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Can't decide on a grad school! Northwestern, Purdue, NIU, etc.

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I was admitted into 6 graduate school programs for Audiology (a 3-4 year program)
Funding is a big deal to me but no one has officially announced funding to me but one school so far. Especially with people saying audiologists don't make a lot for the amount of schooling they have. How big of a deal is rank?
1.) Northern Illinois University--  con: low rank, crappy city, 
                                         pro- new speech and hearing clinic, hour drive from home, was     recommended for a tuition waver +cheapest option
2.) Northwestern con: expensive with only scholarships, no TAs/RAs/fellowship options ever
                          pro: high rank, lovely campus, also close to home, on waitlist for partial tution scholarship, 3 year program. 
3.  University of Illinois: con-not as many research opportunities as I'd like, middle rank
                                   pro- short distance from home and my boyfriend, in-state tuition, possibility of an RA/TA position.
4. Purdue-- con- expensive, not a medical campus, out of state tuition
                  pro- high rank, went here for undergrad and loved it, know people, love professors, etc. Possibility of RA/TA/Fellowship
5. Nebraska  con: low rank, far away from boyfriend, friends, etc. 
                    pro: offered a $45000 fellowship, cheap, cousin goes there for 2 more years. Don't really want to go here.
6. Indiana University-- eh overall for me pro: close to bf, 3 year program
On wait list for Washington University (which I would love to go to with funding) and colorado.. but I didn't really wanna go there anyways. 
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NIU sounds like the best option for the reasons you've listed.


Do reputation and name matter that much in the audiology field? If not, I say go with NIU (unless another school offers you some solid funding, of course).

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The University of Illinois was ranked #11 in the latest rankings, so I would consider that a high ranking school, right?  I grew up near Northern, it's a great place if you love to go cow-tipping.  But going to grad school for free must be pretty tempting.  I've been accepted at U of I and will probably end up accepting my admission offer, but feel free to decline that Northern invitation because I'm currently on their waitlist (FYI, I love cow-tipping).  

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I can't imagine trying to decide between six schools; I'm getting overwhelmed with just two (possibly 3)! 

Of the options you've listed, I'm personally partial to Northwestern. The only reason I didn't apply was that there was no way my weak Californian blood would have been able to handle the winters. I'm not familiar with the other schools, but University of Illinois looks like it could be a good balance of pros and cons. Your research interests might change, or professors might be willing to work with you on expanding the research opportunities. While NIU might be the cheapest option, my personal philosophy is that you should try and pick somewhere that you'd enjoy (or at least, not hate) living for the next four years of your life. 


I'm currently deciding between the University of Washington and the San Diego State University/UC San Diego joint program. I'm interviewing at ASU this weekend, but am pretty sure that I don't want to live in Tempe. So now I'm going to crash your thread and ask for advice. :)


University of Washington: pros- location, rank, research, people (everyone I've met has been amazingly helpful)

                                         cons- price and funding. I might get an in-state tuition waiver, but funding is pretty limited for first years. Even with the tuition waiver, UW tuition is at least $9000 more than my other option 



San Diego State/UCSD: pros- in state tuition, close to family and boyfriend, ability to live with a friend from undergrad, funding for 1st years

                                        cons- lower retention rate, not as much research, ranking/reputation is a little lower, I'm bored of California weather

Edited by arrowgirlie
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I don't think it's fair to rule out a school just for its location, although it is something to consider.  I'm sure you and the other students will find plenty of ways to stay entertained and, if there's ever a lot of "down time", you could do a day trip back home.  And, if I remember correctly, AuD students spend their last year at an externship, right? So you could still have a year of living somewhere "fun" and exotic?

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Location is a major factor for me. You are investing a huge amount of time/money/energy in graduate school, so you might as well love where you are living. I see graduate school as a great opportunity to travel and see new places.


That being said, I think Purdue is a good option because you already love it there and the ranking is high. Northwestern is also a great school with a strong overall reputation, so if you think the tuition is justified, go for it! However, University of Illinois seems to strike a good balance between rank and tuition.

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Making a decision is going to be so hard.... I wish I had good advice because I feel like this is going to be really hard for me as well!  From my past experiences of choosing places, I would say remember that the PEOPLE are always the most important.  They will be what make you able to get through the hard days, and what will make the boring days more entertaining!  So, if you found a program that has people that you really like, I would weigh that heavily.  I also think that not being in TOO much debt is an important factor.  Consider your life as a working professional, after being on a budget as a student for years.  Do you really want a HUGE student loan payment each month and/or to be still paying loans when you are 50+ years old?  I think those two factors are really important to remember..... But it's also OK to have some debt if you find a program that you really think is your perfect fit. :)  Good luck to everyone & I hope I can live by some of my own advice.... This is so hard!

