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Posted: Sun Feb 03, 2008 7:03 pm
by shouravv
< withdrawn >

Posted: Sun Feb 03, 2008 7:46 pm
by dlenmn
I have seen the difference between these small reputed places and large public schools with greater resources, and my impression is that the intellectual vibrancy and close knit departments in the Ivies etc. smaller programs kind of make up for their lack of breadth in resources.
What's your sample size? You'd probably be best off visiting as many places as possible to find out what the atmosphere is like at different places.
Plus people say at the end one has to sell the PhD to become a post-doc and then brand value often matters.
Many people on the board throw around the term "Ivy" in what seems like a very lose fashion. Not all Ivy league schools have the same reputation in physics or astro, so I don't know what the "brand" is worth. Maybe it's still worth a lot -- like I said I don't know. But you should do some research that before making that assumption.

Posted: Sun Feb 03, 2008 11:21 pm
by butsurigakusha
Yeah, I am wondering if you are using the term ivy league in a loose sense. Strictly speaking, ivy league refers to these eight schools: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Pennsylvania, and Yale. Of those schools, only Harvard, Princeton and Cornell are top-ten programs. Dartmouth and Brown don't have much in the way of physics reputation, as far as I can tell. On the other hand, you have several non-ivy league schools that are top-ten: Stanford, Caltech, Chicago, and even some public schools in the top ten: Illinois, UCSB, and Berkeley.

So, I would say that ivy league status is pretty meaningless when considering physics graduate schools, unless you are planning to use your degree to impress people who are completely unfamiliar with the field of physics.

Posted: Sun Feb 03, 2008 11:48 pm
by dlenmn

To approach your question more directly, Columbia is ranked higher than Washington in the US News physics ranking. I don't know what that means in terms of Astro (or in terms of anything really).

I know what you mean about the small department feel (I'm at a small Ivy too -- perhaps even the same one you're at... your description could fit someone I know... QM midterm tomorrow?), and I'd say that you're right -- that is worth something. Also, smaller programs are at a disadvantage in rankings simply because they are small and thus the volume of research they produce is also small. That doesn't mean that they don't have good professors doing excellent research who are known in their field. If that's the case, getting a good postdoc after grad school is quite possible -- I know that it's been done.

It comes down to specifics I guess. We don't know yours, and even if we did, what the heck do we know? Perhaps you should pester those profs who have been posting. To quote them:

My final message is to not rush to judgment based on US News and World Report or NRC rankings. There are many parameters that will affect your graduate experience, and reputation / pedigree effect is just one such parameters. Make sure you visit the campus and talk to faculty members and other students, go on lab tours - don't be shy, ask a lot of questions.
You need to find a perfect fit between you and the department (or more specifically, a lab or a PI that you want to work with). It's a bit like dating - physical attractiveness (ranking) is not everything - you need to find a "perfect match" in many other ways.
The other professor is right about not paying attention to ratings. I had a choice between a school that was then rated about 50th and a school that was top three (maybe top one). I chose the lower-rated school since I liked the location, the atmosphere and the friendliness of the department. It just fit better. Sure, it might have hurt a little bit in getting future jobs, but I was very happy for 5-6 years, and that made it worthwhile. It was the best decision I've ever made (and the higher rated school's admissions person was stunned....)
@ butsurigakusha

I've seen this misuse of the term "Ivy" tossed around a few times on this board (e.g. will uses it on "FALL 2008 acceptances").

quizivex might be interested to know that the concept of slope (as in the slope of a line) was unfamiliar and somewhat confusing to several people in an introductory econ class I took here... there are people who don't know math everywhere apparently.

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:03 am
by grae313
we should start a new policy: no answering anyone's questions until they post in the profile thread!! Or at least post a placeholder!

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:05 am
by cancelled20080417
I WANT TO GO TO IVY coz I am thinking of switching to FINANCE in the future which is to say after completing my PHD in theoretical Condensed matter Physics!!!

I dont want Brown or Dartmouth or U Penn though!

