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I really need help and advice deciding Scripps/UC Irvine/UC Davis

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Hi everyone,

I am applying to grad school and I have gotten into a few places and I am waitlisted at another. My final choices are coming down to Davis, Irvine, and Scripps. I really need advice and would greatly appreciate any thoughts or ideas on the places. A worklife balance is important to me as is doing great research and getting a future set with good career options and development. I'll take any thoughts on all of this since I am hearing a million things and can't sort it all out.

Davis- Genetics program. I love genetics, and I want to do research into genetics in the future. I liked the conversations with people I spoke to and they all seem so happy. I like the program, but it is not at caliber with the others. And it's far from where I want to be in SoCal.

Irvine- Cancer Biology Program. Great program, I like a lot of researchers, cancer biology is where I want to end up, and they are really big in career development and getting you a great job out of grad school. They also are cheaper to live at with grad school housing and I need to try to save money. Only problem here, I haven't gotten in. I was waitlisted, and while I would like to end up here probably, I don't know if I will get in or if I'll here soon. Only ten days before the deadline.

Scripps- Scripps doesn't have specialization programs which I have heard many times doesn't matter, but I still don't like the idea of that. They are focused on a lot of translational research and trying to find treatments while being able to avoid a lot of stupid things that universities make us do. I don't care for TAing and I wouldn't need to do that. Plus, we have access to clinical research and can get patient cell lines and other things easier. So for research, Scripps is great. The problem here is the life of grad students. SD is super expensive and the grad schools seem exhausted. They get 12 days off each year, and many are expected 60 or more hours a week working which seems like it's crazy. They just don't seem to enjoy science any more and that's really sad for me, since I love doing research. I don't want to dunk on it too much since it is a great program and great opportunities, but I am worried.

So please if you have any advice/knowledge on this I would really really appreciate it. I can't decide what to do and I think I am leaning Scripps due to its research but I am not sure.

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Actually kinda in the same situation here: deciding between Scripps and Northwestern while also trying to see if I can miraculously get off waitlist at Weill Cornell. But after I visited both places and contacted PIs and students in the labs I found interesting, I am more inclined to Scripps since first: their research are very well aligned with my interests and my career goal of translational research. TBH I was under the impression that they do NOT have as much translational research going on as Northwestern School of Medicine since they are not affiliated with any hospitals. But some labs have collaboration with other places where patient samples and cell lines are available, so I am getting your point of the presence of translational research. And I'm not really under the impression that people there do not like sciences, maybe depending on who you are talking to. The students I met are pretty happy and enjoy talking about both their research and fun things outside the lab. I actually think Scripps students are on the happier end of the spectrum and again maybe bc I was talking to people who are in the good time period of PhD; the expectation I have heard from them never involves some amount of time in the lab but rather the progress; maybe they put it in a way that doesn't sound like a time commitment but you just have to spend 60 hrs anyway to meet that. 

But at the end of the day, I ask myself where I would more likely grow as an independent scientist and develop the skills and connection that would allow me to fulfill the type of work I want to do and the career I want, and the answer is Scripps. NU has amazing medical school and proximity to clinical research/patient samples, but I can do more specific translational research during postdoc; the kind of relationship I feel with the PIs when I visited would be able to build me up to that type of work after graduation and I do believe PIs at Scripps are more likely to help me achieve that. 

Either way you have great options and I hope you get into UC Irvine like you hope for. But if you end up choosing Scripps, we can also start connecting! Good luck! 

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