Strong Physics programs at non-elite schools

Tufts is excellent, but it’s hard to think of it as a “safety”.


Wesleyan is an interesting option to consider. First of all, it is a very liberal student body. As a vegan atheist, he would fit right in. Second, Wesleyan is the rare LAC which offers graduate study all the way up to the PhD level - primarily in science and math, including Physics. Not that he would have to pursue a PhD there but that it would offer a different vibe in math and the sciences as well as a broader array of course options than at the typical small LAC.

With regard specifically to the Physics program at Wesleyan, what is most noteworthy is the flexibility of the program. The curriculum allows and encourages students to tailor the program to their unique interests. There are actually 7 tracks to choose among - astrophysics, biophysics, chemical physics, econophysics, general physics, geophysics, and mathematical physics. Or work with your advisor to form your own major. Something like econophysics, for example, is rare to find at the undergraduate level. For those interested in “seemingly chaotic market behavior, the courses offered explore how physics can be used to gain a better understanding of the market and market forces.


Of course night. Less than a 10% acceptance rate this year. But yes, the conversation does seem to have strayed from the topic of “non-elite schools”.

Yes, we have visited quite a few schools over the last 3 years since our two boys are just a year apart in school and the older one started his first year of college this fall. We even visited 8 or so campuses in California right before COVID shut that whole state down. That’s where his brother had his heart set on going. Then COVID, reality, and changes about what he wanted and he decided against cali. And he couldn’t be happier where he is. So trying to keep this in mind with my younger one who is all over the place with his choices.

So I can see the light at the end of our college journey with our kids, but by now we have toured approx 35 campuses, whether self tours or organized tours. And in addition to that taken part in lots of virtual events. We have fall break coming up and getting a couple tours in. These are important ones bc these are ones he’s on the fence about in two different regions.


Yes, he has several Boston area schools on his list: Boston College, Boston U, Northeastern, and Harvard. I have suggested Tufts but he’s lukewarm about it. We visited the campus when it was shut down so it didn’t stand out to him. He keeps getting it confused with all the New England colleges we have visited. His favorite by far was Northeastern. He tends to favor the more urban campuses with more modern architecture, which is why he loved MIT and NEU. But even NEU dropped to single digit admission rate this past year!

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What I don’t understand with your strategy - you are looking at $50k or less. So while it’s a ‘small’ possibility at a school like NEU, it’s a zero possibility at tufts as it sounds like you are full pay.

You have to look at schools within the budget - assuming your hubby is firm and he should be so that you don’t take in debt.

You should ensure your son knows this and only look at schools with that parameter. Otherwise you are providing false hope.


That’s the problem, we don’t have a firm stand on budget. It’s more of a “we’d rather not pay 80 grand for some schools”… and we do know that NEU gives a boost to students who’ve received college board recognition awards which my son has. My nephew got $30,000 off tuition from them.

I’m basing some of my info off of my nephew’s experience. He shares a lot of academic attributes as my son, tho my son’s stats are slightly higher and they come from different regions of the country.

There are a lot of factors beyond stats that go into their consideration and that’s what’s hard to predict. So we’re preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. My husband is a legacy at BU and they also give a boost for students with CB recognition awards. So we’re hoping for money off that tuition. If those $80,000 tuitions come down to $50,000, they are far more attractive to us. I’m not aware of Tufts having any such scholarships. And BC only offers 20 Gabelli scholarships.

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Tufts is need merit only and 2/3 are full pay.

$30k off still has you over $50k and there’s inflation.

There are great state schools of varying sizes that can get to your $$.

You mentioned loans at over $50k. Why go there ??

You need at least one assured to hit cost safety. That’s where he goes if no where else hits the #.
Frankly he can go to many schools and for less than half your budget abd in the NE at schools that may work like a Delaware. A Umass with merit. Some SUNY etc. maybe some privates.

But there needs to be flexibility both ways and you need to make it clear. Peer pressure from your son - put an end to it or hubby will regret regret regret and he shouldn’t need to. Imho

Crunch time will be when he finally sits down to complete these applications. It’s all fun and games until reality hits and he realizes he doesnt feel like completing so many supplements. We’ve already run Into that with summer programs. He goes into it intending to apply to 8 and ends up applying to 3 at the very Knick of time. So his list will be reduced drastically I’m afraid. All his preferences are going to be irrelevant. I know the first apps to go in will be IU and NEU bc either no common app required or no supplements.

As far as top schools, his most likely might be ND bc his school is a sort of feeder there. I think he’s counting that as a backup tho it keeps him in Indiana and forces us to pay top dollar. I can’t think of many publics we’d pay full price for but would do it for UNC. He was invited and attended an event for Latino students at UVA and he loved it, so I think that’s a good option as well. Not northeast or urban but he really liked it and location and research opportunities.

I have a similar stats kid currently studying physics and music(dual degree) as a freshman at Lawrence University in Wisconsin. He turned down both UMIch and UVA to study there and I’m so glad he did. The school really goes the extra mile to create a strong sense of community and to integrate new students which was important for my quiet, reserved kid. So far, he absolutely loves his physics class and lab and says the physics professors are the nicest people who definitely know their stuff. He was invited to a physics weekend last winter where they were immersed in lab activities for two days with the faculty and current physics majors and it was the deciding point for him. The other two schools, though obviously great programs, seemed way too large and impersonal for him. Though you mentioned your son wasn’t looking at LAC’s, I did read several places that LAC’s can often be the best places to study physics and other sciences because they are undergrad focussed with strong teaching and are very collaborative, leading to many opportunities.


Jumping cats! 35?

I go to college campuses as part ofd my job, for seminars, workshops and the like, and I am probably just over 50. Over a career.

I would think over 35 you’d be able to winnow down your list quite a bit - big school, small school, LAC, unioversity, etc. Whatever is holding you back from this, it’s not lack of data.

Also, one thing I am having a hard time with on this thred is separating what you want from what your son wants.

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