Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby TomatoTomahto » Mon Jul 01, 2013 3:00 pm

nimo956 wrote:I just want to stress that the top-ranked school may not necessarily be the best fit for your child as an individual. It really requires a level of honesty and introspection that he may not be willing to admit at this age. When I was his age I thought the world was my oyster, I am going to do whatever I'm interested in, and there's no one who can tell me to do differently. The truth though is that a lot of these schools like MIT are extremely cut-throat. There's a lot of pressure to keep up with and compete with other students who are probably at the genius level. They load up on 7-8 honors level classes per semester, get straight A's in all of them, take courses simultaneously that are supposed to be sequentially, are Putman Fellows, etc. This could make your son feel like he needs to keep up. He'll overextend himself, do poorly, and then start to feel inferior/depressed. I've personally known people this has happened to at MIT. Let me tell you that a C GPA at MIT doesn't mean much compared to an A from a slightly lower ranked school when looking for a job or to go to graduate school. It could be beneficial to consider some of these lower ranked schools, or perhaps small liberal arts colleges where there is more individual attention. I'm not saying that this will definitely happen to your son, but I feel it's an important point to consider.

If he is lucky enough to be admitted to a school of that caliber, and if he were to do poorly there, we would not hesitate to pursue Plan B. He would not find us resistant.

I don't understand why, just because a less than stellar outcome is possible, we would avoid the opportunity.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby ieee488 » Mon Jul 01, 2013 3:07 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:I don't understand why, just because a less than stellar outcome is possible, we would avoid the opportunity.

Because it is your child's psyche that we are talking about not yours.

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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby TomatoTomahto » Mon Jul 01, 2013 3:42 pm

Deleted; remembered too late that ignoring some posts makes more sense than responding.
Last edited by TomatoTomahto on Mon Jul 01, 2013 4:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby ieee488 » Mon Jul 01, 2013 3:58 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:
ieee488 wrote:
TomatoTomahto wrote:I don't understand why, just because a less than stellar outcome is possible, we would avoid the opportunity.

Because it is your child's psyche that we are talking about not yours.

Trap with parents is living their dreams through their child.


(Deleted; remembered too late that ignoring some posts makes more sense than responding.) [Missed the earlier post --admin LadyGeek]


Defensive much?

[Response to earlier post removed by admin LadyGeek]
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby btenny » Mon Jul 01, 2013 4:22 pm

I agree with much of the above about Berkeley and Illinois-Irbana because of their huge nuclear progams and maybe Rice and Texas because of their Geology and Oil stuff. But I wanted to add two state schools which excel in Astronomy/Physics/Space Science that are not usually mentioned, Arizona State University and Univ of Arizona for there proximity to Kitt Peak and all kinds of Space science stuff that both conduct. See below. I also highly recommend Cal Tech in Pasadena for the same reasons. But I suspect some of the eastern US schools are also good at this stuff but I do not know of them.

So I would suggest you get busy visiting some of these schools ASAP to see which ones your kid likes to narrow the field before you do any reach/backup lists. Have fun and go see what you kid likes and enjoys in person...

http://sese.asu.edu/
http://cos.arizona.edu/freatures/earths ... n-asteroid
http://www.noao.edu/kpno/
http://nsokp.nso.edu/
http://www.nsf.gov/mobile/discoveries/d ... 61&org=NSF
http://keckobservatory.org/news/nasa_an ... e_on_europ

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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby TomatoTomahto » Mon Jul 01, 2013 4:35 pm

Bill,

The list is growing.

We decided after visiting a few East Coast schools that visiting before applying would probably result in not getting the applications done on time. The research is being done online; after the Early Action letters arrive, and assuming that there are some admits mixed in with the deferrals, we will book flights for our son.

Assuming there will still be Regular Action applications to submit and receive notifications of, well, that bridge can be crossed when the time comes :D
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby MOBY DICK » Mon Jul 01, 2013 4:36 pm

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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby campy2010 » Mon Jul 01, 2013 4:36 pm

My only piece of advice is to put a few schools that provide "merit-based aid" on your list. If he's as good as you say he is, let the good but lesser ranked schools fight over him with aid money.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby TomatoTomahto » Mon Jul 01, 2013 4:52 pm

campy2010 wrote:My only piece of advice is to put a few schools that provide "merit-based aid" on your list. If he's as good as you say he is, let the good but lesser ranked schools fight over him with aid money.
If they decide to offer him scholarships, so be it. My wife would kill me if I let it enter the decision process. She is the money earner now, and it is mostly her income that has funded the college accounts, so I guess that's her right. :D
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby seeingeyestrike » Mon Jul 01, 2013 4:59 pm

He may want to consider Stevens Institute of Technology as a safety school. Your son should be able to get a merit based full tuition scholarship there. If he applies for the scholars program, he can stay during the summers and do research with a professor for a stipend. Alternatively, there’s the option of taking summer classes for free and completing a bachelors and a masters degree in 4 years. I got the best of both worlds by doing research with a professor after freshman year, taking summer classes after sophomore year, and interning and taking a couple online classes after junior year to get the research and work experience as well as my masters degree.

