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linguistics Cornell vs. Stony Brook


longforit
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(SORRY FOR THE LENGTH!!!)

 

I could post it on the linguistics board. But many of the peer linguists are still waiting for their offers and I don't want to bother them now, and I wish to hear opinions from others grad students/researchers too. So here I am.

Here is my situation (the order of the points are roughly ranked from most to least important. But all of them ARE IMPORTANT) :

 

1. Research Interest fit--both good fit, but prefer Stony Brook:

I consider my interest both theoretical and interdisciplinary. Cornell has this theoretical and formal (I like theoretical things, but not necessarily like formalism) atmosphere in general, and my POI there are working on some very interesting theoretical questions (which I love) with empirical studies (not necessary the most exciting-to-me approaches but I'm sure she is very knowledgable about all the other approaches). There are only three people working in the subfield I'm working on (language sounds), among which two are experimentalists (I like), of which one has been working on the research themes I'm really interested in (my POI). Students in their department theoretically can take courses in psychology/cognitive science, etc., but with no professor in such departments really working on sounds, I doubt I will benefit a lot from taking these courses or even have the chance to do some cross-departmental/interdisciplinary studies.

On the other hand, Stony Brook is a much more interdisciplinary program, with at least two professors working on the issues I'm interested in and projects that really excite me. They also have closer relationship with related departments like psychology, in which a very famous psychologist is working on things closely related to the things I'm working on right now. Besides, my POI in this program has been working closely with my POI in Cornell and they're mostly interested in the same theoretical questions--and same as me. 

In all, I like the POIs in both programs but I see more potentials to extend to related subfields/interdisciplinary studies in Stony Brook.

 

2. Personal factor--my boyfriend is in Cornell

He has joined a PhD program in Cornell two years ago and from then on going to Cornell PhD program is my biggest goal. I started to read papers of professors in that program  (mainly my POI)as early as I began my study in linguistics and it attracted me into what I'm working on right now (modified later since I've been exposed to other studies but still aiming at answering the same theoretical questions). We have been together for 6 years and plan to get married the second year I join Cornell (if I would come). If I would go to Stony Brook, however, the transportation, housing, and everything "life-wise" would be a hell (I can't drive five or six hours because of my physical condition and taking train/buses would take more than 7 hours/one trip).

 

3. Advisors/academic environment--Both are fantastic!

I learned to know how important an advisor is and this is one of my major concern in choosing schools. As far as I can tell from emailing them, they are both extremely patient and responsive, and I know from other sources that they're both super nice people. The general atmosphere in Cornell is also super close (as far as I can see) and I don't know about Stony Brook but I've also heard nice things about them. I'm still asking about the interaction/collaboration/communication mode in both programs and the specific labs I'll work in.

 

4. placement and reputation -- Cornell seems better

Cornell as a whole may have better reputation, especially internationally (I'm an international student and may consider going back home at some point), and maybe better in terms of the department reputation; but I'm not quite sure about the subfield I'm working on. Placement-wise, since SB lacks placement records in the recent years, I would say Cornell might be better (both in academia and non-academic areas, and both in general and in the subfield I'm working on). 

 

5. Finance and location -- Ithaca is far away from cities but much better in other aspects

Not very comparable financially (28.5k vs. 17k+possible summer funds). Location-wise, Ithaca is isolated but I would have my (future) family there; Long Island is better but maybe not as good as "an-ideal-place-a-step-away-from-NYC". Scenery and campus in ithaca is breathtaking but not very impressive in Long Island. In fact, I've heard many negative comments of Long Island/Stony Brook campus and I wonder its reliability--if they're true, I might have hard time imagining myself living there for five or more years. In all, I would imagine a much better life in ithaca.

 

That's the major points I'm taking into consideration. I guess Cornell is better in most of the aspects but Stony Brook has an edge on the interest fit. I love working on what I have passion for, and I also want to live a life which gives me passion. I'm leaning towards Cornell but I am really not able to let go the program/projects/advisors in Stony Brook. What should I do?

 

Any comment is welcomed!

