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Bayesian1701

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

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I've now heard from all of my schools, but I'm still waiting to hear about a fellowship program at one that I'm like 98% sure I would choose. But without the fellowship I'm significantly less excited about the school (the curriculum and the way you choose a research lab) and way more conflicted about my choices. It's so frustrating to be done waiting but STILL be waiting!

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I'm still waiting for 2 schools, but they were basically my "safety" schools. I had gotten into 3 others, and rejected from another. I got into one of my top choices and decided to  accept after my visit because it's an amazing school, program, and they provided me with tremendous funding. In a weird way my intuition really pulled through for making my choice. Guess I'll see how it pans out! :lol: I was definitely freaking out when I wasn't sure where I was going to end up. I had a lot of self doubt and thought that maybe I'd make the wrong choice, but ultimately there are plenty of options out there regardless of the outcome. I think that's what comforted me the most through this- knowing that I could always find something out there for me if I didn't like where I was. 

Edited by slavsquat

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On 3/19/2018 at 3:48 PM, iwearflowers said:

I officially submitted all of my decisions today! Most of the emails I got in response to my rejections were very warm, but one professor just wrote "I hope this is a good decision for you." That kind of cemented my feeling that I made the right choice in turning them down. I mean . . . that's a bit passive aggressive, right?

Wow super passive aggressive!

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It is weird to not have a response from a school you declined over a week ago, right?

As a professional program, I understand that our admissions processes are a bit different (no POI to contact, really). I was instructed in my acceptance materials to either mail or email the admissions office a form saying I'm not attending and why. I emailed the admissions office a PDF of the completed form along with a "thank you for considering my app/the financial aid you gave me" note and ... nothing. I have not gotten a confirmation, I still have access to the portal and the email they gave me, and they have been completely silent. I guess I also assumed that my email would get forwarded to the department -- perhaps not directly contacting them was a mistake as well. Should I follow up or just let it go?

 

Should note that it's a very small school and I did not really follow up with them at any point, so 99% of my communications with them have been through the university's admissions office, not the department itself. I think the only direct contact I had with the department was an email telling me I won an assistantship.

Edited by AB121212

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6 minutes ago, AB121212 said:

It is weird to not have a response from a school you declined over a week ago, right?

As a professional program, I understand that our admissions processes are a bit different (no POI to contact, really). I was instructed in my acceptance materials to either mail or email the admissions office a form saying I'm not attending and why. I emailed the admissions office a PDF of the completed form along with a "thank you for considering my app/the financial aid you gave me" note and ... nothing. I have not gotten a confirmation, I still have access to the portal and the email they gave me, and they have been completely silent. I guess I also assumed that my email would get forwarded to the department -- perhaps not directly contacting them was a mistake as well. Should I follow up or just let it go?

I wouldn't follow up.  If you did what the acceptance materials said to do you should be fine.   If they need anything else they should contact you.   I haven't heard anything back from one of the places I declined but they never contacted me outside of the portal. 

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Hi all,

I've heard from all of my schools and have been painfully mulling over the decision for a few weeks and am still very unclear. I was accepted into UCLA, U Mich, and Minnesota for their PHD in Health Services Research/Health Policy and Management and am having a really hard time justifying one over the other. They are all offering comparable funding packages, obviously UCLA has a much higher cost of living but I feel like it is my "best fit" out of the three but I'm really uncomfortable with the idea of potentially struggling in LA on a PHD salary. Is it worth it to go with more practical options with a good fit (but not the best)?

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I made my decision where to attend, but I can't decide on an apartment.  I thought it would be easy,  but deciding where to live in a new town is very difficult.  I just don't know which one to choose.  All I want is somewhere safe, quiet and close to campus.  I have like 5 places in mind but I can't choose which one I want because they are all pre-leasing and don't know enough of their fall availabilities to tell me what floors and buildings I can live in.  I don't want to be put on the fourth floor in the floorplan I don't want so I am too afraid to sign a very vague lease.  And to make matters worse, if I wait too long I may have no options.  I thought my waiting was over, but it's not.  

