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Thread: Which are the best American universities/colleges for astronomy?

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    Default Re: Which are the best American universities/colleges for astronomy?



    Quote Originally Posted by spelunkerd View Post
    With those points in mind, choosing the individual may be more important than choosing the institution.
    I think Dave is putting his finger on a very important point. However, let me make a case for the opposite view. I've seen many students who choose their institution because Dr. X is there. They then show up to the school and find that several other students have come there to study with Dr. X as well. But, of course, Dr. X can't advise *that* many students. So instead most work with Drs. Y or Z.
    Or, someone shows up to work with Dr. X and the next year Dr. X retires. Or takes a job at another school. Or, more commonly than all of this, it turns out Dr. X isn't that nice to work with after all (as Dave says, talk to people to find this out beforehand!).

    In addition, what happens much more often than incoming grad students expect, is that their interests change. So they go to school planning to study one sub-area and end up getting excited by another.

    All of these considerations argue for choosing a quality school with a wide variety of good possibilities for dissertation advisers.

    This isn't to say you shouldn't go in with hopes or tentative plans to work with Dr. X, but keeping options open can pay big dividends down the road.
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    Default Re: Which are the best American universities/colleges for astronomy?

    Quote Originally Posted by spelunkerd View Post
    Graduate school is all about a very personal relationship you have with your boss. Choose him carefully because he'll make or break your career. So, it would be nice to have somebody who challenges you to do well, but who can help to get you out of difficulty when things seem to be going badly. Of course it may be a priceless feather in your cap if he is a star in the field you choose. But, an even better choice is to find somebody who is at the start of a rising tide, whether that's based on new technology or new ideas.

    With those points in mind, choosing the individual may be more important than choosing the institution. Therefore you want to do your own research in the field you are interested in and then zero down on who might be a good choice. Attend a few conferences, look at posters, and talk to grad students standing beside their work. They'll know, though they may not share personal impressions with a stranger. It's my bias that you shouldn't jump into grad school until you have a well defined idea of your field and your chosen preceptor.

    As far as specific advice, I'd be surprised if you will find much detail from a forum like this. Recently I did an online course through Coursea, "The science of the solar system", which gave me a pretty good idea about Mike Brown and his work. I was impressed, though you'd need to do more investigation before jumping onto that bus. Popular and high profile people like Mike will have hundreds of grad student applicants, so it may be easier to find an opening beside somebody who is less well know.
    Absolutely spot-on advice. I learned too late not to go to the school, but to the scholar. Contact scholars after reading their research, explain how their research can propel your own, and you're good to go.

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    Default Re: Which are the best American universities/colleges for astronomy?

    And contact Rocky Kolb, chair of dept of astonomy and astrophysics at U of Chicago.

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    Default Re: Which are the best American universities/colleges for astronomy?

    You guys have completely missed the university in the astronomy capital of the world. We do all things astronomy here at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona.
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