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REU vs Summer Off


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Hey guys, I've been accepted into my top choice grad school so I was thinking about what to do this Summer. My program is stats but, I have an option of doing a Simmer REU in applied math. The REU pays $4000 along with free room and board for 10 weeks of the summer. What factors would go into you guys' decision on this?

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Depends on how much you need the money and how much downtime you'd get in addition to the 10 weeks (varies depending on when your undergrad ends and grad program begins). It could be a great experience and a good chance to start developing collaborators and outside references, which you'll need if you intend to pursue an academic career...

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I don't think there is a "right" or "wrong" choice here -- it depends on what YOU want to do! Some things you can think about though:


1. Do you have lots of other research experience? An extra REU could help you on fellowship/scholarship applicants in your first year of grad school when you have very little grad work completed.


2. Is the project exciting / interesting to you? Like rising_star said, this could be a great opportunity to meet other researchers and make more connections! You might also be able to continue the work as a side project in grad school and get a publication out of it. At the very least, you might be able to present your work at a conference during the first year of grad school, since most first year grad students won't have much time to get a project to a conference-presentable level until near the end of their first year. This project could help you get an (extra) conference in that first year.


3. On the other hand, a 10 week project is really short and sometimes these things are designed more to get an undergrad student their very first taste of research. If you have a lot of research experience already and it's one of these types of project, and there is something else you rather do, then maybe you want to consider it! However, since this is 10 weeks of full time research, you might actually get more done in this 10 weeks than 4-5 months as a grad student (since classes, TAing etc. take up a lot of time!).


4. But even if the REU might not help your research experience very much, $4000 plus room+board isn't too bad! Also, if the REU is in a place you'd like to visit, you can just work on the weekdays, and do sightseeing/have fun in the evenings and weekends. 


In the summer after undergrad, I worked with my thesis supervisor for an extra 2 months (May and June) and then took July and August off before grad school. I enjoyed having that half summer "off" but was also able to extend my thesis work to eventually lead to a couple of publications! 

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