Off-topic ramblings from the "FALL 2008 acceptances&quo

  • Imagine you are sipping tea or coffee while discussing various issues with a broad and diverse network of students, colleagues, and friends brought together by the common bond of physics, graduate school, and the physics GRE.

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dlenmn
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Post by dlenmn » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:17 am

@ grae313, nvanmeter, quizivex

Two questions/comments here. First, are the classes you're dissatisfied with physics classes, or in other departments? My impression is that physics majors, pretty much anywhere you go, are pretty bright, because physics is fundamentally difficult, so if they weren't up for it, they'd choose another major. Are the courses not as difficult? I guess I've only seen the product (which is good), not the process.

Second, people seem to be equating undergrad experiences with graduate experiences (e.g. quizivex: "I didn't apply to any safety schools because I don't want to be in a state school environment regardless of the quality of the physics pgm. Too much mediocrity and alcohol... ") This doesn't really strike me as a fair comparison. Sure, there's lot of "mediocrity and alcohol" at many "state schools" when looking at undergraduates, but I don't think this would be the case for say, physics grad school at, say, Wisconsin or UCSB (top 20 and 10 respectively). I'm sure the grad students there are quite bright and hard working, even if their general undergraduate population is not (and I'm sure there are many smart and hard working undergrads at such places as well).

EDIT: it's interesting to not that the people defending state schools seem to be Ivy types... maybe we don't know what we're talking about because it's out of our experience. OTOH, I can tell you that there are people who are bad and math, mediocre, and drink too much here too. The proportions are different, but it's not perfect anywhere. Maybe that's the perspective that gives us our different opinions on the subject.
Last edited by dlenmn on Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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butsurigakusha
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Post by butsurigakusha » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:35 am

Now, I can't say from first hand experience, but from what I've heard from friends, even at expensive, prestigious (not necessarily ivy league) colleges, there is still plenty of mediocrity and alcohol, somewhat surprisingly.

nvanmeter
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Post by nvanmeter » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:41 am

@d-guy

first of all, i was in fact referring to physics classes (and even more, math classes)...sad but true. it's true that students in physics are usually motivated (as physics is widely known to take a lot of work) but that might have nothing to do with intelligence. in fact, i think sometimes you get students who like the subject a lot b/c they like the "cool" star-trek kind of words like teleportation, which has nothing to do with an appreciation of the beautiful logical concepts of science.

secondly, i hate to admit this, but i used to think it was just undergrad...it's not. i'm in a graduate quantum sequence at my school and the story is the same. the average grade last semester (in a class of 9) was somewhere in the 40's with open-book tests...my average was a 98. and i don't mean to say that i did impressively well...rather, i'm shocked that they couldn't do just as well. i mean, the tests were very straightforward; the teacher wasn't trying to trick anyone. however, i concede that this is not a UCSB- or Wisconsin-type school by any means.

to mention one last thing, i do realize that performance on timed tests probably doesn't have much to do with research ability. but this is only one example (used by us often when complaining about this b/c of the objectivity of number grades). the same is often true in more subjective things like the grasping of hard concepts in our classes. sometimes it's just annoying when the teacher has to repeat himself 20 times for the other students to get a concept when it was quite apparent the first time it was said.

damn i just read what i wrote and i sound like an arrogant asshole. now i see why quizivex strives to remain anonymous...oh well, i only speak the truth and will probably be put in my place next year at a better school. and anyway, i'm also not complaining EVER about the professors at my school; they have been quite impressive and their research has gotten me opportunities that i probably never would've had if i had attended one of the really good schools i got into for undergrad. in fact, in some ways, there's an advantage to being at the top of a class of less intelligent people...you're the favorite and everybody likes to be the favorite!! lol i really am a jerk.

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grae313
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Post by grae313 » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:47 am

"are the classes you're dissatisfied with physics classes, or in other departments?"

It's about twenty times worse in other classes, but it's still bad in physics classes. In physics classes, I've had my test grades bumped up way over 100% because most of the class couldn't manage to pass the test even though a large portion of it was straight out of griffiths. I've also had to suffer through months spent reviewing basic math at the beginning of physics courses because the majority of the class could not be counted on to either remember the stuff, or refresh their memories on their own. The material is the same--we all use griffiths--but I don't have to work very hard to get an A or even an A+ in these classes. I'm all for self-motivation, but it gets depressing when the bar is set so low every single time.

