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Berkeley vs. Northwestern vs. Rice vs. Job Opps for Fiance


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So (as I'm sure many of you are also experiencing) - I'm having a bit of a dilemma deciding which school to commit to for a PhD in Bioengineering. I applied to schools with faculty that I could really see myself working with - and made sure that these schools were located in areas where my fiance had potential job opportunities. He's graduating this December with a degree in EE and a focus in Power Systems. He's interviewed with companies in San Francisco and Houston, but at this point we have given up hoping to hear about an offer before the April 15th deadline - especially since he is not availabe to work for a while still. In this economy, we're very wary of taking a leap of faith and moving to an expensive city such as San Francisco - especially without a job offer. He's interning with a company in Chicago this summer, and it's extremely likely that he'd receive a full time offer once he completes it. We've spent virtually our whole lives in Chicago and to be honest, we were both ready for a change. However, I really did enjoy my one-on-one visit with a professor at Northwestern and could really see myself fitting into the group. To make matters more interesting, this professor has offered a spot in his lab for this summer. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I can see the benefits of being close to home and our families as a young married couple, but I feel like if we settled here - we'd never have the opportunity to set up our roots elsewhere.

As for Rice, I was really, truly impressed by their program. There are a number of faculty members there that I would be happy working with, and I was accepted into their cancer research program at MD Anderson. This is an amazing opportunity, exposing me to unique clinical experiences that would add depth to my PhD. As an added bonus, the cost of living in Houston truly surprised me. I had the opportunity to spend some time with a student there who also got married during her first year of grad school, and I could tell that her and her husband's money went a long way. My fiance and I are just concerned with assuming that he will be able to find something there. We both think that it's strongly possible. The question is - is it a risk worth taking?

Ultimately, I truly believe that no matter what school I choose - I will be happy and productive. These are all excellent options. I'd love to hear everyone's opinions. :(

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It sounds like you're about Rice, and you give really compelling and practical reasons for your choice.

If you've been in Chicago all your life, you're probably right to think it's time to try something else. And I'm sure the cost of living in Chicago is higher than it is in Houston, so you'll get more bang for your bucks.

Good luck, I'm sure you'll make a good choice!

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