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advisor with great publication history from less ranked school or group with comparative less publications from top scho


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Hi, I am applying to grad schools for fall 2015. Though I have contacted the professors of many top-tier schools, I did not receive positive response from many of them. Only a few replied with 'ok, go on applying to the grad school itself and see what happens' kind of story. Though I understand that ultimately it is the grad school's adcom's decision, but, if the professor shows interests in you, its definitely good, is not it? I have always received great and very timely responses from one renowned professor of my field who works in the university with ranking (times higher education) ~90-92. It seems he is really interested to absorb me. However, I am getting confused which one is to opt for: a group from top-20 school with publications not that great or this group from a low-ranked school with regular history of high impact and numerous publications (provided I am selected in both, :rolleyes:). Thanks for your suggestions!

Edited by payel1986
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In my opinion, while advisor is important, in the sense that he/she is advising you, the program is also equally important. You aren't going to just be taking classes from your advisor, you need to think about how strong your committee will be, you need to think about how independent you will be. 


I'm very independent from my advisor: she's knowledgable in the methods I am using (numerics) but the subject I am doing these numerical experiments I know much more about. You need to talk about research with these advisors to get a better idea of who you will choose: the top 20 professor might be younger and ready to take on the world with his new graduate student!


Also, just because someone has more citations/articles does not make someone more famous: it just means he/she publishes more. Having 1 or 2 strong papers is a lot more memorable than 10 medium to minor impact papers.  


just some food for thought.

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I think program is important, but I think ranking is not necessarily as important. 


Getting a PhD from an influential/well known/respected PI at a small school will go a lot farther than a less well known PI at a top-10 school. Most of your contacts, your network, and your job options will come from specific people in your program, not the name of the program itself. Hence, it's important to get a well placed PI (many of these are indeed at top schools) more-so than a well-named school. 


Also, there are a lot of rankings out there, I think the Times ranking is probably one of the last I would follow, along with USNWR. 

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I applied in the last cycle. During my visit, I met with a well-known professor whose research I was familiar with, and I really "connected" with him. I accepted the offer at his school so that I could work for him. He contacted me in July to let me know that he was leaving for another institution.


I would avoid basing your decision entirely on a single potential advisor.

Edited by MaudDib
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Bear in mind that as an international student it is considerably harder to get into American universities than if you are domestic students, especially in the top schools (not that it is ever easy to get into Harvard if you're domestic). There are more international students applying for fewer designated places, and the Admissions Committee often have higher expectations re. GRE scores, GPAs. 


My point is that you might be getting ahead of yourself - neither school has made you an offer yet! Apply to both places, and apply to a good range of schools, then consider the matter again once you've got all your offers.

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