What our alumni say about SMI...
The first year of graduate school is tough for many students. To say that it was tough for me is an understatement. The change in workload, material, and social dynamics was shocking for me. I was the only female to enter the program that year, and I felt an enormous amount of pressure as the only representative of my gender. I was ill-prepared both mathematically and socially. But there were a couple things that helped set me apart and gave me a jump start. One of those things was the analysis course at Summer Math Institute. Material from that course helped in three of the classes I took during my first year of graduate school: Probability, general topology, and analysis. The workload at SMI also helped me adjust early and form healthy study habits that I would need to be successful. The mentoring I received and friendships I made gave me a sense of support and stability that I would have otherwise lacked. Had I not participated in the program at SMI, I cannot say with surety that I would have made it post masters. But here I am, writing my dissertation and planning to graduate with a Ph.D. next year. I cannot emphasize enough how crucial SMI has been to my success.
My summer at SMI has motivated me in my work in graduate school. I was more confident in applying to graduate school programs after attending SMI, since I knew (roughly) what to expect in grad school, and I remain more confident about my situation than I believe I would have been had I not attended SMI. SMI helped prepare me for graduate school by showing me what to expect.
The one aspect of SMI that has stuck with me is the research that my group did in differential geometry. Since then I have looked into possibly researching this topic in the future. I do believe that the rigorous coursework prepared me for the graduate level classes that I have taken thus far. Through SMI I learned the importance of dedicating time and effort to my studies.
SMI has had two major effects on me. First, it helped me better understand what doing research is like. I had been in other research programs before, but my time at SMI really solidified my interest in becoming a research mathematician. Secondly, my area of interest is in analysis and the analysis course I took at SMI set me on that path. I could have worked harder at SMI, but the main lessons of the program were not lost on me.
SMI's rigorous but nurturing environment definitely helped me prepare for my graduate coursework. It also gave me confidence that I could be happy and successful studying higher math. It definitely was a positive influence in my decision to pursue graduate study.
I thought that the SMI program was effective in trying to get students to stay within the mathematical sciences and pursue graduate science in math. Before SMI, I was focusing on both mathematics and physics as an undergraduate. After SMI, I became more focused on just mathematics. Though the course was very difficult, I did learn some material in the Analysis course that I late encountered late on in other courses.
Without the analysis course I took at SMI, I would have struggled plenty in my graduate program. The mathematics program at my undergraduate institute did not prepare me thoroughly. But, attending SMI changed that by not only preparing me for the level of graduate analysis I am currently taking but by also giving me a feel of the hardwork required to attend a graduate program. At SMI, we studied mathematics from when the sun came up until a few hours after the sun came down 5-7 days a week, and that is exactly what is required of me at my current graduate program. So, SMI does not simply prepare one by teaching advance math but also preparing one for the hours and hours of study required in Graduate school. And, after SMI, I knew without a doubt that graduate school was right for me because I completely enjoyed those extensive hours of study. It is surprising how similiar SMI is to my experience here at graduate school from the level of mathematics to the social aspect with professors and fellow students to the hours of study.
SMI is an invaluable experience for me. SMI provided me a wonderful opportunity to learn about graduate schools. From how and where to apply to the opportunities and challenges in graduate school, I learned so much first hand experiences from many professors and graduate students. In addition, both the analysis course and the research project greatly strengthened my academic skills and later made my transition to graduate school smoother. SMI gave me a lot of information and confidence to pursue graduate school. It also once again confirmed that my career passion is in academia. The SMI faculty and other involved members provided the students with tremendous support and passion. They will always be my examples to follow in my future academic career.
SMI really helped to show what grad school would be like, and how to work together on research projects which was helpful to prepare me for my research assistantship.
I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to attend SMI- although we worked on mathematics for about 10 hours a day, it was actually a great deal of fun and cemented my desire to attend graduate school. Ravi, Jesus, Mark, Alex, and Sam created a very supportive environment that introduced us to the rigors of math studies with none of the potential isolation. In particular, the program made the transition to graduate school much easier for me. As I came from a small liberal arts college and rarely took more than one or two math courses each semester, I was completely unprepared for the focus and dedication to math required to succeed in graduate school. SMI helped me grow more comfortable with studying math full-time and provided a great environment for what may otherwise have been a very stressful change. Not only did the rigorous coursework at SMI help prepare me for graduate courses, but the research component helped me become more comfortable discussing and exploring new ideas. I really cannot say enough positive things about SMI - the program is fantastically run and the professors provide extensive mentoring and support, even far past the end of the summer. SMI really made a huge difference in my perception of math studies and played a large role in my current success in graduate school.
It is unclear what my career path would be if it weren't for SMI. Before attending the summer program I had not been introduced to higher level mathematics nor the rigors of applying to and attending a graduate program. SMI provided a higher level mathematics course as well as a clear set of goals which I was able to use to guide the rest of my undergraduate career and this allowed me to gain entrance into a very respectable mathematics department for my doctorate. Having the rigorous SMI summer course under my belt gave me the confidence to take on more difficult challenges in my own institution which I would not have done otherwise.
As a student in an undergraduate math program that focuses more on preparing high school educators, SMI offered a much different perspective on mathematics for me. The course in real analysis was much more in depth than the one I had taken at my institution. Without attending SMI, I do not think I would have recognized the utility of real analysis in nearly every aspect of mathematics. Further, it has also helped me in my current path of statistics.
