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Left Skew

Decisions: What 3 factors are most important to you?

Decisions: What 3 factors are most important to you?  

142 members have voted

  1. 1. What factor is MOST important to you?

    • Academics: I want curriculum and faculty expertise that will allow me to learn as much as I can
      24
    • Adviser: I want a like-minded adviser that supports me emotionally, socially, and intellectually
      47
    • Cost: I want a program that provides funding
      33
    • Culture: I want students and other faculty that support me emotionally, socially, and intellectually
      5
    • Location: I want to live in a place that suits me
      5
    • Professional Resources: I want a program that can offer me networking and professional opportunities
      5
    • Research: I want a program that produces quality research and sends me to conferences
      23
    • Time: I want a program that saves me time
      0
    • Other: I want something else
      0
  2. 2. What factor is 2ND MOST important to you?

    • Academics: I want curriculum and faculty expertise that will allow me to learn as much as I can
      24
    • Adviser: I want a like-minded adviser that supports me emotionally, socially, and intellectually
      39
    • Cost: I want a program that provides funding
      27
    • Culture: I want students and other faculty that support me emotionally, socially, and intellectually
      19
    • Location: I want to live in a place that suits me
      8
    • Professional Resources: I want a program that can offer me networking and professional opportunities
      6
    • Research: I want a program that produces quality research and sends me to conferences
      16
    • Time: I want a program that saves me time
      2
    • Other: I want something else
      1
  3. 3. What factor is 3RD MOST important to you?

    • Academics: I want curriculum and faculty expertise that will allow me to learn as much as I can
      25
    • Adviser: I want a like-minded adviser that supports me emotionally, socially, and intellectually
      24
    • Cost: I want a program that provides funding
      17
    • Culture: I want students and other faculty that support me emotionally, socially, and intellectually
      23
    • Location: I want to live in a place that suits me
      20
    • Professional Resources: I want a program that can offer me networking and professional opportunities
      10
    • Research: I want a program that produces quality research and sends me to conferences
      23
    • Time: I want a program that saves me time
      0
    • Other: I want something else
      0


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I wanted to crowd-source some reasons for how people are making their final decisions. I realize this is a convenient spot for a lot of us to be in, but it is also a very difficult one. I know my pre-submission impressions were that I would not be in this predicament; I wholeheartedly expected to be accepted at just one place. But, here we are. Any advice helps! 


All the best,

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Good questions! Congrats on having multiple offers :) If the programs are fairly similar and will result in equivalent credentials - I would prioritize studying in a place that I would eventually like to live. When I finished my MA in one province, I moved to another and found that I really lacked the network and connections that can be built through practicum etc. This made job hunting tough. 

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I think if I'm trying to assess the long-term value of a PhD, a lot of what you list intertwine into a single difficult-to-unravel and interdependent bundle. I want to get through the grad school in a way that positions me well for finding a decent job (academic or professional, in my case) on the other side. So, be done with a good record (publications, presentations, grants) and hopefully in decent time. That requires a fair balance between academic/research/publishing opportunities, and financial/time-stress/social-emotional stability to take advantage of them.

The more 'quality-of-life' issues (location, funding, social and emotional life) then become less secondary, because the relationship between misery and productivity is not exactly mysterious, and I'm keenly aware that it's not enough to just get through with a bare minimum here. So the best academic environment is useless if I'm too stressed from lack of funding/time (because I'm working a lot due to lack of funding), etc to partake in it, and a department having a great track record for students is no good if I'm clashing with my advisor and don't have their full support (this is obviously impossible to know in advance, but having had a bad experience with my main supervisor for my MA, and the situation being rescued by having a secondary one who stepped in, I have definite preference for programs that spread out the risk of that very important relationship in some way - having multiple advisors from the start or picking an advisor only a few years in, for example.) Some people might be very strongly affected by location issues (distance from family, big city/small town, climate) that would impact them to the point of damaging health and well-being (and thus their work). And so on.

Tl;dr, its hard to create a list of priorities - it's more of an individually subjectively weighted algorithm to see what choice adds up to the most points.

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I have been thinking about this the past few days so I'm glad you started this thread! I just wanted to point out a couple things about my own priorities that the poll doesn't really capture. I did not vote for funding as an important reason because I started with a baseline of not applying to any program that hasn't historically funded all of their students. So, yes, funding is important to me, but when it comes down to an acceptance decision, that has already been accounted for. Furthermore, what I've found is that advisors who are supportive of all facets (social, emotional, intellectual, physical, whatever) tend to foster lab members who are like that with each other as well, so I considered those one in the same and voted for supportive mentor since that's where it starts. I voted for research being important because as a clinical student, it's a leg up in internship applications and like experimental is important for career trajectory, but I'd also want to add level of fit with that definition of research--all of the programs I interviewed with obviously overlapped with my interests, but some moreso than others.

 

I'm looking forward to seeing what others have to say!!

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The one thing I've derived from being in psychology is that you learn "it depends" over and over again. People aren't like gravity or sound, thus of course people will have different reasons. Some applicants want an adviser that fits them perfectly; some what to escape the clutches of their parents; others may not want to graduate knee-deep in debt. However, the intention of the post is not to standardize decisions, it's to provide insight to those that are struggling. From my perspective it's less about what decision is the correct decision and more about what decision you believe in- sometimes all that takes is someone telling you that you're making the right decision. In 6 months time a lot of you will be perfectly fine with your choice. I've had a few interviews where fellow applicants were transferring from other PhD programs, but this was due to very random-effects (e.g., adviser moving away or they wanted to change fields); they still created the opportunity to decide again. 

 

Too long;didn't read: For a small fee, I'm willing to pick a program for you. You will like it. You have no right to question my methods.

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In my experience, cost/fit should pretty much be a statistical tie. Looks like the n=25 data so far is supporting that. You don't want to be in absolute poverty or massive debt for 5+ years. However, you also don't want an advisor who will make your life a living hell for grad school and beyond (and hopefully you want/get an amazing advisor). 

 

It'll vary from person to person, but it makes sense that these two responses so far encapsulate 80% of the total responses for the top choice. The differences in curriculum between the top 50 programs in each discipline is frankly negligible because of APA restrictions (at least for clinical, in my opinion). Location/culture really come into play when strong personal variables need to be account for (e.g., geographic restriction b/c of partner with a job, wanting to live in a more libral/progressive area if LGBTQIA+, etc.).

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I have financial restrictions so unfortunately that is the first consideration for me (so I only applied to funded programs).

As someone currently in the program, I can't possibly overemphasize how important it is that you like your P.I. You will essentially be married to this person for the next several years of your life, and they are likely to dictate much of your professional growth. I am up to my neck in work and various responsibilities, but at the end of the day I go to sleep knowing I work at an environment where I receive support and feel comfortable talking to my P.I. about anything. Massive boost. 

I have a few colleagues in other programs that are much more prestigious and awesome, but they don't love their P.I. and it's has a massive effect on their quality of life. 

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On 2/14/2018 at 8:21 AM, Left Skew said:

Too long;didn't read: For a small fee, I'm willing to pick a program for you. You will like it. You have no right to question my methods.

I’d like to inquire about this fee, willing to pay BIG for someone else to make this decision for me 😩 

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Posted (edited)

Funding is most important. I can't do grad school if it ain't free. Then research, because that's the whole point. Then advisor, the how to go with the why.

Edited by paraent

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