Pages: | 1 | 2 |
hmmmmmm???
Is MIT for graduate school as competitive/hard as for undergrad? 12/30/2012 9:03PM Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Did anyone here go to MIT for grad school? I am applying in physics, and am wondering if the atmosphere is as rigorous/competitive as its known to be for undergrad. While I like physics/like doing research etc., I would still like to have time for hobbies such as running.
kartelite
RE: Is MIT for graduate school as competitive/hard as for undergrad? 12/30/2012 9:09PM - in reply to hmmmmmm??? Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Don't apply to MIT for grad school. Based on this thread, both your common sense and research abilities are not up to snuff.
bigtool
RE: Is MIT for graduate school as competitive/hard as for undergrad? 12/30/2012 9:12PM - in reply to kartelite Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
lol yes
hmmmmmm???
RE: Is MIT for graduate school as competitive/hard as for undergrad? 12/30/2012 9:18PM - in reply to kartelite Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I have very good statistics and excellent recommendations, and research. While admission is no guarantee, I know people with similar (or slightly worse) situations than me who were accepted to MIT. I just don't want to be always studying/doing research and have time to socialize/run too.
kartelite
RE: Is MIT for graduate school as competitive/hard as for undergrad? 12/31/2012 2:34AM - in reply to hmmmmmm??? Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

hmmmmmm??? wrote:

I have very good statistics and excellent recommendations, and research. While admission is no guarantee, I know people with similar (or slightly worse) situations than me who were accepted to MIT. I just don't want to be always studying/doing research and have time to socialize/run too.


Will you be coming back to letsrun to get help with your string theory homework as well?
John Boehner
RE: Is MIT for graduate school as competitive/hard as for undergrad? 12/31/2012 8:25AM - in reply to hmmmmmm??? Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

hmmmmmm??? wrote:

I have very good statistics and excellent recommendations, and research. While admission is no guarantee, I know people with similar (or slightly worse) situations than me who were accepted to MIT. I just don't want to be always studying/doing research and have time to socialize/run too.


Where did you go for undergrad?
Ghrelin
RE: Is MIT for graduate school as competitive/hard as for undergrad? 12/31/2012 9:08AM - in reply to hmmmmmm??? Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
A guy I know who's working on his Ph.D in chemical engineering at MIT seems to have a reasonable amount of free time. Not exactly answering your question, but no one else has anything worthwhile to add anyway.
fairlady
RE: Is MIT for graduate school as competitive/hard as for undergrad? 12/31/2012 10:38AM - in reply to hmmmmmm??? Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Dunno about MIT, but I have several friends who got science PhDs from Caltech, Berkeley, and Stanford who have plenty of time for their running and other outside interests. I think the key is to be an extremely focused and productive worker, not to work "all the time."

Then there's Cal Newport, who says he got his PhD in CS from MIT while only working from 9-5. (Read his blog.)
bangalangadanga
RE: Is MIT for graduate school as competitive/hard as for undergrad? 12/31/2012 11:45AM - in reply to hmmmmmm??? Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
X. Yang
RE: Is MIT for graduate school as competitive/hard as for undergrad? 12/31/2012 12:23PM - in reply to hmmmmmm??? Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

hmmmmmm??? wrote:

Did anyone here go to MIT for grad school? I am applying in physics, and am wondering if the atmosphere is as rigorous/competitive as its known to be for undergrad. While I like physics/like doing research etc., I would still like to have time for hobbies such as running.


Not MIT, but USC. However, I am presently a faculty member at Northwestern University and was formerly a faculty member at UC San Diego, and can tell you that much of the "difficulty" will be based on your perception, which in turn will likely vary based on what undergraduate school you attended.

The best example I can give is by contrasting the students at UCSD with those at Northwestern. For the most part, Northwestern was a much higher tier institution in terms of the merits of the incoming student body. I spent 5 years at UCSD teaching courses in Multivariable Calculus, Differential Equations, and Advanced Number Theory, and have spent 2 years at Northwestern teaching courses in Multivariable Calculus and Advanced Number Theory.

