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Good physics/astronomy school with merit

meiyongmeiyong Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
I have been searching a lot of schools for my child and I am not sure how to proceed, we can afford 20k per year, does not qualify for any aide, good stats and little EC. We are in the northeast and in state is too expensive.Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Replies to: Good physics/astronomy school with merit

  • Mom2aphysicsgeekMom2aphysicsgeek Registered User Posts: 4,311 Senior Member
    I can't suggest schools by names, but I can share our ds's story. Our budget for our kids is smaller than yours, so all of our children have actively sought merit scholarships.

    Our ds who wanted to pursue physics/cosmology interviewed the depts at every school he was interested in. He selected the schools by looking over their 4 yr plans, frequency of course offerings, compared textbooks used with texts used at other schools, access to grad level courses, and access to UG research. When he met with the depts, he asked specifically about what types of research their UGs were doing. Who did the UGs work for, profs or grad students? What did the graduates from their dept do after UG?

    The dept visits were quite revealing. During one meeting with a dept dean and UG advisor, for example, when asked what students from their dept did after graduation, they looked at each other with blank stares and neither could say what one single student was now doing. (Ironically, that school had been at the top of his list. He ran the other direction.) Another one of his original top choices told him that he had more direct research experience as a high school student than their UGs bc their research focus was on their grad students. (Our ds was accelerated and worked with a prof where he DEed and had attended multiple physics summer research camps.) That school also came off of his list.

    The school he ultimately decided to attend is by no means a physics powerhouse nor is it even a top ranked U. What it offered him was access to courses he wanted to take, ability to participate in UG research directly with mentoring professors, and be surrounded by supportive faculty. (The idea that only small LACs have supportive faculty is a myth. All of my kids have attended public Us and all of them have had faculty truly interested in mentoring them.) He was part of a small research-focused honors program and attended on full scholarship.

    His UG yrs were focused. He spent about 18 hrs a week doing research. He did multiple poster presentations. He participated in REUs. He took several grad level courses. He maintained a 4.0. When he graduated from that school, he was a strong applicant for grad school. He had great options to choose from and is now a grad student at his top choice.
  • BuckeyeMWDSGBuckeyeMWDSG Registered User Posts: 737 Member
    University of Toledo has an observatory and astronomy dept. making the news quite a bit lately

    $31,000 oos CoA there are a variety of price points for dorms
    $12,000 automatic merit aid (9,500-14,500) for oos see table http://www.utoledo.edu/admission/freshman/scholarships/2019/out-of-state.html
    $19,000 net price

    net price calculator https://www.utoledo.edu/financialaid/calculator/costofattendance.aspx

    I believe they also allow stacking of outside scholarships. Here is their listing of additional outside and department scholarships for students to pursue.

    This page has a short video of the campus. https://www.utoledo.edu/admission/

  • BuckeyeMWDSGBuckeyeMWDSG Registered User Posts: 737 Member
    Does UAH fit in budget? Having the gpa/test scores helps posters find options. Here is the UAH merit grid https://www.uah.edu/admissions/undergraduate/financial-aid/scholarships/freshmen and physics with astronomy concentration page https://catalog.uah.edu/undergrad/colleges-departments/science/physics/physics-bs-astronomy-astrophysics-concentration/
  • Mom2aphysicsgeekMom2aphysicsgeek Registered User Posts: 4,311 Senior Member
    Given the extreme vagueness of good stats and few ECs, that could mean just about anything. @meiyong needs to either post actual stats and provide more thorough information or spend time researching automatic merit that matches the student's stats. The "little ECs" probably disqualifies the student from competitive merit. Since the OP was so vague, threads like these, even if extremely out of date, might be a good starting pt.

  • meiyongmeiyong Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    edited September 17
    Thanks so much!

    @Mom2aphysicsgeek So sorry about the vague stats, my child is extremely extremely private and would probably flip if I share the stats in a public forum. I understand without more information you can’t really help me... but good stats means top 10% of graduating class, almost 4.0 gpa, SAT in the low to mid 1500s, EC only in freshmen and sophomore years because we moved to a new state and new high school...

    @BuckeyeMWDSG thanks for the tips for Toledo and UAH! I had done some research and felt like I have not done a good job.... I will definitely look at your suggestions!

    Our current list is U of Arizona (safety because of the $35,000 scholarships for oos - btw it that automatic? I ran the NPC and got a number that is lower than 20k); UH Manoa; UMCP, UDel, CWRU, maybe add one dream super high reach..

    This is the best thing for parents sending kids to college for the first time! I don’t feel so alone in this now thanks to your replies!!!
  • BuckeyeMWDSGBuckeyeMWDSG Registered User Posts: 737 Member
    edited September 17
    Michigan State should probably be on your list, too if competitive for their full tuition PA program:
    "To qualify for the PA program, a student must be invited to the Honors College at Michigan State University and satisfy ONE of the following criteria:
    SAT combined total of 1500 (Reading and Math)
    ACT composite of 33, or
    Semifinalist status in a National Merit program"
  • meiyongmeiyong Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    Thanks for the tips!

    By the way, I was spooked by the tread on CC about kids who already applied and got their accept letter before my kid even applied! Do you think the scholarships will be gone if we adhere to the stipulated deadline? We plan to have everything out few days before November 1st.. I feel like if I rush things, it’s going to be bad for us..

    Are we already late in the race to merit awards? Sigh...😞
  • meiyongmeiyong Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    edited September 17
    Hello again, @BuckeyeMWDSG I have looked at Toledo, MSU and UAH. They all fit the budget and have physics program but do you know of schools that are also (1) have a bit more sun (2) not too conservative? These additional things are not “need” like $$ and good physics program but something that would be good to have.. hence our current list..
  • BuckeyeMWDSGBuckeyeMWDSG Registered User Posts: 737 Member
    I really felt behind the whole application season for my S last year. In the end it all worked out just fine. Hang in there!

