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Doing a Fulbright when already accepted to PhD program?


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Hi all,

I'm dealing with a pretty stressful decision that I'd really love some advice on. Last week, I accepted a PhD offer at a top program in my field, which I am excited for, but also found out a few days later that I was offered a Fulbright research fellowship after applying for the 2nd time. I'm still in shock that I actually got them both, as I don't at all come from a prestigious undergrad or masters background, but I'm having a few reservations for several reasons:

- Of the three PhD offers I received, I chose this one assuming I wouldn't get the Fulbright (kinda thought my luck would run out or something). My potential advisor expressed a bit of concern that the Fulbright would act as a "second Masters" project and would interrupt the research we're starting in the summer to get ahead of the game.

- My other two PhD offers, however, would have matched my Fulbright research perfectly, and I could have easily made it a dissertation chapter. They both seemed very accommodating to treat the Fulbright year as my first year of grad school. I again turned them down though as it was April 13 and I haven't heard from Fulbright by then.

- The folks at my program didn't flat out say that they wouldn't let me do it, but their concern suggests to me that they'd really prefer I don't do it.

I'm not saying that I don't regret choosing my PhD program (I already had too many anxiety-ridden nights choosing among them), but some part of me is saying "do the Fulbright and just reapply to one of the other programs". I don't really want to do that either though because I know it would burn bridges, which isn't helpful when everybody in my field knows everybody else. Basically, I don't think I can really have both. The decision ultimately comes down to whether I do Fulbright or I attend a top grad school with no deferment options. I can't even process this anymore, so any advice would be most helpful.

Edited by Gneissic
clarity
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