For your second question, I want to go to a good school because I want to be surrounded by top students. I want to have to work my ass off to get by. I want to see what I'm capable of. I want to be pushed as far as I can go, and this only happens *naturally* at a top institution. My dad went to a great school and majored in physics (Harvey Mudd). He said he never had to try to be the best student in his class when he was in high school, but once in college he had to work tremendously hard to be average. I've never known what that feels like, and I want to. I also want the name of my school to represent my abilities. I'm not going to say I'm not elitist, but I don't think I'm being at all unreasonable.

When quiz said a "state school environment" I think everyone knows he wasn't talking about UCSB or UCB.

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grae313
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Post by grae313 » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:52 am

nvanmeter wrote:the average grade last semester (in a class of 9) was somewhere in the 40's with open-book tests...my average was a 98
lol, I've had classes like that too. undergrad though...

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dlenmn
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Post by dlenmn » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:52 am

@ nvanmeter, grae313

Thanks for the info. I guess my main problem with this whole discussion is the definition of "State School". The term covers everything from UCB to Slippery Rock State University (I actually know a physics major there -- he's a smart guy). Where do you draw the line between "bad state school" and "good state school". Is a public university in the top 20 still good? Top 30? I'll agree that there are many places (public and private) that I wouldn't want to go for the reasons that have been discussed, but I don't think "state school" is the term that should be used to describe them.

EDIT: I guess part of the thing which got me was quizivex's use of state school in the comment I quoted before ("I don't want to be in a state school environment regardless of the quality of the physics pgm"). I interpret that as including top 20 places like Wisconsin. That's the type of view I don't understand. Have I misunderstood you quizivex? Thoughts?

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grae313
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Post by grae313 » Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:01 am

so apparently this all boils down to the fact that "state school" is un-PC because there are good state schools out there. OK, sorry I offended all the good state schools. I just want to be in an excellent program filled with excellent professors that demand nothing but excellence from their excellent students. The line is subjective.

I may be a little different than quiz, because for me some of it is about pride. I want to go to a school that matches my abilities. People ask me, where do you go to school, and I say "XYZ university" with embarrassment. I know I can get a perfectly good education at a top 20 or top 30 school, but I reeally reeeeally reeeeeeaaaallly want that top 10, and I'm not afraid to admit it.

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dlenmn
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Post by dlenmn » Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:09 am

@ grae313

That's cool. We all want to get in to a top 10 place -- that's not a bad thing. It's quite the opposite really.

I guess I'm used to the term "state school" meaning literally any publicly funded school.

From your profile I can see that you've applied to Washington, so you don't seem to have a problem with going to a state school (with good physics department) as a safety. So your position on state schools seems reasonable to me.
Last edited by dlenmn on Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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will
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Post by will » Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:10 am

But the problem with that is that the quality of physics graduate education is pretty much interchangeable throughout the top 30 or so. The only people who will be more impressed by a Ph.D. from Harvard than a Ph.D. from UIUC are people who can't find the square roots of one, like humanities majors!

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Post by geomar » Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:15 am

Well I have spent a while typing this, and the conversation has taken off in a different direction by now, but I will post anyway.

Remember that is the opinion of another anonymous message board poster, and thus should be taken as the absolute and only truth.

In response to B's quote:
"Now, I can't say from first hand experience, but from what I've heard from friends, even at expensive, prestigious (not necessarily ivy league) colleges, there is still plenty of mediocrity and alcohol, somewhat surprisingly."
Alcohol, yes. Mediocrity - In my opinion, no.

I completely agree with quizivex and others. I am currently studying at what most would call a top tier university, and the intellectual environment is just amazing. Everyone in all my classes is intelligent, hard-working, self-motivated, and yet there is still camaraderie between students (ie. no one cares that XXX beat them on a midterm). The material is interesting, challenging, and I can't ace every test without studying at all (which was probably the case for many of us in high school).

While I have normally bit my tongue when someone uses some variation of the line: "most students at Ivy's are just there because of money/stupid clubs/legacy ", I am going to give my opinion on the issue. Everyone who is here should be. I am absolutely amazed on a consistent basis with some of the things my peers have done. Maybe they don't have perfect SAT scores or aren't valedictorians, but perhaps the role they have played as leaders in their community is unbelievable. They have written books, scientific papers, gone to the Olympics, influenced governmental decisions. Sure, some people with slightly less impressive credentials get in because of legacy/whatever, but they still have 1500+ SATs, 4.0s and are strong students.

