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Seton Hall vs. Villanova


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I posted this in the "Decisions, Decisions" board as well, but perhaps patrons of this board are better suited to help...

I was accepted to Villanova without funding and Seton Hall with a likely teaching assistantship that covers tuition and provides a stipend. I know that Villanova is a much better school, but Seton Hall is a much better fit, and the funding helps. I did my undergrad at a small state university, so Villanova would be a nice leg up. I'm struggling with the thought of declining their offer. How much will the school's reputation matter when I apply for PhD programs? Does anyone have advice or input?

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I was told by several faculty members at the University of Texas at Austin (a top fifteen English program) that if you don't go to a top program you will not get a professorship afterward. So, if you are after that career track, go to the better school. If you do not have in mind to teach in college, it probably will not hurt to go to the lower-ranked school.

I posted this in the "Decisions, Decisions" board as well, but perhaps patrons of this board are better suited to help...

I was accepted to Villanova without funding and Seton Hall with a likely teaching assistantship that covers tuition and provides a stipend. I know that Villanova is a much better school, but Seton Hall is a much better fit, and the funding helps. I did my undergrad at a small state university, so Villanova would be a nice leg up. I'm struggling with the thought of declining their offer. How much will the school's reputation matter when I apply for PhD programs? Does anyone have advice or input?

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This is the summary of the accumulated advice I have heard from current English graduate students, as well as professors: Go with whichever school you think will help you produce the strongest possible writing sample, statement of purpose and recommendations. These are really all that seem to matter when you're applying to PhD programs. The school at which you received your MA (and even the fact that you have the MA at all) generally seem to matter very little. So if Villanova is a poor fit, and thus its program isn't going to help you refine and deepen your research interests in order to produce more compelling PhD application documents, going there probably doesn't make sense.

Also, unless you are financially capable of shelling out the money for Villanova, I'd steer clear of going into that much debt. It's just not practical when there are funded MAs out there (like your Seton Hall offer!) that will get you to the same place. But the financial thing really boils down to personal situations. Hell, if I were accepted to a top MA program with no funding but had some way of paying for it, I sincerely doubt I'd turn it down.

I posted this in the "Decisions, Decisions" board as well, but perhaps patrons of this board are better suited to help...

I was accepted to Villanova without funding and Seton Hall with a likely teaching assistantship that covers tuition and provides a stipend. I know that Villanova is a much better school, but Seton Hall is a much better fit, and the funding helps. I did my undergrad at a small state university, so Villanova would be a nice leg up. I'm struggling with the thought of declining their offer. How much will the school's reputation matter when I apply for PhD programs? Does anyone have advice or input?

Edited by DisneyLeith
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I've heard this sort of thing quite frequently, too, but it went more like "if you don't go to a top 20(ish) program, it'll just make finding a job afterwards that much harder." So, if you want to teach at a top-tier research university, you'll pretty much have to get your PhD from a top-tier research university. A quick search through the faculty at these programs will confirm this fact.

That being said, if your desire is to teach elsewhere--say, lesser known local college and universities, those without graduate programs, community colleges, and just lower ranked schools in general--the going to a top 20(ish) program issue isn't quite as imperative.

Contact both programs to find out about where their MA students wind up going for PhDs. Contact current students in the programs to find out more information about each. These insider perspectives can't be beat.

The universities to which you apply for jobs with your PhD in hand aren't going to care where you got your MA; they're going to care where you got your PhD, so whatever helps you get into the best PhD program possible is what you want to do.

I was told by several faculty members at the University of Texas at Austin (a top fifteen English program) that if you don't go to a top program you will not get a professorship afterward. So, if you are after that career track, go to the better school. If you do not have in mind to teach in college, it probably will not hurt to go to the lower-ranked school.

Edited by DisneyLeith
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