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Purdue vs. Vanderbilt vs. UMass (Physics)

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Hi all,


I'm interested in experimental condensed matter physics.  I have offers from Purdue, Vanderbilt, and U Mass Amherst for Physics PhD programs (with funding), and I'm on the wait list for a few other schools (U Minnesota, Stony Brook).  

I visited Vanderbilt and enjoyed it, but generally speaking Vanderbilt has lower rankings than Purdue.  How seriously should I take these rankings?  I'm assuming I can be successful with a degree from either program, but I've heard that grad students at larger schools generally have a harder time getting individualized attention from PIs / get worked to death with TA-ing huge classes / use their qualifying exam to just weed out the weaker students after a few years of teaching undergrad labs.  Vanderbilt seems to have good faculty and facilities (I haven't visited Purdue) - can anyone out there compare the two?  

I don't know if it matters, but I've also heard that outside of Purdue there's essentially no city at all...I'd like for a more urban environment and Vandy delivers there.


Thanks for the input.

Edited by Vendilionaire
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