And my opinion of students in math/physics classes is even higher. Please interpret the following as not me trying to portray myself as part of some intellectual elite, but as a testament to the intelligence of my peers and the intellectual environment.
In physics/math, almost everyone is just absolutely brilliant (in my opinion). We have multiple International math or science Olympiad medallists in each year, and the rest of the kids are often just as smart. There are certainly equally brilliant people in other disciplines, but the incredibly high percentage of these people in physics is astounding. They didn't get into school because of some loophole, they are here because they are smart - really really really really effin smart. I need to remind myself more often how much of a privilege it is to work with them.
Certainly some other people still struggle with math (we don't offer anything before calculus), but these people excel in something else that I struggle with...

Now to the subeject of Q's alleged "elitism":
I agree that maybe quizivex goes a little too far with the superlatives when describing how "depressing" his university is, and I probably would be more careful with my words... but it just comes down to personal discontent from what I understand.
The only part of Q's annoyance with his school's environment that doesn't sit well with me is the perception that "school prestige" will suddenly make someone more attractive to the other sex. Generally, I can't imagine that being generally true. I think the social environments between schools are pretty similar: general partying here is the same species of drunk mess that it is at any school. I am not going to give Q any generic "how to get girls" advice, but I'm just saying, don't bank on "I go to MIT...".

So that's my opinion (on a lot of things), you can take it or leave it.

And lastly,
Honestly, I think that some people's attempts at trying to make quizivex look dumb by pointing out semantics in his posts are funny. My impression of the situation looks like this:
you think he is trying to be elitist (I agree that sometimes it can come off that way), but by pointing out such minutiae you yourself come off as someone trying (far too hard) to appear intelligent. But that's just the way I interpret it, I don't need a long explanation of your intentions...

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Post by nvanmeter » Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:15 am

maybe the top 30 programs are interchangeable in "education" but certainly not in the students...if so the average entering GRE scores would be similar for the top 30 schools, and they're just not. not that GRE score = intelligence, but if the schools were truly interchangeable, then even that would be comparable.

and UIUC vs. Harvard is a bad example...UIUC is damn good and more than "just" in the top 30. and actually i just asked my roommate who is a physics major, and even he didn't know that UIUC was awesome at physics (and he definitely knows THE square root of 1). there really is a prestige factor (though, unlike grae, for me that doesn't matter much as long as the students are just as good, which in this case i suspect they are).

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Post by nvanmeter » Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:21 am

thanks, geomar. i think you've described exactly the type of environment that grae, quizivex, and myself hope for by going to one of the top-ranked schools. in fact, i loved the post where you said that you often ranked top 200 in the putnam but there were 10 more at your school that did better than you. i'd like that challenge...at my school everyone else gets a 0 usually... and yeah, i don't care where you go to school - "i'm a physics major" is definitely NOT going to attract the ladies. try "i'm a med student"...it works beautifully (kidding....kind of)

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dlenmn
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Post by dlenmn » Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:23 am

@ geomar

I take it that last bit was aimed at me ("pointing out semantics in his posts"). :) I guess I am taking it a little far -- perhaps it's the talmudic scholar genes in me. Still, I don't think I'm picking apart minutia when I'm confused by the opinion in the quote I've been copying around all night.

"I don't want to be in a state school environment regardless of the quality of the physics pgm"

To me, that reads "no state schools. Period." I guess quiz is the only one who can clear it up. Perhaps it is, as you suggest, simply poor word choice. It's not clear though. However, it seems that the general opinion of people using the term "state school" is not against "good state schools", so I've gotten to the bottom of my question.
Last edited by dlenmn on Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:30 am, edited 2 times in total.

geomar
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Post by geomar » Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:30 am

Yeah, I can see now that it is a discrepancy about the definition of "state school", but the comment wasn't aimed at just you. Quizivex is often under attack for his opinions on this board.

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dlenmn
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Post by dlenmn » Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:37 am

Yeah, I guess I've been hard on quizivex (with that sqrt thing too). I don't mean it. With these board being anonymous, it's just too easy to write something silly and hit post (it's even easier when it means that I'm putting of work on a problemset :) ). Maybe I should link to my web page (so that I have an incentive to be nicer). Quizivex, if we every meet, the beer is on me...

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will
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Post by will » Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:41 am

geomar, I definitely agree with what you wrote, but I'm at a probably-not-even-top-100 gigantic state university. Yes, people here party. Even the physics majors... But the classes are challenging. The professors don't pull any punches because "eh, what do you expect from a state school?" The other students work hard and win awards and do outstanding research and it's just as much of an honor to work with bright, talented people here as it is there.

