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University of Rochester vs the Ivies

PhysicshopefulPhysicshopeful Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
Well, this question might be a bit presumptuous as I haven't been accepted anywhere yet but I don't feel like doing my homework so here I am...

Having applied to nine schools as a senior in high school, I have begun trying to decide where I'd most like to go. Currently, my top choices are three ivies (Dartmouth, Princeton and Penn) and U of R. UoR is there because I hope to get around $17k from them yearly, based on my national merit finalist status. As my name suggests, very tentatively, I'm considering majoring in physics in college. The other three schools seem to clearly be a level above UoR, especially Princeton with one of the top physics programs in the country.

My situation seems to be unique in that my parents have given me ~$200k for college but anything I don't spend I keep, so I don't just want to chose the best school necessarily. After four years in high school with relatively easy classes (AP calc BC was the one I hoped would be challenging but really hasn't been...) in college I'd really like to challenge myself and learn a ton. While I don't discount the difficulty of UoR, I don't think it would present the same level of academics of my other possibilities (or hopefully possibilities). If I went to UoR, I'd probably try to double major in physics and comp sci because of the flexibility of their curriculum and my interest in both areas.

So, am I a complete fool to consider throwing away $70,000 or dumb to not go to the best school I can? I don't really view college as a way to maximize my potential earnings, so you can leave that out of the discussion, but as a time to grow a lot as a person and learn a lot of interesting stuff. Any opinions or comments on my situation would be appreciated.

Here are my academic stats, in case that's helpful or someone would like to comment on how theirs are higher (there are some incredibly smart people on this website):
SAT: 2310
SAT2s: Math2 800, US history 780, chem 800, bio 780 (as freshman)
GPA: 4.18 (5.24 weighted, gotta love scales that go above 4)
APs: Calc BC, Physics C, US History, Chemistry, Comp SCi A (5 total)

P.S. I've rowed that last three years and really enjoy it, but I'm not sure if I'm fast/strong enough to row in college, I would like the option though (UoR only has a club team).

Thank you, I know this website has many knowledgeable people who contribute and hopefully I can make a better decision with your help.
Post edited by Physicshopeful on

Replies to: University of Rochester vs the Ivies

  • PhysicshopefulPhysicshopeful Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    um... bump
  • collegehelpcollegehelp Registered User Posts: 6,590 Senior Member
    U of R is very strong in physics. They have the Lab for Laser Energetics and an awesome optics research lab. You were wise to apply there. I would go to U of R over Dartmouth for physics but Penn and especially Princeton would trump Rochester. You have made some excellent choices. Where else did you apply?

    By the way, although U of R has only a club team, they have an excellent boathouse and a great river to row on (Genesee R). They also practice on the Erie Canal which flows into the Genesee R very near the U of R campus. Their rowing team is very active.
  • SlitheyToveSlitheyTove Registered User Posts: 6,348 Senior Member
    Have you toured all four schools? I'd suggest that you visit, email, or phone the physics departments to find out more about what research opportunities are available for undergrads. You'll want to know how many professors or research teams welcome freshmen, if it's easy to become involved. See if the professors are looking just for cheap labor or if they will help and promote the work of deserving students. Ask about placement for grad school and internships. See if there's research in subfields you find particularly interesting. Talk to other undergrads and see if what they say squares with what you're hearing from the department.

    Best of luck.
  • PhysicshopefulPhysicshopeful Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    Thank you very much for both replies, that's great advice to do some more research and contact some people, SlitheyTove. I know UoR has an incredible optics program but that doesn't appeal much to me.

    As for your question collegehelp, I also applied to Bucknell, Case Western, CMU and Cornell (but I grew up in Ithaca so it's not a great choice). Thanks for the information on the UoR crew team.
  • onecircuitonecircuit - Posts: 637 Member
    UoR is great school, ranked 30-40 in the country for undergraduate and about 20-45 in the country for Physics

    Princeton is an incredible school, ranked 1-2 in the country for undergraduate and about 1-5 for Physics

    worth $70,000?

    absolutely

    take Princeton and don't look back
  • PhysicshopefulPhysicshopeful Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    Haha onecircuit, I wish I could think like that. I don't think my chances of getting into Princeton are very high, but I do agree it would come in above UoR. I think Dartmouth might be getting overlooked a little because it's undergrad focused and doesn't produce as much research as some top schools, a large factor in many rankings. Is this plausible/probable? I really like Dartmouth's location and other aspects of the school but is it so low in physics?
  • sunshowers23sunshowers23 Registered User Posts: 255 Junior Member
    Do you want to go to grad school? If so, you might want that $70,000. (But there's also ways to go to grad school for free, especially in science. I'm not too familiar with the process so you'll have to ask someone else.) Look for the school that's going to give you great research opportunities and funding for research; sometimes the strength of the program compared to other schools doesn't show this. I suggest that you just email a professor and ask for information on research, what other students have done in the past, and how grad school plays into the equation.

    Good luck.
  • FiftyFifty Registered User Posts: 185 Junior Member
    University of Rochester has an excellent physics department. Read about one of its more illustrious physics graduates, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.

    Steven Chu - Autobiography
  • tk21769tk21769 Registered User Posts: 10,496 Senior Member
    Some of the Ivies are gradually catching up to Rochester. Really, you could choose almost any of them with confidence. Not everyone can be Steven Chu, after all. :)
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