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Guest dave

Aughhh. Help me decide

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Guest dave

I'm currently in the situation where I have to choose between the following scenarios

Choice 1:

Big name in the area, lots of famous people - but no one I'm dying to work with.

Older department(people nearing the end of their careers)

A nice fellowship

Crappy city

Choice 2:

One guy that I really would like to work with

Newer department, growing rapidly

Mediocre funding(I might ask them to up it given the fellowship above)

Great city

I'm kind of torn - I've had my heart on #1 for a while, but then I visited #2 and was really impressed. The problem with #2 is that if I dont like the guy, I'm screwed b/c he's the only one there. Any suggestions?

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I'm currently in the situation where I have to choose between the following scenarios

Choice 1:

Big name in the area, lots of famous people - but no one I'm dying to work with.

Older department(people nearing the end of their careers)

A nice fellowship

Crappy city

Choice 2:

One guy that I really would like to work with

Newer department, growing rapidly

Mediocre funding(I might ask them to up it given the fellowship above)

Great city

I'm kind of torn - I've had my heart on #1 for a while, but then I visited #2 and was really impressed. The problem with #2 is that if I dont like the guy, I'm screwed b/c he's the only one there. Any suggestions?

it's indeed hard to decide. i thought you really need to make sure the prof in CHOICE 2 is nice to work with. when you visited their dept, you should tried to find this out. personally, i don't care about the location (unless you are studying journalism or business of course) or the amount of money (as long as it reaches the bottom line). i would think more about the possibility of working with great people who can help me find a good teaching position. believe me, my situation is far more complicated :-(

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Guest dave

it's indeed hard to decide. i thought you really need to make sure the prof in CHOICE 2 is nice to work with. when you visited their dept, you should tried to find this out

I met with him and he seemed like a really good fit, but its so hard to tell, especially when everyone is selling their particular program.

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Guest liquidmethane

What do you mean the prof you want to work with at #2 is "the only one there"? Are you sure there's nobody else you'd consider working with? Anyway, odds are you'd be able to work with this guy, but even if you couldn't for some reason, there are probably other profs you'll end up wanting to work with.

And didn't you say there's nobody at #1 you really want to work with anyway? Or maybe the prestige is worth that sacrifice? I'd say if #2 felt like a better fit, that's really the important thing. I'd also dispute the notion that location is unimportant, as one poster above said.

One thing I did to resolve a similar situation was to make a spreadsheet with different traits that were important to me, and rate each school in those categories. In my case, I found myself trying to rig the results to favor one of the schools... so I had my answer.

Good luck.

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Guest Guest

I've been advised by several people that I should never go to a school just for one person. Student/Mentor relationships can change over time and as you said, if things just don't happen to work out with this particular professor, you're screwed. I think the first school you mentioned sounds like the best choice. Even though there isn't a particular professor that you're absolutely dying to work with, it seems that there would be a number of really good people in any of the specialities you may want to pursue. Who knows, your interests may change and a program with a large and diverse faculty is the best place for that to happen. With regards to location... I think that is entirely up to you. You won't be there forever, but then again, if it is so crappy that you're going to hate every minute, it may be a better choice to go elsewhere.

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Guest also undecided

Dave, I am in a similar situation, with a (1) very prestigious program which offers me senior faculty to work with that is in a crappy area for me or (2) a less prestigious school in a city I love and where I have friends to live with (so much cheaper). In my case, both programs have people I can work with, but the more prestigious school would probably take longer to complete. Then again, prestige can equal better job placement, so this is a tough call! If you make a decision, please post how you came to your decision. I heard lots of people at an admit visit having similar struggles.

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Guest Guest

I'm in a nearly identical situation as well, but with an almost definite timeframe for completion difference with 4 years for the less prestigious institution (they'll accept my Master's credits) and 6-7 years for the more prestigious institution and both are offering similar funding. I'm very confused though in that when I went on the recruitment weekends I was treated with shock as to why I was even visiting the less prestigious institution if I had gotten into the other place, and I want to go into academia so ranking is important (more prestigious place is ranked top of its field, whereas other institution is barely on the list in its field, but its program is newer). I haven't made a decision yet and am waiting to hear back from 2 more schools. I know I'd definitely be happier at the less prestigious institution in terms of overall fit including being able to work with a profesor I'd love to work with who offered me a spot in his lab, but I'm hesitating because you have to think about life after graduation and how tough it may or may not be to find a job.

The idea about making a spreadsheet is great, I'd also suggest contacting the schools to try to find out job placement stats for people in your major, particularly for the less prestigious school, or even talk to the professor you want to work with and ask him where his graduating students end up (if you feel comfortable doing so). Whether you want to go into industry or academia is also important, as well as how well known your potential advisor is in his field. Hope this helps, and good luck!

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Guest also undecided

guest, I hear you on the time difference. The less prestigious school I am looking at is a 4 year program with my transfer credits, and the more prestigious is likely a 6 year program. I tried the spreadsheet idea, but gave up and drew out of a hat (my friend thought this would be fun). Seems crazy, but when I felt relieved to pull the less prestigious school, I knew for sure which way I was leaning!

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I've found the advisor/student relationship to be very manageable even though the only professor who has worked in my field didn't like me when I was her student in class. We had at first a cordial and professional (although slightly tense) working relationship, but now things are more relaxed. Don't worry too much about having the relationship go sour and having noone to help you. There are only a few bad apples at any school, so as long as the advisor has a reputation of being nominally a nice person, you will still be able to work through initial personal differences if you remain professional.

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Guest dave

Welp. I chose #1. Hopefully I didn't ruin the next 4-23 years of my life :)(queue melodramatic music)

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Guest Guest

Naw... you really can't go too wrong with these decisions. Ultimately it is the work that you do.

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Welp. I chose #1. Hopefully I didn't ruin the next 4-23 years of my life :)(queue melodramatic music)

Congratulations, it must feel great to have chosen!

I'm in a similar situation, so I'm writing to solicit others' advice.

Both departments I'm looking at are known to be nice places and very harmonious and collegial environments. Both are offering me good funding (for the field) and include a first-year fellowship. I visited both places and liked both. All the potential advisors I'm considering are known to be nice.

CHOICE 1:

- slightly higher-ranked department overall

- nobody in particular i'm dying to work with, but several good possibilities

- less famous faculty working in my specific area of interest, but they are good

- they are working to establish a center for the study of X ("X" being my main interest)

- slightly bigger department

- cheap place to live, but possibly boring and a bit isolated (although the campus is lovely)

- university is big and well-funded, and it shows in the campus and the resources

- few graduate students with similar interests, but the students are very nice and talk a lot

CHOICE 2:

- two professors with whom I really really want to work, including one famous faculty member in my main area of interest

- already well-known within the subfield that is my main area of interest

- slightly smaller department

- slightly more expensive city, but very exciting (and i'm a city person)

- university is smaller and less well-funded

- i'm guaranteed a dissertation-year fellowship in addition to the first-year fellowship

- many students with interests similar to mine, but not as close-knit a group

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seems like a tricky one. I would go for 2.... but that's just me because I would go for the place that seems the best academic match. Seems like plusses and minuses for both however and comfort in a place can be important. It seems like you like the people more at place 1.

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