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Post by geomar » Tue Feb 05, 2008 2:04 am

I very much believe that can be the case, but perhaps the experience is not universal to all lower-ranked schools (as it sounds like from other posts). Maybe my experience isn't universal to all top-tier universities, but I might be so bold as to give the unprovable (and very debatable) conjecture that it is more common...

Certainly all professors at ANY university are just an ungodly brand of smart - as it is borderline impossible to get tenure otherwise. Hence classes = hard.

I will never argue that "state schools" (and by this I generally mean lower-ranked schools with more "party" reputations - they can be private or public) give a bad physics education and to a great extent, I believe that a super self-motivated person can learn as much at a weaker school as at a top tier school as an undergraduate student. I know that in my case, I cruised through high school doing the bare minimum, and now have really stepped it up in order to understand the material in college, and to score above the mean. While the people in my high school classes were smart kids and generally went on to top 50 universities, my general opinion of my college peers is higher (there are obviously exceptions to every rule).

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will
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Post by will » Tue Feb 05, 2008 2:37 am

The point I'm making is that you had a great experience at a top tier school. I hat a great experience at a mid tier school. People have had great experiences at every tier in between and I refuse to believe that it's uncommon anywhere without some overwhelming evidence, or that my experience is less common.

I think the problem has more to do with one's outlook.

geomar
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Post by geomar » Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:11 am

Haha, I'm real busy not doing my 3 psets for the week. But there is no way i am missing the space party this time around...

Topic officially derailed. Can someone please get accepted somewhere and get it back on track?

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Post by quizivex » Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:50 am

Wow.... the forum was pretty quiet yesterday, I fell asleep early and missed all this good discussion. I'll respond later today after classes...

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Post by trupti » Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:51 am

I don't understand why people especially physicsdude got so irritataed with quizivex comments...
people with more talent and capability (not just intelligence) will get irritated after some time if they are surrounded and made to deal with mediocre or even dumb people in any field in life..its true everywhere in world..there is nothing wrong in feeling depressed about bad company and demotivating enviornment around you..but what is unacceptable is in very long run saying "I didn't succeed because I didn't go to good school, college etc."..if quizivex would have got a very low pgre score and would have cribbed that it was because he didn't go to a good undergraduate school then it would have been wrong...but since he knows he is capable of much more , he has worked hard so that he can go to a top school where he will be able to use his potential to the hilt
What irritates me is not that people are dumb . I always feel that like all elephants are fat, all normal humans also have some basic intteligence...what these so called dumb people don't have is the right "attitude" to use it. I have a friend who made a very pathetic remark "I will rather go to a mediocre school and be a class topper there, than going to a top school where everybody is bright and I may end up being last in my class". such people cannot really progress much in life.. students don't realise that education given to them is a privelege which millions in the world don't have..i may sound very idealistic but coming from a developing country i have personally known students of my age who had to work really hard even to get a good basic education
some of quizivex's comments may make him sound elitist.. but i very much agree with what he says

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Post by shouravv » Tue Feb 05, 2008 10:43 am

I fully agree with Trupti. I am international student from a developing country in a so called "elite school" now, and I know that my friends from high school back in my country are working at least as hard as, if not few factors harder, to make the best of the limited opportunities they have there. What on earth would you do with an "elite-school" education if you have not worked your way to the end? The hard working students in developing countries do get in very good grad schools in the West as well, and us "elite-school" graduates would be dying out simply out of not being able to compete with people who are more accustomed to working as hard as it takes all the time, unless we were working hard too already.

As for me, personally, let me say that I * AM * absolutely mediocre/below-med academically, my GPA looks mediocre/decent simply because of my humanities grades, and my Physics GRE is 5 sigma away from where it should be. I did not have any connections anywhere in the world, I did not have the money to attend college, and I did not have 1500 in SAT. Yet now I have gotten in to two grad schools I really want to go to not because I am from a "elite school" but simply because I worked my butt off last four year finishing projects and publishing papers. When I attended a summer research program at a top "Institute of Technology" at the end of my sophomore year, most of the other participants were from "so where is Univ of X" schools, and they were all brilliant and hard working people some of whom are already in top Grad programs. (The only sucker was from Univ of Cambridge in UK who had no idea about what is research but had superb grades: so much for elitism.)

