I've just finished my first semester and I'm planning to apply to physics/math REUs. I know my math professor well and he agreed to write me a reference, but I do not know any other professors at that level. A possibility is another mathematics/CS professor who I have approached multiple times to ask questions beyond class material, but it's a large class so I wouldn't count on him knowing my name.

Being a freshman, would REU admissions look at my lack of one recommendation (most require two) as mitigated by my freshman status, or would I be laughed out of the applicant pool?

Aside from this issue I have good credentials (above average but not insane). I won't have a Putnam score until after most application deadlines.

I would also appreciate some guidance on how to proceed with applications given my situation: should I shoot for the moon or focus on other things besides REU for this summer?

  • If possible, you could also ask your math professor or someone in the physics department if it's possible for you to do paid research at your home institution over the summer. That's what I did my sophomore year after I wasn't accepted into the REU I applied to. And besides, you're only a freshman. You've still got a couple more years to build up your reference list. – Logan Clark Dec 15 '17 at 15:53
  • That's true, I'm certainly going to try and get research at my home institution. However I am very interested in some REUs, and it would be nice to get in (again, it wouldn't be too bad if I didn't) – Marcus Aurelius Dec 16 '17 at 0:59

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