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


Bayesian1701

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2 hours ago, Carly Rae Jepsen said:

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.

I didn't want that to be the deciding factor, but there are a ton of other factors that lead toward school B. I just have a great relationship with the one professor at School A that would make it liveable, but the more I write about i

Now watch the grad school not accept that recommendation of admission haha :) Unless School A gave significantly more funding...I'm going with School B. I don't know why I include family as I've been in Spain for 10 years... but, being in the US again it makes a difference too. 

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I've been accepted to two programs and I'm stuck! I don't know what to choose :wacko: I'd like to know what you guys think, and have an external opinion. 

Premise: schools have the same prestige in my field, and they offer me about the same money (also taking into consideration the cost of life). 

School A: 2 professors are a great fit (I'm citing them in my thesis) and I had a skypecall the other day with one of them. BUT I did not visit the department, and the only contact I had with the faculty was that 30-mins skypecall. Not enough to know whether you could work well with someone, in my opinion. Plus, I know that I would hate the winters there, because it's really cold (school A is in Canada). So basically this school is great on paper, but it would be a blind choice. 

School B: The professor who would be my POI is a good fit, but not as good as those in school A. However, there's another professor in school B that's really great, and a joint supervision with the two of them would be perfect (I don't even know whether that's possible). Moreover, my potential POI has a lot of connections in my home country and does a lot of fieldwork there, which would be great for me, both in terms of networking and RA-ships. I also visited the department a month ago and fell in love with it, the athmosphere is really great, I'm sure I could work well with both professors I mentioned (we're very compatible in terms of character) and I have a couple of friends in town, so moving there would be easier. Finally, school B is located in a somewhat warmer place. 

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48 minutes ago, thevphone said:

I've been accepted to two programs and I'm stuck! I don't know what to choose :wacko: I'd like to know what you guys think, and have an external opinion. 

Premise: schools have the same prestige in my field, and they offer me about the same money (also taking into consideration the cost of life). 

School A: 2 professors are a great fit (I'm citing them in my thesis) and I had a skypecall the other day with one of them. BUT I did not visit the department, and the only contact I had with the faculty was that 30-mins skypecall. Not enough to know whether you could work well with someone, in my opinion. Plus, I know that I would hate the winters there, because it's really cold (school A is in Canada). So basically this school is great on paper, but it would be a blind choice. 

School B: The professor who would be my POI is a good fit, but not as good as those in school A. However, there's another professor in school B that's really great, and a joint supervision with the two of them would be perfect (I don't even know whether that's possible). Moreover, my potential POI has a lot of connections in my home country and does a lot of fieldwork there, which would be great for me, both in terms of networking and RA-ships. I also visited the department a month ago and fell in love with it, the athmosphere is really great, I'm sure I could work well with both professors I mentioned (we're very compatible in terms of character) and I have a couple of friends in town, so moving there would be easier. Finally, school B is located in a somewhat warmer place. 

My two cents:

School A: Sounds like you are hesitating here because of a dearth of information. I know that uncertainty makes an option seem unappealing, but the answers to your outstanding questions may actually be good. You just don't know yet! I suggest you reach out to the POIs and their grad students to get as much more information as you can about the atmosphere of the department, the lab cultures, mentorship styles, etc. Maybe you could arrange another Skype call, long-distance tour of the lab space, etc. On a personal note, I moved from Albuquerque to Toronto when I started my undergrad. Yes, Canada is cold, and I know firsthand that the first winter can be a shock. However, you really do get used to it, and a big coat goes a long way!

School B: Possibility of a joint supervision is good, but you need to inquire about whether that is possible. Different departments can be more or less accommodating for cosupervision situations, and there's also the possibility that the two professors may not get along. Definitely something to investigate before you commit. 

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Having a hard time deciding between two schools. 

I visited one and I loved it, but there isn't a professor there that studies what I'm most interested in. I've heard great things about the other school, and they have someone on their faculty who does study what I'm most interested in, but it's a more expensive area and I'm still on the waitlist for funding.

How important is having an adviser that's researching topics in your area of interest at the MA level? 

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I have finally made my decision which is a HUGE relief! The only downside is that I did have my decision kind of made for me since the environment in one of the departments I was accepted at and visited is not an environment I would be happy in for 5-6 years. But that does go to show that if you have the ability to visit a department before accepting you really should since a visit can help you be aware of major red flags you might not know about unless you visit.