Of course I agree that generally most elite-schools students are good, but this is just a selection effect: gold in gold out. I have far greater respect for the non-elite school students and developing world graduates who make it against the odds.

If any of you are feeling down about not being in an elite school, then let me say this: you are a * LOSER *. That's why you are feeling down. If you want to be somewhere and are willing to work towards it, bar for exceptional conditions, you should believe that you will make it. If you feel down then that's a psychological problem. Go see a doctor and stop blaming your non-elite school.
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cancelled20080417
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Post by cancelled20080417 » Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:19 am

I would say, let us all meet and fight, who ever wins will be a LOSER.
hahahaha

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will
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Post by will » Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:53 am

^ Yeah, that.

admissionprof
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Post by admissionprof » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:26 pm

I agree with Tnoviell, but would add one thing. The high school student should go to a place where he/she thinks they will be happy. It's an awfully important four years in a young person's life. My daughter, now a mathemetician at a top school, went to an undergraduate institution with a somewhat lesser reputation and "name", because there was a good orchestra and she liked the people. She was happy there, got into a good graduate school, and has done well.

One question any high school student should ask: what graduate schools did last year's seniors go to?

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Post by tnoviell » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:45 pm

That's true, and in my opinion, happiness should go towards undergraduates and graduate students.

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Post by geomar » Tue Feb 05, 2008 6:48 pm

More of my opinion on undergraduate admissions:

"For every one of us who gets in because we are smart there are many others who get in because they are rich, because they are legacy admits, or because mommy & daddy have a library named after them. "

It really irks me to see no information other than your personal opinion in this statement.

"At other top-tier universities like Harvard, Princeton and University of Pennsylvania, legacy students on average make up about 13 percent of the student body."
http://daily.stanford.edu/article/2005/ ... FarmMatter

Another statistic shows that legacies have ~30-40% chance of admission to these top tier schools (significantly higher than percentages in the 10-20% range for the average applicant). Thus, working under the assumption that the average legacy is the same as the average applicant, ~50%-75% max or so of the legacy students don't deserve to be there - ie. half the legacy admissions are unjustified thus the real percentage should be the same as normal students.
Thus about 7%-10% of the student body got in because of some loophole - if we work by these assumptions. Oh wait - lets add on the few kids whose parents donated a building - I bet that changes something...

However, I would say anyone who has legacy to such a university has access to a superior education as a result of being part of an educated and probably well-off family - this would also inflate legacy admissions percentages. I really don't want to get started on debating "intelligence genes," so lets not go there. I am saying - its possible to explain this inflated admission. But its impossible to get any more than ~13% unless you start making some pretty charged claims (I won't put the words in your mouth).

And I will say that whatever percentage you can come up with - it goes down to right around 0% of the physics class because of self-selection.

In any case you can't argue that there is some absurd loophole that allows only dumb rich kids to get into top universities - there are at most only 13% legacy admissions. I personally think that every single one belongs. Do I think there are a bunch of quite smart 4.0, 1500 SAT kids who didn't get in who could be interchanged with those who did? sure.

I am not saying all smart people go to a top tier school. But if you look at a top tier school... it will be almost all smart students. From some people's description on this board, this doesn't appear to be the case at other schools as they are completely not challenged. Perhaps they are just far more intelligent than me and my classmates and would easily score well above the top score in our physics classes and also just cruise by here...but I personally don't believe this is the case.

For these people who want to be more challenged - perhaps the answer is to go to a significantly higher ranked school. But then Perhaps they will be unhappy with some other aspect. Its not the answer for everyone, and oftentimes there is more than one right answer.

I think graduate school is a different type of animal and yes, research advisor is by far the most important thing. But I don't want to write a page here about my views on this.

As for this gem of a quote:
"If any of you are feeling down about not being in an elite school, then let me say this: you are a * LOSER *. That's why you are feeling down. If you want to be somewhere and are willing to work towards it, bar for exceptional conditions, you should believe that you will make it."
The people have mentioned mediocrity at their school are at the top of their class. They get the highest scores on tests but it takes only minimal effort. They have done the best they can. I normally try not to speak for anyone other than myself, but it can be lonely at the top - they want to have more peers with the same abilities and interests...(please correct me if I am wrong). Thats not elitism, thats looking for an aspect of college that they personally value (I never say everyone values/needs it).

