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Best schools for astrophysics/math in Illinois?

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Replies to: Best schools for astrophysics/math in Illinois?

  • comfortablycurtcomfortablycurt Registered User Posts: 2,182 Senior Member
    Those links are great!! That's exactly what I need. I'm gonna do whatever I've gotta do to get this math sequence done quickly. Looks like I've got my work cut out for me. This will help a lot...when I'm not busy studying math, I can study other math...lol

    I'll mention this potential plan on Tuesday when I meet with my counselor, but as far as going to talk with the 122 teacher, I'm thinking I'd probably be better off waiting until later on in spring semester, so I can show progress in the classes I'm already in, and show some aptitude for the classes I'd like to go into. If I end up taking 121 and 122 at the same time, I have a feeling it's gonna take some convincing. I'm confident that I can do it though.

    Thanks for all the help, it's much appreciated!!

    Now I've just gotta get all of my electives figured out...I've got a bunch that I'll have to take for my associates. I think I've got most of them figured out already though. I won't really be starting on them until next year though, after I get my math caught up.
  • Pat1120Pat1120 Registered User Posts: 605 Member
    Uchi and NU would be almost impossible to get accepted from your circumstances. I would even say UIUC is a difficult transfer. That said, best of luck.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 63,552 Senior Member
    For non-math/physics courses, take a look at the various transfer target schools to see what kind of breadth requirements they have, such as English composition courses, humanities, and social studies. You may also want to see if any of their physics major degree programs require chemistry or computer science that you can take at the community college.
  • comfortablycurtcomfortablycurt Registered User Posts: 2,182 Senior Member
    I'm looking around on these transfer equivalency guides, and it seems like a transfer to UIUC could go relatively smooth. They have a section in the undergrad admission information where they detail GED requirements. U of I Admissions: Detailed Admission Requirements They say that a GED is acceptable in lieu of a high school diploma, as long as the scores are over 410 on each test, with an overall average above 450. My overall average was 638, with 700 in reading, 690 in writing, 670 in science, 580 in math, and 550 in social studies. So, I meet the requirements in that respect. I scored lower in math than I would have liked, but I took the test about 3 years after I dropped out of high school, and did very little in the way of studying. The same goes for the social studies score. I pretty much just went and took the tests. In either case though, 410 is considered the average score, so I'm fairly well above the average in every category, and significantly above the average in reading, writing and science.

    It also looks like basically all of my courses would transfer.

    Here is the outline of the courses I'm required to take at Sauk to transfer to UIUC for a physics major... U of I Admissions: Transfer Admission Requirements

    And the requirements for a mathematics and computer science major... U of I Admissions: Transfer Admission Requirements

    Looks like I need to have MAT 203, 204, and 205; PHY 211, 212 and 213, which would actually cover PHYS 211,212,213 and 214 at UIUC; english 101, 103, and che 105, 106 are also recommended. Those are all courses that I'm planning on taking...so it looks like you helped me set up a rough plan that is near perfect! Thanks!! They also have the CIS234 course at Sauk listed as a requirement for computer sciences within the math major...which also has several prerequisites here. Before I can take 234, I'll also have to take 122, and either 101 or 109. So, I'll either have to work those in one way or another, or not transfer there on a double major like I'd like to. Would I run into any issues transferring there as a physics major, and then later switching to a double major in physics and mathematical and computer science? Ideally, I'll try to work it into my schedule here. They don't list differential equations or linear algebra as requirements, and though they would definitely be very beneficial to have before transfer, it looks like I'd likely be best suited to devote that time towards the CIS courses that I'll need to have done. Depending on how I can get my academic plan set up though, I may still be able to squeeze them in. There's a good chance that I could take a lot of the computer courses online, which could make things easier for me in the long run.

    It also looks like almost all of the Gen Eds I'll be taking at Sauk will end up transferring to UIUC. From the looks of it, I'll have almost all of them taken care of before I transfer too, so I can focus on my major. I matched all of my planned prerequisites up on transfer.org, and they all seem to match up with UIUC courses.

