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Location as part of decision


ZeeMore21

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For me, I would say on a scale from 1-10 I'd give location a high score of 7.5. I completed my undergrad at a highly ranked school and to be quite honest, didn't think it was that great, so because of this, the ranking doesn't really matter to me. As an international student I'm already looking at high fees (I'm doing a master's so the odds of funding are slim), so that part is important, but the general cost between the schools I applied to aren't that much different from each other. I've only applied to those schools that I feel have faculty compatible with my interests. Soooo, this means that location is a high ranking item for me. I've been looking into climates, transportation, city life (food/shopping/nightlife) and housing (location from uni, cost, types of housing available, safety) for all of the cities I applied to. I'd love to go somewhere warm, since I"m coming from a cooler climate where I can relax on a balcony in the sunshine and do my work instead of being cooped up inside. I also like that some of the schools I applied to provide 'free' bus transportation, since I won't have a car. I've also looked around to see how long it would take to get me to major points around the city via the bus or walking/biking. The one thing I regret is not applying somewhere that has nice beaches! :P

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For me, I would say on a scale from 1-10 I'd give location a high score of 7.5. I completed my undergrad at a highly ranked school and to be quite honest, didn't think it was that great, so because of this, the ranking doesn't really matter to me. As an international student I'm already looking at high fees (I'm doing a master's so the odds of funding are slim), so that part is important, but the general cost between the schools I applied to aren't that much different from each other. I've only applied to those schools that I feel have faculty compatible with my interests. Soooo, this means that location is a high ranking item for me. I've been looking into climates, transportation, city life (food/shopping/nightlife) and housing (location from uni, cost, types of housing available, safety) for all of the cities I applied to. I'd love to go somewhere warm, since I"m coming from a cooler climate where I can relax on a balcony in the sunshine and do my work instead of being cooped up inside. I also like that some of the schools I applied to provide 'free' bus transportation, since I won't have a car. I've also looked around to see how long it would take to get me to major points around the city via the bus or walking/biking. The one thing I regret is not applying somewhere that has nice beaches! :P

Haha, maybe its better not to be too close to nice beaches squaresquared, since you might not get your work done! I would be at the beach everyday lol. Thanks for giving the specifics as to why location is important to you. I didn't even really think about transportation, but I can see why that would be really important. Given that I will be at a school for 5-7 years, location should be important.

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My final choice came down to two schools that were both the best for the kind of research that I wanted to do, call them A and B. School A is in a large city, B is in a small town. Both locations have comparably bad weather. School A offered a higher stipend, but there are also more expenses at that location so I figured that my offers were also comparable in that regard. School B required more TAing than A (6 or 8 semesters vs. 2 semesters). B had a reputation for being very friendly, A for being competitive and unfriendly. I consulted with my professors, who said I should go to school B. But I honestly couldn't see myself living at that location; I ended up choosing school A, and I am very happy with my decision. Reputations aren't always true descriptions of reality.

Location factored into my grad school choice twice:

First, when I decided where to apply. I applied to the top 3 schools that were the best fit for me, and added to that several schools that were not as good a fit but I thought had other advantages -- one of which was a location I liked. I did not bother applying to schools in places that I could never see myself living in.

Second, deciding between offers. Eventually a combination of location and fit decided it for me. I declined an offer with funding that was substantially higher than the offer I ended up accepting (think ~15K higher), because I wasn't excited about the fit or location of that school. I declined another offer based on hints from students that their professor was about to retire and I shouldn't count on him as advisor, and others because I felt I didn't have the right chemistry with POIs that I talked with at those schools [even though the funding, location, weather, atmosphere in the department were all appealing]. As I said, it came down to the two schools with the best fit, and the one with the location I preferred won out. Once I knew my stipend would be sufficient for me to live (reasonably) well off of, money was no longer a factor for me [though I don't have a family and I don't have any debt, and it may be very different for other people].

What matters is that you're happy the next +5 years of your life, and you are the one who knows best what kind of factors have the greatest impact on your happiness.

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I declined an offer with funding that was substantially higher than the offer I ended up accepting (think ~15K higher), because I wasn't excited about the fit or location of that school.

This makes me feel a lot better about my own choices!

I applied to a variety of places across the country, and upon applying viewed all of them as places I could see myself living for 5 or so years. However...as acceptances have come in I find myself currently accepted to 2 very different schools and awaiting an interview at another. School A I recently visited and is in a great climate (warm...which I am not used to), near a city, 2 faculty members closely matched my interests, and current students seemed close-knit and sincere. Negative? I am expecting a very low funding offer.

School B - more like the climate I am used to (cold), in a small town (I think I would thrive best near a city of some sort), and the faculty match was one of the lower ones on my list. However, I am expecting a decent funding offer from this school.

Initially before I had any offers I thought funding would be the ultimate choice for me. I was starting to feel guilty even considering turning down more funding for a location I would be happier in. I think fuzzylogician has it right though, you just need to take into account the factors that will make you happy in a place for 5+ years. For myself climate is higher on the list, for others I know they could not care less about what type of climate they end up in.

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I agree - different things are important to different people.

For me, weather hasn't been much of a factor - I'm from a relatively cold part of the continent, and I really don't mind it (well, maybe I will if it's still snowing in April, but...). Nice weather is more of a bonus, since winter has always been a given. I've actually been getting kind of sentimental about winter this year when I realized it could be my last for awhile! lol. But maybe for others, living in a cold climate would be a miserable experience.

I didn't really put much emphasis on the size of the city either. I did my undergrad in a big city and loved it; however I often found I was too busy to take advantage of all of the big city things. I can imagine things will only get busier in grad school...

I do think that the prevailing political attitudes in a location were an important factor for me. (At risk of sounding judgemental/ignorant), I didn't think I would feel comfortable living in a place where people's leanings were radically opposite my own, so I filtered out some places before even applying.

Unexpectedly, I've found that aesthetics also kind of matter to me. I would probably be miserable going to a school with prison-like concrete buildings. Fortunately, I haven't come across too many of these :), although nicer-looking campuses have left me with more positive impressions.

I've been to a few of interviews so far, and I've found that the most important things for me have been the people and the research fit. Friendly faculty and students who are doing research I want to do are much more salient factors in my decision. Although narrowing it down to one school might be difficult... Good luck with your decisions!

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Like fuzzylogician, I turned down more money and less work to be in a more desirable (to me) location. Totally worth it. And it's worth it particularly right now when I'm not having to shovel my car out of the snow or walk to campus through snowdrifts.

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