Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

I got admitted into PhD programs in Geology/Earth & Planetary Science at Caltech, Harvard, Cornell, and Oxford. I am an international student (from Colombia) with a Fulbright scholarship and deciding where to go has been very difficult for me so far. 

- Caltech:

Pros: Awesome advisors, program structure, approach to research, research areas

Cons: Very few Latin American students at Caltech, it takes 5 years to complete the program

- Harvard:

Pros: Excellent university reputation, research area

Cons: I have been told my PI is not very good with grad students, weather, it takes 5 years to complete the program

- Cornell:

Pros: Get along well with PI, research areas, it takes only 3-4 years to complete the program

Cons: Facilities are not available at the moment, weather

- Oxford:

Pros: I already know the PI (have co-authored a couple of papers), research project is already defined, Excellent university reputation, it takes only 3-4 years to complete the program

Cons: Very little monthly stipend, Fulbright does not work in the UK, very far from home

If you have any opinions/suggestions/experiences, that would be of much help to me to decide. I don't know well the American or British systems, so all these options are kind of unknown for me. Furthermore, I was only able to visit Caltech as other visits had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Thanks. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not from your field but want to chip into "takes X time to complete", especially since I was also an international student. 

The amount of time to completion posted on websites should be taken with a grain of salt, unless you compared real statistics of time of completion (my school posts this publicly). 

Second, the fact that UK PhD programs are shorter on paper does not mean they are actually shorter. At least in history, 1) None of my colleagues finished their Cambridge PhD in less than five years and 2) None of my colleagues had to take the amount of courses + comprehensive exams as I did. However, they had published more before graduation. In the other words, dig deeper as to what different timelines actually mean. 

Third, and probably most importantly, coming from abroad requires some adaptation, no matter how good your English is. The way of presenting research in Spanish and in English varies considerably. The good news is that your possible schools have a strong international community and there is probably a support network to assist you. 

Finally, I would also dig into the migration systems for both countries (especially since they are both changing so much!). 

I would also add: 

1) The presence of a Latin American community seems important to you, based on your assessment of CalTech. However, you didn't mention it as a positive aspect in any other school. IS there one school that has a strongest community? If not, I'd compared the places where they are, where CalTech probably wins. My school also didn't have many Latin American students but by area had a strong Latin vibe with amazing restaurants, library events, and even pays in Spanish. 

2) I'd also compare accessibility to an airport. Being away from your family is hard and wanting to go home relatively easy could be an important aspect. Re: Cornell is a great school but with hard access. 

3) Money is important also in relation to where you would live. Remember that a Fullbright in Cambridge (MA) or California is not the same that Ithaca. :)

 

Buena suerte

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To add a little more based on what's been said:

First, congratulations on getting accepted to four fantastic programs. Secondly, abusive advisors are a real problem in science PhD programs that people don't talk enough about. If the advisor at Harvard is bad with grad students, run far, far away and don't look back. Getting two extra publications with a famous scientist isn't worth the toll on your mental health, especially when you're choosing between advisors at four world-class universities. You're looking for a scientist who will mentor you and help you become an excellent scientist yourself, not just someone whose shoulder you can look over for five years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/23/2020 at 7:18 PM, jdavidhm90 said:

- Caltech:

Pros: Awesome advisors, program structure, approach to research, research areas

Cons: Very few Latin American students at Caltech, it takes 5 years to complete the program

A member of this BB that posted prolifically, earned a well deserved position as a moderator, and has since moved on to other platforms went to Cal Tech for his doctorate.


If you do some digging, within a few minutes you'll figure out to whom I'm referring and where he has set up shop to offer guidance since his departure from the GradCafe.

Take that I'm not telling you exactly who this person as both a sign of respect for your intellectual abilities and also some sidelong green eyed glances. (Not bitter, though.)

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

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

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