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Chemistry Grad School

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In chemistry the general thought is that it looks better to have your grad and undergrad at different places because it shows a breadth of academic interests.  It looks like academic inbreeding and like you couldn't make it into any other schools if you go to the same school for grad and undergrad.  I would look for a different school if you're serious about doing a PhD in chemistry.

Well thank you all for the advice! I guess i should've posted a little more about my motives to going to grad school. I've always had the intent of being a chemist, since high school. And, after college I knew I wanted to pursue a higher degree. This isn't me trying to find another outlet cause i failed the mcat, which i know some of my friends are doing...Anyways, my ultimate school to go to is Penn. My grandfather is a graduate from there in physical chemsitry, so i've been to the campus several times. But who knows if I'll get in. I've been an undergrad TA which is harder than it seems for a year, and I have a 1340 GRE (790 math, 550 verbal). Im going to retake it to try to get a higher verbal.

I am willing to make the sacrifices as you said, of the hells of being in the labs all night. I really appreciate all the advice!!! If you have more, please send it my way

If you can drink you will be fine. ACS, afterall, is short for Alcoholics' Chemical Society.

Penn is a good school, you seem to have very competitive grades and I think you'll do fine. Nice GRE score much better then mine, and I was accepted to Berkeley, although my Math score was higher. ;)

Also, working at different universities gives you a broader perspective of science.  Each research group looks at science in a different way.  For example, the group I work in generally looks to solve synthetic problems using transition metal catalysis.  The research group downstairs from us tries to solve synthetic problems without using transition metals (organocatalysis).  The more you experience different schools of thought the more valuable you become as a researcher because you aren't hedged in by someone elses view of science.

In response to what Dude said about working for a tenured professor, this is a very serious concern.  It can be okay to work for a professor that doesn't have tenure (I do) but be aware that you will probably have to really bust your butt because your prof. will need all the good results he can get in order to earn tenure.  A lot of the older profs. are much more laid back because they have already proven themselves.  If you do decide to work for a young prof. who hasn't come up for tenure yet, be prepared and make sure that you feel confident in the profs. ideas and that the work will result in tenure for the prof.  The rewards are great if, when you are looking for a job, your prof. can write in your letter of rec. that you were responsible for him getting tenure.

Did the GRE test change?  I took it in either 1994 or 1995 and I remember three sections (math, english and analytical (logic reasoning)).  My recollection was that the scale was 800 max for each subject for a highest possible score of 2400.  If the test basis is 1600 or even 2000 max, then your grades and score should get you into the Penn chemistry department without any problem.


What hmx said is what I heard when I was in school.  However, I am aware of several top-notch professors and industry/government scientists that went to the same school (undergrad-grad), so it is not a necessarily a career death sentence.  If you really like where you are, follow your instinct and create your own path.


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