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:34 am
by quizivex
I think being from (any) ivy as an undergrad might help in getting into REU programs. From looking at old forum threads I've found that many ivy students who aren't at a tiptop physics program and have average grades/GRE scores have gone to 2 and sometimes 3 REUs.

When I searched for programs sophomore year, I applied to ones at schools I hadn't even heard of... and got rejected from practically all of them. At that time during undergrad, students are just beginning to take advanced courses and haven't taken GREs yet... So with so many identical students across the country all having the same good grades and research experience at their home school applying for 10 spots, having the name recognition seems to help in that case.


Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:35 am
by shouravv

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 10:05 am
by dlenmn
@ quizivex
I think being from (any) ivy as an undergrad might help in getting into REU programs. From looking at old forum threads I've found that many ivy students who aren't at a tiptop physics program and have average grades/GRE scores have gone to 2 and sometimes 3 REUs.
We're getting off topic now, but I'm not sure if this is true. I applied to REUs in my junior year and got rejected from all but one. Even for the one I got in to, I was told in an email in that while it was theoretically possible that I'd be accepted, it was very unlikely (they changed their tune 2 weeks later... caught me by surprise). When I was there I compared notes with the other Ivy leaguer at the program (about 25 people were in the program), and he had come to the opposite conclusion that you had (based on his experience, and the experiences of a few of his friends -- not a huge sample size).

This could be explained by the goals NSF sets in sponsoring it's REUs, one of which is let students do some research so that they get a feel for what graduate school might be like (the questionair I got at the end of my REU even had a question about whether the REU made me more likely to considering going for a PhD). This aspect of REUs isn't useful for someone like me. There are many research opportunities for undergraduates where I go to school, and I had already decided on going to grad school. It could however, be very useful for many people from undergrad only departments, or departments with less resources for supporing undergrad research. In short, if NSF wants to have maximum impact, fewer Ivy types should be let in to their REUs. There seems to be some anecdotal evidence that they're doing this.

(Don't interpert this as whining -- it's not. Just giving another perspective.)

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 11:21 am
by quizivex
@ dlenmn

Ok I recant my hypothesis about school reputation and REU programs, it was just a guess based on past experience and looking at old threads...

As for the square root issue, I wasn't offended at all and don't mind the comment... I was just pretty sure your statement was incorrect and wanted to give you a full explanation of it so you wouldn't counter with more examples lol...

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:06 pm
by dlenmn
@ quizivex


No need to recant your hypothesis -- all I've got is some anecdotal evidence.

The question of what the brand is worth is of interest to me too, because I'm going to graduate soon and I want to know what I'll get with the (very) expensive piece of paper they'll give me :) I think RG has it right... If you want to sell your soul and work for a hedge fund, then it's worth quite a bit. Otherwise... who knows?

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 1:32 pm
by cancelled20080417
Hey dlenmn::::

IT IS NOT ABOUT SELLING YOUR SOUL ALRITE!! I mean what the hell is wrong in finance? Have you heard of a subject called QUANTUM FINANCE!!
Research in a field like quantum finance, and quantitavie finance is as intereting and challenging as high enenrgy or cond matter physics. It involves heavy mathematics, QFT and all other sophisticated mathematical tools. It is CHALLENGING field of research, not like a cheap research, where a freshman from quizivex's school goes to the lab, move some testubes here and here and claim that they have research experience of 1 year! hahahaha. I laugh at this type of research experience and the type of research!

The bottomline is: I am not trying to sell my soul. You got me wrong. I am a very theoretcial person and love to do hard core math. If money comes along with my hard work then I am not going to turn in down.

I want to be happy and for me happiness is hard WORK,contribute in the field of theoretical science,money, and of course 'THE' girl( remember, beauty with brain, not a hooker)

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 5:00 pm
by dlenmn
@ RG

Quantum finance, eh? Is that what that French bank was practicing? They collapsed the wave function and found that they had a couple billion $$$ less than they had last time...