REU as a freshman?

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REU as a freshman?

Post by Toodles » Tue Oct 27, 2009 11:30 pm

Hi all,

I'm currently a freshman at a fairly well known liberal arts school with a strong physics program. Given this, doing research here over the summer isn't much of an option. Is it common for students who have only completed their freshman year to be admitted into an REU / other summer research program? I should have As in physics and math.

I will have taken General Physics (including special relativity), Multivariate Calculus, Differential Equations, and have self studied a bit of Linear Algebra. I also will have taken a programming course, and after it I will have 10 weeks of experience with Python, and 4-5 weeks of experience with Haskell and Java.


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Re: REU as a freshman?

Post by nathan12343 » Wed Oct 28, 2009 12:46 am

It may be difficult. Start working on the applications right now, attempt to secure STRONG recommendation letters, preferably from professors, and apply to a large number of programs. It is in some ways more difficult to get into an REU than it is to get into grad school, so be aware of that.

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Re: REU as a freshman?

Post by quizivex » Wed Oct 28, 2009 1:44 am

As I recall, most REU websites I visited said only sophs and juniors can apply. Even those are heavily biased towards juniors, since they have much more background and (as mentioned in one of my rejection letters) it's their last chance for a summer research program. The odds for everyone at any REU program (except girls/minorities) are extremely small. There are so many good students applying for so few spots (usually 10 or less), and seemingly half or more of them are reserved for the underrepresented groups...

Search through the forum for past discussions about experiences with REU applications.

Thus, I think your chances as a freshman are ridiculously small. You do have some marketability since you're from a good liberal arts school and these programs like to research opportunities to students who can't easily get them... but you've had no advanced physics classes and are unlikely to beat out all the soph/junior applicants. With that in mind, I'd recommend just focusing on coursework for now, keep your GPA high and apply sophomore year. Maybe do something else next summer (tutoring job, study ahead, road trip, whatever).

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Re: REU as a freshman?

Post by vesperlynd » Wed Oct 28, 2009 1:07 pm

Last edited by vesperlynd on Wed Mar 02, 2011 1:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: REU as a freshman?

Post by grae313 » Wed Oct 28, 2009 7:05 pm

I agree with vesperlynd. First step if you are interested in research is to let all of your professors know. I did this, and people went out of their way to find me a research position and I ended up working at NASA even though there was essentially nothing going on in my department.

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Re: REU as a freshman?

Post by zxcv » Fri Nov 13, 2009 12:06 am

One girl in the REU I did at UC San Diego after my junior year was actually 17 (!) although she had finished her freshman year of college.

I did an REU at Portland State University after my freshman year.

I only got into either of these REUs because I had contacted professors and expressed interest directly. Do that, and pick REU programs at lower ranked schools, and you have a fighting chance.

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