm seriously considering reapplying. I did get into Arizona for applied math, but they only have 1 decent prof in comp astro. Also, I didnt think the school was a good fit at all after I just visited their open house. I also got into Maryland for math, but they seem weak in comp astro.

I did 2 undergrad research projects, including an REU 3 years ago, but that prof there just told me that if I reapply, then he won't write me an LOR again. Assuming that my recent research prof is still willing to write an LOR for me, I'll still have to obtain 2 decent LORs. Is it feasible to try to get 2 more research projects with 2 different profs in astro during the year off? And both at the same school?

Or am I better off just going to Arizona, Maryland, UT-Austin, or UCSD?

Right now, I'm about 50/50 in terms of if I want to become a prof or go into academia. In terms of a grad program fit, I really want to go to a grad program with the best grad students possible.


I geared up to answer this question, since I have quite a good argument on both sides of the situation as I have experienced reapplying myself (from last year to this year). However, It is hard to gauge where you are sitting considering you have yet to post your applicant profile.

-Riley

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midwestphysics
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby midwestphysics » Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:22 pm

creepypasta13 wrote:So I have gotten admitted to UCSD and UT-Austin for physics but rejected from Berkeley and UCSB for Physics. Since my main interest is now in computational astro, and I see that UCSD and UT-Austin are good but not great in those areas, I'm seriously considering reapplying. I did get into Arizona for applied math, but they only have 1 decent prof in comp astro. Also, I didnt think the school was a good fit at all after I just visited their open house. I also got into Maryland for math, but they seem weak in comp astro.

I did 2 undergrad research projects, including an REU 3 years ago, but that prof there just told me that if I reapply, then he won't write me an LOR again. Assuming that my recent research prof is still willing to write an LOR for me, I'll still have to obtain 2 decent LORs. Is it feasible to try to get 2 more research projects with 2 different profs in astro during the year off? And both at the same school?

Or am I better off just going to Arizona, Maryland, UT-Austin, or UCSD?

Right now, I'm about 50/50 in terms of if I want to become a prof or go into academia. In terms of a grad program fit, I really want to go to a grad program with the best grad students possible.


It can go either way I guess, but as something that may be somewhat off topic, I’ve always been amazed when people who get admitted at least somewhere decide to reapply. That basically means that no matter what they would have never gone there in the first place. Which is just strange to me, it means you didn’t do your homework on what schools you actually would consider attending, and/or you didn’t think you’d have to pick between the lower end of your list.
Still as I said that’s a side track, back to some of your post at least. I’d venture to guess that if your one prof isn’t willing to write you another letter then the first one probably wasn’t all that good anyway. So it would be in your best interest to get a new letter if you did reapply. I think it is possible to get those letters, and that’s because you’re technically done and don’t need to overload yourself with extra classes, you can focus basically on research which means two projects might be doable.

I know how you feel on the academia front, but the only way you’ll know what school has the best students is to dig around. Email people, check profiles, and read up on their publications. Another thing is that the overall rankings go out the door when you are as sure about specialization the way you seem to be. If you’re dead set on one field, being well ranked in the others isn’t all that important. It’s like if I wanted to go into Nuclear and got admitted to [INSERT TOP 10 RANK HERE] and Michigan State University, a smart person would pick MSU because in terms of nuclear specialization they are the best. They’re ranked #1 in nuclear of course which is something you can look up, but are like 36 overall. I don’t know where Berkeley, etc rank in your area, but if it’s a small difference in specialization but a noticeable difference in overall I wouldn’t worry too much. My advice would be to take a serious in depth look at each school, and if you find one great, if not reapply next year and you should be more aware that time around as to which schools are worth attending before you put in the effort.

creepypasta13
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby creepypasta13 » Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:30 pm

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midwestphysics
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby midwestphysics » Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:56 pm

Thanks for the input. I know they aren't bad schools, but they aren't good enough if I want to go into academia

As has been mentioned here before, if you want to work in academia you can usually teach at a school that is equal to or below the level at which you got your PhD. So, unless you get one from Phoenix University that door is never closed. I know professors, at pretty good universities, who didn't go to a top ten school who are teaching right alongside those that did. Yeah it helps to be from 1-10, but it is very possible to do it otherwise. It will all depend on your networking, and the work you do.

