Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
yinyangwriter

Caltech or UOregon?

Recommended Posts

I got into one of the top 10 graduate programs in my field. I also got into another program that is much less prestigious, ranked around #57, but where I would have a well-known and supportive advisor and an equally is not more supportive department. I think that the prestigious program is somewhere where I would have a better chance of having a social life and possibly finding someone to spend the rest of my life with. Not unrelated to this is the fact that I like the students at the prestigious program much more and already have made friends with some of the other prospective students that will probably constitute the incoming class. I didn't click with the students (current or prospective) at the lower-ranked school but almost all the professors were just absolutely wonderful. The program at the less prestigious program is also significantly easier than that of the higher-ranked program. While I know I could complete the program at the lower-ranked school (and maybe even excel while I was there /be a star), the prestigious program is a bear to get through in one piece and there is the possibility that I wouldn't make it through the first year of grueling classes (although they did let me in, I have not taken all the prerequisite courses for the first year curriculum and there is no wiggle room for catching up). Also, the faculty at the prestigious school are eccentric and I didn't really click with any of them and...I am not passionate about their research. I realize that that last part is a killer when deciding on a grad program but it is a top 10 program/school and the research is close to my interests or I never would have applied. My current goal is to continue in academia and become a university prof. Anyway, what do you think? Which program should I choose? I'm hoping for many votes and some reasoned commentary as well. Thank you!

social life + excellent training + prestige of program + possibility of flunking out

vs. no social life + great advisor + fun research + almost certain PhD at end

Edited by yinyangwriter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you're not passionate about the research, don't do it. Don't go to Caltech unless there is something you're really excited to work on. Prestige will not be enough to keep you sane here... hehe (I'm a caltech undergrad).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got into one of the top 10 graduate programs in my field. I also got into another program that is much less prestigious, ranked around #57, but where I would have a well-known and supportive advisor and an equally is not more supportive department. I think that the prestigious program is somewhere where I would have a better chance of having a social life and possibly finding someone to spend the rest of my life with. Not unrelated to this is the fact that I like the students at the prestigious program much more and already have made friends with some of the other prospective students that will probably constitute the incoming class. I didn't click with the students (current or prospective) at the lower-ranked school but almost all the professors were just absolutely wonderful. The program at the less prestigious program is also significantly easier than that of the higher-ranked program. While I know I could complete the program at the lower-ranked school (and maybe even excel while I was there /be a star), the prestigious program is a bear to get through in one piece and there is the possibility that I wouldn't make it through the first year of grueling classes (although they did let me in, I have not taken all the prerequisite courses for the first year curriculum and there is no wiggle room for catching up). Also, the faculty at the prestigious school are eccentric and I didn't really click with any of them and...I am not passionate about their research. I realize that that last part is a killer when deciding on a grad program but it is a top 10 program/school and the research is close to my interests or I never would have applied. My current goal is to continue in academia and become a university prof. Anyway, what do you think? Which program should I choose? I'm hoping for many votes and some reasoned commentary as well. Thank you!

social life + excellent training + prestige of program + possibility of flunking out

vs. no social life + great advisor + fun research + almost certain PhD at end

I am a outsider, so I do not know much about your programs. But if I were you, I would definately choose Caltech.

Caltech is far better than the choice B, since you mentioned that B ranked #57. Well if B ranked 20s or 30s, it might be another story, I thought.

I have the same goal with you, that is, to step into academia. So I must consider the reputation of graduate school and advisor. Caltech would provide me more opportunity to develop my research potential because of the atmosphere there. Personally, I hope to learn from the people who are the best in the world and who can also bring the best out of me--to make me live the fullest. Your schoolmates might be your collegues in future, so I guess Caltech is a better choice from this perspective.

In terms of your research interest, I do not know much about it. Do you mean that you do not like the research at Caltech at all? Admittedly, Caltech is a very small school, and you might not find the professor who fit your interest best at this moment. But the reason might be that you just do not know it, rather than do not like it. Just as you said, "I have not taken all the prerequisite courses for the first year curriculum".

Well, good luck to you!

Edited by sapling

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A ranking gap that large is impossible to look past for me. And you list tons of reasons that this program is better other than that, besides the professors being friendly. I don't see how this is a difficult choice at all unless you can't find a prof at Caltech who is doing the research you want to do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having a great and supportive advisor makes a huge difference, especially if you plan on doing research in the future. Go for the program that would best develop your talents and interests.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From what a professor told me, if you want to become a professor, it's very important to get your PhD from a top university.

Also, although I don't know your situation, I've heard it's very common to be nervous/doubtful about difficult programs. I chose an easier program in part because of a similar fear, and sometimes I regret it.

Edited by Slorg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I vote research and adviser ALL THE WAY. And, UO is lovely! You will *definitely* make new/close friends. Go forth, fret not, and good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Go to the place where you find an advisor that matches your research interests the best. The key to success in PhD is to enjoy the research you are doing. You should understand that having a PhD from top 10 won't guarantee you a position in academia; there are some people with PhD from top 50 who are professors at top 10, and there some people with PhD from top 10 who cannot find a job.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you to everyone who replied to this thread. It really helps to get feedback on my decision. I think that Caltech might be disastrous...The professors don't seem terribly supportive, the program requires chemistry knowledge that I don't have, and the profs have been largely unresponsive to my questions. Actually, I'm also a little worried about all the recent suicides at Caltech. Two undergrads, one graduate student, and the famous chair of the Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy division? It just confirms what I saw when I visited...that everyone there is under a great deal of stress. Not the most pleasant environment for a PhD. I'm leaning towards UWashington right now actually.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From what a professor told me, if you want to become a professor, it's very important to get your PhD from a top university.

Also, although I don't know your situation, I've heard it's very common to be nervous/doubtful about difficult programs. I chose an easier program in part because of a similar fear, and sometimes I regret it.

HI Slorg! I sent you a personal message. Hope you can read it. To be short, I want to ask you How did you hear from UT Austin? How long ago was it? I appliead to the MSc/PhD program at the Electrical Eng. school earlier and still waiting. Thank you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.