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thenewkidaw71

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About thenewkidaw71

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  • Application Season
    2018 Fall
  • Program
    Chemistry

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  1. thenewkidaw71

    Chicago, IL

    So I am a new grad student at UChicago, and after spending a couple of weeks here I would plan for a little bigger budget. You can find reasonable rent in the Hyde Park area, especially if you are willing to squeeze an extra person in an apartment or live south of 59th street (a word of caution though is that, although you can find some nicer looking apartments between 60th-62nd, it rapidly becomes an unsafe neighborhood), but other expenses are really high. There are only two grocery stores in Hyde Park, both of which seem outrageously expensive, at least coming from Ohio, and my utilities are about twice what I paid in Ohio. There is also no discount shopping center like Walmart for basic goods unless you have a car or take a 20 minute train ride, so you are stuck at CVS or Target. It is a beautiful area and cheaper than many other neighborhoods in Chicago, but it is still city living and the costs add up!
  2. thenewkidaw71

    NSF GRFP 2017-18

    I got wrecked by one reviewer who "didnt think I understood broader impacts." So I guess the bad reviewer thing is true, although I think I would have been on the fence in any case. Can't even be mad especially since the other two reviewers were friendly and informative, just have to laugh it off and move on! E/VG E/VG VG/F "not recommended" Congrats to all winners and HMs! And if you were unsuccessful, eat some cookies and go back to sleep!
  3. thenewkidaw71

    Chemistry (Chemical Biology): UChicago vs. UMichigan

    I had a few main factors in my decision - here they are in terms of importance. First and foremost, I had great faculty options with interesting research at both schools (maybe I liked the research at *big ten school* 10% more), but the professors at UChicago were a little bit more established in their fields and a little bit more interested in me (one promised me a place in his lab, etc). Second, the stipend/cost of living ratio at UChicago has to be among the highest in the nation. I don't have to have a car and won't have any problem saving a little money, all while living in an awesome city like Chicago. *Big ten school* had a smaller stipend, and they didnt offer much in the way of fellowships. I got the feeling that their department was concerned with money - after my undergrad research was derailed by funding issues, this is super important to me. Third, and this is sort of weird, but I really sort of liked the academic, hard working atmosphere of Chicago. After doing my undergrad at another big ten school, I felt like I would enjoy something different. And the students still seemed fairly well-adjusted (at least the ones they let us meet at the visit weekend). Fourth, I thought that their first year TA requirement was really cool, because you work with the same students for the entire year. I have TAed for a few semesters and am thinking about doing an academic teaching position, so this was a huge advantage for me. On the other hand, they dont make you teach after the first year, which is great if I decide down the road that research professorship is my first and foremost goal (still unsure). I was told I would have to TA my entire time at *big ten school* unless I got something in the way of national fellowships. So yeah, this makes it sound like UChicago was the clear winner all along, but I promise it was a super tough decision. The two things *big ten school* had going for it were that I loved the environment of the school - I still actually think my quality of life might have been higher there - and number of interesting faculty. I am sort of banking on working for one of two faculty at Chicago, whereas at *big ten school* I had 4-5 faculty whom I thought were really awesome. Also, UChicago is not the most collaborative (although better than my current school) and not very diverse, and those were big negatives for me. I hope this helps - feel free to shoot me a PM if you have more specific questions!!
  4. thenewkidaw71

    How to say no to an overly enthusiastic professor?

    Thanks to both of you! I really appreciate the support, and I mustered up the confidence to write him an email last night. It is such a weird situation, especially in the UK where you are required to have your PhD mentor support your application through the process. I wrote him a ton of thank yous and hopefully lessened the ill will by suggesting that I could postdoc for him down the road (which I would honestly LOVE to do if my research continues in a similar direction). Now, to wait and see if I burned the bridge forever
  5. thenewkidaw71

    Chemistry (Chemical Biology): UChicago vs. UMichigan

    Hello fellow UChicago prospective! I was in almost the exact same boat, ultimately deciding between UChicago and a different big ten school where a professor was recruiting me a lot. Ultimately, I think you have two great choices and cannot go wrong. With that said, here is some relevant info I learned in the process. According to some faculty in my home chemistry department and the vibes I got from the visit weekend, UChicago is going to be an extremely rigorous experience. The TA requirement is very lax and their stipend kicks ass, but you will be expected to work HARD there. It will not be warm and fuzzy like *big ten school* (not that any chem PhD is easy!). You should definitely talk to the students from the labs you like at Chicago to see what the environment of their lab is like, because I got the feeling it varies quite a lot and should be an important factor in your decision. The diversity at UChicago was also pretty bad (look at the faculty page and count the number of white male professors), but sadly, that is pretty consistent with chemistry as a field. The grad students at *big ten school* definitely seemed to be more outgoing and maybe a little happier, but I also was underwhelmed with their job placement after the PhD. It seems like Chicago leaned more toward academia-type careers while *big ten school* had a lot of connections to industry (particularly in the midwest). With all that said, I decided to go to UChicago because I felt like I was up for the challenge and would always regret it if I didn't give it a try. And the lab in which I plan to work has an incredibly positive vibe that overrode some of the fear I had about the atmosphere. With your fellowship to UM, I dont think you can go wrong, so in my opinion, I think it is a matter of what experience you want to have!
  6. thenewkidaw71

    How are you deciding?

