College level astronomy?

okay, so astronomy is pretty much my lover, and i've been working at a planetarium since i was about 5. No schools around me (high school, or colleges) have had any astronomy-related summer courses or regular courses (other than geosystems & physics), so I dont have that on my resume. anybody majoring in astronomy (or astronomy-related) in here? if so what colleges have a good program?

thanks mucho

p.s. GPA 3.2 & lots of extracurricular (including 1st place in astronomy at science olympiad)

5 Answers

  • Favorite Answer

    I am majoring in astrophysics at Michigan State. I've only completed my first year so I've only taken one class but I've gone to talks, programs, and seen the same planetarium show there about seven times over the course of the school year (my excuse was that though the movie was the same the stars they talked about afterwards were not). There are lots of schools all around the nation with good programs in astronomy. Large state universities often offer it. The ivy's do, but few people end up with the chance to study there, and though they are fantastic there are advantages of schools with less competition for spots in the program. Also look for programs in physics as these often include astronomy (and if you want to be a professional astronomer odds are you'll need a Ph.D or at least a masters and physics prep is important in astronomy.

    This is what I did when I was looking for schools several years ago.

    I started with basics, where in the country, what type (private,public,religious sponsored,ect). At the same time I also looked for schools with astronomy. I made a list and contacted some of the schools. If I was planning on visiting one, sometimes I contact astronomy professors for more information, telling them I'd be on campus and would love to have the chance to talk and learn more. When you do this, know about the school, mention what you like about it (about the program), and what you want to know. Often professors were happy to have someone who wanted to know more and its a good way to learn about the dept.

    One mistake I did was ignore big schools. I thought I wanted to go to a smaller school. It turns out two of my three top choices were large schools (Ohio University and Michigan State). The other Alfred, University has many many telescopes but was small with very small dept.

    Also talk to the director of the planetarium you go to, the guidance office at your high school, and other students as well. Keep an open mind to the schools. Do well in science and math. Don't ignore other subjects though, my first astronomy class had essay tests and a final paper.

    Also look for research at schools. What would you be interested in researching or doing with a degree. I know its early now, but just get an idea. Schools specialize and often gather professors with similar interest. Michigan State has a strong nuclear physics dept and so some of the astronomers use the cyclotron there to learn how isotopes may be created in stars. This isn't observational astronomy but its an example of things that can be done that are a bit more inter-disciplinary. A tip for research: look up specific department websites and then professors, see what classes they teach and if they talk about their research. Also look at the REU programs offered in the summer for college students:

    Sometimes these programs describe what is also done during the school year in the depts.If you can find a place that will offer undergrads experience in research, look into it, it will tell you whether or not its a thing you want to do. Good luck, the college search is fun and stressful but hundreds of thousands make it through every year and so will you. Ultimately where you go will be worth what it is because of what you make out of it. Astronomy is a fantastic subject and I hope you are able to excel in it and share your wonder and love of the universe with others for many more years.

    *The advice about community college is good too-if you can afford to do something during the summer while in high school, take a class for fun or do a program at colleges (talk to guidence or search the web for precollege programs for high school students or astronomy programs for high school students) not only will this help you decide if you want major in it, it will give you experience about college.

  • 1 decade ago

    I don't know exactly were you are, but most community colleges offer astronomy classes. They may not have an astronomy department, but astronomy is often taught by the physics department. I know for sure that the University of Texas at Austin and San Diego State University in California have astronomy departments. So do many other institutions.

  • 1 decade ago

    I think there are observatories in Colorado and Hawai'i. I'd suspect that universities on those states would be good for practical experience.

  • 1 decade ago

    ive taken an astronomy class it was pretty cool but im not majoring

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  • 1 decade ago

    West Coast colleges probably have better observatories...

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