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Yale vs. Princeton


enpi

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Hi all,

Ok. Enough reading about everyone else's decisions, time to be selfish and focus on me! me!

I'm deciding between Yale and Princeton..I did not expect to have this decision. I am hoping to visit in early April ,so I hope that will help with the decision. In the meantime, I'm hoping for some advice from all the forumites, perhaps some of you have some inside information that I would be oh, so grateful for.

First similarities:

funding is nearly the same. cost of living is almost the same. both have extensive opportunities for external/disseration reseach fellowships, and both provide stipends through the summer plus extra summer funding if needed

job placement is nearly identical

access to resources seems to be the same

weather is the same. I love snowboarding, and both places seem to have access to ski resorts.

differences:

Profs: Prof. Yale so I've heard fights for the students. provides opportunities for publishing, extremely distinguished in the field, lets the student discover and think for themselves. I've heard prof. Yale can be a bit pushy. that said, this prof. matches my research interests best

Princeton: laid back, but tough on students papers. from what i hear, this prof is generous with time/always willing to talk to students. similar in that prof. Princeton lets the students figure stuff out on their own, but always provides questions for the student to think about. research interests similar but yale's matches better. there are more profs. at princeton who i could work with than at yale. princeton overall seems to be stronger in my research area.

choosing school is like choosing a man. neither place is 100% perfect, but both have qualities that I really like and don't like. Speaking of men, my husband will be coming with me, and he will need a job. I know this topic has come up before, but does anyone know if either university supports spouses working at the university?

So if anyone attends either school, or has even attended as an undergrad, I'm interested in knowing more what each school has to offer/doesnt offer, in terms of community/atmosphere/student body. anything! Anything to help me decide!

Sorry for the long post. heres hoping someone reads it. 8)

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I was going to say the same thing as ElusiveMuse. Not even so much for the idea that you might not get along with your main advisor, but that I think it's important to have other people around to potentially collaborate with, or at least to bounce ideas off of. And if there are more faculty with similar interests to your own, that likely translates into more grad students working on those topics too.

In any case, you'll be in a much better position to make a decision after your visits, so don't stress now. As many of us have found, schools can be very different in person than they are on paper. Good luck!

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I am obviously biased (rejected from Princeton, going to Yale :D ) but Yale does seem to have very nice spousal benefits. They have a career days specifically for students' spouses in August. Plus, your spouse will get a Yale ID and have all the benefits of that (free shuttles, reduced prices for music/theater, and a couple more). Also, Yale will pay for half of the cost for health insurance for a grad student couple (or full coverage for a single student), so your husband will get health insurance. I didn't look as closely at Princeton as at New Haven, but I thought the New Haven housing was cheaper. Apartments/duplexes in East Rock are quite nice and you can get a 1 or 2 bedroom for around $800-$1300, depending on how many sq.ft. you want, with a bunch of nice amenities (yard, washer/dryer, etc.).

All that being said, I think you have to go where your research interests will be best served. Both should be fantastic places for you, from what you've said. I don't think you can go wrong. If you're ready to lock yourself into the Yale prof's area, that might be the best bet. But if you are not sure whether you might change your mind somewhere down the road, Princeton's overall strength in your area might be better for you. Sorry that that doesn't help too much :)

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Wow, thanks so much for the quick replies.

I forgot to mention one big difference (d'oh)

Yale requires 2 years of teaching

At Princeton this is completely optional.

I've heard teaching takes a lot of time and energy. thoughts?

Anyone else? Many opinions welcome!

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Yes, teaching requires time and energy. Do you want to be a professor? If yes, then you need to get teaching experience while a graduate student. Also, when Yale says "2 years teaching" they probably don't mean teaching your own class for two years. Some of that time is probably spent working as a teaching assistant/lab instructor/grader (depending on the department). Also, one thing to consider with Princeton is that their graduates can have a hard time competing for jobs against grad students and junior faculty with teaching experience under their belt.

A lot of the answer to your question depends on your discipline, which you haven't listed...

If you want to learn about the areas, you can head over to "City Guide" and read about New Haven, CT and Princeton, NJ. No one really needs to rehash all of that here for you.

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Thanks Rising for the response. Yes, Yale is 2 years of TAing.