    For me, it was a question of atmosphere. Both of my top choices had great faculty, interesting research, and highly ranked departments, so I got to look at the experience I would have at each school. School A had a very positive, collaborative, and social environment, but the stipend was much smaller and I would have to TA for most of my PhD. School B is known to be sort of intense, but it is in my favorite city and they offered me an awesome fellowship package (enormous stipend and RA after my first year). School A seems to place a lot of people in industry/non-academic jobs whereas School B is known to produce a lot of processors. I still don't know which will be better, but those are the factors on my mind! Edit: This is not for sociology, but similar social science!
  7. Hi all, I have made a decision with schools, and now I am working on notifying everybody of my decisions. This is not a problem for the most part; however, I am struggling with informing one very enthusiastic professor about my decision. I feel bad because he is at a school in the UK and has been working on grant funding for me to join his lab, and he has been very enthusiastic about me as a student. It was a really great situation, and their research is a great fit, but I ultimately decided that I wanted to remain within the US system. I know that the answer is that I am under no obligation to join his lab, but I know he has invested a lot of time in me, and I want to avoid burning a bridge as best as I can. I feel bad because this was partially my fault - this was one of my first choices in November, and I told him as much. This situation changed because my funding package in the UK sort of sucked, and I found out about a new professor at one of my admitted schools in the US that aligns better with my interests. Does anybody have any experience/warnings/reassurance that they can provide? I am sure he is aware that I have other options, but it is just a bit daunting because of his enthusiasm.
  8. I was just accepted with funding to Cambridge, and it has totally thrown a wrench in my decision. I have tried to explain my pros and cons for each school, but I am also concerned in general about the difference between a USA and a UK PhD - some people say it doesn't matter while others say it is a kiss of death, so I do not know where the truth lies. If anybody has any feedback or experience, this would be greatly appreciated!! I am a younger PhD candidate and American if that matters. Cambridge - I have been working with this professor since last August, when he helped me to write a proposal for the Churchill Scholarship (I didn't make it past the first round lol but we stayed in touch after). The lab is a really great fit, and the POI is very interested in me, but I am somewhat tentative about attending a UK PhD program for several reasons. I am coming straight from undergraduate and would lose out on some valuable advanced coursework and well as connections for job opportunities down the road (since I would be in the UK). I love the idea of finishing my PhD 1-2 years earlier, but I am worried that this would limit my opportunities afterward. I also spent a year living in Germany previously and consider living in Europe to be a huge advantage. UChicago - Another great fit in terms of the professor, and they offered me a pretty competitive fellowship which would ease the cost of living. I also applied for GRFP under this professor, but that is by no means a given award. The professor is young and extremely productive, and I got along quite well with the graduate students. I think that I would benefit from the first-year graduate courses in a US school, and I really liked the first-year TA experience at UChicago. My main concern here was the atmosphere - I got the feeling that the program was rather competitive and that a lot of the graduate students were unhappy.
  9. thenewkidaw71

    Prestige vs Fit

    Hi all, I know this question has been asked in various forms a million times before, but I am really struggling with three schools that offer totally different experiences. Relevant information: I am a younger student in biological sciences, and I hope to try my hand at academia (but I recognize that in today's hyper-competitive environment, I need to also consider options in industry). School A is a fairly prestigious university in a cool town with a well funded program. There are three professors with whom I would be interested in working here, but none are a "perfect" fit. I really like the location and could live okay (not great) off the stipend, and both the students and the professors were extremely friendly. I think I could have the best lifestyle here, but it is concerning that there is no perfect fit in terms of professor. School B is a less prestigious university in a smaller college-town vibe. However, the POI is a well-respected young professor in my field, and I really got along well with him during the visit. I think that I could do the best research here, and they offered me an extremely generous fellowship to supplement the stipend. Living would be easy, but my big fear is that I will be shooting myself in the foot if I decide to leave academia and have to search for a job. It is also a smaller program, and a lot of other visiting students were non-traditional and/or a lot older than me. School C is a very prestigious university in a big city - the research is really cool and I really liked the other visiting students, but I was a little bothered that both of my POIs did not show up for the visit weekend and have seemed "distant" throughout the process. I am concerned that the stipend would not be enough to live comfortably here and that the program is considered very cut-throat. However, if I were to leave academia, I think this school would provide the best opportunities! Ultimately, this comes down to a question of prestige vs fit - School C is extremely prestigious but maybe not the best environment, whereas School B is a perfect fit but definitely have some disadvantages in terms of opportunities. School A is somewhere in between. If anybody could help me tease out what is important from this information, I would really appreciate it.
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