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    Andromeda321

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    [–] The new Swiss 200-franc note is pretty physics-tastic! Andromeda321 44 points ago in geek

    That gang sign looking thing on the left. It’s a way to visualize Cartesian space that is useful in some physics problems.

    [–] The new Swiss 200-franc note is pretty physics-tastic! Andromeda321 33 points ago in geek

    One of the best perks of being a lefty was never getting points docked on tests because I forgot to put down my pen to do the right hand rule! Amazing how much right handed people forget and use their left by accident.

    [–] Swiss National Bank releases new 200-franc note Andromeda321 2 points ago in europe

    It was always pretty amazing to oversee a physics exam where everyone reached the “right hand rule” and was suddenly doing this.

    [–] What did a professional say or do that made you immediately lose trust in them? Andromeda321 1 points ago in AskReddit

    It is now back on Mt Lemmon, but yes! :) What year were you? I might have been your counselor!

    [–] Q&A about Astronomy, Space, and whatever else- month of August Andromeda321 1 points ago in Andromeda321

    Hi there,

    First, prestige doesn't matter much as you likely think when it comes to grad admissions, or compared to other fields- I've known guys from Georgia State and UofTexas- El Paso get into Harvard. What really matters most are the courses you took and how you did in them, and your research experience and letters you got from those.

    Speaking of, in your case as it sounds like you probably want a program that has lots of opportunities for research for undergrads. This tends to be easier in two places, either the technical universities (CMU, or Case, RPI, Johns Hopkins type places out of state), or the state school types (University of Maryland came to my mind first when reading your criteria, actually, and Rutgers and Stony Brook would fit too). Bear in mind, a lot of those bigger state schools have honors college programs too you're likely eligible for, and a lot of my friends who did them couldn't speak highly enough of them- it's got the benefits of a small school and a big school in one, and tuition's much cheaper!

    I hope this helps! But yeah, at this stage I'd just ask profs stuff like what the undergrad research opportunities are, the size of the physics/astronomy cohort, and what the culture of the department is like. It would definitely get the conversation flowing.

    Good luck!

    [–] What did a professional say or do that made you immediately lose trust in them? Andromeda321 1 points ago in AskReddit

    What I mean is a camp experience is not the same as an academic experience- this teacher didn't like my homework basically, and what kind of homework is there exactly at a week-long summer camp?

    Plus, by that point I was obsessed with astronomy and had been for years. I had read every book in the library on the topic, was taking my own observations with a telescope in my backyard, did a city-wide science fair project that got 2nd place on an astronomical topic that year, and other things. I was obviously pretty damn motivated about astronomy and learning about it. She knew all that, but didn't bother to mention it in the letter.

    Also, I wasn't failing. I was just inconsistent, got a C on a few tests, but I also got As on others.

    [–] Q&A about Astronomy, Space, and whatever else- month of August Andromeda321 1 points ago in Andromeda321

    Hi there! I graduated high school in PA too! I'm from the Pittsburgh area originally. :)

    So, first I'm going to assume you've already read the "so you want to be an astronomer" post stickied above this. Second, more subtle but in the side bar is a book list, which is here. It includes some textbooks if you're interested.

    As for schools, I'm happy to suggest some but it would be more helpful to me if I knew stuff like how well you're doing in school, a rough geographic area for where you want to be (out of state? so far out of state you need to hop on a plane?), and the type of school you might be interested in (liberal arts? tech school? big state school?). I think honestly these things can influence your time in undergrad more once you find a solid physics department.

    Like, in Pennsylvania, Penn State has a fantastic high energy program with a lot of big names, but that might not be what you're looking for! Similarly in state, Carnegie-Mellon University does some awesome stuff in their Physics and Astronomy dept, as does the University of Pittsburgh literally a block over. Do try to visit every school, and ask specifically if you can meet with a professor in physics/astronomy- most are excited to do so!

    As for issues in my career, my biggest for the taking courses part was I don't test well. I still got good enough grades for grad school, but I had to work EXTRA hard compared to many of my classmates- I had to ace pretty much all my homework in some courses, for example, because I knew the exam score would pull me down so I'd get a B. I also did a ton of research in undergrad as well, which really helped.

    In grad school, I'd say that the biggest factor by far is choosing your adviser. That relationship will make or break your career. And NEVER work for the department head without a co-adviser on board, because if that relationship goes south there is too large a power differential to overcome it.

    Let me know if you have further questions!

    [–] What did a professional say or do that made you immediately lose trust in them? Andromeda321 1 points ago in AskReddit

    Advanced Placement. In the USA, that means a college level course, and you can take an exam at the end and, if high enough, skip that class in college.

    I got a 3 out of 5, which was accepted by my university if you weren't going to major in it.

    [–] What did a professional say or do that made you immediately lose trust in them? Andromeda321 1 points ago in AskReddit

    Nope, University of Arizona astronomy camp! I wanted to attend SSP too the year after, but my mom wasn't keen to let me go away for the whole summer. :(

    [–] What did a professional say or do that made you immediately lose trust in them? Andromeda321 2 points ago in AskReddit

    It is standard in the USA to not see your letter when applying for a job, and to show one to the applicant would be unethical. This is so the letter writer can speak candidly about the candidate. I've applied for a ton of stuff in academia, but never seen my letters.

    As such, she gave me a sealed envelope with the signature on it. I remember holding it up to the light out of curiosity but couldn't see anything through.

    [–] What did a professional say or do that made you immediately lose trust in them? Andromeda321 1 points ago in AskReddit

    Unfortunately this was a private school with different standards than a public one, and when I graduated she moved to New Jersey and has a generic name so it'd be impossible to find her.

    [–] What did a professional say or do that made you immediately lose trust in them? Andromeda321 3 points ago in AskReddit

    I dunno, I remember all the good teachers I had far more than this particular one. It really is incredible the effect a teacher can have on a student's life, both for the better and for the worse.

    [–] What did a professional say or do that made you immediately lose trust in them? Andromeda321 1 points ago in AskReddit

    She only let me take the class under the condition that I did well in it. She was claiming that a B- showed that I wasn't doing well and it was only going to get worse from there because harder material was ahead.

    I got a B both semesters, and a 3 on the AP exam, so whatever.

    [–] What did a professional say or do that made you immediately lose trust in them? Andromeda321 1 points ago in AskReddit

    You'd be surprised in my experience how much assholes will go to lengths to convince themselves they're not assholes. I wouldn't bother with the invitation because she'd probably think it's a compliment that she made such a good impression on you, because before she met you you were a worthless case and she made the difference!

    [–] What did a professional say or do that made you immediately lose trust in them? Andromeda321 5 points ago in AskReddit

    I get this question a lot, actually, and I wrote up a post here on how to be an astronomer. Check it out, and let me know if you have further questions!

    [–] What did a professional say or do that made you immediately lose trust in them? Andromeda321 1 points ago in AskReddit

    No. She left the school when I graduated and moved to New Jersey. Generic enough name that I don't think I'd find her.

    [–] What did a professional say or do that made you immediately lose trust in them? Andromeda321 2 points ago in AskReddit

    Yes, I learned that in grad school too. But a 15 year old is just not going to understand that subtlety.