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Is anyone else here balancing applying along with a significant other? My fiance and I applied to programs together (same discipline different sub discipline) and now we're in the following boat:

school 1: favorite joint/compromise school (we would both be happy doing research here, top 10 school in our field): he got full funding and I got no funding offer (seems like politics with my potential advisor trying to take on a lot of students in a tight funding year, and the fact that I want a MS along the way to PhD  causing him to ding me in the funding games), so we're waiting to see if I get the GRFP to reconsider.

school 2: higher up than school 1 in the top 10 rankings in our field, lots of resources, both fully funded offers. we both would be super successful and for me it is a great research choice both in project and advisor support. For him, his research advisor seems like a bit of a workaholic in a bad way, and the project isn't as well related to his interests as our other programs. Cons also include that this school is in a southern city that we have both lived in for an extended amount of time, and staying here is a) expensive and b ) might hamper some of our extracurricular goals (e.g. outdoor activities)

school 3: ranked ~30 in our field, both fully funded offers. a better project for him than school 2, but my research isn't as on point with my favorite/top career goals...not to say I don't like it, just that it isn't as inspiring as school 1 or 2, and I feel my advisors wouldn't be as ideally matched as with school 2...pros include cheap cost of living and proximity to mountains (western state)

Questions:

1) waiting for the GRFP is killing me, should I keep doing that? how late is too late to wait? If I were funded, should I consider attending a program that didn't initially financially support me? 

2) have any of you had to balance this decision with a partner? any experiences "breaking the tie" between schools where you have different levels of interest in projects? (i.e. I like school 2 better than 3 but he feels the opposite). 

Any insight is much appreciated!! 

 

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I'm trying to write decline emails, and this whole process is just so awkward and heartbreaking. All of my POIs spent so much time and effort in trying to recruit me, and I don't want there to be any hard feelings. Do I have to give reasons in my decline emails? I haven't made a decision yet because I'm still deciding between two schools, so I can't say I've decided to attend somewhere else yet, but I also feel weird just saying I've declined without a solid reason (all of them have really great fits on paper, but it was just a gut feeling when on campus that's making me say no).

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@melian517, when I was having trouble composing decline emails, my current mentor said that it's standard form to say where you're going instead, but NOT elaborate on reasons why. Unfortunately, praising benefits of another program can come across like a backhanded, tacit statement of the cons of the program you're declining, so it's best to not give too much information... However, it's good to thank the POIs graciously and express that you'll continue to follow their research, hope to see them at conferences in the future, etc.

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1 hour ago, melian517 said:

I'm trying to write decline emails, and this whole process is just so awkward and heartbreaking. All of my POIs spent so much time and effort in trying to recruit me, and I don't want there to be any hard feelings. Do I have to give reasons in my decline emails? I haven't made a decision yet because I'm still deciding between two schools, so I can't say I've decided to attend somewhere else yet, but I also feel weird just saying I've declined without a solid reason (all of them have really great fits on paper, but it was just a gut feeling when on campus that's making me say no).

Agree with @brainlass

If you're looking for a format, this helped me: https://www.thoughtco.com/sample-email-declining-graduate-program-admission-1685886

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@brainlass thank you, that's really helpful! I figured I should not praise other programs, especially since I haven't figured out where I actually will be attending yet. It felt weird to keep it so short, but I definitely feel a lot better knowing this is standard practice. I know having multiple offers is a good problem to have and I'm incredibly grateful, but this part is honestly such a nightmare for people with social anxiety

@Carly Rae Jepsen thank you for this, this is so helpful!!

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8 hours ago, geologygal said:

waiting for the GRFP is killing me, should I keep doing that? how late is too late to wait? If I were funded, should I consider attending a program that didn't initially financially support me? 

I don't have much to add for 2 but in terms of how late is too late to wait I'd say April 16th as the 15th is the deadline for your other funded offers. I don't think that there's anything wrong taking your award to the institution who didn't give you funding if you really like the program there. I've heard of some people who got rejected or waitlisted at schools but when they presented the GRFP were admitted to the institution. However if it's something that you think you might harbor and would negatively impact how you view you professor I would keep that in mind when choosing a university.

I also wonder if there's another professor at school 2 that your partner could reach out to to work with or you at school 3? I feel like that could help with compromising if you find someone more closely aligned in research.

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4 hours ago, geologygal said:

Is anyone else here balancing applying along with a significant other? My fiance and I applied to programs together (same discipline different sub discipline) and now we're in the following boat:

school 1: favorite joint/compromise school (we would both be happy doing research here, top 10 school in our field): he got full funding and I got no funding offer (seems like politics with my potential advisor trying to take on a lot of students in a tight funding year, and the fact that I want a MS along the way to PhD  causing him to ding me in the funding games), so we're waiting to see if I get the GRFP to reconsider.

school 2: higher up than school 1 in the top 10 rankings in our field, lots of resources, both fully funded offers. we both would be super successful and for me it is a great research choice both in project and advisor support. For him, his research advisor seems like a bit of a workaholic in a bad way, and the project isn't as well related to his interests as our other programs. Cons also include that this school is in a southern city that we have both lived in for an extended amount of time, and staying here is a) expensive and b ) might hamper some of our extracurricular goals (e.g. outdoor activities)

school 3: ranked ~30 in our field, both fully funded offers. a better project for him than school 2, but my research isn't as on point with my favorite/top career goals...not to say I don't like it, just that it isn't as inspiring as school 1 or 2, and I feel my advisors wouldn't be as ideally matched as with school 2...pros include cheap cost of living and proximity to mountains (western state)

Questions:

1) waiting for the GRFP is killing me, should I keep doing that? how late is too late to wait? If I were funded, should I consider attending a program that didn't initially financially support me? 

