Where should I ED?

But is it good for Physics?

There are a lot of “rankings” out there and you won’t find Dartmouth or Amherst near the top. But so what - both are gold standard schools - one an Ivy and the other arguably the top LAC in the country.

If you look up top colleges for physics, you will find rankings that show MIT #1 but then a U of Arizona #3, Ohio State #4, a Michigan State #5, etc. Or others that list neither of your two schools.

You need to go where you can afford - and there are few you can likely afford since you say you need full aid. The school name does not matter - and both are tops. What matters is:

  1. Can I afford it- only if someone is welling to give me $340,000 - so beggars can’t be choosers.

  2. Is it the right fit for me - i.e. will I be comfortable and successful there.

Really nothing other than #1 and #2 matter - regardless of where you go to school. The prestige is not really relevant - but both of these names are top notch - even if not necessarily in Physics.

Find your school with our college filter tool (universities.com)

25 Best Colleges for a Physics Degree 2020 | GradReports

2022 Best Physics Schools - College Factual

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A friend’s daughter who recently graduated from Amherst and majored in Physics was accepted into all of the grad programs she applied to including MIT, Stanford and UC Berkeley. She loved everything about Amherst including the Physics department and smaller tight knit community so was a great fit for her.

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okay that makes a lot sense, thankyou so much. So I have dartmouth and Amherst and hamilton. Now i gotta chose between these 3, which would you prefer for ed 1 and ed2?

Have you run the net price calculator on each - to ensure each can meet your need?

You say you need full need - but what you say matters less than what they say?

If they say you need to pay some, then you will need to pay some.

So you should see what each school says before you choose one to apply to. If you find they are not affordable, then you should not apply ED.

Normally, one would start by identifying schools and programs that offer what you want and are a good fit. But given your situation (international, needing full aid) I would suggest approaching this differently.

Obtain a list of schools that meet full need for international students. This is a relatively small list. Of these some will be need blind and should be higher up your list.
From all these look at the ones that have a good physics program and where your profile is likely to be desirable to them. I think this approach will help you.

Also, as another poster asked above: what’s your back up plan? Do you have colleges in India on your list?

As an international applicant needing full aid your chances at U.S. colleges are very low so you shouldn’t count on it much. You have great accomplishments, but the competition is very very tough.
The kids from your school that got into Dartmouth - were they full pay or did they receive aid? Do you know how your profile compares to theirs?

Thankyou so much for helping me. So how should I figure out where my profile is desirable? Could you give an example with my profile if possible??

Yea I have a problem with the backup plan. I really do not have any backup and it might sound really stupid but India sucks for research. You would get very very small opportunity for research here since everyone here does either engineering or med and that’s how India functions, its really bad here.

yea the guy who got in got full aid, I don’t really know his accomplishments but honestly, India is not as competitive as people think. A lot of people do apply but the level of time people commit on EC is very low here. India is very very study oriented and you would get close to none opportunity for building your profile here.

Yea, I did the net price calculator and I am able to afford them. My parent’s annual income is around 30k so yea

Sorry, I’m not familiar with physics programs so can’t give you any suggestions myself but you’ve already received a few up-thread.

If you’re able to get in touch and ask, it would be helpful for you to get additional details. Also, what major was he interested in? Major or area of interest can make a big difference for admissions.

You’re evaluated amongst other applicants from your region/country so if this is true then it shouldn’t impact you. Also, research opportunities for high schoolers are not as widely available in the U.S. or other countries either.

On the contrary - at many schools (and certainly at the top ranked ones) India ranks in the top 5, if not the top 2, amongst country of origin of accepted international students. So yes, getting admitted from India is extremely competitive.

You can validate this by looking up admitted student profiles.

Not having a backup is a huge problem. Your chances of getting accepted with full aid are very very small. So you really should have a plan B. Because otherwise the most likely outcome is that you’re not going to college!

On a side note I don’t know how the second half of your statement (India research opportunities) relates to the first half (you not having a backup plan).

What you need to do is come up with a budget for school as a backup. If you need a full ride, then I am afraid your chances are low to the named schools above. It does not mean one should not try but I am just stating the facts.
There are many smaller schools out there that give very generous aid to internationals with strong stats. If your parents can come up with $7-10K per year then such a strategy makes a lot of sense.

India has world class IITs and NITs. Are you going to take the entrance exams?

As other already mentioned, always have a backup.


Please be aware….unless a net price calculator specifically asks if the student is an international student, the results will NOT be very accurate.

This student is an international student. He or she needs to reach out to Dartmouth and see if there is any chance they will give him a financial aid Pre-read. If I were a betting woman, I would bet they won’t, but you don’t know if you don’t ask.

See my post above. The net price calculators are NOT usually accurate for international students.

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What do you plan to do after you get your college degree? IF you attend college in the U.S. it will be on a student visa. When you are done, you will be expected to go back to your home country.

Someone else here can explain the exceptions to the return home rule. But really…think about that.

You must have a back up plan that is affordable in your country. Start looking….now.

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Those on a student visa can receive authorization to work for a limited period of time in an area that relates directly to their major. This can be used for internships during summer breaks or for up to a year after graduation. Students majoring in a STEM field can get a 2 year extension.

Our firm regularly hires interns or recent graduates who are on student visas and this is how they are able to legally work with us.

After this “optional practical training” period ends the only way for a student to continue employment (and living in the U.S.) is to have the employer sponsor a work visa. There are no exceptions I know of.

I have no experience in the field of physics but my educated guess is that work sponsorship for physics majors is likely to go to those getting their PhD.

OP should expect to return home after graduation. He may get work sponsorship but just like competitive college admissions it cannot be relied upon.

This is sound advice regardless of what OP does after graduation given the very low chance of being admitted with full (or nearly full) financial aid.

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One additional option to remain in the US legally is to marry a US citizen.

I agree OP needs an affordable safety or two, and should plan on ultimately returning home to India.


All these are great suggestions. But have you considered ETH Zurich? They are very inexpensive for international students – like 1.6k usd for the year. Plus room and board. But you need to know German I think. Needless to say ETH is good for Physics. Einstein studied there. He also taught there. You can do grad school in the US

It’s good enough. You will have the facilities of a large research institution next door, and Amherst is considered one of the top LACs in the nation, plus they meet full need for int’l students. Do well there and you’ll go to the top program in the country for your PhD (fully funded).

yes my parents can contribute 7-10k but how will I find these schools? are these schools the same who are need met for intl students?

First, avoid any school at which you have no realistic chance of acceptance. Therefore, if Dartmouth, for example, continues to remain of interest, find out as much as you can about the level of student Dartmouth has accepted from your school. You will need to compare to these students by objective and subjective characteristics for a Dartmouth application to make sense for you.

Next, continue your research into potential colleges of interest with respect to their suitability for the study of physics. You may want to compare the number of physics majors at various colleges, for example, which you can do through IPEDS. Dartmouth, for instance, graduated 9 physics “first majors” in a recent year out of 1150 students: College Navigator - Dartmouth College.

As an example of an application combination that might offer you a fair chance of success, you could try, say, ED I at Hamilton and, if necessary, ED II at Grinnell or Reed, should the costs for these schools appear affordable. Or, if you prefer, keep Dartmouth in strong contention as an ED I choice. Also consider Haverford among your schools to research further.