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Bayesian1701

"Let's just TALK about it..." Decision Edition

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12 hours ago, toear5 said:

I'm a big proponent of gathering all the information before making a decision (especially one that's going to significantly impact your life for the next 4, 5, 6 years). I feel like every time I get back from a visit or talk to a current grad student, I think of three more things to add to my decision spreadsheet! I think in about three weeks, I'm going to get tired of thinking about everything and just make a decision. 

Just in time for the deadline! 

The thought of a decision spreadsheet makes my tummy glow. That's normal, right? 

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13 hours ago, eevee said:

This is going to sound ungrateful; I promise it's not meant to be. I'm incredibly excited to have two great offers, but I promised myself that I would have to wait until I hear back from every school before officially making my decision. IT'S KILLING ME!!! Of the three schools that I haven't heard from, I'm sure one is a rejection (no interview), but I interviewed at the other two (one in late January and one in early February), and I don't know what's taking them so long to get back to me! I would honestly be happy to just get officially rejected, so I can get over it and then go ahead and start on the actual decision-making process.

So me.  I am still waiting for my first choice and it is awful.  I was told that I should hear in early February but now it’s early March.  I just want to know regardless of the outcome.  

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Okay so how much did your all's visits to schools end up helping in your decisions?

I just got back from a visit at a school yesterday and it was such a whirlwind trip that I'm still processing it. I really liked it, but I don't think my visit really helped me decide one way or the other if I want to attend there or not. I honestly left my visit there feeling the same as when I went - which is excited about the school as a whole, but my reservations that I have about the program are still there and now confirmed. I think overall it's a really great option for me but it would be financially a lot less secure than my other option. Also I think I'm trying to remain relatively neutral before making the visit to my other school.

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1 hour ago, FishNerd said:

Okay so how much did your all's visits to schools end up helping in your decisions?

For me on paper I really liked a program before but interactions in person made me think that it wouldn't be an environment I could thrive in for 5+ years so if I hadn't visited I likely would have just gone with that program semi-blindly.  I visited another university and was blown away like wow there are all these resources and things I didn't know about and am now discovering and liked my interactions more. So for me I think thus far my visits have been a major factor in deciding school.

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3 hours ago, FishNerd said:

Okay so how much did your all's visits to schools end up helping in your decisions?

I just got back from a visit at a school yesterday and it was such a whirlwind trip that I'm still processing it. I really liked it, but I don't think my visit really helped me decide one way or the other if I want to attend there or not. I honestly left my visit there feeling the same as when I went - which is excited about the school as a whole, but my reservations that I have about the program are still there and now confirmed. I think overall it's a really great option for me but it would be financially a lot less secure than my other option. Also I think I'm trying to remain relatively neutral before making the visit to my other school.

Of all my interviews, there were 2 I was most excited about and 2 I was least excited about (and considered canceling). Those opinions flipped entirely after my visits. Bottom 2 became top 2 and vice versa.

It was vibes. 

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2 hours ago, Elephas said:

on paper I really liked a program before but interactions in person made me think that it wouldn't be an environment I could thrive in for 5+ years

This was pretty much my experience exactly.

I'm so glad I attended my first visit. The program is highly respected in my field and looked like a perfect fit research-wise, but from talking with the current students I realized that I would just not feel welcome in the community there. Apart from that, the location was a poor fit for somebody who likes to be outdoors.

So now I have to tell a professor whose research I love and who has been recruiting me aggressively that I won't be going to this program, for reasons entirely unrelated to research and really outside of the professor's control. From previous interactions, I'm pretty sure this professor is convinced that this program is the right place for me to do my PhD.

I'm so bad at saying "no".

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13 minutes ago, throwaway-cyberfish said:

 

I'm so bad at saying "no".

SAME.

One professor is super excited to work with me (yay) but after my visit: I didn't love the school. I didn't think I'd really do well there. He was nice and he was so happy to work with me and the idea of saying no keeps me up at night. 

Again: if anyone has any template "Hi I'm really thankful for the opportunity but I am not attending here" emails, I'd be v appreciative. The prospect of typing it all out and sending it and then - oh god will they respond to my 'no'? Is it bad if they don't respond? 

My thoughts spiral out of control at the thought. 

