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Cannot decide where to go


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I am facing a huge decision and I cannot make a choice. I am really indecisive and my family and friends just keep telling me to go where I want but I can't decide.

School A: the school where I did my post-baccalaureate classes this year.

Pros: I received a TA position with a tuition-waiver and stipend of $1100/month, the TA position is tied in with the department, I know the professors and am already a research assistant for the chair of the department, I am comfortable with this city and already found a really cute apartment for next year, I have a solid group of friends here, my boyfriend lives here, I wouldn't have to pay the costs for moving, it is closer to my hometown/family

Cons: it is not a very well-known program, it has larger class sizes than the other school (60 masters students), I have lived in this city for 5 years so it might be time for a move, the campus is a health science campus that is detached from the main campus so there are not a lot of young people around my age, the program is going through major changes so there are a lot of politics behind the scenes

School B: a school in a cute college town

Pros: I received a TA position with a tuition-waiver and stipend of $1300/month, the program is really well-known for their great research and well-prepared students, it would be a new adventure for me to experience, I visited the program and really liked the professors, the town is super cute and college-y, my boyfriend (who currently lives in the same city as me) really wants to get back to his hometown which is near this school, the program has both a school and medical focus (as opposed to the other program where you have to pick a track)

Cons: I would be really nervous moving to a whole new place that is pretty far away, I don't know anyone, the TA position is not directly related to the program so scheduling my work hours around clinic could be a nightmare, the cost of living is a little bit higher, the program is known for its rigorous courses so I am worried that I couldn't juggle a 20 hour/week TA position with my schoolwork, I have no idea where I would live

I'm so stressed out about this decision. I feel so honored that I received both the TA positions but it has made my life really tough. Any opinions?

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How do the two schools compare if you project that you will be too busy to do as much socializing with your friends and that you will have significantly less time to spend with your boyfriend?

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I would suggest looking at the placement rates for both programs. Are you planning to go further into academia, or into a job after this program? That might help you figure it out.

Also, I agree with Sigaba. While the social things are important, as a graduate student they are pretty limited as you balance everything else. I would suggest you get in touch with some other graduate students at option B and ask them how they juggle TAships outside of the department. For the most part, even if your job is outside of a particular department, schools are reasonable about how they expect students to schedule their work. But I think current students can give you a sense of how this works for them.

It also seems like there's a strong advantage to school B in not having to pick a track if you really don't want to have to pick a track. How you get trained, and the focus of your program (which one "fits" you best) really makes the difference in your ability to last a program.

Just from the outside, it seems like you are more comfortable with option A because it's what's familiar. That could be good or bad depending on how you view it, and whether you want a challenge or need to be comfortable when going to school. The cons for option B are all possible to solve, including moving. I think all of us looking into school have cold feet when it comes to rigorous programs, but generally we rise to the occasion. The adcomm had enough faith in your previous work to say that you were worth admittance and funding.

So the questions I would ask you are, what are your goals leaving the schools, what are the placement rates, which school's research/focus fits you best, and what insight can you gain from current students who are in a similar situation with the TAship at option B?

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