I was worried about anonymity, which is why I didn't initially say my field, but I suppose even if someone important is reading there there really would be no way to figure out who I really am, right? haha.

I'm in East Asian studies, and I hear that Princeton does indeed have a stronger overall E.A. studies program. But I have been wondering about this lack of teaching at Princeton. It's a paradox to me--people do say Princeton grads loose out to people with teaching experience, and yet, the placement rate is extremely high, and Princeton grads, well they get jobs. It's all very confusing.

Anyway, if anyone has ideas about the east asian studies program at both schools I'd love to hear it. As soon as I start leaning toward picking one school, I think wait no, i should choose the other! And this has been happening back and forth for a few weeks now.

As of now, my gut says Princeton, but my brain says Yale. I'm really hoping visiting will make a huge difference, I know a lot of people on this board says it has.

About becoming a professor, that I don't know about yet. I did at one point, but for now, I'm happy going into the phd program with my eyes open for any opportunity that arises.

About where I live, I'm easy as living costs seem to be comparable. Don't really have a preference at this point!

If anyone has any other ideas and opinions about picking schools I'd love to hear it, and thanks so much to those who have already responded!!

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Thanks Rising for the response. Yes, Yale is 2 years of TAing.

I was worried about anonymity, which is why I didn't initially say my field, but I suppose even if someone important is reading there there really would be no way to figure out who I really am, right? haha.

I'm in East Asian studies, and I hear that Princeton does indeed have a stronger overall E.A. studies program. But I have been wondering about this lack of teaching at Princeton. It's a paradox to me--people do say Princeton grads loose out to people with teaching experience, and yet, the placement rate is extremely high, and Princeton grads, well they get jobs. It's all very confusing.

So TAing at Princeton probably isn't required because it's just leading precepts (discussion sections) and because EAS doesn't offer many of those. If you look at the course offerings, you can see which courses have precepts and how many sections there are.

The other factor is doing the work now vs. doing it later. When you're a first year assistant prof, you have a lot to do (publish from the dissertation, get involved in service, teach, keep up with your research). If you don't already have teaching experience, you'll be prepping lectures and exams for two courses (or 3 or 4) while simultaneously trying to do all those other things. As a TA, I can tell you that grading often takes longer than you think it will, writing lectures isn't as easy as it seems, and that all of that can be exhausting. And that's aside from having to come up with a syllabus and choose books and write course descriptions and stuff. Having just designed a syllabus, with a colleague, for a brand-new course, I can tell you that it was a lot of work. Doing all of that is, quite frankly, easier as a grad student than once you're faculty. Plenty of asst profs have told me that the available time for your research decreases as you progress through your career...

About where I live, I'm easy as living costs seem to be comparable. Don't really have a preference at this point!

If anyone has any other ideas and opinions about picking schools I'd love to hear it, and thanks so much to those who have already responded!!

I'm really surprised that the cost of living is the same in both. Princeton always seemed crazy expensive to me, though I guess you could live in either University housing or a nearby town. Car insurance in NJ is expensive, which you should definitely keep in mind if you own a vehicle. Princeton itself is kind of sterile, imo, and there's a certain disdain towards all graduate students amongst the undergrads.

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Congrats on getting into Yale and Princeton.

1) Teaching versus Getting a Job - First, it is not true that Princeton students have a disadvantage in terms of teaching versus hire. Princeton EAS as well as related students to the dept have been getting decent jobs (from liberal arts colleges to top universities in Asia to decent research universities in the states) despite the economy. There are plenty of opportunities for you to precept in your third, fourth or fifth year as teachers are always looking for grad students to do so. Most, if not all, students in the department precept for at least one term. Some have gone away and taught in the NY area colleges and universities while finishing up their Phds.

2) Big or Small - Princeton does have smaller sized classes for its seminars, so you do get a lot of attention from the prof. The flip side is that there's a lot of preparatory work to be done so as not to be caught off guard given the size of the class, but that's the point of grad school isn't it? That said, Yale appears to have a larger department overall with more classes available for graduate students. It all depends on the particular field you are interested in.

3) Pre-modern versus Modern - The sterotype is that Yale is stronger on Modern/Contemporary and Princeton on Pre-modern, although modern Japanese history appears more solid in Princeton. In actuality, it probably doesn't matter given the wide range of interests in the professors in both universities.

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