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Stanford vs. UIUC


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So, at the end of the day these are my two real options based on research possibilities. I have to try to decide pretty soon, but I'm not sure what factors should be the most important.

I'm interested in doing single-molecule biophysics, and so both places have faculty that I would want to work for however, I would most like to work for a supervisor at UIUC. With fellowship UIUC is offering me a stipend of 26k, while Stanford offers 30k. Taking into consideration living costs, it's obvious that I would be better off at UIUC. However, I also think about the living environment. Honestly I don't know if I could live in Urbana for five years. I know Palo Alto is small too, but at least it has San Fran close by to escape to. I'm more of a city person I would say...

Anybody have any thoughts?

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Have you visited either?

If you visit Stanford, you will see that PA might be a small town population wise, but it is surrounded by cities on all sides. It is in a VERY urban area. Believe me, there is a lot of "big city" stuff around, and you don't have to go all the way up to SF for it.

I know people who work @ UIUC. At first they thought they'd be miserable in Urbana-Champaign because it is so small and they are definitely both city people, but they've been very happy there. If you can visit UIUC and check out the town, DO IT...you might be surprised. Remember Chicago is only a little over 2 hrs away...

Both Stanford and UIUC would be good schools based on your interests. My own personal feeling is that, unless there are MAJOR factors indicating otherwise, you should go to the school that has the advisor you want. At both of those schools you probably won't have much of a chance to go out on the town anyway...prepare to be a workaholic!!

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  • 1 year later...

Did you apply for chemistry or biophysics?

I just accepted Stanford's offer for Biophysics PhD, same stipend. I'll be coming from LA, and had to choose between CalTech and Stanford for my final decision. It was really really really hard decision for me since these are both urban schools (important to me!) that matched my research interests PERFECTLY. If you're that worried about living in Urbana, I would just say pick Stanford. Its not the midwest, end of story. You have SF 35 minutes away (an hour by train), and LA 5 hours by car or an hour by plane. Many people even commute from SF by CalTrain! I plan on staying in PA on campus my first year, then moving to the city. From a career standpoint, I also think Stanford has more name value (ranked #1 in biophysics) and being in silicon valley is a huge plus. Plus, I love that we're allowed to take classes in the business, law, and design schools (if my PI thinks I have time to take them...that is). Living on 30k/yr is perfectly doable there, so I wouldn't worry about it.

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