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Choosing between schools


bookworm2

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I was accepted into 3 PhD programs, and each program has it's pros & cons. Here's the options:

1. Accepted into program that's a perfect fit for my interests, but NO FUNDING! It's in a location that both my spouse and I would like to live in, but I would have to find an external job which could be tricky. The classes are in the middle of the day, so I'd have to find a job with flexible hours.

2. Accepted into a fully-funded program that's a decent fit for my interests but would spend a lot of time commuting. The town the college is in wouldn't have work for my spouse, but neighboring city does. Assuming we lived in the neighboring city, the school is a 1 hour commute each way. Assuming I went to campus 4 days a week, this would be 8 hours a week in my car!

If we didn't move, the school would be a 2 hour commute each way, which is way too grueling to do each day. I would need to get an apartment in the college town and spend part of the week there and drive back home on the weekends. I might be able to schedule all my classes and TA duties 3-4 days a week, and spend the remainder at home. Still I would have to spend part of the week away from my spouse which would definitely suck.   

3. Accepted into a program in the town I currently live, but not sure about funding. When I talked to the department head he mentioned a TA position, but I haven't received a formal offer. I recently inquired about this, but haven't heard back yet. This program is the least similar to my background and there's only 1 professor whose research interests are a close match to mine, but we wouldn't have to move and sell our house.

What option would you pick? Thanks! 

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I personally would not accept an offer with no funding. Are there any options for you to get funding there? Some schools offer other jobs, like say, at the library that include tuition remission. Could you TA or RA in another department? Will there ever be funding for you in the future or is this a totally no funding ever offer.

I currently commute an hour to school each way every day. It’s not that bad, but then it’s a pretty nice mostly rural drive. I listen to podcasts, audiobooks I’m reading for class and stuff. The hardest part is not being able to go home if I have a long break between classes. I have a meal plan and eat there a lot. A fully funded offer is a great opportunity. I would do everything I could to see if I could make it work. Maybe there would be work for your spouse after all. Possibly something at the university? Or maybe you could live in the midpoint between the two towns and at least have a shorter commute.

I would not be thrilled to spend 5 years doing stuff I’m not really interested in, but I guess it depends on why you want the degree and what you intend to do with it. It’s also possible that once there, you will find your interests broadening and more faculty who you want to work with. If you feel good about the school and the department as a whole, and they give you funding, staying home might be a good option.

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Seconding @Psyhopeful's suggestion about living halfway between the city and the school. Each of you would have to commute, but it would only be a half hour drive each way, which is pretty manageable. I agree that you should only take offers with funding for Ph.D. programs.

Edited by bibliophile222
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1 hour ago, bookworm2 said:

Thank you for your kind replies and advice! I decided to take the fully funded program with the commute. I really like the idea of listening to audio books on my commute! Now if they only had audio textbooks, that would be grand!

Congratulations! I love doing audiobooks, it’s the only chance I get to read for pleasure. Also I know there are apps that can read text to you. I have heard of people using the to listen to journal articles in the shower and such, and I’m pretty sure the kindle app will read books to you. I’m going to look into it when I start my PhD in the fall although I will hopefully, finally no longer have a long drive.

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