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Post by grae313 » Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:08 pm

will wrote:...I'm at a probably-not-even-top-100 gigantic state university. Yes, people here party. Even the physics majors... But the classes are challenging. The professors don't pull any punches because "eh, what do you expect from a state school?" The other students work hard and win awards and do research and it's just as much of an honor to work with bright, talented people here as it is there.
Well now it all makes sense--your opinions on "state schools", and my opinions on "state schools." There are no students here besides me who work hard and win awards and do oustanding research. There are no bright talented people here (OK, there is one other guy in my department, but that's it). Perhaps the difference is that you are at a mid-Tier school, and I'm not.

In high school I was pretty depressed and didn't have my act together at all. I only applied to Harvey Mudd, and UW as a backup. My application was late to HM, I got into UW, but I didn't know I was supposed to send something back accepting their offer of admission. When I found out, the deadline had passed and I enrolled in a nearby school that was still admitting students. Basically, if you have above a 3.0 GPA and 1200 SAT, you are guaranteed admission here. I think their minimum GPA is a 2.0. It is just plain terrible. I would have transferred but when it came time, I had compelling reasons to stay.

Anyways, I just want to go to a school a) where I am challenged and b) that has prestige. I think everyone knows there is more to it, and of course I will take into account the people and the environment and the available research group, advisors, and all that. That's a given. a) and b) are just what I want in addition to that.

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Post by quizivex » Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:42 pm

First congrats to geomar... what an awesome wake up call... I'd be thrilled too unless they interrupted a wet dream or something.


Much has been said since my last comment...

Fortunately I need not add much since nvanmeter and grae313 have illustrated very well what it's like from our perspective at these "state schools." Then geomar gave a primary account of what we've been missing out on in college. Yes, it's great being surrounded by quality people. It's great being able to learn from your peers... It's great fitting comfortably near the middle of your class and not feeling like you need a 4.0 or else... At our schools were curves are given to assure everyone passes, our A in quantum doesn't imply we've mastered the challenging abstract material because some students who got B's can't normalize a wavefunction.
As you know from the other thread, I am seriously thinking about state school opportunities as opposed to Hedera schools ...
shouravv, don't be turned off by our stories... there are plenty of great state schools with a sense of academic pride and a lively physics program ... I'm not in one of them but they do exist. In fact, if I were to start over, I would find a nice 2nd tier undergrad school where probably every aspect of my life would've been better, and then save the grueling top school for grad work...

And yes, by "state school" we're not referring to the literal definition, just a type of atmosphere.

@ dlenmn

You suggested that in any fairly decent school will have hardworking talented physics grad students even though the undergrads may be pretty lame...

Perhaps... but I think many of us do want a school filled with dedicated people in all fields, not just physics, not just grad students.

And while there are some good students in my dept, there are also a lot of lousy ones. It's not always about IQ... one guy was the valedictorian of his HS, but here he barely shows up to class, misses tons of assignments and has about a 3.0... He's not incapable, he's actually a really cool guy too, he just knows he can get away with doing nothing here and he takes full advantage of it... he'll still get his degree and be able to teach HS.

There are also some physics/math students that are pitifully bad. "Will" would say that they must be supremely gifted in something else, ok sure... but please just don't major in physics.

As far as alcohol, I shouldn't have used that word interchangeably with mediocrity... Everybody drinks. It's nothing to judge people by... but after meeting enough students whose only talent is getting smashed I often correlate the two.
I want to go to a good school because I want to be surrounded by top students. I want to have to work my ass off to get by. I want to see what I'm capable of...

I also want the name of my school to represent my abilities. I'm not going to say I'm not elitist, but I don't think I'm being at all unreasonable.
Well put, grae313...
I want to go to a school that matches my abilities. People ask me, where do you go to school, and I say "XYZ university" with embarrassment. I know I can get a perfectly good education at a top 20 or top 30 school, but I reeally reeeeally reeeeeeaaaallly want that top 10, and I'm not afraid to admit it.
Yes grae313, that too is part of my reason, again, for wanting the same thing you do...

Some decent programs might be ruled out. If every time I told someone where I was going I had to say, "The Univerisity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign," I'd get a sore throat. Sorry, Haaahvud is easier, lol :wink:
While I have normally bit my tongue when someone uses some variation of the line: "most students at Ivy's are just there because of money/stupid clubs/legacy ", I am going to give my opinion on the issue. Everyone who is here should be. I am absolutely amazed on a consistent basis with some of the things my peers have done.
I believe I was the one who broached that stereotype. I'm not saying those accomplished students aren't smart or deserving... but some of them are just getting an edge over other students of comparable ability and uprightness by doing things they might not have done if it wasn't with college admissions in the back of their mind...

