It has come time for me to decide where to pursue my undergraduate education. I plan to pursue a PhD in mathematics, so accordingly my primary concern is the mathematics programs at various institutions. While I realize that college selection is a personal process, I would like to hear some input from people familiar with the programs I am considering.
My interests currently lie in algebra and dynamical systems, but this is largely because I have not had the chance to study other subjects. That being said, I am most interested in the theoretical math programs of these institutions. It is also my hope that I will be able to perform research with professors as an undergraduate. One thing I am really looking for is to find a "community of scholars" where I can talk with other students about real mathematics on a regular basis. Essentially, I've narrowed my search down to two schools to which I've been admitted:
Chicago: Top ranked program in mathematics and chemistry (my secondary interest). The mathematics department offers a wide variety of classes in various specialties, and faculty are first-rate research mathematicians in most fields. It also has a large body of skilled undergrad and grad students to help create a "community of scholars". However, the school also has a reputation as "where fun goes to die" (this is in fact their mantra), and the large undergraduate and graduate student bodies mean that I may have to fight for attention.
Harvey Mudd: Well-respected math and science college. From what I've heard and my own experiences visiting, the faculty are some of the best teachers out there. Also, the lack of a graduate program means that as an undergraduate I would have a much easier time getting the attention of professors. However, their course offerings are narrower and not as in-depth (their highest course is algebraic geometry, in the language of varieties rather than schemes). Faculty members, as teaching faculty, generally do not have strong research records.
If anyone who has experience with these institutions and could tell me about them in general or their math programs in particular, especially to address my above concerns, I would greatly appreciate it. I will not in any way base my decision off these responses, I am simply looking for some things to think about.
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