So Where Are You Visiting?

  • 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.

User avatar
Tom Joad
Posts: 120
Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2012 9:35 pm

So Where Are You Visiting?

Postby Tom Joad » Mon Mar 04, 2013 2:03 pm

Now that most of us have a good idea of our results, how many places are you planning on visiting? And what's your preliminary ranking of your choices? I think it would be interesting to see if people's opinions change significantly after visiting certain schools.


I'm visiting 5: Cornell, Caltech, UCSB, Stanford, and Berkeley. I'd say Berkeley and Caltech are tied for the top spot, with Stanford and Cornell close behind, and UCSB as my last choice, but those rankings are rather preliminary. The week of April 4th-April 12th should be fun, as I'm flying into Santa Barbara from the east coast for three days, then taking a nine hour train ride (or some other ground transportation, not sure yet) up to Palo Alto for two days, then finally taking a shuttle to Berkeley for 4 more days before flying back to the east coast.

kyva1929
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:23 pm

Re: So Where Are You Visiting?

Postby kyva1929 » Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:42 pm

I will be visiting cornell and caltech. Still waiting to be rejected from berkeley, in which case I will have to pay part of the airfare since caltech only reimburse up to $300.

Off-topic: Can anyone comment on cornell / caltech / mit experimental high energy physics?

deathinacan
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:19 pm

Re: So Where Are You Visiting?

Postby deathinacan » Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:25 pm

I will be visiting the University of Arizona, because that is the only place I got accepted. I'm really hoping that I like it there.

Johnny Law
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:30 pm

Re: So Where Are You Visiting?

Postby Johnny Law » Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:34 pm

UIUC, U Mich, Harvard and MIT.

Already visited Berkeley.

I think 'm leaning MIT right now because of the fellowship and advisor, but there's an advisor I really like at UIUC as well. Don't know anything about Harvard and U Mich.

photonic
Posts: 37
Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2011 11:36 pm

Re: So Where Are You Visiting?

Postby photonic » Mon Mar 04, 2013 6:48 pm

Cornell, Yale and Rutgers. First choice is cornell to do string cosmology and to work in their particle theory group. Yale has cool stuff going on with topological phases and CFTs (both in the HET and CMT depts) and rutgers is obviously the *** in terms of string theory & QFTs.

Does anybody know about the strength of rutgers in terms of their CMT dept, especially with regard to topological phases? I know for hep-ph cornell>rutgers and for hep-th rutgers>cornell (although cornell has mcallister and is hiring another theorist). Also it seems Yale is stronger then CMT then cornell but I'm not sure how rutgers fits in.

edit: Wow I didn't certain four letter words are censored. My bad.
Last edited by photonic on Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Scotthew
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2012 9:20 am

Re: So Where Are You Visiting?

Postby Scotthew » Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:58 pm

I'll be visiting Cornell and Yale as well - interested in the particle theory group for both.

User avatar
Tom Joad
Posts: 120
Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2012 9:35 pm

Re: So Where Are You Visiting?

Postby Tom Joad » Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:22 pm

kyva1929 wrote:I will be visiting cornell and caltech. Still waiting to be rejected from berkeley, in which case I will have to pay part of the airfare since caltech only reimburse up to $300.


Yeah I'm also paying about $140 out of pocket, since their open house is a week before the others and I'm already missing too much class as it is.

Johnny Law wrote:UIUC, U Mich, Harvard and MIT.

Already visited Berkeley.


What was your impression of Berkeley in terms of the student-professor interactions, student happiness, competitiveness, etc.?

User avatar
Skullgrid
Posts: 59
Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2010 6:50 pm

Re: So Where Are You Visiting?

Postby Skullgrid » Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:32 pm

I'm thinking that I'm going to visit Princeton, Caltech, MIT, and maybe Columbia and Berkeley.

Johnny Law
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:30 pm

Re: So Where Are You Visiting?

Postby Johnny Law » Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:39 am

Tom Joad wrote:What was your impression of Berkeley in terms of the student-professor interactions, student happiness, competitiveness, etc.?


In general, Berkeley felt... weird. Kinda like I was in a Twilight Zone episode. Compared to MIT, everyone is waaaaay chill. Everyone [coordinating the visit] was also super-nice, this was probably to convince us Berkeley is the best (and oh did they try to persuade us: amazing hotel, steak dinners, boat cruise...the works.)

All the professors I met had their own custom managerial style. They all seem to synergize well with the students in their groups, and all the groups had a different "feel" to them. Kinda like they were in their own world. They don't stay that way all the time though... there's weekly beer hour in the department. There were a lot of "characters" there, personalities were all over the place (both in physics and in general). Some of them were pretty awkward, but what to do expect from physicists anyway?