http://www.stevens.edu/sit/admissions/a ... holars.cfm

As for the engineering- I agree with what other posters have said. It’s too early to rule it out. I went into college as undecided sciences major with no interest in engineering. Because I AP’ed out of a lot of freshman classes, and needed a couple extra, my advisor recommended I take the freshman engineering course to see how I felt about it. I liked it and went into mechanical engineering. Even if he ends up not liking it, it wouldn't hurt him to take the freshman level engineering course since he’s so ahead from high school anyway.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby livesoft » Mon Jul 01, 2013 5:02 pm

Clearly with your son's distaste for foreign languages he needs to meet that head-on and go to school in France or Germany.
It's all about short-term opportunistic rebalancing due to a short-term change in one's asset allocation, uh, I mean opportunistic rebalancing, uh I mean rebalancing, uh I mean market timing.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby Valuethinker » Mon Jul 01, 2013 5:11 pm

I think the point about being happy is seminal. That the other poster made.

The thing about MIT/ Caltech etc. is they are absolutely very tough schools, where your son will be competing with the best and the brightest and the hardest working. That 'sorting' where the top 1% of every high school class gets sorted into those people who get to be in the bottom 1/3rd is probably the most brutal thing about these schools-- not everyone can take it.

I had a related experience in undergrad: 80%+ of my classes were Hong Kong Chinese, and they were incredibly hard working and many of them very bright. It wasn't a good environment (a few years later many more of them would have had high school education in Canada as well and would have been much more assimilated, it just happened to be a time when Canada was getting a big influx of HK students, these kids were straight off the boat, their parents had made huge sacrifices to put them there, their English skills were not strong-- they needed to work really hard to get a marketable degree and go home). I felt quite alienated.

What you want is a school with a lot of individual attention and encouragement. And also a community in which he is happy (generally, that speaks to a 'campus' university, with the campus in not too scuzzy an area).

I have heard of Worcester Polytechnic and its engineering programme appears to be quite interesting (very project based). I can't speak to its reputation.

If his career takes him to the Phd level, it will be where he gets his Phd that matters, and in fact I suspect any serious career in *engineering* (rather than management) will require an MSc these days. If he goes the management route, eventually he will get an MBA-- that's a given.

FWIW I was in undergrad with one of the physics profs at Case Western and I cannot think of a nicer guy-- he would be in his early 50s now.

People here are posting rankings-- it would be good to have a link to the source.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby Valuethinker » Mon Jul 01, 2013 5:18 pm

nimo956 wrote:I just want to stress that the top-ranked school may not necessarily be the best fit for your child as an individual. It really requires a level of honesty and introspection that he may not be willing to admit at this age. When I was his age I thought the world was my oyster, I am going to do whatever I'm interested in, and there's no one who can tell me to do differently. The truth though is that a lot of these schools like MIT are extremely cut-throat. There's a lot of pressure to keep up with and compete with other students who are probably at the genius level (like future Fields Medal/Nobel Prize/MacArthur Genius Award level). They load up on 7-8 honors level classes per semester, get straight A's in all of them, take courses simultaneously that are supposed to be sequentially, are Putman Fellows, etc. This could make your son feel like he needs to keep up. He'll overextend himself, do poorly, and then start to feel inferior/depressed. I've personally known people this has happened to at MIT. Let me tell you that a C GPA at MIT doesn't mean much compared to an A from a slightly lower ranked school when looking for a job or to go to graduate school. It could be beneficial to consider some of these lower ranked schools, or perhaps small liberal arts colleges where there is more individual attention. I'm not saying that this will definitely happen to your son, but I feel it's an important point to consider.


+1

bold face and underlining mine


The movie 'Real Genius' (with Val Kilmer) was filmed at Caltech and many of the characters are based upon people the director interviewed (particularly the female student-- the one who does not sleep, she was a real person, had a career with Xilinx). The pressure depicted (humorously) in the movie is very real.

I should note that one of the best engineering schools in America is Annapolis (West Point is a fine school, but I am not sure how it ranks as an engineering school). NOT suggesting that's appropriate for OP's son, but just to encourage a bit of lateral thinking -- it probably doesn't come to first recall when someone says 'engineering schools'.

Again thinking laterally, Cambridge University is a fantastic engineering and science school, and the tutorial system gives a degree of individual attention. Imperial College London is ranked at least as highly but is in the middle of a big city and I would not recommend it for undergrad.

For many pure sciences, Oxford University ranks very highly, higher than Cambridge in some (I would say less so for engineering, but that's not an unbiased opinion ;-)). Oxford has a degree in engineering with management which is very good.