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Thanks everyone for all the input so far! I think I've narrowed it down to 4 choices (Northwestern, U of I, NIU, and Purdue). I will probably side with U of I or NIU since, as much as I would want to go to a prestigious school, I don't think ranking has too much of an impact on your career but lots of debt later in life sure does! lol I spoke to a girl in her externship at NIU right now and she said they have lots of great places to do an externship for (which really is what's important in finding a good career). But if anything changes funding wise, I'll probably have to think all over again..:P

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A professor at my current location told my class that rankings don't actually mean all that much.  They're essentially a popularity contest, because score cards are sent out to current faculty members at each school, and they basically just rank according to "what they've heard."  There's no scientific manner behind it, like difficulty of classes, quality of professors, etc.  In terms of successful placements and graduation rates, pretty much anyone in this field will have multiple offers at graduation according to everyone I've talked to.  I can also testify that, as someone who is doing prerequisites at one of the top ten schools, it's miserable here and I wouldn't choose this school even if they'd offered me a ton of scholarships.  


My advice: You'll be spending the next two years of your life wherever you decide to go, and it'll be a stressful two years with all the classes and clinic hours, so make sure it's somewhere you'll be happy and have a support network.  Regardless of where you go, you'll get your degree and you'll find a job afterward.  


That said, I was also accepted to NIU and it was my second choice over several higher ranked schools because they seem to be re-vamping their program, which tells me they'll likely be open to helping pursue individual interests and opportunities if you come up with them.  Places that care about improving their program/image will probably be more willing to work with you to find exciting experiences that reflect positively on themselves, as opposed to a school content with a really high rating that is doing you a favor by accepting you, rather than the other way around.  The school that I chose over NIU is a place that I love, and while it's a lot more expensive, I know I'll get a great education, graduate as a competent clinician, and really enjoy the next two years. 

Edited by Zera86
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Okay, so I need help deciding on a grad school. I got into 6 Au.D programs (Nebraska, Northwestern, U of I, Purdue, IU, NIU). I was wait listed at Colorado boulder (didn't wanna really go here anyways) and WashU in St. Louis. 

Tuition, curriculum, faculty/students, location are my factors. 

I believe I have narrowed it down to 3 schools. 

1.) Northern Illinois University- Pro: cheapest option by far. In-state, 1st year tuition waver as well, possibly can get a GA the other years, and no tuition 4th year. Also, new clinic, small class size. 
-Con: Not a great location. Lowest ranked program on list. 

2.) University of Illinois- Pro: In-state tuition. May get funding through a GA. Middle rank, Good cochlear implant curriculum and connections (something I wish to pursue). 
Con- Don't know a whole lot about this school/program

3.) Purdue- Pro: Have a TA for (only) a semester with a professor I love (my undergrad). May get a tutoring GA but still waiting to hear from someone. Love professors. High rank.
Con: Difficult program from what I hear, out of state tuition. 

Tuition wise-- NIU is the smart choice. But NIU bothers me and that it doesn't look like they have a cochlear implant class but curriculum looks less stressful overall. Rank wise, Purdue. U of I seems like a solid middle choice but I feel tied to Purdue somehow. Would like to work in Illinois eventually


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If CI work is incredibly important to you, Illinois sounds good. Is there any way to find out more about their program before you make a decision?


And what's "difficult" about Purdue's program? Challengingly difficult can make for a good, rewarding experience, but incomprehensibly difficult is a whole other kettle of fish.

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I am not positive CI is exactly what I wish to do (since it is only truly presented in graduate school), but the prospect of it is definitely very intriguing to me and I would love to work in Pediatrics with CIs but who knows, maybe once I take a class in it, I'll hate it! I am just off put by NIU not even offering a class and not actively researching this topic. I plan on calling them on Monday to see if I could take an elective in it or pursue research. 


I know a few people who are in NIUs program and they all sound genuinely pleased with it. When I ask Purdue Au.Ds, they like it but they always say how challenging it is first and exhausting. That is not a bad thing, and I am not a lazy person, but it's comforting to hear the former! I wish I knew someone at U of I so I could get their perspective!



If I get a lot of TA help from Purdue, it will cost the same as U of I $60,000 but that is an if and assuming U of I will never give me any money. My Dad says I should do Purdue for the prestige, but I feel it's not as important as initially thought? hmm. 

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