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Help! Duke or UNC?


wintergreen
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Hello,

I know, questions like that have been asked so many times on this board already... but I'd sincerely appreciate any advice you might be willing to offer! At this point, I visited both schools, I talked to people at both places, I talked to former professors of mine... and I still can't sign the paperwork for either of the places. Since UNC offered me a great fellowship, the financial side does not play too much of a role, although UNC's package is (surprisingly!) better - more money, less work.

I know that Duke has a great reputation, better ranking, is a great (private-)school, and offers a lot in terms of training, connections, content...whatever. But then again, my match seems to be much better with what UNC offers in the subfield that I am interested in. They even have a center that focuses on the specific world region I am interested in. But then again, I am still somewhat open in regard to my research agenda - even though I am interested in this region, I am open to new questions, new issues... Besides, Duke's placement record in my field is better. The grads that went there have to decide between Princeton, Duke and the like - not quite the same at UNC! Yet, when I was there, I had the feeling that I have a better (personal) connection with both grads and faculty members at UNC. The faculty at UNC seemed to be much more interested in me; but this could be due to them knowing more lobbying is necessary to get people to their place, while people come to Duke anyway. Also, Chapel Hill seems to be a nicer place to spend 4 or 5 years. Given the better match, connection to the people and the living situation, I am leaning to the UNC. However, I could not yet sign the paperwork, because getting into Duke seems to be kind of big chance that I should not let pass easily... that's my big problem!!

So, what would you do? Can you give me any advice? Is it alright to "let the chance" pass and go to the school where I am leaning to...?

Thanks so much for your help!

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It sounds like the main thing you're concerned about is whether Duke has a better name for getting postdocs/ jobs later down the road. While I am by no means an expert on this (I am new to the world of grad school as well!) I don't think going to UNC will hinder you. It seems to me that if you do good work and stand out in your field, you will be wanted regardless. And to prove it...I had an undergrad professor that got a PhD at UNC and went on to a prestigious postdoc position. I feel like for grad school (relative to undergrad) it's less important where you go and more important what you do while you're there.

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I love these decision posts.

UNC seems like it's where you belong. Keep in mind that this comes from an objective reader that is basing her opinion strictly on a close reading of your post.

And yes, misterpat, I agree--prettier girls and hot gay men...

UNC all the way!

Congratulations!! :D

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I am a current Duke student that also considered UNC. I am glad I picked Duke! From your post, it sounds like UNC is the better fit, so I would go there. Both schools are good, so pick the one that is the best fit for you.

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Hi,

thanks for sharing you thoughts with me! In regard to the placement-question in my field/subfield: It's hard to single out the placement record in the subfield (no, I didn't use it interchangeably) - only Duke offers information on the subfields of people that were placed recently. But it seems like the same thing is true for the subfield than is true for the general field, at least from what I hear from very recently placed UNC-PhD's... (i.e. where they ended up)

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