Another bonus of Oxford and Cambridge is that for your 4 year engineering degree you get a 'Masters of Arts' (MA), automatically, after you graduate ;-).
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby TomatoTomahto » Mon Jul 01, 2013 5:28 pm

seeingeyestrike wrote:He may want to consider Stevens Institute of Technology as a safety school. Your son should be able to get a merit based full tuition scholarship there. If he applies for the scholars program, he can stay during the summers and do research with a professor for a stipend. Alternatively, there’s the option of taking summer classes for free and completing a bachelors and a masters degree in 4 years. I got the best of both worlds by doing research with a professor after freshman year, taking summer classes after sophomore year, and interning and taking a couple online classes after junior year to get the research and work experience as well as my masters degree.

http://www.stevens.edu/sit/admissions/a ... holars.cfm

As for the engineering- I agree with what other posters have said. It’s too early to rule it out. I went into college as undecided sciences major with no interest in engineering. Because I AP’ed out of a lot of freshman classes, and needed a couple extra, my advisor recommended I take the freshman engineering course to see how I felt about it. I liked it and went into mechanical engineering. Even if he ends up not liking it, it wouldn't hurt him to take the freshman level engineering course since he’s so ahead from high school anyway.


My best friend in high school went to Stevens and thought very highly of it.

To be clear about engineering: my son is not adamantly opposed to it, he just feels that an engineering school might limit his options. It is similar to our discussion about Harvey Mudd for Physics. His concern was that there were limited options beyond Physics (although there is apparently considerable mobility among the 5Cs).

Nothing is ruled out.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby TomatoTomahto » Mon Jul 01, 2013 5:31 pm

livesoft wrote:Clearly with your son's distaste for foreign languages he needs to meet that head-on and go to school in France or Germany.
In fairness to him (and my daughter also), I think he probably has a distaste for the language teachers rather than the languages. My daughter, in the same school, went from French to Mandarin (which was fascinating to her, but the teacher was a problem, fired too late to help my daughter) and finally to Spanish. My son decided to stick to French and hang in until he fulfilled the requirement.

The language department at their school is deficient. To have the school admit it means that it has to be clear and obvious.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby TomatoTomahto » Mon Jul 01, 2013 5:46 pm

Valuethinker wrote:The thing about MIT/ Caltech etc. is they are absolutely very tough schools, where your son will be competing with the best and the brightest and the hardest working. That 'sorting' where the top 1% of every high school class gets sorted into those people who get to be in the bottom 1/3rd is probably the most brutal thing about these schools-- not everyone can take it.
My son and I have discussed this. He feels that it is one of the draws for him; it isn't something to avoid but rather something to get energized by. He has been in situations where he was not the brightest or most accomplished in the room; he thrives on it and comes come full of enthusiasm and electricity.

My son's choices, apart from his college applications, are also to go where there is competition and he stands a chance of getting his head handed to him (academically, that is, although he does play ice hockey :D ).
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby frugaltype » Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:40 pm

nimo956 wrote:I just want to stress that the top-ranked school may not necessarily be the best fit for your child as an individual. It really requires a level of honesty and introspection that he may not be willing to admit at this age. When I was his age I thought the world was my oyster, I am going to do whatever I'm interested in, and there's no one who can tell me to do differently. The truth though is that a lot of these schools like MIT are extremely cut-throat. There's a lot of pressure to keep up with and compete with other students who are probably at the genius level (like future Fields Medal/Nobel Prize/MacArthur Genius Award level). They load up on 7-8 honors level classes per semester, get straight A's in all of them, take courses simultaneously that are supposed to be sequentially, are Putman Fellows, etc. This could make your son feel like he needs to keep up. He'll overextend himself, do poorly, and then start to feel inferior/depressed. I've personally known people this has happened to at MIT. Let me tell you that a C GPA at MIT doesn't mean much compared to an A from a slightly lower ranked school when looking for a job or to go to graduate school. It could be beneficial to consider some of these lower ranked schools, or perhaps small liberal arts colleges where there is more individual attention. I'm not saying that this will definitely happen to your son, but I feel it's an important point to consider.


When I was there, we were told that no one was admitted who wasn't capable of graduating. I don't know anyone personally who dropped out, but about once a year someone threw himself off a building or whatever, when they discovered that comparatively they were average or less.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby BolderBoy » Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:42 pm

I'll make a plug for U of Colorado. We have the National Center for Atmospheric Research here as well as the Boulder Labs for the Dept of Commerce (NIST, etc). In the coming years, climate change science will be important. Math and physics is what studying that is all about...
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby TomatoTomahto » Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:44 pm

frugaltype wrote:When I was there, we were told that no one was admitted who wasn't capable of graduating. I don't know anyone personally who dropped out, but about once a year someone threw himself off a building or whatever, when they discovered that comparatively they were average or less.


That might be why they instituted only "pass/no record" grades for the first term. You might still be average or less, but it will take you longer to find out. :D
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby BillyG » Mon Jul 01, 2013 7:03 pm

This is a fascinating discussion for me who started college in chemistry, became an electrical engineer, obtained two totally different degrees after that and moved on to do many other things since then... and having a couple of kids who will be making college decisions during the next few years.

Here's a thought -- how about having your son post his questions directly and having people respond to his questions about schools?

I realize that's easier said than done but it would be great if he's willing to do it.

I wish him the best in finding a challenging school that is a good fit now and in the future.

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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby TomatoTomahto » Mon Jul 01, 2013 7:12 pm

BillyG wrote:This is a fascinating discussion for me who started college in chemistry, became an electrical engineer, obtained two totally different degrees after that and moved on to do many other things since then... and having a couple of kids who will be making college decisions during the next few years.