    I think I'm starting to lower my hopes of going to UChicago a bit. I'm still going to apply there, but I'm starting to accept that it'd be a bit of a reach for me, given the GED status. It seems like UIUC would be a relatively painless transfer though, provided that I have a good GPA and ACT scores, which I fully intend on having. :)

    Thanks again for all the help! I've got a lot more information to bring with when I meet with my counselor on Tuesday.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 25,538 Senior Member
    If you don't mind the review/self study, you may be able to fulfill some of your Gen Eds for Sauk and/or UIUC with CLEP exams. Check both websites. Sometimes a CLEP score will ease your way through the CC, but won't count for anything at the 4-year institution leaving a Gen Ed space that must be fulfilled later on.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 63,552 Senior Member
    As far as adding or changing major after transfer goes, check with UIUC and the other universities you are targeting, as their policies may differ from each other (and may differ based on how popular the major is relative to the capacity of the department).
  • comfortablycurtcomfortablycurt Registered User Posts: 2,182 Senior Member
    I've never heard of the CLEP exams before, but I just did some research on them and that looks like an interesting option. I wouldn't really want to take that route with my math courses though, as I really do need a firm grounding in math. I might consider an option like that for some of my gen ed electives though, specifically the social sciences and humanities. I don't know if I'll have to take that route though. I've more or less figured out a schedule for the remainder of my time at Sauk that will allow me to get all of my gen eds done, plus all of the classes I'll be required to take to transfer my majors.

    I spent a little time earlier reworking my plan so that I could get all 3 of the required CIS courses done within another two academic years. It sounds like I'd be best suited to try and have it done before transferring so I can just transfer both of my majors. I'm gonna have a full schedule for the next couple years, along with a couple classes over each summer term, but that's ok with me. My schooling is the most important thing in the world to me right now, so I'm not opposed to spending a lot of time on it.
  • comfortablycurtcomfortablycurt Registered User Posts: 2,182 Senior Member
    Anyone have any thoughts on UIC or NIU for physics? They seem to have somewhat mediocre physics departments as far as the range of course offerings go. Neither one has much of anything in the way of astronomy or astrophysics...and seem very limited as far as condensed matter/particle physics goes too. I'm trying to keep my sights on schools within Illinois for financial purposes.

    I took a look at the Illinois Institute of Technology last night too...that looks like a great school! No astronomy department though...this seems to be a problem I'm running into at a lot of prospective schools. They mostly seem to offer just one or two astronomy courses, that are absorbed into the physics program. UIUC is looking more and more appealing for these reasons. They've got very strong programs in particle physics and astronomy, which are my two main fields of interest.

    Any thoughts on UIC or NIU for physics? Any other schools I should be looking at?
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 25,538 Senior Member
    You are correct that CLEP is not the way to go for math. You need the real classes for that so you build up a solid foundation. Better an extra semester or two of math so that it is absolutely solid, than zipping through and having gaps in your knowledge base.

    CLEP may be a good way to knock out some random Gen Eds or to skip over a pre-req so that you can get into a higher level (and presumably more interesting) class outside your major. Happykid took a CLEP that fulfilled the humanities graduation requirement at her CC which saved us a few bucks, made space for electives that she wanted, and allowed her to graduate on time. This particular CLEP isn't accepted for credit at her 4-year which miffs her a bit, but there her Gen Eds are fulfilled by other courses, so it's all good.
  • comfortablycurtcomfortablycurt Registered User Posts: 2,182 Senior Member
    The more I look into it, CLEP sounds like a really good option for some of my electives. I'm meeting with my course counselor tomorrow afternoon, and this is something that I think I'll mention to him. I'm not considering it an option for any of my more crucial courses, but this could be a good way to open up some time for some of my more important courses.
  • xraymancsxraymancs College Rep Posts: 4,265 Senior Member
    You will find that astrophysics is not a common option for an undergraduate degree. Rather it is a specialization for a graduate program. The degree otions you need to look into are either physics or astronomy but if you are interested in pursuing astrophysics, then you are better off starting in physics and taking astronomy and astrophysics elective courses.

    Also, I know that you have gotten a lot of specific information about which mathematics courses to take from all the other posters, but as transfer student advisor in physics at IIT, I can tell you that it is essential to take the calculus-based physics sequence. The non-calculus based courses won't count for a physics degree. In most CC's this is the engineering sequence.

    Additionally, you should take vector calculus and differential equations and as much modern physics as your CC has available. These will help you enter at a level that you have a fighting chance to complete the B.S. in 2 years (it will be very challenging). Most students I see who transfer in end up taking an additional 3 years though.

    Finally a note about the programs you have listed. You can get a strong degree in physics at UIC, NIU, IIT, as well as the more highly touted UC, NU, and UIUC. most undergraduate physics programs are similar and if you put the effort in, you can get an excellent outcome. Your decision should be made on the basis of your financial situation and your "fit" with the university.
  • comfortablycurtcomfortablycurt Registered User Posts: 2,182 Senior Member
    Thanks for your comments!!

