Should I avoid my institution's research course?

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
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Should I avoid my institution's research course?

Post by raremeatsandcheeses » Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:45 pm

My school offers a 'Research Seminar' for-credit course in which we are introduced to the principles of mathematical research and explore problems. It's considered a high-level undergraduate course.

My question: since many REU programs, which I will be applying to, stress that they are particularly interested in students without similar research opportunities at their home institutions, would it be to my detriment to have a class with 'Research' in its name on my transcript? Am I overthinking it to consider not taking this course to better my chances of getting into an REU?

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Re: Should I avoid my institution's research course?

Post by cauchysequence » Fri Nov 13, 2020 1:27 pm

Definitely overthinking it. Although some REU programs emphasize that they cater to students with a lack of research opportunities (and they sometimes really do), taking a course on it will not hurt your chances. In fact, it can be a solid talking point if you take the course and talk about it well in your REU application. Also, "without similar research opportunities" doesn't necessarily mean no research opportunities at all! You could be interested in exploring a research field with no experts in your home institution.

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