Here's a thought -- how about having your son post his questions directly and having people respond to his questions about schools?

I realize that's easier said than done but it would be great if he's willing to do it.

I wish him the best in finding a challenging school that is a good fit now and in the future.

Billy


Am I to understand from your question that your children are not yet teenagers? :D FWIW, I think he spends his college question time on http://www.collegeconfidential.com.

I'll ask him though, and thank you for your good wishes.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby lightheir » Mon Jul 01, 2013 7:21 pm

Lots of good advice above.

For a good (but not 'sure safety' category) on the East coast, Univ of Rochester is great as mentioned before.

For a true SAFETY school but one that's pretty darn good, and will likely leave him with no academic penalty if he leaves there where he'll almost certainly thrive and open tons of doors to sci-tech for himself - Roch Institute of Technology (RIT) is great, although yes, he should be disappointed if this is actually where he ends up if finances aren't a limiter. But that's what a sure safety is for, and this would be a surprisingly high quality one.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby btenny » Mon Jul 01, 2013 7:31 pm

Tomato, From your description of competition I would really pursue a Navy discussion with your son. He might fit in very well there and they offer a great education for free. And Navy has a very good physics program and nuclear science program along with producing some the best managers and nuclear scientists in the world. Plus these kids just get tons of experiences that are not available anywhere else in the world. You might want to PM fishandski on this website to talk about Navy more. Just thinking.

Good Luck
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby The Wizard » Mon Jul 01, 2013 7:37 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:
frugaltype wrote:When I was there, we were told that no one was admitted who wasn't capable of graduating. I don't know anyone personally who dropped out, but about once a year someone threw himself off a building or whatever, when they discovered that comparatively they were average or less.


That might be why they instituted only "pass/no record" grades for the first term. You might still be average or less, but it will take you longer to find out. :D

They started that back when I was a freshman there (MIT). It was done to help level out the field a bit: bright kids from smaller high schools around the country vs those from elite prep schools, though the later certainly weren't taking Calculus I with the former.
It's been 4 decades but I felt there was an advantage being at a place where EVERYBODY had at least 3 semesters of math and 3 of physics before branching into their major.
I was roughly in the middle of my class academically and it didn't stress me out at the time at all. But it definitely seems that some folks set higher standards for themselves and/or have unresolved mental issues that could use some help.
Anyhow, I'm adding this post in contrast to going to a well-rated general purpose college where the temptation to switch to an easier non-STEM major is a distraction for some...
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby Ranger » Mon Jul 01, 2013 7:43 pm

There are lots of good Univ. mentioned.
Don't know about pure sciences, reputation matters a lot when it comes to school selection for Engineering and professional degree.

Take a look at this list
http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/w ... on-ranking

Along with public ivies like Michigan, UCLA, UVA, UC Berkeley, I would add Univ. of Toranto to that list.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby AUAstroMan » Mon Jul 01, 2013 9:33 pm

Lots of great advice and schools referenced on this thread. I mostly just wanted to urge you to physically go and check out the schools that are on your list. I think you and your son will be surprised how your list can become re-arranged after visits.

After being accepted, I visited the University of Chicago, which at the time was my number one choice. I left that visit knowing that UC was not for me. So, despite getting into schools like UC, Columbia and WashU (in case Washington University in St. Louis hasn't been mentioned, that is a great option as well), I surprised my parents by choosing a BIG 10 school (and even then, not the one they would have expected). I went there because I liked the feel of the department, the physics faculty, the students, the campus, and it was still a relatively "prestigious" institution. After finishing my physics degree, I went on to get a Ph.D. in physics (again, at a BIG 10 school) and am currently a physics professor at a private university in the midwest.

Would I be a professor at a more prestigious University had I gone to UC or Columbia? Maybe, but probably not. Just as likely I either would have transferred out of physics, or transferred schools all together. I know for certain that it would have been a much different, and probably much less pleasant road.The most important thing is finding a school where your son feels he can thrive, regardless of the school's reputation.

And as a follow on to that thought, it sounds like your son will likely go on to a Ph.D. of some kind if he sticks with math or physics. If that is the case, the choice for undergraduate institution matters perhaps slightly less. I had classmates that went on to many of the top graduate programs in the country (Berkley, Princeton, etc.); you don't have to be an undergraduate at those institutions to go there for graduate school. It mostly matters what you do as a student, and less which school you attended. (As an aside, this does make some schools more attractive, such as those that allow undergraduates to take graduate level courses where and when appropriate, as these sorts of things can set applicants apart when applying to graduate programs.)

Finally, one thing to look for is which schools are getting their undergraduates involved in research. Some departments, or at least many faculty, aren't willing to invest in undergraduates because they don't want to put the time into students that don't know much (relatively speaking) and won't be able to put in the hours that their graduate students and post-docs might. At one school I visited I was flat told that as an undergraduate the most I would be able to do is "hold the wrench" (metaphorically speaking) and watch the graduate students. That pretty quickly dropped them off my list. Research experiences, and the like, are some of the most important in the development of scientists and engineers, to say nothing of getting into and finding success in graduate school.