    UNM has a lot of opportunities for research. https://scholarship.unm.edu/scholarships/non-resident.html

    Universities tend to be diverse communities with policies to promote tolerance and have their own islands of culture. Huntsville is a growing area with a lot of people from across the country settling there. Toledo is much more like southern Michigan than southern Ohio. https://www.businessinsider.com/the-11-nations-of-the-united-states-2015-7
  • Mom2aphysicsgeekMom2aphysicsgeek Registered User Posts: 4,311 Senior Member
    Our current list is U of Arizona (safety because of the $35,000 scholarships for oos - btw it that automatic? I ran the NPC and got a number that is lower than 20k); UH Manoa; UMCP, UDel, CWRU, maybe add one dream super high reach

    I am very confused by your list when combined with your post of only having a $20,000 budget and not qualifying for institutional grant aid. Without absolutely exceptional ECs, your student will not be in the running for most schools' competitive scholarships. The kids awarded those scholarships are students on par with elite admits which takes far more than test scores and GPA. So, when eliminating the handful of extremely competitive scholarships these schools offer, Case costs ~$66k and offers a max scholarship of around $30k; UMD costs $52k and offers $12,500; UDel costs $50k and offers approx $13k. I didn't look at UH's. The other 3 I am familiar with bc we looked at them for our kids. (Ds applied to Case and was offered $30k.)

    If you really want to get your costs down to your budget, you are going to have to look at schools that offer close to full tuition merit. My Dd, for example,was offered full tuition to Fordham but even so our costs plus travel expenses would still have been $20k. You can guesstimate $12-15k for room and board, then add in books, travel expenses, and possible health insurance if your personal policy won't qualify for a waiver. You can pretty much land at a solid $15k on avg even with a full tuition scholarship.

    UAH would have lots of sun. UAlabama is another school to look at.

    Fwiw, GT has an Oct 15th merit deadline and Nov 1-15th are typical deadlines for merit.
  • meiyongmeiyong Registered User Posts: 6 New Member

    This is precisely why I need guidance and help! I was looking at all the scholarship competitions and trying to figure out which one is remotely a possibility. Every one of these schools have full ride, but now that you tell me they are so competitive that only equivalent of elite athletes would qualify, I need to redo my list.

    I ran the U of Arizona npc and got below $20k, UH Manoa has a NWS scholarships, if won, to be considered for in-state tuition, this will still go over $20K but it is close enough that a personal loan can be considered.... I don't know how competitive it would be..

    I really admire your ds's research into the prospective physics departments, it would be the right thing to do for something so important as college decision, but I feel like we are running out of time, the essay is not even done yet. Do you mind sharing the school he eventually picked? if you can't list it here, do you mind pm me? I can't pm yet because I am new to CC. I know I am piggybacking on your son's research on school, so if it is not ok to share, please don't worry about it.

    Also, thanks for the info on the expenses even with a full tuition scholarship, I will have to factor that in. I also learned of the 5% increase in tuition each year, I think it is going to go over $20k even for our safety: U of Arizona.

    Btw, is GT Georgia tech? do they have good merit award that we have a chance to get? I would push for the deadline if need me.

  • Mom2aphysicsgeekMom2aphysicsgeek Registered User Posts: 4,311 Senior Member
    Just to clarify, I never stated the equivalent of elite athletes. What I stated was that students need exceptional ECs. Those ECs, however, do not have to have anything to do with sports. Winners of competitive scholarships at the schools you listed are going to stand out in some way--significant community involvement (and I do not mean volunteer hrs; I mean involved in doing something that dramatically impacted their local community), national/international awards, etc. Who they won't be is your typical great student with grades and test scores and nothing remarkable on their resume. That is just the reality of the situation. When competing for these types of scholarships, kids aren't competing against local or regional applicants, but against the top kids across the country.

    I'll use 2 of my kids as examples. Our ds graduated from high school having completed multiple in-major math and physics courses. He had a list of honors and camps like SSP. He worked with prof on research during high school. He did not receive any extremely competitive scholarships at any of the schools he applied to other than RRS (formerly CBH) at Bama (40 kids are selected, a handful receive additional scholarship $$). Our dd, otoh, was awarded multiple top competitive scholarships and had her pick to choose from. Her application included 2 international awards (including representing the US) and multiple regional awards. She also had a very unique EC that only involved her, but what she managed to achieve was pretty significant for a high school student. From this side of the application process (meaning not on the admissions side), that is what I see as the difference between being selected and not.

    I can share where my ds attended, but his reasons may not make the same sense for your student. Our ds needed a school that would allow him to take grad level courses b/c of the level he was at when he graduated from high school. We also needed his scholarship $$ to pay for those grad courses (many do not and grad courses are expensive). His top priority, other than available courses/scholarship, was access to research. Those factors eliminated a lot of schools. Ultimately, after all acceptances were received and all scholarships awarded, Bama ended up being 100% scholarship funded. He was accepted into their research honors program. Students can take grad courses as an UG. He really liked the profs that he met in the dept. So, that made his decision for him. He had other choices that covered full-tuition, but none that he liked better than Bama.

    For him, it was the right decision. He excelled and they were incredibly supportive. He is where he wants to be now on the other side of UG.
  • meiyongmeiyong Registered User Posts: 6 New Member

    Thank you for taking the time to share your information and insight with me. I think I understand the situation better now.

    Both your children are stellar and I am happy they both get what they want. You must be a proud parent!

    I am going to have a good talk with my child and then together, we will make the right decision. I can’t thank you enough for your perspective! Just hope we can make it in time...
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