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Help - Stanford vs VTech

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Hello, I am in search of last minute advice. For context, my field is engineering. And please don't just say Stanford without reading 



Pros: strength of program, diversity, wealth of opportunity, name recognition, interesting faculty although no particular connection with any one. Funding! Generally funding for the MS degree is really hard to come by but I somehow managed to get tuition covered as well as a good stipend per quarter, probably not including summers (I have to TA for this stipend though 20 hrs/wk in addition to trying to find a research advisor) 

Cons: there is no direct PhD program (trying to do PhD) and not everyone is able to find an advisor to do one, advisors do not or take forever to respond to my emails and contact (including the guy I would want to work with), not leaving with a PhD would put me back at square one (here), cost of living 


Virginia Tech

Pros: the advisor I want to work with is amazing and super responsive despite being super busy, and I'm super passionate about the research (like this is what I got into this field to do). Opportunity to start my research immediately and get involved in teaching if I want, low cost of living, best funding package by far 

Cons: not as well respected, lack of diversity, big football school, not as competitive (I want to be pushed by my peers to some extent) 

Edited by strawberrykat
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Having to TA and deal with Stanford's "up or out" approach to culling its PhD pool is pretty annoying. But you say you want to be pushed. Well, you will be! Sounds like you will thrive under the pressure. Also, you will not be starting at square if you leave Stanford with just an MS. You should also be able to knock out 1-2 years worth of course requirements at where ever you love on for your PhD. 

All that said, the real reason not to go to VT is that Blacksburg is incredibly depressing a place to be for 4-6 years. Especially if you are someone who likes what vibrant metros have to offer. When people try to sell me on a place because of its low cost of living, I always remind myself - "the cist of living is low here because no one wants to live there!" Some people like the idea of living in bu$$fu$k with a big sports culture. I get the sense that isn't you.

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9 minutes ago, strawberrykat said:

@DiscoTech so you think the environment outweighs the advisor and research? 

In every instance, no. If there is absolutely no one at Stanford you are interested in working for, VT might make sense. But I doubt that is the case. My assumption is that there are at least a couple of people at Stanford doing research you are somewhat interested in.

It is hard to excel in graduate school if you are miserable where you live. For some people life is miserable because of low stipends in expensive metros. For others it is living in boring places with superficially nice folk in middle America. If D1 college culture and small town America aren't your cup of tea, I wouldn't recommend Blacksburg.

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