And for that reason I would take a look at schools like the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (not where I teach, by the way, in case anyone thinks I am just plugging my own school :D ). As a primarily undergraduate institution they have incredible opportunities for students that are often reserved for graduate students at D1 research institutions.

In any case, I'd encourage your son to talk to current students at the schools he is considering and spend some serious time on campus and even talking with faculty to get a feel for what life would be like during his four years there. Then once he arrives at which ever school he chooses, he needs to work hard, learn as much as he can, and find ways to get involved with his subject outside of the classroom (research, internships, etc.).
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby caseynshan » Mon Jul 01, 2013 9:42 pm

colorado school of mines
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby ram » Tue Jul 02, 2013 12:36 am

My daughter who was a state AP scholar has done very well at Univ of Wisconsin, Madison. Started out as a biomed engg student but will end up as a physician. Had a wide exposure to different subjects and was able to change majors as needed. A big chunk of her "required" courses were already done as AP classes and she was able to essentially do what ever she wanted.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby or_investing » Tue Jul 02, 2013 2:18 am

Hi.

I've been going thru the same thought process for my super duper high-achieving daughter who wants to study physics. She's, like, top couple kids in the state test score wise.. She's just not the Athlete, Drama, marquee Extra Curriculars kid.

Not that I'm choosing a school for her, but I want to get educated, you know, to be a safety-net on her application process. Which, by the way, she's only mildly interested in so far, and we aren't pushing.

My thoughts so far…
- I'm probably overthinking this. But that's ok, I keep it to myself.
- Kids will do fine where ever, 'cuz that’s who they are. Smart and really hard working. And ultimately that's what matters.
- Gender matters in Physics. Good to be a girl wrt to getting into school )Triple ditto for URMs.) … women are way under represented… but it's been a "man's world" career-wise. The industry is focussed on this fact. For a school like RPI, that's 75% guys, your son is at no disadvantage.
- Many rankings/reputations out there are based on the grad school program.
- UG Class experience with teachers who love teaching the subject... it matters, IMO.
- A great small school (or LAC) will get her access to excellent summer lab/research/internships.
- In some cases the reputation for "Big Research U" professors not being very good/interested in the classroom is deserved. Be careful.
- I'm disinclined to encourage her going to 'tech' school, because I'd rather (and she probably wants it too but doesn't think in these terms yet) she have a chance to be around Art Majors and History Majors and French majors. You know, the ones that smoked clove cigarettes when I was in school. Inevitably she'll spend loads of time with other Science and Math and Engineering types no matter what… and college needs to be about the wider experience.

So, I've ended up with a bias away from Big Research schools for undergraduate (UCB, UICU, UCSB...) and from Tech schools (RPI, Mudd) and schools too filled with pre-meds. Though some of my best friends went to exactly those kinds os schools. And away from Reed, which while objectively great for Physics is too quirky for me to pay top dollar at.

I put together a table (FOR MYSELF)… here's the top 1/3rd part of it. Of course there are LOADS of other great schools. The list is ordered… but almost everytime I spend time on it, the order changes and schools come in and go off.

I considered: Probability of acceptance (Parchment, etc), UG Physics student body size "sweet spot", Merit money, Need money, likelihood that EA gives an advantage, likelihood that the last iota of testscores/grades matter (e.g. vs plateauing above 2200 and 3.95), Student Surveys, RateMyProf scores for the Phys Dept specifically, the Naviance acceptance history for her school. And a heavy dose of fuzzy logic.

Please DON'T read too much into the Postives and Negatives. (I don't want to regret posting them). They are merely anecdotes I've heard/picked up along the way. These are all perfectly good/great/fantastic schools filled with super kids.

Now at the great risk of your child getting a place ahead of mine…. :-)

Image
i've got loads more on my list... just ones that are (I think, as of now) a great fit for my daughter.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby frugaltype » Tue Jul 02, 2013 5:48 am

or_investing wrote:I've been going thru the same thought process for my super duper high-achieving daughter who wants to study physics.


She should think about MIT. The student body is about 50-50 in terms of gender now, I think. She can take humanities courses there, although most of her classes will be in the sciences, giving her a more solid background in the latter than a less concentrated school. There are formal and informal ways to rev up the humanities aspect. It is also not hard later or in the summer to get exposure to humanities through summer classes, even if she is working in the summer. There are many things in Cambridge/Boston that will expose her to the arts, literature.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby TomatoTomahto » Tue Jul 02, 2013 7:24 am

frugaltype wrote:
or_investing wrote:I've been going thru the same thought process for my super duper high-achieving daughter who wants to study physics.


She should think about MIT. The student body is about 50-50 in terms of gender now, I think. She can take humanities courses there, although most of her classes will be in the sciences, giving her a more solid background in the latter than a less concentrated school. There are formal and informal ways to rev up the humanities aspect. It is also not hard later or in the summer to get exposure to humanities through summer classes, even if she is working in the summer. There are many things in Cambridge/Boston that will expose her to the arts, literature.


