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Choosing between two admission offers


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Hello,

 

I have been offered admission by two US universities for M.S. (without fund). One of them is a high-ranked, reputable university (University of Florida), while the other one (Portland State University) is low-ranked. Personally, I like PSU more in that it has outstanding professors in my field of study and offers very good courses. However, it is usually said that if you are not graduated from a recognized institution, you will have difficulties being placed in the job market, or transferring to a top university later for pursuing a Ph.D.. Do you think this is the case?

 

I would appreciate it if you could give me your opinions. 

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I am not in your field. But based on what I've learned from these forums, I would say that if you plan to do a PhD right away, it shouldn't be too much of a concern if it is a decently ranked school and you're getting good training, publishing opportunities and producing good research. If you plan to work for a few years in industry before undertaking the PhD, you   might not be as strongly positioned to secure employment than if you attended the strongly ranked university. But if you plan to go from one program to the next without a break, I think the place you do your PhD will have the most impact on your future career.

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Rather than take the word of "usually said," do a little bit of research. Find out what sort of job placements recent grads from PSU have gotten. If that information isn't available on the program's website, you can email the department itself and ask. Find out about U of F, as well. You can also find out where their graduates have gone on to further their studies.

 

PhD is different than getting a job since the criteria for acceptance into a program is different than the criteria for an offer of employment. Your scholarship will outweigh your school's credentials, generally speaking. People who have gone to unknown schools, poorly ranked, if ranked at all, have gotten into top flight programs based on their scholarship. I know of a woman who got a bachelor's in a school no one has heard of, went on to Harvard for a degree in law, and now pulls in six figures as an entertainment lawyer. Of course, this is a single, anecdotal instance.

 

Considering your location, you might find it helpful to check into the Persian communities in which the cities that the schools are located. While they can't offer you much in terms of advice on which program will suit your career goals, they can offer you a lot of help in other ways. You can also check to see if the universities have Persian student associations, or Iranian student associations. The student associations can give you a lot of helpful information, as well.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I understand your situation, because I used to be the same as you. I believe you had better choose the institution with the outstanding professor, in that way, you can learn more from them and can apply what you have learned after graduation :)

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi. I don't know if you've already made your decision, but I'd like to offer another point to consider: What are the other students at PSU (the lower-ranked school) like? This is very important concern. I am in a totally different field than you, but I was in a similar position a few years ago. I went with the less prestigious school and--it was a terrible decision (for me). I have no idea how my classmates got accepted to ANY grad program and the fact that I need to collaborate with these people has severely depressed me.

 

If the overall motivation/intelligence of the PSU students in your program is comparable to that of the U of Florida, I wouldn't worry about official rankings too much. I know you said you like the professors/classes at PSU, but please also consider the other students in your program (because they are also supposed to inspire/motivate you, in addition to professors). Can you go visit and sit in on a class, if you haven't done so already?

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