So I am really looking forward to participating in math REUs after sophomore and junior years in college, but I just noticed that since I am on a quarter system I will only be done with finals at around June 14-15ish. Most REUs I have seen start like June 6-7 and some even (say like Texas A&M) start May 31. Are REUs accommodating of this problem?!
Originally posted in Mathematics Stack Exchange: https://math.stackexchange.com/questions/1801319/starting-an-reu-late-because-of-quarter-system
As somebody who runs an REU program, I would say that the answer is generally no, we probably cannot accommodate a student who wants to start late. There are a number of reasons for this. First, missing the first few weeks of a program deprives a participant of a significant part of the research experience. The first week of my program has a lot of orientation activities for the students. They get to learn about the campus, tour the various labs that all of them will be working in, and take safety training classes. It is not so easy to replace these for a student who arrives late.
There is also the research time that is lost if a student arrives late. I would generally prefer to offer a space in the program to a student who can attend the whole program and thus get maximum benefit from it. Because of my university's schedule, all our REU programs start quite early. The programs have already started as I write this in the last week of May. Yet we do not have difficulty finding enough well qualified applicants, and I would not like to offer a space in my program to a student who will not be able to get the full benefit of participation.
The second major reason for not allowing students to start late is that is may simply not be permitted by the terms under which the REU program is funded. Most REU sites are funded by the National Science Foundation, which has strict rules for how funds are supposed to be used. The terms of my grant from the NSF specify how many students we will support, and (approximately) how long they will be part of the program. Deviating from these parameters could imperil future funding for the REU program.
We did once have a student who had an emergency that prevented him from getting to campus for the first week of the program, and we made allowances, but this was an exceptional case.