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Decision time - share your dilema 2019

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I saw this on another site and thought it would be good as we have less than a month before April 15th!

This is a thread where folks can post what schools they are deciding between and what circumstances they are considering, as well as any other factors that are being considered.

I'll start although I'm 99% positive that I've made my decision.

Coming from:
Washington, DC

Deciding between: 
University of Minnesota
 - Minimal funding (RA only not guaranteed funding over the summer)
 - AMAZING Professor (but only one doing the research I want)
 - COLD
 - Department did not seem cohesive (probably due to people doing VERY different types of research)

UT Austin
 - Impressive funding (including RA which does include the summer and a 1 year recruitment fellowship)
 - professor doing research that I like (more than one professor working on these topics)
 - HOT
- department seemed more connected and people seemed supportive (I spoke with a current PhD student for 45 minutes over the phone)

Other Considerations
 - neither can officially guarantee Ra-ship for more than 1 year (but both say it will happen)
 - extreme temps in both places (coming from a person used to 4 seasons this is something I am concerned about)
 - cost of living is around the same for both cities

How I'm leaning:
I'm very much leaning towards UT Austin for the $ and the feeling that I got about the department. My one hesitation is that I LOVED the professor at Minnesota and she is doing the EXACT research that I want to do...

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Try to contact the professor at Minnesota and see if she wants to work with you. If so, go Minnesota; otherwise, go UTA!

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Omg this is great! I'm deciding between school counseling programs

Coming from:
St. Louis, MO

Deciding between: 
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
 - Full funding plus stipend for academic year with minor work requirements
 - Really cool accelerated program, done with degree in 14 months
 - Cohort based education: 15-20 all working towards being school counselors
 - CACREP accredited with the ability to maybe be an LPC
- All faculty have been school counselors
 
University of Missouri-Columbia
 - Full funding plus stipend but comes with a real 20 hour per week job
 - two year program but would guarantee K-12 licensure
 - Psych program so not CACREP accredited, LPC could be more complicated
- only 1 professor has been a school counselor, all others are trained as Psychologists. I don't really know how to compare the faculty as a result
- really small group of school counseling students (5-8) in a larger world of counseling psych students (MEd and PhD)
- #3 ranked program on US News (probably doesn't matter but who doesn't like some bragging rights?)

Harvard Grad School of Education
 - Only half tuition for funding and have to do a second year where financial aid is uncertain
 - program seems so cutting edge on access issues I'm really into
 - It's Harvard
-

Other Considerations
 -Significant other is staying in STL and so we would be long distance. Can't decide which is more palatable: 2 hours apart for 2 years at Mizzou or 12 hours apart for 1 year at UNC. This is probably the biggest issue for me right now. 
 

How I'm leaning:
I'm really torn on the time vs distance thing between UNC and Mizzou. Harvard pops up in my head sometimes because of the name but it really doesn't make sense financially. I plan to come back to STL and work as a school counselor. Licensure shouldn't really be an issue but that's always a risk doing an out of state program I suppose. The faculty experience of counseling vs psychology is also a big thing that I don't know how to tease out. So much seems just political but I don't want headaches for licensure down the road if I decide to move or if I want to pursue a PhD. 

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3 hours ago, zajfa said:

Other Considerations
 -Significant other is staying in STL and so we would be long distance. Can't decide which is more palatable: 2 hours apart for 2 years at Mizzou or 12 hours apart for 1 year at UNC. This is probably the biggest issue for me right now. 

With this in mind I would choose UNC. The two hours might make you think that you could pop in for a weekend of something like that, but with a job and coursework you are going to be busy and so going back each weekend or even every other weekend would keep work/school on your mind a lot! I think 1 year at UNC you could still visit or they could come to you, but it would be more intentional time together. I think it would seem more "special" and you could be able to prepare for it by getting work done ahead of time as it wouldn't be as often.

This is personal preference but I prefer a cohort. It's so nice to all get together, review the material and also be able to reach out over those first few years of doing the work and commiserate. I had this with my masters program and it was invaluable and one thing I looked for when searching for a PhD program.

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On 3/18/2019 at 9:29 AM, SPEDucator said:

University of Minnesota
 - Minimal funding (RA only not guaranteed funding over the summer)
 - AMAZING Professor (but only one doing the research I want)
 - COLD
 - Department did not seem cohesive (probably due to people doing VERY different types of research)

If you are still deciding and want to talk more about it with a current student in the department let me know. I am always happy to share my experience, though I know your program focus would be different than mine. As a personal story, I was only offered RA for the summer before the fall term began and then got offered a 75% appointment (two teaching and one RA) for fall and 50% (one teaching and one RA) for spring. I initially was offered 25% for this upcoming summer, but then was offered to teach another section thus bringing me up to 50%. The department is large so sometimes things take a while, but they really do make every possible effort to fully fund all full-time PhD students. I only know of one who came in last year's cohort that did not get fully funded due to something weird in their focus area.

Also, there are so many different kinds of research going on, so that is why it may not seem too cohesive, but your first year you will meet so many great professors and students from all of the areas and learn what and how they research. The first year you take an entire year long research foundations course taught from two opposing (qual and quant) professors standpoints and they bring in guest lecturers from the department who specialize in all of the types of educational research. I found this course super interesting and you take it with your entire first year cohort of MA and PhD students across all of the focus areas.

The department got them an adjunct teaching spot in a community college and waived tuition as a last ditch effort. So at least the department tries to take care of you if things end up weird. Take it for what it is worth and the very best of luck on your decision! :)

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