2) have any of you had to balance this decision with a partner? any experiences "breaking the tie" between schools where you have different levels of interest in projects? (i.e. I like school 2 better than 3 but he feels the opposite). 

Any insight is much appreciated!! 

 

GRFP should be any day now.  I am really hoping for Friday.  We are at the longest processing time in three years and the 2017 is up.  I would give it until next Tuesday or Friday (not the one in 2 days).  I feel like if you had GRFP they would be willing to fund the other years just to attract you. Hopefully you’ll get it and funding to 1 because it sounds like the best fit for both of you. At 1 if you got a job outside of the department would you be able to afford it?

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@Elephas yeah per @Bayesian1701's comment and the goings on in the GRFP thread, I think I'm going to wait a bit longer and see what happens. I am a bit concerned about feeling insecure about not having had initial funding, and about self-comparison with students in my potential research group that did get funding, but the topics are interesting enough I think I could get over it. Additionally the whole department is quite strong and they've got other faculty in my area of interest, as well as a new hire coming in, so if I could get money straightened out, I think it would be a good place to be. Unfortunately I couldn't afford it without accruing debt, and when all my other offers are funded/offers in my field are generally funded, that just doesn't make a ton of sense. 

As for finding other professors at schools 2 and 3, we've thought of that/talked about it but it seems weird to navigate switching up professors during recruitment...essentially at school 2 there is another professor that I would consider switching to after my MS/having on my committee to better achieve my goals (my primary professors would be structural focused but I want to also grow my geochem skillset which he would help with) so that's a plus, and a possible way to handle things...thanks for the thoughts! 

Edited by geologygal

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5 hours ago, geologygal said:

2) have any of you had to balance this decision with a partner? any experiences "breaking the tie" between schools where you have different levels of interest in projects? (i.e. I like school 2 better than 3 but he feels the opposite). 

Hi! I have been applying with my partner and we are also lucky to both have offers at more than one school! We are in a bit of a different situation because we applied to completely different programs (Biology and English) but we do have some mismatch about research interest/fit between us for the schools and unfortunately I don't have a great answer to that since we are still working through the decision. But I did want to let you know that I commiserate with the difficulty of trying to make a joint decision! It's hard because you want to make the decision that is best for you but also you want your partner to be happy and thrive as well.

We both are making our last visits this week and we are really hoping this will help clear things up for us. If you all have visited I would definitely recommend taking both of your experiences into account quite a bit since that is what we are doing. Also we plan on making a pro and con list between our two schools and will probably use that as a way to solidly view the all the benefits and negatives that we have gathered from each place. Not sure how helpful it will be or not. Honestly I really hope our last visits will make it pretty clear where to go, but we shall see.

I hope you and your partner figure out a good option for you! I would also like to add that it makes sense to wait out the GRFP results and if you get the GRFP and that makes school 1 the best I think you should go for it since it does sound like you are most excited about it. If you do worry about comparing yourself with those in the group that got university funding, just remind yourself that you won a highly competitive national level fellowship! Of course you have to hear back on whether you get it or not before you can really worry about the self-comparison concern!

 

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On 3/26/2018 at 11:27 AM, 6diamonds said:

Hi all,

I've heard from all of my schools and have been painfully mulling over the decision for a few weeks and am still very unclear. I was accepted into UCLA, U Mich, and Minnesota for their PHD in Health Services Research/Health Policy and Management and am having a really hard time justifying one over the other. They are all offering comparable funding packages, obviously UCLA has a much higher cost of living but I feel like it is my "best fit" out of the three but I'm really uncomfortable with the idea of potentially struggling in LA on a PHD salary. Is it worth it to go with more practical options with a good fit (but not the best)?

Hi! I live in LA now by UCLA. Let me know if you need help with cost of living situation.

I am also struggling with my own decision: prestige over fit, funding vs cost of living, etc.

Good luck!

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On 3/26/2018 at 11:27 AM, 6diamonds said:

Hi all,

I've heard from all of my schools and have been painfully mulling over the decision for a few weeks and am still very unclear. I was accepted into UCLA, U Mich, and Minnesota for their PHD in Health Services Research/Health Policy and Management and am having a really hard time justifying one over the other. They are all offering comparable funding packages, obviously UCLA has a much higher cost of living but I feel like it is my "best fit" out of the three but I'm really uncomfortable with the idea of potentially struggling in LA on a PHD salary. Is it worth it to go with more practical options with a good fit (but not the best)?