From what I've read, MIT does balance the gender mix of incoming students, which is perhaps the only deviation it makes from a pure meritocracy (which is not to malign their female students; they are all perfectly first-rate academically, it's just that they're drawn from a smaller pool). Caltech is the pinnacle of meritocracy (which it shares with only Coopers Union and possibly some other small schools) in that nothing (URM, development, athletics, legacy, not even child of faculty) will get you accepted ahead of another student who is better suited academically. Sadly, there are Ivies where up to 40% of their admissions go to students who would not otherwise be accepted.

I agree with frugaltype: MIT (and the "neighborhood") can give it all to your daughter: Sciences and Humanities.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby TomatoTomahto » Tue Jul 02, 2013 7:32 am

or_investing, Your chart is wonderful. I made one when I was looking into schools, but I didn't capture all the flavors that you did. Would you mind PMing it to me?
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby or_investing » Tue Jul 02, 2013 8:14 am

frugaltype wrote:
or_investing wrote:I've been going thru the same thought process for my super duper high-achieving daughter who wants to study physics.


She should think about MIT. The student body is about 50-50 in terms of gender now, I think. She can take humanities courses there, although most of her classes will be in the sciences, giving her a more solid background in the latter than a less concentrated school.


Hi...
I think she *is* thinking about MIT. Remember, this is *my* list. :-)
No brainer that MIT should at the top of any physics list. Except mine, where it's 4 schools below the bottom of what I posted.

Indeed the selective/"top" schools get so many qualified applicants they can make their classes 50/50. Even in physics.

And I know that *all* these top top 'tech' schools have humanities offering of substance. Our tour guide at Cal Tech was minoring in English. and just look at the catalogs.

In this realm of stratospherically good schools and good kids, it definitely is about a two-way 'fit', as they say. And if my daughter just had decided to play the tuba or something, I know she'd be a shoe-in.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby livesoft » Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:11 am

I see that some parents have attended Blackhawk University.
It's all about short-term opportunistic rebalancing due to a short-term change in one's asset allocation, uh, I mean opportunistic rebalancing, uh I mean rebalancing, uh I mean market timing.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby TomatoTomahto » Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:20 am

livesoft wrote:I see that some parents have attended Blackhawk University.

Why not, they won the Stanley Cup this year :sharebeer
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby TT » Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:23 am

nimo956 wrote:I just want to stress that the top-ranked school may not necessarily be the best fit for your child as an individual. It really requires a level of honesty and introspection that he may not be willing to admit at this age. When I was his age I thought the world was my oyster, I am going to do whatever I'm interested in, and there's no one who can tell me to do differently. The truth though is that a lot of these schools like MIT are extremely cut-throat. There's a lot of pressure to keep up with and compete with other students who are probably at the genius level (like future Fields Medal/Nobel Prize/MacArthur Genius Award level). They load up on 7-8 honors level classes per semester, get straight A's in all of them, take courses simultaneously that are supposed to be sequentially, are Putman Fellows, etc. This could make your son feel like he needs to keep up. He'll overextend himself, do poorly, and then start to feel inferior/depressed. I've personally known people this has happened to at MIT. Let me tell you that a C GPA at MIT doesn't mean much compared to an A from a slightly lower ranked school when looking for a job or to go to graduate school. It could be beneficial to consider some of these lower ranked schools, or perhaps small liberal arts colleges where there is more individual attention. I'm not saying that this will definitely happen to your son, but I feel it's an important point to consider.


This is an excellent point.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby TomatoTomahto » Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:45 am

TT wrote:
nimo956 wrote:I just want to stress that the top-ranked school may not necessarily be the best fit for your child as an individual. It really requires a level of honesty and introspection that he may not be willing to admit at this age. When I was his age I thought the world was my oyster, I am going to do whatever I'm interested in, and there's no one who can tell me to do differently. The truth though is that a lot of these schools like MIT are extremely cut-throat. There's a lot of pressure to keep up with and compete with other students who are probably at the genius level (like future Fields Medal/Nobel Prize/MacArthur Genius Award level). They load up on 7-8 honors level classes per semester, get straight A's in all of them, take courses simultaneously that are supposed to be sequentially, are Putman Fellows, etc. This could make your son feel like he needs to keep up. He'll overextend himself, do poorly, and then start to feel inferior/depressed. I've personally known people this has happened to at MIT. Let me tell you that a C GPA at MIT doesn't mean much compared to an A from a slightly lower ranked school when looking for a job or to go to graduate school. It could be beneficial to consider some of these lower ranked schools, or perhaps small liberal arts colleges where there is more individual attention. I'm not saying that this will definitely happen to your son, but I feel it's an important point to consider.


This is an excellent point.
My son was accepted to MIT's MS Mechanical Engineering program and did not accept the offer as he felt there was an "elitist attitude that resonated in the atmosphere"
He did attend Stanford and was very successful and happy there. Fit is important. You son should feel there is a good fit without too much pressure from dad. :wink:


And that's what makes horse races. Son visited MIT and came away from it enthused; it resonated with him. Visited Harvard during the same trip and texted his Mom (who was sitting 2 feet away) during the Info session: "Could this place be any more pretentious?" The schools all have different vibes, but it is also the case that a particular day, collection of students, your mood, etc., can sometimes swing the vibe another way. Who's to say that if the visit were the following day my son wouldn't have felt differently? I think he'd probably feel the same way, but there's really no way of knowing.

