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I could use some opinions regarding selecting a school. Right now I have three wonderful options but each has its advantages and disadvantages. As I would be considered an "international candidate" at these institutions, I also want to make sure I am setting myself up for good things in the future. Unfortunately I am unable to physically visit the campus' so this is purely based off of things I have read and communication with the department. These are all for one year taught Masters.


School A

Pro: Located in what they say is a "rural" environment but has easy access to two major cities via train. There are two smaller towns directly around the university, which is a lifestyle I am more comfortable with/have experienced previously. The degree program is much more focused on my interests, so all of my coursework will directly relate and benefit my future goals. This is also the least expensive of the three, and I have the opportunity to obtain a partial scholarship and there is a partial tuition remission (10%) for people from the US.

Con: The research here isn't 100% what I want, but there are some strong POI's. The university was also established in the mid 1900's (I BELIEVE in the 50's but I am not 100%) and does not have much of a reputation in the US, from what I can tell.



School B

Pro: Located in a major city I feel comfortable enough to live in. Faculty are very good with communicating via email (quick responses) and there are at least three faculty members whose research very closely related to what I want to do. I was already offered a partial scholarship and have the opportunity to apply for additional scholarships.

Con:The course requirements are very general so I would need to take courses unrelated to my specific interests. Even though it is the #1 school in this nation for my program, it doesn't have much of a reputation in the US.



School C

Pro: The coursework associated with my degree is almost exactly what I want. I will come out with knowledge that will directly aid my future goals. This school also has a relatively strong reputation within the US. There are a few faculty members doing work that interests me, but it is not exactly what I want to do. The department is relatively good with communication, they did take several months to get back to me at one point but since then they responded quickly. They also created a FB group for offer holders, so we can get to know one another.

Con: I am wary about the city this institution resides in. I cannot exactly pinpoint what the concern is, but I do not have the same feeling as I do with the other two. This is the most expensive of the three and I do not qualify for any of the scholarships so I will have to pay out of pocket. Living expenses will also be slightly increased due to city life.



I would appreciate any opinions or feedback. I want to try and see things from as many different POV's as possible.

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I think it depends on what your particular area of study and interests are. Are you in a field where it really matters what the U.S. reputation is? Would going to a school that an employer or other academic institution doesn't know much about strongly affect your chances at getting a position? Similarly, is it more important in your field that you have a curriculum that aligns with what you want to do, or is research and advising from someone with your interests more important? Will you be making enough money when you get out or have enough good job prospects to justify spending a lot of money?


I think the main thing is that you're going to have to figure out what's most important to you. For example, for me, I'd like to go to school vaguely near where I live now, but it's more important to me to not go into debt. At the same time, a couple of thousand dollars of difference between two schools doesn't mean a lot to me, but $10,000 certainly would. So, you really have to consider your priorities and also figure out how much deviation from what you want is OK.


I will say that if it's not that big a deal whether your school is well-known in the U.S., I personally would want to avoid paying so much money out of pocket, especially when there's a high cost-of-living. I lived in an expensive European city for a semester, and I have to say that it did detract from my experience because I felt like I couldn't really take advantage of the things I wanted to because I was worried about spending too much. On the other hand, if you think you couldn't get a job or a program very easily without folks in the U.S. knowing about your university, then having affordable tuition is only going to take you so far.


Maybe you could get in touch with some current grads or alumni and talk to them about your concerns?

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If it's only for one year, I personally wouldn't give much weight to the city (you can live anywhere for one year, IMHO).


Best to focus on the program/POI and which school fits best with your long-term goals.

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Thanks guys! I'll see if I can get in touch with Alumni while I made this decision. I plan on continuing on to a PhD within the US after this degree and want to make sure I am setting myself up for success.

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What is your field? That would make a big difference.


Unless you're independently wealthy, I would rule out C. I see no reason to pay a lot more than necessary unless it is much better than other options.


I also don't think that having to take a broader set of courses is actually a con. Some variety in your skills may be handy in the future.

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  • 3 weeks later...

In an effort of full disclosure, I accepted an offer to one of the schools I have not listed above but my second choice was School A.


Also, to respond Tuck, a broader set of courses is actually counterproductive at this stage in the game. The point of my graduate degree is to develop a specialized skill set/knowledge base, not to repeat my Senior year of undergrad with slightly more knowledge.

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