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I have to choose between UIUC and Rutgers. I am inclining towards Rutgers as my field is Social Sciences, and UIUC is known just for Engineering. Although the stipend offered by UIUC($21K) seems appropriate when compared to the Rutgers offer($25K), considering the lower cost of living in Urbana. Its hard to decide for me, in case of Rutgers, I like the fact that its near NY and Philly, while UIUC is nowhere close to a big city. I also feel that at Rutgers I would be able to save more of my stipend and maybe afford a better standard of living. As for research compatibility, I like the research areas at the UIUC department but what concerns is me that the majority of scholars rely highly on quantitative methods, but I prefer to use qualiitative methods for some problems. While at Rutgers, the research areas don't perfectly coincide with my interests, but I would still be fine researching on those areas. One common aspect that I have observed in both departments, is that there is a majority of East Asian students(Chinese and Koreans), I personally would have preferred a more diverse student body. I hate this confusion!

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On 2/4/2018 at 1:11 AM, brainlass said:

My two cents:

School A: Sounds like you are hesitating here because of a dearth of information. I know that uncertainty makes an option seem unappealing, but the answers to your outstanding questions may actually be good. You just don't know yet! I suggest you reach out to the POIs and their grad students to get as much more information as you can about the atmosphere of the department, the lab cultures, mentorship styles, etc. Maybe you could arrange another Skype call, long-distance tour of the lab space, etc. On a personal note, I moved from Albuquerque to Toronto when I started my undergrad. Yes, Canada is cold, and I know firsthand that the first winter can be a shock. However, you really do get used to it, and a big coat goes a long way!

School B: Possibility of a joint supervision is good, but you need to inquire about whether that is possible. Different departments can be more or less accommodating for cosupervision situations, and there's also the possibility that the two professors may not get along. Definitely something to investigate before you commit. 

Thanks for this suggestion! I've been reached out and I'll hopefully get more info. But if I don't get enough info I think I won't go to school A. 

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19 hours ago, FishNerd said:

I have finally made my decision which is a HUGE relief! The only downside is that I did have my decision kind of made for me since the environment in one of the departments I was accepted at and visited is not an environment I would be happy in for 5-6 years. But that does go to show that if you have the ability to visit a department before accepting you really should since a visit can help you be aware of major red flags you might not know about unless you visit.

I totally agree! That's why I'm probably going to the school I had the chance to visit. Going to the one I didn't visit seems riskier

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24 minutes ago, thevphone said:

Thanks for this suggestion! I've been reached out and I'll hopefully get more info. But if I don't get enough info I think I won't go to school A. 

I think this is a good plan. I personally would not feel comfortable about going in blind. Good luck getting more info!

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17 minutes ago, mccp77 said:

I wish this site would add a delete button, so that I could ask people's honest opinion without it being on the record for the next 25 years.  Deciding is killing me inside, and I could use some specific input without fear.

Yes please!

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On 3/31/2018 at 4:12 PM, SetDec said:

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:

It's still heartbreaking to me that I got into what would have been a dream program, to have it so completely out of reach. I could have dealt with a flat-out rejection and moved on, but to have been so excited.... it's like getting dumped vs not getting swiped. 

I also spoke to someone in the program currently and they told me about some of the program's shortcomings. Which I know every program has it's faults and it is difficult to find negative opinions on ANY program. All you hear is students working for the admission's office and no one wants to plainly talk about how they went through a program that sucks. And even though they saw my (resume) and said what's lacking in the program wouldn't apply to me, it's made a hard decision harder. Gah!

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4 hours ago, ohdeargodwhy said:

It's still heartbreaking to me that I got into what would have been a dream program, to have it so completely out of reach. I could have dealt with a flat-out rejection and moved on, but to have been so excited.... it's like getting dumped vs not getting swiped. 

I also spoke to someone in the program currently and they told me about some of the program's shortcomings. Which I know every program has it's faults and it is difficult to find negative opinions on ANY program. All you hear is students working for the admission's office and no one wants to plainly talk about how they went through a program that sucks. And even though they saw my (resume) and said what's lacking in the program wouldn't apply to me, it's made a hard decision harder. Gah!