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I turned down one acceptance with funding for an MA program. I have another acceptance. I would have waited to make a decision, but they were pressing me for one, they were not the best fit for my research, and even though the program looked great, I just didn't see myself being happy there. It was hard, and I talked with my advisor and few other professors before doing so. After it was done, I felt a wave of relief. 

 

 

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15 hours ago, throwaway-cyberfish said:

This was pretty much my experience exactly.

I'm so glad I attended my first visit. The program is highly respected in my field and looked like a perfect fit research-wise, but from talking with the current students I realized that I would just not feel welcome in the community there. Apart from that, the location was a poor fit for somebody who likes to be outdoors.

So now I have to tell a professor whose research I love and who has been recruiting me aggressively that I won't be going to this program, for reasons entirely unrelated to research and really outside of the professor's control. From previous interactions, I'm pretty sure this professor is convinced that this program is the right place for me to do my PhD.

I'm so bad at saying "no".

 

15 hours ago, BabyScientist said:

Of all my interviews, there were 2 I was most excited about and 2 I was least excited about (and considered canceling). Those opinions flipped entirely after my visits. Bottom 2 became top 2 and vice versa.

It was vibes. 

 

18 hours ago, Elephas said:

For me on paper I really liked a program before but interactions in person made me think that it wouldn't be an environment I could thrive in for 5+ years so if I hadn't visited I likely would have just gone with that program semi-blindly.  I visited another university and was blown away like wow there are all these resources and things I didn't know about and am now discovering and liked my interactions more. So for me I think thus far my visits have been a major factor in deciding school.

What clued you in? Did you ask particular questions or seek out interactions that helped you realize this information?

 

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2 hours ago, cannonwalker said:

 

 

What clued you in? Did you ask particular questions or seek out interactions that helped you realize this information?

 

Personally, it wasn't things I asked or did, it was how I felt or things I observed. At one, the current students spent the first night dinner complaining about the commute, the free shuttle, the crowded gym, etc. Didn't get happy vibes from them. At another, I just felt like the current students weren't really my crowd, neither were the people in the recruitment class. I didn't feel like I would fit in. Only question I asked at one place that turned me off was whether or not they had outreach programs. The director of the program literally asked why I cared.....

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Ive only been on two visits so far. doing my third in two weeks.

 

Both seemed like really good fits. One had research I liked more, plus smaller lab groups (good in my eyes) and a location I adored. The other has an easier PhD program (less exams but its a very reputable program and one of the best for my field), has more funding and TAing would be easier (i want to teach), but had huge lab groups and while I liked the research, I didnt love it.. And I didnt like the location.

 

I liked the professors and the environment of both.. Money wise, after rent costs, both are about the same...

 

Any advice? I have no idea how to start deciding this.. and ive still another visit to go.

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3 hours ago, Fiain said:

Ive only been on two visits so far. doing my third in two weeks.

 

Both seemed like really good fits. One had research I liked more, plus smaller lab groups (good in my eyes) and a location I adored. The other has an easier PhD program (less exams but its a very reputable program and one of the best for my field), has more funding and TAing would be easier (i want to teach), but had huge lab groups and while I liked the research, I didnt love it.. And I didnt like the location.

 

I liked the professors and the environment of both.. Money wise, after rent costs, both are about the same...

 

Any advice? I have no idea how to start deciding this.. and ive still another visit to go.

I'm in a very similar position! It's starting to stress me out a bit! I keep thinking of Pros and Cons to each... it's going to be hard to turn down one of them, no matter what I decide. I haven't even heard from all of my programs yet, only the two that I've visited.

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@cannonwalker On a similar note to what others said I just felt something wasn't right.  In one case the program had some structural flaws in coursework and research that didn't match what I wanted in a program.  In another case, there was a divide amongst the domestic and international students and they were cliquey and the international students didn't participate in the recruitment other than attending a dinner and avoiding the prospective students at the dinner plus huge class sizes (40-60!) and a high teaching load.  And fit is something that I processed more after I got home and thought about it for a few days.  Hopefully my final visit will go well and will have what I am looking for or I will get off the waitlist at my first choices.  

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On 3/7/2018 at 4:00 PM, FishNerd said:

Okay so how much did your all's visits to schools end up helping in your decisions?

One of my advisors in my MA program told me that his campus visits when he was applying to PhD programs made all the difference - he wouldn't've gone to the school he had if he hadn't visited.

