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Fulbright ETA or Top Ivy PhD?


hoarfrost
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I just found out that I won a Fulbright ETA, but I was originally planning on going into a top PhD program at an Ivy. I can't defer the PhD, so I think I should just go there. Do people turn down Fulbright awards like that? Or should I take the Fulbright and then reapply to grad school? I just don't know if I'd be able to get in again because it's a really small program....

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If I were you, I'd probably go to the top Ivy school, assuming I got a funded offer and it's a good fit. It would have to be one hell of an award for me to consider declining a dream school and risking not being accepted later (not to mention delaying starting my career by at least another year).

*disclaimer* I don't really know too much about the award you won...maybe it is that prestigious :D

Anyway, congrats on winning it!

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If you do the Fulbright, you will have no problem reapplying successfully, from what I understand :)

I've heard this from several people. Anyone have actual experience doing this?

Some people say this situation isn't the same with Fulbright ETA awards (since you're not doing research in your subject; it's only teaching). Also, I've been out of school for a bunch of years now...enough where I have to justify the ways I've spent time. Would it be a bad idea to spend another year outside school?

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Would it be a bad idea to spend another year outside school?

It's only a bad idea if you want to start school this year and don't want to put it off for another year. And as far as your chances for reapplication, I would talk to the department directly, tell them what you are considering, and see if they think you would be a stronger candidate after the Fulbright.

Personally, though, if it were a funded offer, I would take it rather than go through another round of applications, put off being in school another year, etc. I place a higher value on the security of the current offer and the ability to start my career than on the Fulbright opportunity. But if your priorities are different, go with the Fulbright.

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Oh, I totally missed the ETA part (I just looked up what that entails -- not familiar with any of the Fulbright awards). Maybe ask a professor? It seems like it would be a cool opportunity, but I can see why you wouldn't want to be potentially kicking yourself a year from now.

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Top Ivy seems like the way to go. The Fulbright ETA is not quite as prestigious as the other Fulbright; if you know that you want to be in the field of your PhD admission, I'd definitely take it. Congrats on both.

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I've heard some buzz about this during my visits -- a lot of graduate students I've met have done the Fulbright ETA. One thing to consider is, that if you do the ETA, you are not eligible for another Fulbright award. So later on, when you're dissertating and you're applying for grants, you won't be able to snag a Fulbright if you've already done the ETA.

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If you do the Fulbright, you will have no problem reapplying successfully, from what I understand :)

I'm not so sure about this. A good friend of mine worked in the admissions office of the school where she got her Ed.M. We were discussing applications one afternoon (since I applied to a PhD there as well) and she said that they've turned away plenty of Fulbright scholars.

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I'm not so sure about this. A good friend of mine worked in the admissions office of the school where she got her Ed.M. We were discussing applications one afternoon (since I applied to a PhD there as well) and she said that they've turned away plenty of Fulbright scholars.

Yeah, but if the poster already had the qualifications to get into a top program, I doubt a Fulbright grant would make his second application anything but stronger. However, I missed that it was a teaching and not research grant, which I think might not be seen as equally impressive, depending on the program. I still don't think it's that obvious of a choice, though, depending on what the poster's interests are.

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The Fulbright name alone won't ensure a successful application, but how your Fulbright experience contributes to your value in the field certainly will. A research project that directly feeds into your discipline, hopefully with innovation, will help. An ETA likely depends more on how much you do while in the country as an ambassador. If you take full advantage and work your butt off doing additional projects on an international level, you'll likely be okay.

Keep in mind that this year applications to Grad school are through the roof because of the economy. That doesn't ensure an easier applicant pool next year, but it does suggest this was likely an extraordinarily competitive field this year. Still, if it's your dream school, I personally would accept and do a Fulbright ETA later. I did the Fulbright because the better programs for my research happened to be in the UK, at least in my opinion.

-Michael

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  • 3 weeks later...

Have you asked about deferring or are you going off some posted policy? Exceptions are made in PHD programs all the time, especially for extraordinary situations like getting a fulbright. I'd talk to the admissions people and maybe a professor to see if they can make an exception.

Between the two, the PHD is obviously going to set you up for your career more, but I'm a big proponent of enjoying your life. Teaching english with everything taken care of could be a pretty sweet deal. At the end of the day people won't care if you were a professor for 47 vs 46 years.

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  • 7 months later...

As guys and gals are coming back into the period of making these decisions (or at least considering their options) I would echo deechi's points with just a different slant. I spoke with a woman who is at a top Ph.D. program after a Fulbright ETA. She mentioned that she was so happy with her decision to go the Fulbright route after undergrad. Her thinking was that that year gave her a chance to recharge her batteries after four years of college. Typical funding for an undergrad going the Ph.D. route is 6 years. Even if done in a significantly shorter period of time, that a long haul. She also felt it gave her a chance to consider and clarify her interests - something that is (perhaps) a little harder to do when you're in paper chase mode. Food for thought.

Edited by ctyankee
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  • 4 weeks later...

Honestly, I think the best answer is to go with your heart on this one. If we're talking prestige alone, probably the top Ivy PhD would be the way to go. But it's really down to what drives you more: teaching English abroad for a year (or more, depending on your Fulbright program) or diving into a PhD program. Personally, I was dead set against anything that would delay me from starting grad school. But each person is different. If I were you, I'd talk to the grad program about how much leeway they'll give you; if they can't let you defer, you might have to seriously consider declining the Fulbright. (If it's any consolation, you must be very bright to get into both a top Ivy program and get a Fulbright, so I'd say you'll have great chances down the line regardless which route you take! If you don't take the Fulbright now, you may very well get an opportunity to do something similar later on, and if you don't take the PhD offer, I'm sure you'll get into a great program when you reapply.)

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  • 1 month later...

Honestly, I think the best answer is to go with your heart on this one. If we're talking prestige alone, probably the top Ivy PhD would be the way to go. But it's really down to what drives you more: teaching English abroad for a year (or more, depending on your Fulbright program) or diving into a PhD program. Personally, I was dead set against anything that would delay me from starting grad school. But each person is different. If I were you, I'd talk to the grad program about how much leeway they'll give you; if they can't let you defer, you might have to seriously consider declining the Fulbright. (If it's any consolation, you must be very bright to get into both a top Ivy program and get a Fulbright, so I'd say you'll have great chances down the line regardless which route you take! If you don't take the Fulbright now, you may very well get an opportunity to do something similar later on, and if you don't take the PhD offer, I'm sure you'll get into a great program when you reapply.)

This poster asked this question a year ago, so surely he's made up his mind by now! I'd love to know what he chose. Personally, I'd have taken the Fublright, as long as I was assured I'd have a good shot at starting the PhD upon my return.

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