One thing that I think is possibly more telling than the "visit impression:" my son knows kids who have gone to many of the schools, and he makes inferences based on who went where, how happy they are, and where they fall in the spectrum of being similar to him. That analysis was consistent with his trip impression :D
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby NorCalDad » Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:05 am

Your son will have a lot of excellent options - congrats. I frankly would not worry about the perfect school. Within all of the top-tier undergrad programs mentioned, your son can do well. I think in this day and age, the key is making sure he doesn't let off the gas pedal in college, looks for research opportunities and positions himself for a top graduate program.

And since this is Bogleheads, if it were me, I'd consider value and cost within this band of elite undergrad schools since you may have to support his grad studies, but it sounds like you are already well positioned on the tuition front.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby snowman » Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:08 am

Tomato,
If you don't mind me asking, which schools definitely resonated with your son to the point that he wants to apply there? And vice versa, which schools that looked good on paper were dropped after the visit? And did that have anything to do with him playing hockey as well? And finally, did this discussion help you identify good safety school that you have not thought of?
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby Old Guy » Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:10 am

Go to Rutgers. Get an inexpensive, solid education (Big 10 as of next year) in these two subjects and then go to graduate school. At the graduate level it is likely that education will be subsidized by getting a teaching assistant or research assistant position. I think graduate school is normally the next step for majors in these areas.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby TomatoTomahto » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:02 am

snowman wrote:Tomato,
If you don't mind me asking, which schools definitely resonated with your son to the point that he wants to apply there? And vice versa, which schools that looked good on paper were dropped after the visit? And did that have anything to do with him playing hockey as well? And finally, did this discussion help you identify good safety school that you have not thought of?


My son's hockey was played on travel teams at the AA level; not great, not awful (if you're not familiar, AA is the top of Tier-2, but shy of AAA (Tier-1) or Juniors). He's a good skater, but is not physically tough enough to avoid injury (hand and knees, one concussion (that's plenty for me, thanks)). Beer league is in his future (fun competition, but everyone has to go to work/school the next day, so don't get crazy). :D Beer league can be found at most schools, so it's not a significant factor.

This discussion brought up a lot of good schools, but probably more 50% likelies than 90% likely (a true safety). I counted (and put on a spreadsheet) 57 schools; some were ones I already had thought of, but there are some that are new to me. It's time to go to Naviance, collegedata.com, etc., and see how the fit might be.

Schools that resonated (at least on paper) for Early Action were (in no particular order): Caltech, MIT, Case Western, U Virginia, U Michigan, Stanford. There are of course many schools not on this list that don't support Early Action; it would be sweet for my son to go into the Regular Admissions cycle with a few acceptances under his belt. An acceptance at some of the schools might, after an extended visit, end the process. U Chicago might make the Early Action list (their essays are a gas!).

Nothing dropped off the list entirely, but Princeton seemed a bit stodgy and bureaucratic to my son, and Harvard (as previously mentioned) was over-the-top pretentious (during the video, a kid in the dorm "was brushing his teeth at the same sink that Franklin Delano Rosevelt brushed his teeth at.") The more he read, I think Caltech moved up and might have nudged MIT from top dream spot and Pomona/Harvey Mudd made a surprise (but not EA) appearance)
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby TomatoTomahto » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:11 am

NorCalDad wrote:And since this is Bogleheads, if it were me, I'd consider value and cost within this band of elite undergrad schools since you may have to support his grad studies, but it sounds like you are already well positioned on the tuition front.


Value is of concern to us, but not in the usual manner. We want him to get the most out of his 4 years at college, so the equation is something like (value=stuff-learned/time-spent). How much it costs is of less concern to us.

My wife would divorce me if the finances were to be a factor in the selection process. I cannot afford a divorce. :wink:
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby TomatoTomahto » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:14 am

Old Guy wrote:Go to Rutgers. Get an inexpensive, solid education (Big 10 as of next year) in these two subjects and then go to graduate school. At the graduate level it is likely that education will be subsidized by getting a teaching assistant or research assistant position. I think graduate school is normally the next step for majors in these areas.

Rutgers is pretty far down on my son's list. For better or worse, he knows many kids who go to Rutgers, and those students are not great advertisements for the school. That is not to say that there aren't great students, professors, etc. there, but it just doesn't gel with my son.

In the interests of full disclosure ( :wink: ) my sister attended Rutgers Law and was not displeased.

EDITED TO ADD: If nothing else, Rutgers is just too close to us geographically. I think it's a good thing for a kid to get some miles between himself and his parents.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby Riprap » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:33 am

Purdue University.

I'm an advocate for choosing a large university with a variety of fine academic options. Too many arrive their freshman year sure of their intended field of study only to find out it wasn't what they expected or what they want. A large university is a great place to execute plan B, plan C ...

