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SO or Awesome School?


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I have a decision to make: I've been accepted into UIUC for a PhD in physics, a top school for the specific area I want to study, and Boston College, a small school that seems like it has decent research. My boyfriend (I never thought I could love someone so much) is at school at MIT in Boston. Do I pick my professional life or my personal life? UIUC is two hours from an airport, and we'll both be in grad school for 4-5 years. I feel like I'm giving up something either way.

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This is a conversation you need to have with him. No one on here can decide for you. It is a personal decision that you must make and I think talking to him would be best.

After saying all that, would you resent him for the rest of your life? If say something happens and you two break up where would that leave you? Being married or even engaged is different than just dating. Would you have to move where he got a job once you graduate or would he move to where you got a job? These are the types of questions you should consider.

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This is one of those questions where there's absolutely no easy answer. First, you have to discuss it with him, but even more importantly, you have to discuss it with yourself.

Perhaps personal anecdotes might help (or not), but I went through something similar. I was in a relationship with someone for 3 years during college. Then, the time came that I was to graduate and she still had her senior year. What to do? I never really knew, I didn't want to stay another year at my college town, since I felt like I was ready to move on, but at the same time I wanted to be with her. Then, of course, a lot of other things factored in. We both wanted to go to grad school, and, as most people in this board probably know, the two-body problem just gets worse and worse as you move on with your academic life. We decided to try the long distance thing, at least until she graduated. I took an internship in NYC (I decided to take a year break between my undergrad and grad) and she stayed back in the midwest. We reasoned that if things worked out then it was a sign that the relationship was truly something special and, perhaps just as important, stable. Well, things didn't work out and we went our separate ways.

Now, I considered staying at the college town with her for another year, but at the end of the day I just couldn't do it. First, she herself expressed thoughts that she didn't want to hold me back. I also didn't want to make her feel guilty or resentful. I don't know what kind of relationship you have with your SO, but I think that in college you can have really intense relationships that grow and foster real fast without giving much thought to the future. You see the person everyday, sleep at each other's house all the time, etc, etc. At least that was the case with me, and that can kind of hide real the "real world" issues you have to deal with.

Also, I'm an uprooted person. I don't have anything I've considered a "real home" for almost 6 years. And while I miss that, I'm also terrified of growing roots and have that "holding me back." The way I think is that I'm still in my mid-twenties. A lot can happen and a lot will happen. People will come and go. Relationships will strengthen (regardless of distance) or wither. But now is the time to do what you want (and perhaps have) to do. My mom always says that if it's meant to be it's meant to be. I don't believe in that, but I do think that if the relationship is worth it, people can work out the distance.

Not sure if any of this applies to your situation, but maybe it does to someone else.

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I'm not sure if I can help much, as I'm in a similar situation, except I guess I already picked a side when I chose not to apply to places more than 3 hours away from where my boyfriend/fiance works (I do regret it a bit; I should have just applied and decided later!). We've been dating long distance for 2 years after only a year of dating and being physically together, and while it's not terrible, it's not fun either. Not because I want somebody really intimate - besides normal friends- to hang out with all the time (theres part of that, too), but also just...it feels right. Being with this person is so much fun, and I can see myself with this person in the long term, us being together in the future, that's why I chose to stay. If you can say the same about your boyfriend, and if you have some reassurance that this is THE relationship, then you may be happier if you stay (are you guys going to get engaged soon? and even if you're engaged, would you be ok with living apart, or would you rather be together?)

Another factor was, I liked the (very few) schools I applied to, and where I got accepted, even though it's a small department and the professor is young and only semi-famous/established, I really got the feeling that she'd be an excellent mentor (after talking extensively with her and her students, of course), and I am excited about the research she's doing and what I can do with her. So another question you should ask yourself is, if you stay at BC, will you truly be excited about the research and do they have the resources to support you to the fullest? Of course, a top program is always gonna help you in the long run, but the advisor/department is important, too. People can become well-published even if they're from smaller schools, although it might take a lot more efforts. So if you think you're self-motivated and that BC seems like a good place, I don't think going to BC would be much worse than going to UIUC.

But then again, it depends on what you value more, and it will take some time to really know that. Talk to your boyfriend, your friends, and your family, people who know you best. It's a hard decision! I'm still changing my mind every few days lol I even thought of re-applying next year to more prestigious programs, I really don't have a problem with that. I was hoping to take more time off anyway. But I keep coming back to my original decision (stay). I do feel like I'm making a bit of a sacrifice, but my boyfriend's job is too good to quit, which means we'd have to be apart for 5 years if I went to school elsewhere. I'll just wait until I have to move for a postdoc or a job to do the long-distance again lol And you can already tell that I'm a hedonist and family-oriented person ^^ Are you that type of person? Or are you really ambitious and view work as the ultimate means to self-fulfillment? You're right in that either way, you will be giving up something - but either way, you will gain something, too. Think about what would make you happier :) that's what I did.

Good luck!!! Life can only be understood in hindsight, someone said, so I'm sure whatever decision you make, it's gonna be alright :)

Edited by nhyn
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