That is true, I also had that happen with a dream program but what made it harder for me is they took my friend instead! So I had to keep hearing about the program even though I wasn't a part of it.  HEY you got into a program! I am unsure about your specific program but in mine they only take 1-5 people per school so only 3% of all applicants get accepted since there aren't very many spots open. YOU GOT A SPOT!! it may not be the dream but YOU GOT IN! That is an accomplishment! Start doing your research on where you are going and see what you want to be involved in and the opportunities you can take advantage of. Honestly that is really what is getting me excited for fall, opposed to the stress of logistics of moving and housing :D

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On 3/28/2018 at 10:05 PM, geologygal said:

@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! 

How did this all work out for you? I am in a similar situation with my boyfriend. Best of luck to you!

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On 4/4/2018 at 9:37 PM, rockstar87 said:

How did this all work out for you? I am in a similar situation with my boyfriend. Best of luck to you!

I got the GRFP! And I contacted the school that had initially not funded me but that felt like a good fit for both of us. They matched my grant with 2 more years guaranteed to round out a PhD and I had a really good honest conversation with the advisor about my concerns. Less students are coming and the initial lack of money wasn't a huge reflection of how he felt about me (committee things) so I'm going to lead on my project of choice with him there. I was really sad to turn down my most favorite advisors (at the school my fiance didn't have a great opportunity at) but I know it will all be good for both of us . I am relieved because I don't know what we would have done. Before this happened we were leaning towards going to the school that I wanted (because it is very well ranked and has lots of resources and would have equipped us for the careers we want even if it wasn't the most perfect match for him....it being so good also would have maybe helped us do well in PhD apps if we had bailed after our MS degrees if he was that unhappy), but it was also a total crap shoot because I was starting to soften towards his school at the same time because of the lifestyle/location and other things that would have been nice about living there. I don't envy you and I'm sorry I'm not more help. :( we both lamented the lack of good ways to make this decision. I think if there's a middle ground type option it is best--like if you're both willing to give up your #1 to be happy at your collective #2. I think both people have to be aware of what the other needs in a career, but also willing to concede certain things to make sure you both thrive--I know this will be how our whole careers are if we both stay in academia and I can only predict/hope we'll get better at it. 

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I have two grad school offers: 

School a: has a generous stipend with a low cost of living. The faculty is nice and the campus is beautiful though the town surrounding it is a bit dry & lackluster. This stipend is paid over 9 months which means I’m on my own during the summer. The school is also only 4 hours away which is a huge plus and I’ve found an apartment I LOVE!

School b: has a stipend much lower despite being a bit more “prestigious.” But the stipend is paid over 12 months, funds summer classes and gives $1000+ travel funding. The campus is also a tad nicer with a more lively town life. The faculty is bigger but I’m not sure about “better” and the average class size is also larger. This school is 9 hours from where I live.

I mention distance b/c Both are obly MA programs so whichever decision I make, it won’t be as permanent as a PhD program.

So which should I choose? The school that’s close to home with a good stipend and great faculty? Or the school that’s more prestigious, offers summer funding and has a busier town life?

Edited by Oklash
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24 minutes ago, Oklash said:

I have two grad school offers: 

School a: has a generous stipend with a low cost of living. The faculty is nice and the campus is beautiful though the town surrounding it is a bit dry & lackluster. This stipend is paid over 9 months which means I’m on my own during the summer. The school is also only 4 hours away which is a huge plus and I’ve found an apartment I LOVE!

School b: has a stipend much lower despite being a bit more “prestigious.” But the stipend is paid over 12 months, funds summer classes and gives $1000+ travel funding. The campus is also a tad nicer with a more lively town life. The faculty is bigger but I’m not sure about “better” and the average class size is also larger. This school is 9 hours from where I live.

I mention distance b/c Both are obly MA programs so whichever decision I make, it won’t be as permanent as a PhD program.

So which should I choose? The school that’s close to home with a good stipend and great faculty? Or the school that’s more prestigious, offers summer funding and has a busier town life?

Personally, I would go with school A if the stipend school B is giving you wouldn't be enough to cover all living costs. Also, even if the town near school A isn't super cool, you're probably not going to have much time to do things outside of studying/work anyway and school B might have more prestige, but if there are larger class sizes it might be harder to build relationships with your professors (Also, I've heard that prestige doesn't matter nearly as much for your masters as it does for your PhD, so that might be something to consider as well). Since the cost of living at school A is lower and the stipend is higher, you might even be able to save some of that money to out towards your summer plans, and there are probably scholarships/grants/fellowships you can apply to to help with that too. 