You'll never, ever find a student that says they are not happy at Berkeley, even the ones that aren't being paid to convince you. I think they handle pressure by just being more chill. It's like they all know that Berkeley is the greatest place to do research on the planet and the super passionate ones will probably scoff if you bring up a Stanford or Harvard. They all told me how great it is to be at Berkeley, even the ones who not obligated to. Make sure you don't buy into the hype though make sure you feel like you'd fit in there. Personally I felt a little uncomfortable, I can't put my finger on what it was, Berkeley is just strange: the architecture, the people, the city, the weather... you'll see what I mean.

Overall, the work they do there seems to be top notch just by observing the way the students work. Don't think you can easily say Berkeley is in a tier below those other schools that get all the press, but do consider what their strongest research areas are. For example, I think Berkeley's AMO is strong, but I think MIT/Harvard, and CU Boulder groups may be a little better. I hope I don't regret typing that... You probably already know this, but for other who are reading, think more about the GROUP you'd be in than the school itself.

I did meet a couple people I think are jerks... but I'd never work with them so it really wouldn't be too much of an issue. Another note is if you don't like liberalism, you won't make it out alive. Also, the bums are pretty interesting... I saw one reading Tolstoy.

Some people say Berkeley is "cut-throat," but I didn't see any evidence for that among them during my visit. The only throats they want to cut is Stanford. :wink:

I hope my post doesn't sound biased, but I guess you want my bias.

User avatar
Tom Joad
Posts: 120
Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2012 9:35 pm

Re: So Where Are You Visiting?

Postby Tom Joad » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:06 am

Johnny Law wrote:I hope my post doesn't sound biased, but I guess you want my bias.


Not at all, that's exactly the kind of thing I was looking for, thanks! I'll keep an eye out for that strangeness when I go and report back. I've only interacted with one student from Berkeley, but I definitely noticed the atmosphere of "chill" that you speak of. Was this visit part of a specific program or something?

That bum has good taste in literature.

Johnny Law
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:30 pm

Re: So Where Are You Visiting?

Postby Johnny Law » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:46 am

Tom Joad wrote:
Johnny Law wrote:I hope my post doesn't sound biased, but I guess you want my bias.


Not at all, that's exactly the kind of thing I was looking for, thanks! I'll keep an eye out for that strangeness when I go and report back. I've only interacted with one student from Berkeley, but I definitely noticed the atmosphere of "chill" that you speak of. Was this visit part of a specific program or something?

That bum has good taste in literature.


It was a part of this thing called "EDGE" back in October where they fly you out to interact with students and faculty and to wine and dine you. The bums are really cultured at Berkeley, I saw some with huge piles of books! Someone told me it's because some are dropouts! I've also heard rumor of them performing scenes from plays for change (they might have been pulling my leg though.)

woepriest
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2012 11:56 pm

Re: So Where Are You Visiting?

Postby woepriest » Wed Mar 06, 2013 2:43 pm

So what does it say about the school that doesnt have an official open house? School like Pittsburgh just recommends you to go for an appointment visit.

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

Re: So Where Are You Visiting?

Postby bfollinprm » Wed Mar 06, 2013 5:00 pm

woepriest wrote:So what does it say about the school that doesnt have an official open house? School like Pittsburgh just recommends you to go for an appointment visit.



I guess it says they prefer to give individual attention to their prospective students?

TakeruK
Posts: 816
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: So Where Are You Visiting?

Postby TakeruK » Wed Mar 06, 2013 5:36 pm

woepriest wrote:So what does it say about the school that doesnt have an official open house? School like Pittsburgh just recommends you to go for an appointment visit.


I don't know if you can truly determine anything useful about a department that doesn't organize an open house type visit. It might mean that they have less resources (labour, time, money) to do a formal visit for everyone and organize a special event for visitors. But that just might be the way the department runs. Having the resources to run an open house also isn't a good metric of how much resources the department has in total anyways.

I would prefer the "open house" experience. Sure, you might get more attention if you are the only one visiting, but then your presence is also not as noticeable! I've had both types of visiting experience, and in the open house format, profs make sure that they are in-town and free to speak to students. When you drop in to an office to talk to a prof or student, you feel like less of a disturbance -- this is a scheduled day for talking to prospectives, instead of "oh here is a visitor that will be floating around the department today". There might also be more events planned specifically for you to get a feel for the department and to socialize/interact with students. In an appointment type visit, you might get lucky and go on a day where there is already some interesting seminar or other event (social hour?) going on anyways. I also find that my open house visits were much busier. We had breakfast, lunch, and dinner planned and the grad students are happy to take us out because the department is paying. In appointment visits, I was left to fend for myself after the work day was over and everyone went and did their own thing.

However, I think the most important aspect of an open house format that is lacking in an appointment style visit is the chance to meet the other prospective students! Fit is a very important part of picking a grad school, and while research-fit might be more important, I think it's important to feel like you will have a good fit with your potential classmates since you will be spending a lot of time with them in the next few years!




Return to “Prospective Physics Graduate Student Topics”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 2 guests