Just another point of view.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby spotty_dog » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:50 am

or_investing wrote:And away from Reed, which while objectively great for Physics is too quirky for me to pay top dollar at.


I attended Lewis & Clark College, Reed's neighbor and sometime competitor (which, unlike Reed, offers merit scholarships), and acquired a BA in Physics. The other physics majors who graduated with me were half women, and we had a very strong role model in one of our professors (she's still there and it looks like they have since hired a second woman.) Because the classes were tiny (we graduated about 10 majors my year, which was the biggest class in years; the most advanced courses were held even if there were only two of us enrolled) we got a lot of one-on-one interaction and mentoring. Nearly all of us could find a place in a research lab over the summer if we wanted and could even have some experimental input -- I earned authorship status on a published paper as a junior for my contributions to my lab's work.

I feel like the liberal arts education gave me a breadth of education that stood me in good stead when I ended up pursuing nothing resembling physics. My classmates went into a range of careers, about half of them earned PhDs (and many earned other degrees or multiple degrees), and several have high-profile and extremely laudable careers now.

Anyway, just thought I'd throw that out there, that small schools can be good options -- especially for women in science.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby QBoy » Tue Jul 02, 2013 12:01 pm

sometimesinvestor wrote:Consider the University of Rochester . Very good in physics and a strong program in economics if things change.

I agree with this. Rochester is great and was going to be my son's safety before he got into his first choice early decision. Rochester is easier to get into than many comparable schools because the absence of a sports culture and the cold weather turn some people off. But if that does not matter to you, then it is a great place to pursue top notch academics.

Another place to consider as a safety for a strong science student: Brandeis.
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby letsgobobby » Tue Jul 02, 2013 12:17 pm

did not read all replies.

Harvey Mudd is top notch and maybe a little less competitive. Though expensive. Smaller, more 1:1 attention likely. I liked visiting there during high school but didn't ultimately apply.

A number of large public universities offer incredible high level physics and math, having most if not all of the resources of the elite schools. Think Michigan, Purdue, Berkeley, etc. My neighbor in high school was a math genius, accepted to many good schools, but took a full ride to Michigan State. It didn't harm him; ended up getting a PhD from Chicago and now is a professor in mathematics. In between he did some supercomputing work for NOAA or NWS or some such.

I have a hard time believing that a good liberal arts school couldn't meet most kids needs, especially if they have strong partnerships with research universities. Aren't setups like that common in the Northeast, ie, a student at Amherst could take classes at UM Amherst if a specific math/science class weren't available?
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby frugaltype » Tue Jul 02, 2013 1:50 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:From what I've read, MIT does balance the gender mix of incoming students, which is perhaps the only deviation it makes from a pure meritocracy (which is not to malign their female students; they are all perfectly first-rate academically, it's just that they're drawn from a smaller pool). Caltech is the pinnacle of meritocracy (which it shares with only Coopers Union and possibly some other small schools) in that nothing (URM, development, athletics, legacy, not even child of faculty) will get you accepted ahead of another student who is better suited academically.


I would prefer that all admissions be based on merit, but I will just note that for decades the number of women admitted to MIT was capped at something like 7% of the people admitted, and CalTech (I remember this line closeto verbatim from the catalog) said "Women are not admitted as undergraduates and only in exceptional circumstances to the graduate school."
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby TomatoTomahto » Tue Jul 02, 2013 2:12 pm

frugaltype wrote:
TomatoTomahto wrote:From what I've read, MIT does balance the gender mix of incoming students, which is perhaps the only deviation it makes from a pure meritocracy (which is not to malign their female students; they are all perfectly first-rate academically, it's just that they're drawn from a smaller pool). Caltech is the pinnacle of meritocracy (which it shares with only Coopers Union and possibly some other small schools) in that nothing (URM, development, athletics, legacy, not even child of faculty) will get you accepted ahead of another student who is better suited academically.


I would prefer that all admissions be based on merit, but I will just note that for decades the number of women admitted to MIT was capped at something like 7% of the people admitted, and CalTech (I remember this line closeto verbatim from the catalog) said "Women are not admitted as undergraduates and only in exceptional circumstances to the graduate school."


No question, I feel for women and URMs (but not for legacies, developmental, or athletes). I think an important distinction is that the women who might benefit from the smaller pool of female applicants to MIT are by no means less than suitable candidates; they are all smart, high-achieving students and they fully deserve admission. I do get resentful of those who get into Harvard because Mom or Dad attended; that's not the case with MIT.

FWIW, I believe that my son would get a corresponding benefit at Pomona which accepts a higher percentage of male applicants in order to achieve a roughly 50/50 mix :twisted:
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Re: Safety schools for a Physics/Math kid

Postby btenny » Tue Jul 02, 2013 2:25 pm

Before your son gets too far down the super tech school path he should read some other views and opinions on how MIT and/or Caltech operates. I have no idea how much of these issues and politics are real but I am sure this guy does. So I suggest you read some of his stuff on the downside of becoming a PhD in the sciences/math. He is a well known MIT professor with no tenure but a great reputation. After reading his stuff you may/may not decide to let your son read it.

http://philip.greenspun.com/

Good Luck
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