Edited by longforit
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Sounds like a no-brainer to me. Why put yourself and your boyfriend through many years of a long-distance relationship when it's completely unnecessary? If you're both academics, you may be forced to be apart for some time for your first (and perhaps also second) job, if you both intend to pursue careers in academia. I can't imagine doing that after having spent my entire graduate school career away from my partner, too.

 

Don't get me wrong, I do not at all recommend settling for less, and if Cornell was absolutely not a good fit for you I would say you should pursue your studies and not compromise because giving up one very important aspect of your life for another won't make you very happy; but it sounds like you have a way of enjoying both worlds. Maybe it's true that Stony Brook has "an edge" in terms of research fit, as you put it, but it doesn't sound like Cornell is a bad fit. You're comparing a good fit plus everything else you want to a great fit with nothing else you want. I personally don't believe in "the one" (in romance or in academia). You can make things work and be happy in several different places and although it's true that things may develop in different directions based on the place you choose, that's not necessarily a bad thing. In general, lamenting the road not chosen is not a very helpful thing to do; maybe your research will evolve in a way that would have been better supported by the program you didn't choose, likelier though it will evolve in ways that are consistent with the work you will be exposed to at the school you do choose, but either way you just can't know so you just want to choose a program that can support your interests at present. It sounds like Cornell has the means to help you grow professionally and support your interests, and it will also do a better job of supporting your professional future AND your personal life. I'd take this with both hands and run. 

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I agree with everything Fuzzy said - seems like Cornell is the place that will make you happier overall. :)

 

I have to say, I do understand your hesitancy in letting go of Stony Brook. I'm going through a similar experience. It's a good problem to have, but still tough - good luck!

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I agree with everything Fuzzy said - seems like Cornell is the place that will make you happier overall. :)

 

I have to say, I do understand your hesitancy in letting go of Stony Brook. I'm going through a similar experience. It's a good problem to have, but still tough - good luck!

 

Oh yeah, this is worth mentioning. Whichever option you let go of, there is always that pang of remorse when you actually decline an offer and choose to go with another. It's unavoidable--you are letting go of a great opportunity and inevitably changing the course of your life and career compared to what would have happened had you chosen the other path. It's important to keep in mind that this ALWAYS happens, regardless of which option you end up choosing. You are at an important choice point in your career (and life) and are fortunate enough to have several amazing paths ahead of you. You are giving all but one of them up, so it's only natural that you are conflicted about it, even if you are making the best choice for yourself. Keep that in mind and accept that the hesitation is very sensible and is a natural part of the decision, whatever it ends up being. 

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I totally agree with fuzzy, but I understand the hesitation.  You possibly could work with the PI from SB after you graduate.  If you stay in this field you will undoubtedly be able to work with her/him at some point. 

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haha thanks all my linguist friends!

 

I guess I know in my heart that I'll end up in Cornell but just hope to hear some "life in Long Island is not bad as you thought" words to make myself struggle even more..eh

 

 

 

I personally don't believe in "the one" (in romance or in academia). You can make things work and be happy in several different places and although it's true that things may develop in different directions based on the place you choose, that's not necessarily a bad thing. In general, lamenting the road not chosen is not a very helpful thing to do; maybe your research will evolve in a way that would have been better supported by the program you didn't choose, likelier though it will evolve in ways that are consistent with the work you will be exposed to at the school you do choose, but either way you just can't know so you just want to choose a program that can support your interests at present.

 

Thanks for bringing this up! I always have the same thoughts about relationships but just found out, yah, it applied to academics too! I guess I was thinking about what you mentioned in another thread about "more opportunities to grow as a researcher, learn new methods and become interested in other subfield". I think in Stony Brook I can easily see that happens (e.g. go into psycho/neurolinguistics) but in Cornell I may need to make more efforts. Also in Cornell I only have one major POI (in total they only have three phonologists/phoneticians) while in Stony Brook I have one major plus several others working on ph-ph--it seems ph-ph are the main specializations in SB vs. syntax/semantics in Cornell. 

 

This being the case, I can still see I'll have a happier life in Cornell. Well, giving up something is always a pain. So true :(

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