If UCLA was your best fit, go there. As someone who's been living in LA for almost 2 years on a PhD-comparable salary, it's doable (roommates, cooking at home, etc), and still possible to have a life and do fun stuff.

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I'm still pretty sad to be going to my second choice overall school and not my first (masters). I was accepted at both but the lack of financial aid and blasé attitude the admissions office displayed toward the cost of the program was ridiculous and off-putting.  It doesn't matter how much you "believe" in the program and it's value - the job prospects are well-paying but not surgeon, corporate lawyer, wall street, take out 100k well-paying. I still have debt from undergrad and I know how soul-sucking throwing money at interests payments and seeing the balance go nowhere can feel... and even more I would likely have the same job prospects from either program. But I liked the idea of going there more and the location. I should be thankful to have had options considering the cycles other had - but I still need to let out a whine. 

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I now have a decision to make suddenly this week after I had counted on grad school not happening this term.

School A: I love the department, and one of my fave professors from undergrad now teaches there and she would do what she could to let me research things that they may not normally have. It would be a good transition back to academic life after 10 years in Spain teaching English. The cons are its location (six hours away from anywhere, not that I would have time to travel much, but you know), location in general, and from what I hear, it's not very gay friendly (I'm gay. I know the department and school are LGBTQA+ friendly despite the location)). I see myself happy in the department but miserable the second I stepped off campus.

School B: An amazing school, has a lot of professors who line up with my interests perfectly, small town but closer to big cities, and closer to my mom whose health isn't great. It also has a much better ranking for what its worth. It's gay-friendly. Cons: I would be happier off campus but it might be a rougher transition back to academia and wouldn't have the support of the one professor. 

Funding and costs of living are about the same for the two so not factoring that in. 

I think I know which one I want, but I wanted to type it out to people who understand the situation better and who might have insight. Thanks in advance :) 

Edited by senorbrightside

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On 3/30/2018 at 7:16 AM, ohdeargodwhy said:

I'm still pretty sad to be going to my second choice overall school and not my first (masters). I was accepted at both but the lack of financial aid and blasé attitude the admissions office displayed toward the cost of the program was ridiculous and off-putting.  It doesn't matter how much you "believe" in the program and it's value - the job prospects are well-paying but not surgeon, corporate lawyer, wall street, take out 100k well-paying. I still have debt from undergrad and I know how soul-sucking throwing money at interests payments and seeing the balance go nowhere can feel... and even more I would likely have the same job prospects from either program. But I liked the idea of going there more and the location. I should be thankful to have had options considering the cycles other had - but I still need to let out a whine. 

I think if you can accomplish your goal of receiving your degree and be able to mitigate your undergrad debt and not have any/minor/significantly less grad debt as a whole your self-health will be better in the long run since as you said you aren't guaranteed a job after graduation. I had the same decision and in a similar scenario with most of what you listed. I joke around a whine a little about it with my friends because its going to be a significant lifestyle change for me (going from a metropolitan area on the west coast to a small farming/ industrial town in the midwest) but thankful for the opportunity. I think the more you figure out what at the school are things you are passionate about, besides your program, the more exciting its going to be, at least what I am doing and seems to be working :lol:

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13 hours ago, senorbrightside said:

I now have a decision to make suddenly this week after I had counted on grad school not happening this term.

School A: I love the department, and one of my fave professors from undergrad now teaches there and she would do what she could to let me research things that they may not normally have. It would be a good transition back to academic life after 10 years in Spain teaching English. The cons are its location (six hours away from anywhere, not that I would have time to travel much, but you know), location in general, and from what I hear, it's not very gay friendly (I'm gay. I know the department and school are LGBTQA+ friendly despite the location)). I see myself happy in the department but miserable the second I stepped off campus.

School B: An amazing school, has a lot of professors who line up with my interests perfectly, small town but closer to big cities, and closer to my mom whose health isn't great. It also has a much better ranking for what its worth. It's gay-friendly. Cons: I would be happier off campus but it might be a rougher transition back to academia and wouldn't have the support of the one professor. 

Funding and costs of living are about the same for the two so not factoring that in. 

I think I know which one I want, but I wanted to type it out to people who understand the situation better and who might have insight. Thanks in advance :) 

I vote school B!

I'm also gay so I get your concern about location so much (I'm living in the rural South right now, so you can imagine how things are haha). Universities are usually good places to be LGBT, but whenever you want to step outside the academic bubble, it's nice to know that you'll have support and resources related to our community available should you need them. And of course, having family close is convenient.

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