We shouldn't have to play 3 varsity sports (and be captain of at least two) to go to a nice college, or single handedly change our community (my community is fine the way it is) to go to a nice college, or harass our high school to bus us over to the local community college to take classes 2 years ahead of the rest of our classmates.... just to go to a nice college.

If you look in my HS yearbook's profiles at all the students who have gone to "elite" schools, they were involved in far more things than I think they could be genuinely intersted in. Perhaps the one white guy who joined the asian studies club was personally fascinated with oriental culture, or maybe he felt he needed a 10th club.

What I said only applies to some of the students, perhaps as small a percentage as the "legacy" factor. I don't know.

But thanks geomar for illustrating how enjoyable it is at your school... maybe people will stop calling us state schoolers crazy for wanting to partake in that.
The only part of Q's annoyance with his school's environment that doesn't sit well with me is the perception that "school prestige" will suddenly make someone more attractive to the other sex.
You can't claim that no girl would be impressed with such a statement. It'd be a good way to introduce yourself, if nothing else. Even goodfromfar said she "can't deny the appeal of saying ' I'm a grad student at cornell what do you do' "... and she doesn't even need to pick up chicks. Again, it's not a sole driving reason for wanting a top school, but might be a nice side benefit.


As for the comments about prefering to be the top student at a lousy school than a lousy student at a top school, that's just silly, especially in a field like physics, where you'll ultimately be competing against everyone anyway in your career in terms of finding jobs and getting grants. You can't make yourself taller by hiding with short people...
In 10 years it will be better to say that you were first in your class in a mediocre school than last in your class at Harvard.
There's no reason a top student at a mediocre school would necessarily be worst at Harvard.
Stop playing into the rich elitism that these schools thrive on. The only reason they can be so selective is because so many people apply.
The gold in, gold out comment is true. But unlike undergraduates who may have to choose between spending $40K per year at Yale or take free tuition at a state school, physics grad students don't have to pay for anything anywhere, so we're not being cheated by any greedy system by going to a top school. If I want to meet guys like RG, nvanmeter and company, I'll need to go to a top program.

And geomar, thanks for responding to the "gem of a quote" so I didn't have to... this beating of the dead horse has gone on long enough... some people will continue to misunderstand our aspirations no matter what...

And going back to the main topic, I'm still accepted nowhere...

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will
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Post by will » Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:55 am

There are also some physics/math students that are pitifully bad. "Will" would say that they must be supremely gifted in something else, ok sure... but please just don't major in physics.
Now, now. I brought that up because at the time you were making full character judgments about people that you know nothing about based on whether they had they same specialized, trivial skills that you do. That makes you sound like an asshole. Your views have gotten more tempered over time, though, so whatever.

schandre
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Post by schandre » Wed Feb 06, 2008 11:28 am

And RG reaches the 300 posts mark!

doom
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Post by doom » Thu Feb 07, 2008 7:47 pm

Man, grae, you're just busting my balls tonight, huh? ;)

I knew CM was a popular field, I just thought HEP was close to it in popularity. Guess I was wrong.

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grae313
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Post by grae313 » Thu Feb 07, 2008 7:49 pm

doom wrote:Man, grae, you're just busting my balls tonight, huh? :wink:
8)


:wink:

I'm severely bored and I keep hitting the refresh button on my email and nothing happens :x

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will
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Post by will » Thu Feb 07, 2008 9:48 pm

I think that we should be able to choose who gets our extra acceptances. ...And by that I mean all you people who are getting accepted to ten schools should be able to share some of that emotional and financial security with me. :D

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grae313
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Post by grae313 » Thu Feb 07, 2008 9:49 pm

RG, that would be you! Which of your acceptances will you pass along to will?

tnoviell
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Post by tnoviell » Thu Feb 07, 2008 10:13 pm

If you go to MIT, RG, we'll have to meet up and have a beer. I'm originally from Boston and frequently return.

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quizivex
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Post by quizivex » Thu Feb 07, 2008 10:13 pm

RG wrote:If only The Ohio State were located at Santa Barbara, California.........
just like kansas city is in missouri, sheesh...

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grae313
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Post by grae313 » Thu Feb 07, 2008 10:14 pm

I hear you about living in the midwest, RG. There were so many good schools that I would like to go to if I could just stand the thought of living in the midwest. I could not bring myself to apply to any school that was in that area. (sorry midwesterners! I still love you, I'm just not moving in!!)