The difference between the students is very noticeable. The students at Northwestern are able to grasp concepts much more readily, allowing the other faculty members and I to provide much more in depth scenarios and applications for certain techniques. Because I was present at both institutions for such short periods of time, I was not the one to write the exams used, but from what I saw, the exams administered at Northwestern are at a substantially higher degree of difficulty than those at UCSD for the same or comparable courses, yet the scores from which the curves were calculated were very similar. Even some of my most capable students at UCSD would likely have become low-mid-tier at Northwestern.

With regards to your question with MIT, my answer is that if you attended an institution that already had an extremely rigorous science curriculum, say Johns Hopkins, or Caltech, MIT's graduate school should not result in a large jump in difficulty. The courses you'll take at MIT for your graduate degree will likely be of similar difficulty, with peers whose abilities are comparable to yours.

If you attended an institution that was less-prestigious in the sciences, for instance a standard state institution such as Arizona or Iowa, it is likely that the transition will be much more difficult. By no means do I intentionally belittle these institutions. It's just a simple fact that their student bodies tend to be not as capable to begin with, resulting in a less-rigorous curriculum overall. Transitioning from this sort of curriculum to that of MIT's will likely just be mentally painful and result in long nights of work in order to keep up.
bhearn
RE: Is MIT for graduate school as competitive/hard as for undergrad? 12/31/2012 5:16PM - in reply to hmmmmmm??? Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I did my PhD at MIT in CS (minor in astrophysics). Is it rigorous / competitive? Yes. But what it will be like for you all depends. What kind of advisor will you wind up with? What do you want to do with your PhD? If you want to wind up as faculty at a top school, you'll want to publish as much as possible, of course. And of course, as X. Yang said, a lot will depend on your academic preparedness.

But in general, no, probably not as stressful as being an MIT undergrad. Much less course work. I can't speak for physics specifically, but I wouldn't say there is an overall culture of work to the exclusion of having any kind of life. MIT students are expected to be broad, and that includes activities outside of research. In fact January is "Independent Activities Period" -- there are all sorts of mini-courses offered, everything from wine tasting to musical-instrument construction. One year I made a baroque trumpet.

Speaking for myself, about running specifically, I started running when I was in grad school. It became an escape from research. I'd probably have finished sooner, and might well still be in academia, if I had spent less time running. It's not just the time. Often I let the reward for running a new PR or meeting some other running goal substitute for academic goals.
oak tree
RE: Is MIT for graduate school as competitive/hard as for undergrad? 12/31/2012 6:22PM - in reply to X. Yang Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

X. Yang wrote:

The difference between the students is very noticeable. The students at Northwestern are able to grasp concepts much more readily, allowing the other faculty members and I to provide much more in depth scenarios and applications for certain techniques. Because I was present at both institutions for such short periods of time, I was not the one to write the exams used, but from what I saw, the exams administered at Northwestern are at a substantially higher degree of difficulty than those at UCSD for the same or comparable courses, yet the scores from which the curves were calculated were very similar. Even some of my most capable students at UCSD would likely have become low-mid-tier at Northwestern.

With regards to your question with MIT, my answer is that if you attended an institution that already had an extremely rigorous science curriculum, say Johns Hopkins, or Caltech, MIT's graduate school should not result in a large jump in difficulty. The courses you'll take at MIT for your graduate degree will likely be of similar difficulty, with peers whose abilities are comparable to yours.

If you attended an institution that was less-prestigious in the sciences, for instance a standard state institution such as Arizona or Iowa, it is likely that the transition will be much more difficult. By no means do I intentionally belittle these institutions. It's just a simple fact that their student bodies tend to be not as capable to begin with, resulting in a less-rigorous curriculum overall. Transitioning from this sort of curriculum to that of MIT's will likely just be mentally painful and result in long nights of work in order to keep up.