That said, for me, I would say the campus visit allowed me to choose my first choice school with confidence, versus just saying, "It made the most sense since my family is nearby."  Not only was the research fit not great at the runner up, but one of the male POIs I was interested in working with was described as "overbearing and creepy" by two female grad students.  No bueno.  So now I can confidently make my choice for the right reasons.

Edited by E-P

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Hi everybody! Has anyone heard of schools offering to help you settle in (with money)?

I've heard of people negotiating with universities as in "hi School A is offering me this--could you offer it as well?" and while that sounds great I feel afraid to try lol

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On 3/8/2018 at 12:18 PM, cannonwalker said:

What clued you in? Did you ask particular questions or seek out interactions that helped you realize this information?

General vibes and observations. One question that is important was finding out their mentorship style. I don't need someone to literally hold my hand but I would appreciate consistent meetings and some general guidance and direction on my research at least in the beginning to help with clarifying thoughts and such but not every advisor was interested in doing that so I didn't see that setting me up to successfully graduate. 

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17 hours ago, Carly Rae Jepsen said:

Hi everybody! Has anyone heard of schools offering to help you settle in (with money)?

I've heard of people negotiating with universities as in "hi School A is offering me this--could you offer it as well?" and while that sounds great I feel afraid to try lol

Are you talking about a relocation allowance? If so, then that is definitely a thing some universities offer, you just have to ask B)

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4 hours ago, wheresmysnow said:

Are you talking about a relocation allowance? If so, then that is definitely a thing some universities offer, you just have to ask B)

Ohh let me ask then. I think I'll ask a current student first just in case. 

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On Wednesday I found out that my first choice basically waitlisted me because of research fit.   I knew that might be a problem but everything else about it was so great.  

On the other hand I got an offer I can’t refuse at a top 10 program with an average of $30k a year where a nice 1 bedroom is $700 a month.  It's never been high on my list before due to rivalry issues both on the university and departmental level between them and my current school.  I applied last minute because it was a free application.  I feel like a bit of a traitor but I think they are extending an olive branch by letting me in and getting me a university wide fellowship.  I thought they were going to reject me out of spite or something.  But seeing the money issues I might have elsewhere and knowing the power of having this school on my CV I can't imagine how overall it could lose.  The only way I wouldn't go there is if I hate the department environment significantly more than others.  I would have never had guessed I my second to last choice would turn into my first but weird things happen in the process I guess.  

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Has anyone been successful at negotiating for either a higher stipend or relocating costs (or both!) when they only had one offer? I work full-time now and going back to school would be a hit to my income, which of course I knew when I applied, but hoping to use that to negotiate even though I don't have other offers. (FWIW, the relocation costs are higher priority for me than higher stipend.)

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On 3/7/2018 at 6:10 PM, Elephas said:

For me on paper I really liked a program before but interactions in person made me think that it wouldn't be an environment I could thrive in for 5+ years so if I hadn't visited I likely would have just gone with that program semi-blindly.  I visited another university and was blown away like wow there are all these resources and things I didn't know about and am now discovering and liked my interactions more. So for me I think thus far my visits have been a major factor in deciding school.

I had this same experience. One school was my top choice before I went to visit. It looked great on paper but the atmosphere and the interactions I had drastically reduced my interest. On the other hand, my "second choice school" turned out to be amazing and had more opportunities than I could have imagined.

Applied: 2 Waiting for: 1

Interviews: 2/2

Admitted: 1/2

Rejected: 0/2

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Happy to receive my second acceptance. Although I am not sure about how good the Financial Aid Award [20% Research Assistantship($10.5K)@12 hours per week + $11k Fellowship] is to cover my costs of living in Illinois as compared to the $25k(Graduate Assistantship@ 18 hours per week) Financial Aid package in New Jersey. Anyone would know which of the offers would be more wiser to accept?

Anyway, still waiting for responses from some more universities.

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1 hour ago, dreamerr33 said:

Although I am not sure about how good the Financial Aid Award [20% Research Assistantship($10.5K)@12 hours per week + $11k Fellowship] is to cover my costs of living in Illinois

That depends on what part of Illinois you're in. It wouldn't really be doable near the Chicago area, but it's possible in other areas provided you know how to budget well. 

Edited by PsychedSloth

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41 minutes ago, PsychedSloth said:

That depends on what part of Illinois you're in. It wouldn't really be doable near the Chicago area, but it's possible in other areas provided you know how to budget well. 

I'll be(If I accept) in UIUC

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