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4ty2

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  1. Today I had the first contact with my prospective advisor. I emailed to him to ask some questions about his group, before I make my final decision about joining the program. In his reply he asked me to call him by his firstname. So, how should I start my email: "Hi [firstname]," or "Dear [firstname],"? He always starts his emails with "Hi [firstname],".
  2. I read that third of PhD students end up switching their area after their first year. So I'm affraid that my research interests may change. Also, program A isn't so European, because many of its professors got their PhDs in the US. P.S. I'm neither in the US nor in Europe, so in any case I would have to travel far away from my home country.
  3. I have two offers from PhD programs Program A: Offers very decent financial support. It is located in a place which perfectly fits my extracurricular and personal interests. They have more faculty members than program B. There are two professors whoes research correspond to my research interests, but not so closely as in program B. One of the professors is at the beginning of his career so he has no graduated students, the second professor is a tenured professor whoes graduates go to very decent places. This program is in Europe, in my area it's ranked in top 40 in the world (which, in my area, corresponds to top 20 in the US) according US News and in top 15 in the world according to arwu.org. Progam B: Offers financial support which is enough to cover all living expenses and tution, but no more, because cost of living in that area is very high. So life wouldn't be so decent as in program A. Location is also great, but not as great as in program A. There is one professor whoes research perfectly fits my current research interests, and it seems that he realy wants me to accept their offer, since I received several emails from him describing how great their program is (I haven't contacted him before) and how I would make a perfect fit to his research group. He is a tenured professor and his graduates get decent positions both in industry and academia. The program is ranked in top 40 in the US by US News, so not so high as program A. But this program is in the US. The decision between these two programs is very difficult to make (at least for me). So, any suggestions on what should I choose.
  4. Go to the place where you find an advisor that matches your research interests the best. The key to success in PhD is to enjoy the research you are doing. You should understand that having a PhD from top 10 won't guarantee you a position in academia; there are some people with PhD from top 50 who are professors at top 10, and there some people with PhD from top 10 who cannot find a job.
  5. You may try to find out emails of current and former graduate students of professors with whom you would like to work. At least it's what I did, and I'm asking questions about research groups and professors, whom I consider as my potential advisors. 1) In general, do you like working with Prof. X? Do other students get along with him? Do you find the environment in the research group friendly? Is there something you don’t like in working with Prof. X? 2) Did Prof. X give you a thesis problem or did you find your own? Does he give his students some research freedom? 3) Does Prof. X take an active role in placing his students after graduation? Does he give strong recommendations (of course, if a student deserves it) that help his student get a good position in academia or industry? Does Prof. X have connections with people form industry or academia that may help you in your future placement after graduation? 4) Do you find meetings with Prof. X productive and do you get what you want from them? 5) Did you have internships at other research group during your graduate studies? 6) Is the RA support provided by Prof. X enough to have a comfortable life in Y area? What is your salary as a research assistant? Is the provision for health insurance at Z University adequate? 7) Did you have time to do your own research when you were teaching? What were your responsibilities as a TA? 8) If you were applying to graduate school now, would you join Z University and Prof. X’s research group?
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