SMI definitely helped prepare me for graduate school, and I would never have survived without it. I never had Abstract Algebra in college, and so the rigorous coursework introduced me to material that prepared me better for what lied ahead. Also, the pace and intensity made grad school easier to adjust to. Moreover, learning how to TeX definitely helped me survive, as I had never seen it before SMI.
Both coursework and research experience was incredibly valuable to me even though my career path is in a different field. Coming from a small Liberal Arts undergraduate school the initial impression was quite intimidating but instructors made sure to give us enough attention, tailoring the program to each person individually. The experience was very rewarding and I enjoyed it tremendously, I hope more people will be able to participate in years to come.
SMI has made a huge difference in my life! I am on a career path that makes me really happy. If SMI had not shown me what graduate school in mathematics was like, then I would be a boring engineer and hate 40+ hours of my week, possibly for the rest of my life. In particular, it gave me the chance to learn that I like research in math. It is also worth mentioning how supportive all of the staff from SMI are. Every single one of them has taken an interest in my success as a student and as a mathematician. In addition to getting letters of recommendation for grad school, I have many mentors from SMI that I consider to be good friends. I kept all of my homework assignments from SMI, because I thought they would be useful in graduate school. I have since used them, but most importantly, I have read the first few solutions I turned in and I couldn't believe I had written them because they were such poorly written proofs.
My experiences at SMI prepared me for the rigorous work of graduate school. In fact, I am currently using the same textbook in my 500-level abstract algebra sequence that I used at SMI (Dummit and Foote "Abstract Algebra"). The fast-paced and compressed environment of the coursework gave me a preview of the expectations of graduate work in mathematics. Without the research component of SMI, I would not have been able to experience research in mathematics until beginning graduate school. I enjoyed my research experience while at SMI, and this played a part in my decision to attend a university offering a research masters degree. Without the opportunity to experience mathematics research, I do not know if I would have made this same decision.
I feel like SMI gave me an honest idea of the challenges of grad school, and it was structured to help us develop study habits that would make us successful. I found this really useful- the next semester I took on more classes and a research project- more than I'd had the confidence to do previously. I took graduate classes earlier than my classmates, as a result of SMI, and I'd learned the study-habits to excel in them. This made it possible for me to go to a graduate school that I think would otherwise have been out of my league. The immersive coursework, constant homework sets, and nightly office hours really made it a valuable summer. At the time, it felt like we were living and breathing intro to analysis... it was great!
SMI did have a positive impact on choice to pursue mathematics at the graduate. Having an opportunity to study mathematics at SMI provided an opportunity for me to expose me to the rigors of mathematics that were lacking in my own university's mathematics program. I also had the opportunity to learn from some of the brightest graduate students and faculty, as well as to collaborate with peers who excel in mathematics. While I chose not pursue a Phd in Mathematics, my graduate training mathematics has equipped to work well and address relevant issues in mathematics education at the secondary and tertiary levels.
My summer at SMI prepared me for the intense journey that is graduate school, not just challenging me with difficult material and a larger volume of material that I was used to experiencing but also rewarding me with the confirmation that I was capable, mentally and emotionally, of coping with what would be my life as a graduate student. Before SMI, my background in Analysis was very minimal, and I felt completely unprepared for graduate coursework in this area. After the course at SMI, I now had the background and confidence tackle my first year of coursework in graduate school. SMI gave me the confidence to succeed, and it also gave me a small support group outside of my department on whom I could rely. Thank you!
In many ways, had it not been for SMI I would not be where I am today. Prior to SMI, I had not been faced with an academic challenge as the one that SMI presented me with. While I enjoyed mathematics, my knowledge of the field was very limited, as in very little training in the methodology of proofs. So it is no surprise that I found myself struggling throughout SMI. Thanks to the helpful staff, I kept pushing and made it through the summer with an experience that has been most beneficial to me since. The intensity of the algebra coursework led me to completely change my working ethic, and it was this change that allowed me to succeed at .........., where I began my studies as a transfer student following SMI. The coursework was sufficient to allow me to take abstract algebra course during my first semester there. It is my firm belief that had it not been for SMI, I would have gone into a different discipline ...., as I did not have the mental maturity to take the advance mathematics courses prior to SMI. So the fact that I am in a Ph.D. program today studying mathematics is in my opinion a direct consequence of having gone through the summer math institute at Cornell.
SMI did better to prepare me for grad school than anything else I have done. While some of the coursework has benefited me (cryptography skills help in all kinds of problem-solving situations), what I am perhaps most grateful for was learning how to deal with a rigorous course schedule cooperatively with fellow students.... also did a great job teaching us how to deal with oral exams, something few students in my program have ever practices doing in any field.
SMI gave me a taste of what graduate school would be like. In particular, I had a graduate level experience of abstract algebra well before many of peers. When I returned to my home institution, I later took graduate algebra for credit and performed quite well....The experience of a challenging, rigorous course being taught at Cornell certainly had a positive impact on my future and prepared me for the road ahead.
The first year graduate courses at .... are pretty challenging, and I think no one is truly prepared when they get here. However, participating in SMI in the summer before starting grad school helped me in at least two ways. I learned a lot from the course in analysis, and consequently felt less behind. Also, the design of SMI (classes during the day followed by lengthy problem sets in the evening) prepared me for the level of stamina I would need in graduate school. This is an intangible that--I think--is unique to SMI.
The SMI program was preparing us for graduate school by giving us multiple responsibilities. In eight weeks we studied real analysis, did research in small groups, and presented our research. As a graduate student I also had multiple roles I had to play at my university and having the SMI experience gave me the confidence that I could do it.