 

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58 minutes ago, Oklash said:

I have two grad school offers: 

School a: has a generous stipend with a low cost of living. The faculty is nice and the campus is beautiful though the town surrounding it is a bit dry & lackluster. This stipend is paid over 9 months which means I’m on my own during the summer. The school is also only 4 hours away which is a huge plus and I’ve found an apartment I LOVE!

School b: has a stipend much lower despite being a bit more “prestigious.” But the stipend is paid over 12 months, funds summer classes and gives $1000+ travel funding. The campus is also a tad nicer with a more lively town life. The faculty is bigger but I’m not sure about “better” and the average class size is also larger. This school is 9 hours from where I live.

I mention distance b/c Both are obly MA programs so whichever decision I make, it won’t be as permanent as a PhD program.

So which should I choose? The school that’s close to home with a good stipend and great faculty? Or the school that’s more prestigious, offers summer funding and has a busier town life?

I'm Team A mainly because I did this for my masters'. I chose a school with the best fit that was about a 5 hour drive from home (I literally just did it haha - visiting for the weekend) and it actually set me  up really well for my PhD. I am very close to my family and all my friends are in the same area, so it was nice to be closer to kind of wean me into the idea of living away from home. Plus, with the distance I was able to visit about once a month and see everyone I loved. Now I'm moving halfway across the country for my PhD and I'm not even worried about it (well..not worried about the distance anyway). 

Ask School A if they have travel funds (my MA program didn't include it in our financial packages, but if anyone was accepted to anything they were able to find funds/help apply for school grants). As far as summers go - if School A's stipend is generous enough you'll hopefully be able to save up enough to last you summers! 

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5 hours ago, Oklash said:

I have two grad school offers: 

School a: has a generous stipend with a low cost of living. The faculty is nice and the campus is beautiful though the town surrounding it is a bit dry & lackluster. This stipend is paid over 9 months which means I’m on my own during the summer. The school is also only 4 hours away which is a huge plus and I’ve found an apartment I LOVE!

School b: has a stipend much lower despite being a bit more “prestigious.” But the stipend is paid over 12 months, funds summer classes and gives $1000+ travel funding. The campus is also a tad nicer with a more lively town life. The faculty is bigger but I’m not sure about “better” and the average class size is also larger. This school is 9 hours from where I live.

I mention distance b/c Both are obly MA programs so whichever decision I make, it won’t be as permanent as a PhD program.

So which should I choose? The school that’s close to home with a good stipend and great faculty? Or the school that’s more prestigious, offers summer funding and has a busier town life?

I'd also vote for school A. The most important thing is the faculty, but you also gotta pay the bills. You can maybe work over summer if it is only a Master's program. Class size is also usually a factor in making an impression and forming relationships with profs.

Congrats on getting both acceptances and stipends especially with a Master's. Good luck!

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12 hours ago, Oklash said:

I have two grad school offers: 

School a: has a generous stipend with a low cost of living. The faculty is nice and the campus is beautiful though the town surrounding it is a bit dry & lackluster. This stipend is paid over 9 months which means I’m on my own during the summer. The school is also only 4 hours away which is a huge plus and I’ve found an apartment I LOVE!

School b: has a stipend much lower despite being a bit more “prestigious.” But the stipend is paid over 12 months, funds summer classes and gives $1000+ travel funding. The campus is also a tad nicer with a more lively town life. The faculty is bigger but I’m not sure about “better” and the average class size is also larger. This school is 9 hours from where I live.

I mention distance b/c Both are obly MA programs so whichever decision I make, it won’t be as permanent as a PhD program.

So which should I choose? The school that’s close to home with a good stipend and great faculty? Or the school that’s more prestigious, offers summer funding and has a busier town life?

I agree with the save up plan others suggested. I have a weird funding package and that is how I am going to fund my summers and my last four years.   I vote for A as well, since the money is better, it's closer to home and you like the program better (or least that was my impression).  Are you the kind of person that would take advantage of B’s town life? Because if that's not a big factor and the prestige isn't a big difference and you want small class sizes I think you should go with A.

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Someone please help me. My head is spinning, everything is upside down, and I feel literally paralyzed at having to make this decision. Please assess these on their face and don't go digging through my history. I calculated what I'd be living on based on the stipend divided over 9 months minus roughly what I'd be paying in rent.

School A: My alma mater, the flagship school in the state where I currently live. Very cold, very rural – was great for undergrad, but I'm looking at a long commute for grad from a town I really don't love. On the other hand, I have a great mentor there from undergrad (who I have some guilt about potentially turning down), the resources are phenomenal, I have existing connections on campus which is a plus and a minus. The research going on is pretty good. I'd be living on about $1,000/month, but I don't see life in the area being all that great, especially once it gets cold.