Seriously? I was an undergrad at a top 5 engineering school. The grad school I go to is closer to #50 (but has close ties with a big national lab) and I've found the quality of instruction as well as the difficulty of the tests to be essentially the same.
Stanford Indians
RE: Is MIT for graduate school as competitive/hard as for undergrad? 12/31/2012 6:23PM - in reply to hmmmmmm??? Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Some people can do an MS with 40 hours a week, others needed 80 hours a week like myself, so it all depends. Overall the University of Califonia is tops in the world in Physics. Shanhai ranks Cal+UCSf as #1 in the world in public research. UCLA, Cal, UCSD, UC Irvine, UC Davis, and UCSB get an enourmous amount of Federal monies for non-publicized defense and energy research. The UC operates Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore which are the leading weapons labs in the US.
pthsjjfa
RE: Is MIT for graduate school as competitive/hard as for undergrad? 12/31/2012 7:50PM - in reply to Stanford Indians Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
My friend just graduated from MIT with a PhD in physics, and I recently finished a PhD in physics at Berkeley as well (both condensed matter). Like most places, it depends on the research group. Some of the research groups at MIT are more relaxed than others. Generally speaking, in most places you can set your own schedule as long as it's reasonable and you'll have plenty of time to run. But it also depends on the type of research, for theory your hours will obviously be more flexible than for experimental work, and for experiments it depends on the exact situation. My old research group had a ton of flexibility 90% of the time, but was completely inflexible for the other 10% when I was actually doing experiments, and that made it hard to run consistently. I'd have to take off a few days in a row each month. My new research group requires me to physically be in the lab more often than my old one, but I have more flexible in terms of leaving the lab for an hour to go for a run because of the nature of the experiment.

Overall, I wouldn't worry about having time to run at MIT -- whether your work impacts your running won't be different from anywhere else. On the other hand, obviously MIT does not have the best winter weather.
Noter of things
RE: Is MIT for graduate school as competitive/hard as for undergrad? 12/31/2012 8:18PM - in reply to pthsjjfa Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Were you doing synchrotron work or something? I did a little of that to satisfy an experimental project requirement at my program, and that sounds kind of like what I did. I was probably only in the lab for 10 days all summer, but those 10 days were all pretty much at least 16 hours in the lab.
CEP
RE: Is MIT for graduate school as competitive/hard as for undergrad? 12/31/2012 11:13PM - in reply to hmmmmmm??? Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I have a PhD from MIT (not in physics). I'm now a professor at a large research university. You're asking the wrong question, and thinking too much like an undergraduate. It's not about how hard you're expected to work or whether it's possible to keep up with the coursework. And the name of the institution doesn't mean a lot either. You need to be finding the place where you'll thrive as a scientist and where you'll be prepared to be a lifelong innovator. 10 years from now, nobody will care what it says on your degree. Nor will they care about your 10k time from your mid-20s. They'll care about what impact you've made on science. MIT was a good fit for me at the time; I don't think it would be now.

And it's always possible to get some running in. It doesn't take a whole lot of time, and being organized enough to fit multiple things into your life is something you'll always face. If an undergraduate, from MIT or anywhere else, claims that they don't have the time to do some sport because of the demands of schoolwork, then they should talk with a single working parent, or any of millions of others who have tighter schedules.
MIT Graduate Student
RE: Is MIT for graduate school as competitive/hard as for undergrad? 1/1/2013 2:21AM - in reply to hmmmmmm??? Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Personally, I have found graduate school much less taxing than undergrad. I definitely feel more in control of my destiny. Overall, to me at least, it doesn't seem as competitive.
Verifying Facts
RE: Is MIT for graduate school as competitive/hard as for undergrad? 1/1/2013 2:52AM - in reply to CEP Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

CEP wrote:

I have a PhD from MIT (not in physics). I'm now a professor at a large research university.


What year did you finish the PhD and what large university are you now at?
CEP
RE: Is MIT for graduate school as competitive/hard as for undergrad? 1/1/2013 3:15AM - in reply to Verifying Facts Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
1974/Penn State
CEP
RE: Is MIT for graduate school as competitive/hard as for undergrad? 1/1/2013 9:47AM - in reply to Verifying Facts Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Haha. The previous poster who answered as "CEP" is somebody else. I don't feel the need to provide details, but my MIT PhD is from the 90s, and I work at a Big 10 school in one of the top depts in my field. But that's all irrelevant to my comment to the OP. What matters in graduate school is what you do, not where you do it. And it certainly doesn't matter what the school's endowment or US News & World Report ranking is.
Pages: | 1 | 2 |