    After doing more research, I've realized that undergrad degrees in astrophysics are somewhat unusual, so I've shifted my gears more towards getting a physics degree, as well as possibly a math degree. I haven't fully decided on a double major yet though.

    IIT is one of the schools I'm becoming most interested in though. I couldn't find much in the way of an astronomy program on the IIT website though. There seem to be a couple different astronomy electives, but that's about it. This is something that I don't think should be a huge concern though at this point. How is IIT for particle physics? The field of astroparticle physics is ideally where I'd like to gravitate to at this point...but that all remains to be seen.

    As far as the courses go though, my main objective is to get the Engineering Physics sequence, along with the calculus sequence and hopefully differential equations and linear algebra finished at Sauk before I transfer. I may end up having to stay at Sauk for a semester longer than I was hoping...that all remains to be seen. The only physics courses available after Engineering are a two part mechanics sequence, and if I end up having to stay more than two more years I will definitely be taking them. Unfortunately though, Sauk doesn't have any math courses beyond differential equations and linear algebra, so that's as far as I'll be able to take it here. All that said though, I'm not entirely opposed to staying at a university for longer than two more years after getting my associates.

    As a high school drop out on financial aid though, am I even going to have a fighting chance to get into a better school like IIT? I've basically given up on the thought of UChicago, and after more research I'm not sure that that's really the route I'd want to go anyway. I think IIT and UIUC are basically going to be my main target schools at this point.

    I am also starting to look at UIC and NIU a lot more though too.
  • comfortablycurtcomfortablycurt Registered User Posts: 2,182 Senior Member
    Well, I've refined my rough academic plan some more, and I've figured out a plan that would allow me to get everything done in two more years, even without taking 121 and 122 at the same time. As long as I could take Engineering Physics I and Calculus II as summer courses after next year, I'll be able to get it all done within two more years.

    Now I've just gotta find out if they offer Physics courses over the summer. I know they offer math courses over the summer, so I'd imagine taking Calc II over the summer shouldn't be a problem.
  • comfortablycurtcomfortablycurt Registered User Posts: 2,182 Senior Member
    I also realized that I wouldn't necessarily want to major in Mathematics and Computer Science...and that I'd likely be better off simply majoring in Mathematics. They didn't have a transfer articulation guide on the UIUC site for a Mathematics major, just math and compsci, and math and actuarial statistics.

    I've looked at the requirements for a junior year transfer as a math major though, and this would actually simplify my Sauk course load. I wouldn't have to take the three computer courses I named above, and instead I'd only have to take "MAT 150-Computer Programming for Mathematics and Engineering." Being able to replace those three computer courses with this one course has freed my plan up quite a bit. Assuming that I can take Engineering Physics I as a summer course, I'll be able to complete the full Engineering sequence, the full calculus sequence, along with differential equations, the required chemistry and english comp classes, plus all of my geneds...and all within two more years.

    A huge plus side is that all of my geneds will transfer to UIUC, if I get accepted there. The geneds I'd take here would cover almost the entire core curriculum at UIUC, aside from three other geneds. One is an advanced composition course that you're required to take at UIUC...and actually ends up pertaining to your major. I'd be able to use a physics course that I'd like to take anyway to take care of this requirement. There are also two cultural studies classes I'd have to take there, on pertaining to western culture and one pertaining to non-western/US culture. I haven't been able to find any courses at Sauk that would meet this requirement.

    Aside from those...there is one other requirement that I'm rather dreading...the foreign language requirement...eek...UIUC requires two years of college study of a foreign language. I'm not sure if I'll be able to squeeze a foreign language class into my plans at Sauk, but I'm going to try to get at least a year done here if possible. Any thoughts on a language that would be beneficial towards my majors? I'm thinking Latin could potentially be of benefit, due to Latin terms being fairly widely used in scientific fields...but Sauk unfortunately doesn't have any Latin courses. They've got French, German and Spanish. I did take a Spanish class my freshman year of high school...but didn't pass it due to basically never being there. Some of the language has stuck though(very little), so I'm thinking that may be the route I go for that.

    Aside from those few things though, my time after transfer will be almost entirely devoted to my majors...which is how I want it.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 63,552 Senior Member
    Spanish or French probably has the most general utility, depending on where you go.

    French or German may be helpful if doing research in math (graduate level).
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