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Is intimidation a valid reason to decline an offer?


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Congrats to everybody who received offers! 

 

I've narrowed down my choices to two programs. If anybody wants to weigh in, please feel free!

Program A) Great community, really supportive faculty and students. Incredibly flexible program structure, so students can really tailor their training to fit their needs. However, I'm scared that I won't find a home lab, which may be a silly fear since there's ~190 faculty members I can choose from. Loved my visit there, but just didn't find a lot of labs that really excited me. 

Program B) Also seems like a great program structure, with flexibility for classes. Includes class that all 1st years take together that expand all disciplines within the program, which seems to level the playing field and bring each cohort together. Incredible PI's and labs, with projects that REALLY excite me. I'm totally in awe of some of the PIs there. The problem is, I'm really intimidated by the other interviewees and the PI's who I really look up to, and am worried I'll disappoint them. Because of this, I was too nervous and insecure to really relax and enjoy my recruitment event. 

 

Program B is also in a much more expensive place to live, but money isn't really weighing heavily in my decision. Essentially, I'm torn between a program I really liked, but didn't have labs that really excite me, and another program that does have labs which I think are incredible, but am scared of. 

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First of all don't compare yourself to anyone else, you got in for a reason. :) There's no real reason to be intimidated. That being said, I do understand where you're coming from. It's all about your mentality though and just changing that perspective. Often times the most rewarding experiences are the most challenging. My personal piece of advice is if you're going to turn that offer down, turn it down because you genuinely feel that it's not right for you, not because you're scared. 

 

Did you get a chance to speak with any PIs one on one or any students that actually go there? Also regarding school A, 190 faculty members sounds like a lot! 

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I am having the same feelings about one of my programs.   I am intimated a bit by the coursework and how great of a program it is.  But I think I am going to go for it.  Program B didn't have to accept you, but they did.  With the competitiveness of graduate admissions, programs don't accept you unless they think you can be successful.  

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Thanks for the advice everybody. I'm going to try reaching out to current students (again), and hopefully figure out exactly how supportive of students the program is. Still unsure which program I'm leaning towards, but thankfully I have some time figure that out!

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Same same SAME! Program A has a really intimidatingly-written set of requirements both for classes and the qualifying exam while Program B seems more flexible in terms of requirements but I didn't feel as much of a fit. As it stands now, I'm psyching myself up to accept the offer at Program A because it might be harder but I think I'll be happier and come out of it a better scientist, and because I had to tell myself that defaulting to one school out of fear of the other school's requirements feels cowardly.  

For what it's worth, I will echo the other commenters: you got in for a reason, they see someone with the potential for success in you, and I know that if it were me, if I chose the program that was a worse fit, I would constantly kick myself for passing up the chance to work with PIs I really looked up to and fit well with, even if they scared me. 

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On 3/14/2018 at 9:31 AM, eevee said:

Same same SAME! Program A has a really intimidatingly-written set of requirements both for classes and the qualifying exam while Program B seems more flexible in terms of requirements but I didn't feel as much of a fit. As it stands now, I'm psyching myself up to accept the offer at Program A because it might be harder but I think I'll be happier and come out of it a better scientist, and because I had to tell myself that defaulting to one school out of fear of the other school's requirements feels cowardly.  

For what it's worth, I will echo the other commenters: you got in for a reason, they see someone with the potential for success in you, and I know that if it were me, if I chose the program that was a worse fit, I would constantly kick myself for passing up the chance to work with PIs I really looked up to and fit well with, even if they scared me. 

Yeah, I felt much more comfortable and supported when visiting school A, but maybe that's because I was so intimidated when visiting school B. I think support is crucial for grad school, but I also don't want to go to a program where I get the support but lack the excitement for my project! Program A does have a few PI's that I would want to work with, but if those don't work out, I might not find a home lab! And I don't want to miss out of opportunities that I would get working with the PI's I look  up to at program B. Grad school will be tough no matter where I end up, but if I go to with the program that intimidates me more, and can make it then I think I'll be able to push myself out of my comfort zone and come out a better scientist too. Congrats on getting acceptances, and good luck with making your  decision! 

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