bfollinprm
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby bfollinprm » Fri Mar 11, 2011 7:11 am

creepypasta13 wrote:Thanks for the input. I know they aren't bad schools, but they aren't good enough if I want to go into academia



Not quite true. There are people at all 3 places that carry quite a lot of weight when it comes to post-docs. It depends on who you want to work with. For instance, a few years ago, UT Austin was a great place to be a cosmologist, because Komatsu was the head analysis man for WMAP. The reason why most people get research positions coming from top 10 schools is most of the good professors are at the top 10 schools. That isn't true universally; some top 10 professors don't graduate many academics, and some outside the top 10 graduate more than their fair share. Look at who you're interested in working with at each school, and check the status of their previous grad students (sometimes posted on their website, also found on archiv). See where they land.

creepypasta13
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby creepypasta13 » Thu Mar 24, 2011 11:39 pm

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bfollinprm
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby bfollinprm » Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:23 am

creepypasta13 wrote:I just visited UT today, and the Physics chair there confirmed what he recently told me in an email: If I want to do astronomy research there as a Physics student, I can't get a TAship from the Phys dept due to the funding issues in Astronomy. I haven't heard yet about possibly TAing in Astronomy, but that sounds unlikely. Therefore, as much as I liked the visit, and the research there, I'll have no choice but to turn them down


Really? I just got off the phone with UT Austin yesterday, and they failed to mention that (I also indicated I want to work with astro people). I'm waitlisted; you'd think if there were funding issues regarding me they'd just reject me. I wouldn't be a very good Astro TA either, unless they have an undergraduate cosmology course...

Oh yeah, and once you decide you aren't going, let them know! I imagine I'll replace the next astro-interested guy. Though don't feel rushed, I'm not sure it's my top choice.

creepypasta13 wrote:UCSD was ok, but the main reason I don't want to go there is because I want a new location (I've lived in socal my whole life)

Why did you apply then? I felt the same about UMCP, but was mostly applying there because of my SO (they don't do a lot of cosmology). There's a big drawback to reapplying; I think at a lot of schools you applied to and rejected you'll be regarded in a poor light; don't expect to get into Austin, et al next year. And you'll become less attractive, being a year removed from school, if you sit on your laurels. You need to either do a masters or get involved in research this summer. Consider this when you decide UCSD isn't right for you.

EDIT: Decided to check, they do have a cosmology course. And only 4 HW assignments, with no tests. That'd be one sweet TAship.

creepypasta13
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby creepypasta13 » Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:32 am

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bfollinprm
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby bfollinprm » Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:37 am

creepypasta13 wrote:Maybe thats why you're waitlisted and not accepted yet? Also, perhaps its because you stated that astro is your main interest, whereas I stated that condensed matter was my main interest. They mentioned they've had previous students switch their interests (from ie CMP) to areas lacking funding (ie astro) and that caused problems with the TA budget.


Yeah, that must be it. I've heard that UT Austin is one of those schools that works really hard to match numbers to research budgets, and so they don't like to let people move around in research programs (there's already astro people to fill all the astro RA positions, so if you don't want to do CMP they have to give you a TA). I wont be accepted until an Astro guy declines, and I take his spot, while you wont get an Astro RA until some astro guy doesn't pass his qualifiers.

I didn't really think I'd be doing TA's after my first year anyway...

Astro-K
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby Astro-K » Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:44 pm

bfollinprm wrote:There's a big drawback to reapplying; I think at a lot of schools you applied to and rejected you'll be regarded in a poor light; don't expect to get into Austin, et al next year.


Yep, I tried reapply to Austin in astro, and even with a stronger profile (higher P-GRE, a published paper), didn't get in again. Something to consider!

creepypasta13
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby creepypasta13 » Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:52 pm

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Astro-K
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby Astro-K » Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:13 pm

Have you thought about starting in one of the programs and then transferring to another school after a year or two? You'd probably have to pretty much start over, but at least you would be doing something. And who knows--you might end up switching sub-fields and deciding to stay at the first school.

Alternatively, I know of several pre-doc programs in astro. Basically, you do your coursework at your home institution but then do your dissertation research at another institution. I know that CfA offers one of these, as do some of the research observatories. AstroBetter maintains a list: http://www.astrobetter.com/wiki/tiki-in ... ad+Funding

creepypasta13
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Re: how to make most of year off?

Postby creepypasta13 » Sat Mar 26, 2011 12:13 am

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