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Changing school after accepting the offer for PhD


aus1983
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Hello,

I am in a strange situation now. I got admission into two equally good Phd programs, lets say, A and B. School A offered me partial funding (about 85% tuition waiver) in March itself along with the admission mail. Another school (school B) just gave me an admission without any funding, at that point of time (around April 1st week).

I had to inform my decision about joining school A by April 15th. Since A was the best option (with good but partial funding), I sent them my confirmation about joining.

In the last few days, I got a funding offer from a Professor at School B and I got the RAship letter with full tuition waiver and monthly stipend. I am yet to accept/deny to the prof at school B; may be, in 2-3 days.

In terms of research both are highly reputed. School A has a lot of people who work in my area of interest. In School B, its only this professor. Even her work is not very closely related to what I want to do in my PhD. But, if I join, I will be getting money and not have to worry about it at all.

I am more inclined toward school A because I got attached to it in all these 3-4 months plus nice weather, big city, close match in research. But, I only have partial funding. I contacted a lot of profs in school A, every one told they will consider me in future, but no one gave any assurance.

Now, here are my questions:

1) If I want to go for School B, can I still do that? If so, how should I go about it? I have already confirmed school A about joining.

2) Should I contact graduate admissions chair at school A and explain that I really want to come there, but I have this problem that arose lately?

3) Should I just stick with school A ?

Your advice is greatly appreciated.

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Hi Aus1983-

As someone who recently withdrew from a PhD program, the best advice I can offer is to choose the program that will best support your intended research. My decision was primarily made based on the level of funding I received and the school's reputation. In the decision-making process, I had convinced myself that my major advisor and department's faculty could support my research. Was I wrong! While my major advisor was a "close" match, she wasn't a very good fit. I also had difficulty forming a committee that could advise/mentor me throughout my program. In the end, I decided that I needed to find another program where the faculty could better support my research. Fortunately, I was able to find a program in Europe that is an excellent fit and was fortunate enough to receive full-funding.

If you decide to base your decision on money and accept an offer from school B, you will need to get a written release from grad school A. You cannot accept another offer until you get a release. Contact the graduate school at university A to begin the process and to get a release.

Remember that a PhD is like a marriage--you're in it for the long haul. The program and your advisor need to be a great fit for it to work. Good luck with your decision!

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One thing that you might try is contacting the people at School A and let them know about the other offer. You might say something along the lines of, "I'm very excited about attending your program, and I'm willing to do whatever I can to make it work out, but This Other School just offered me a completely funded package, and I'm afraid I might not have a choice but to accept it because of the financial concern..... or is there anything you all could do to help?"

Only make it, you know, sounds prettier. :wink:

I remember reading somewhere on here about pitting schools against each other by creating an aura of desirability for yourself. It's almost like making them compete with each other to have you. There was more information there -- try searching old posts, it was a complete letter of things you can do that you might be scared to.

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One thing that you might try is contacting the people at School A and let them know about the other offer. You might say something along the lines of, "I'm very excited about attending your program, and I'm willing to do whatever I can to make it work out, but This Other School just offered me a completely funded package, and I'm afraid I might not have a choice but to accept it because of the financial concern..... or is there anything you all could do to help?"

Only make it, you know, sounds prettier. :wink:

I remember reading somewhere on here about pitting schools against each other by creating an aura of desirability for yourself. It's almost like making them compete with each other to have you. There was more information there -- try searching old posts, it was a complete letter of things you can do that you might be scared to.

There are ethical concerns involved here (since she accepted an offer already) that aren't involved in our past discussions of "wheeling and dealing" for more money.

I think I would go with the full funding, mainly because I couldn't afford to go otherwise. The thing is, you're not going to make friends at School A if you choose to quit. Academia's a small world, so keep that in mind. That said, universities' treatment of grad students is exploitative at best, and I would not feel an inch of compassion for the bureaucrats whose picnic I've pooped on because I've caused them more paperwork by changing my mind. The thing is, I doubt you hurt them as much as he department who accepted you.

Tough call, but you've gotta do what you gotta do!

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I vote School A.

More professors in your field, and it sounds like you'll be happy with the location. This is important.

Plus, paying 15% tuition for a year isn't bad; start looking now for fellowships/RA/TA positions for next year. And if you ask around campus I'd be surprised if you can't find work (the easy academic kind) to cover the rest of this year's expenses.

You made a commitment. Stick with it. :)

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