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Hello. I have recently earned an A+ on my MA thesis. I also have professors willing to write good references. I had always assumed that if I did a PHD I would simply carry on here because my life is here. However, considering my grades, perhaps its worth a shot elsewhere - a better university where I could stand a better shot at getting a TT job afterwards. Can someone weigh in on these questions? 1. Is it reasonable to contact philosophy depts and scholarship offices in order to "shop around" for the best stipends/scholarship (I am somewhat worried at how arrogant this might seem). 2. Would an A+ on my MA and decent written references land me a real shot at a top ten (like Harvard or NYU) or is it naive to think grades matter - perhaps letters from advisors and writing samples matter more? How about the grades alone getting my into a top 20, (like Australian National Uni)? 3. I am older with a partner and dependent child. Does anybody know the best package for a guy like me? For example, ANU is tempting because of their scholarship amount, travel/moving allowance, and dependent-child allowance - but it doesn't cover fees. Auckland, on the other hand, covers fees and offers 27K. Any insights into these practical considerations would be much appreciated. If I was younger and less tied down, I suppose I'd just aim for the best schools with the most topic - relevant faculty (that is, potential advisor). But being older with a family makes this trickier. THANKS! David