School B: Large state school about 12 hours (so, a plane ride most likely) from home. Amazing program, top-notch research that relates pretty well to what I'm looking to do, super well-equipped for the thesis I have in mind right now. A lot of faculty I could see myself working with, though none in my exact area. Really gorgeous small city, temperate weather (I love playing tennis and volleyball outdoors when I can). I can really see myself having a life there, but I'd be trying to live on $500/month (y i k e s).

Any thoughts? This is an extremely difficult decision and I'd appreciate any input from people who have been there, especially when it comes to the "leaving home" issue.

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20 minutes ago, cinderellasyndrome said:

Someone please help me. My head is spinning, everything is upside down, and I feel literally paralyzed at having to make this decision. Please assess these on their face and don't go digging through my history. I calculated what I'd be living on based on the stipend divided over 9 months minus roughly what I'd be paying in rent.

School A: My alma mater, the flagship school in the state where I currently live. Very cold, very rural – was great for undergrad, but I'm looking at a long commute for grad from a town I really don't love. On the other hand, I have a great mentor there from undergrad (who I have some guilt about potentially turning down), the resources are phenomenal, I have existing connections on campus which is a plus and a minus. The research going on is pretty good. I'd be living on about $1,000/month, but I don't see life in the area being all that great, especially once it gets cold.

School B: Large state school about 12 hours (so, a plane ride most likely) from home. Amazing program, top-notch research that relates pretty well to what I'm looking to do, super well-equipped for the thesis I have in mind right now. A lot of faculty I could see myself working with, though none in my exact area. Really gorgeous small city, temperate weather (I love playing tennis and volleyball outdoors when I can). I can really see myself having a life there, but I'd be trying to live on $500/month (y i k e s).

Any thoughts? This is an extremely difficult decision and I'd appreciate any input from people who have been there, especially when it comes to the "leaving home" issue.

I thought that School B was the clear choice until your last sentence. Is that $500 a month like...after you pay rent/living expenses or is that your stipend? How comfortable are you with taking out loans? For what it's worth if the $500 is your living expenses after rent, that's not great, but for one of the years in my masters' I took out a small loan from the school (around $2,000) because I know me and my spending habits and I knew that I would want to have money to have fun with/to pay for my PhD apps. Is that an option for you? 

Is this for a masters or a PhD program? I know in my field at least (not trying to generalize) that going to the same undergrad and PhD may be troubling when you're applying for academic jobs - it means you've only gained one perspective (again I don't know if this is applicable to all fields). 

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23 minutes ago, SomeoneThrewMyShoe said:

I thought that School B was the clear choice until your last sentence. Is that $500 a month like...after you pay rent/living expenses or is that your stipend? How comfortable are you with taking out loans? For what it's worth if the $500 is your living expenses after rent, that's not great, but for one of the years in my masters' I took out a small loan from the school (around $2,000) because I know me and my spending habits and I knew that I would want to have money to have fun with/to pay for my PhD apps. Is that an option for you? 

Is this for a masters or a PhD program? I know in my field at least (not trying to generalize) that going to the same undergrad and PhD may be troubling when you're applying for academic jobs - it means you've only gained one perspective (again I don't know if this is applicable to all fields).

It's for an MA. My parents are willing to help me somewhat, and as grateful as I am for them, I don't know how comfortable I am accepting that. I'm working on it, though. The $500ish/month would be after rent and utilities only.

Out of curiosity, why was School B the clear choice to you? I'm not questioning your judgment at all, only asking because that's much more clarity than I have right now and it'd be interesting to hear that perspective.

 

Edited by cinderellasyndrome
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6 minutes ago, cinderellasyndrome said:

It's for an MA. My parents are willing to help me somewhat, and as grateful as I am for them, I don't know how comfortable I am accepting that. I'm working on it, though. The $500ish/month would be after rent and utilities only.

Out of curiosity, why was School B the clear choice to you? I'm not questioning your judgment at all, only asking because that's much more clarity than I have right now and it'd be interesting to hear that perspective.

 

Obviously I don't have all the information, but from what it sounds like, School B seems more competitive/has more people to work with besides the one from undergrad! Plus you just seem more excited to live there! If you read through your post again it seems like you're pretty excited about School B. 

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