I am also sure you will get more acceptances. I'll bet you a dollar. Remember, it is still very early and you are an outstanding applicant who is uniquely qualified to do CMT. How many applicants do you think they see who have not one but TWO publications as the SOLE author in CMT, and have taken as many grad classes as you? I imagine you are head and shoulders above 99% of the other CMT applicants in the country--it's just a matter of whether the department you applied to has space in a research lab and funding for more theory students.

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twistor
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Post by twistor » Thu Feb 07, 2008 10:21 pm

grae313:

Please do not be xenophobic towards the midwest. This is how polls get started...

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grae313
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Post by grae313 » Thu Feb 07, 2008 10:23 pm

I know but I can't help the way I feel!

cancelled20080417
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Post by cancelled20080417 » Thu Feb 07, 2008 10:29 pm

thanks grae for the compliment, but I really suck at so many things in Physics.
I blew up the PGRE and I am telling you I will never be able to get 93 correct in PGRE no matter what( ofcourse if you give me one 1 day then I might, o/w no hope).
There are other so many excellent people on this forum. Take nvanmeter for instance who I think is in much better position than me( I am talking wrt CMT only) and MIT does not admit more than 2 people in CMT ( just my guess from what I have heard)


Sure, tnoviell, beer is on me( coz I will have MIT with me, hhahaha)

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Post by grae313 » Thu Feb 07, 2008 10:34 pm

If you are talking about a school that just looks at numbers, then maybe you are right. BUT, I think that when admissions people look at an application, they are trying to determine 1) who can be the most successful in graduate school, 2) which of these students can be afforded, and 3) how will this person round out the department and add some diversity. I think your profile demonstrates that you will be successful in graduate school better than a 990 PGRE. Besides, 850 isn't bad. But you've already shown you are capable of acing grad classes and doing successful independent CMT research. No admissions panelist could look at your application and have doubts that you would be a great CMT student. In my opinion, it's just a matter of #2 and #3 for you.

cancelled20080417
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Post by cancelled20080417 » Thu Feb 07, 2008 10:51 pm

we'll c :?

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grae313
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Post by grae313 » Thu Feb 07, 2008 10:55 pm

bet you a dollar. you got paypal? 8)

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Post by hpharty » Fri Feb 08, 2008 4:44 pm

I got an email today from a prof at UCSC who wants me to join their research group and wants to know what they can do to make UCSC more attractive to me Shocked
Let me translate that:
Edited for a poor attempt at internet sarcasm
Actually, that's pretty cool man. Well done. <---- Didn't anyone read this? This was the serious part. I am damn impressed with grae being contacted directly. I suppose you could say my use of "man" here is just a colloquialism, but I do apologize because I had no idea grae was actually a young woman.
Last edited by hpharty on Fri Feb 08, 2008 6:22 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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fermiboy
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Post by fermiboy » Fri Feb 08, 2008 5:27 pm

Wow people are really snarky on here lately (including myself). I didn't read HER post like that at all.

cancelled20080417
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Post by cancelled20080417 » Fri Feb 08, 2008 5:38 pm

<sorry hpharty>
Last edited by cancelled20080417 on Fri Feb 08, 2008 7:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

VT
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Post by VT » Fri Feb 08, 2008 5:44 pm

wow, it makes me wonder why hpharty wrote that post. Thats terrible.
It is true that some universities do try to coarce(check the spelling) good students and grae313 is a good student. I do not see anything wrong on her post.

And RG you are hilarious, you tore hpharty apart completely without giving him/her a chance to speak.

well, time for me to get back to my work.

hpharty
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Post by hpharty » Fri Feb 08, 2008 6:16 pm

Come on guys....

I was really just joking around with that.

I like this forum a lot, it provides all of us with a bunch of helpful information. I am honestly happy that all of you seem to be doing very well with all of this. It is really cool that grae has interest directly from a professor. Seriously, that is astounding.

I am very sorry if my exaggerated jealousy has gone too far. If it makes the forum a happier place, I will gladly remove that post.

RG, that is exactly what I expected in response, but I didn't mean to genuinely upset anyone. It was just some friendly elbow-in-the-ribs internet sarcasm.

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fermiboy
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Post by fermiboy » Fri Feb 08, 2008 6:34 pm

I was just making the comment that people on here have lately been snarky in general. I don't think anyone would disagree with that.



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