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Dropping out US grad school in 1st year and applying to UK


indukted

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Hi! I have a specific issue I would like to inquire with current grad students or even alumni in the US and UK. I could really use some advice to shape my highly important life decisions at this point. Thanks for reading in advance.

 

So I'm a European applicant and I received a few admission offers from some US grad schools for 2015. I have a long term partner and we will possibly marry and move to US together. She is going to give up lots of things in our home country like lifestyle or a career for this and it is already a huge commitment.

 

Thing is, she is very, very close with her family and it would be easier on her if we went to UK (also for raising kids we plan etc.) so they could visit more often and stay longer. And also I feel like she would prefer those years in UK compared to US overall. On the other hand the US applications wore me out and I couldn't manage to do a round of UK applications which we know involve whole different bunch of (less standard across different schools) procedures compared to US applications (find mentors in each school, write thesis proposals for each etc.). So if we went to US and she is unhappy then it will be on me because I couldn't apply to UK.

 

Thus I am entertaining the thought that if we went to US and it didn't work out for her, maybe I could send a round of applications to UK schools next year and move there if I get accepted. I wonder if technicalities would arise at this point.

 

1) Would the school request the scholarship/tuition amount for the first year back? Is such treatment common for people who drop graduate studies in an arbitrary manner?

2) Would applying as a current grad student in US to UK be received as a negative issue to the extent that it diminishes my admission chances at a great rate?

3) Would the UK school expect letters of references from the US school or would the home country school letters be fine? Would I receive hostility from the US school that they wouldn't write those letters?

 

The meta-question: Can I promise her that if she turns out to be unhappy in US I will do my best to move to UK next year?

Edited by indukted
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Tough situation. I know that transferring between programs is common enough. My knowledge ends there. My intuition is that programs would be understanding and help you with LORs as needed, and that with a year of grad school under your belt you'd be a better applicant than you are now when you apply out again. If you got shut out, it wouldn't be just because you were transferring back from the US. 

 

There's just no way they'd ask for scholarship money back. Idk if maybe you heard that somewhere and have a special reason for worrying, but I can't imagine that ever happening. 

 

I'd get LORs from both schools. 

 

The two body problem is a deep philosophical quandary. Plenty of people take a year off then come back to graduate school. Maybe you could do that and apply to UK programs next year. A move to the US just to move back seems like quite a lot of squandered resources and sanity. Idk you or your relationship but generally, making promises you can't keep leads to resentment. But so does not ever making promises. 

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Tough situation. I know that transferring between programs is common enough. My knowledge ends there. My intuition is that programs would be understanding and help you with LORs as needed, and that with a year of grad school under your belt you'd be a better applicant than you are now when you apply out again. If you got shut out, it wouldn't be just because you were transferring back from the US. 

 

There's just no way they'd ask for scholarship money back. Idk if maybe you heard that somewhere and have a special reason for worrying, but I can't imagine that ever happening. 

 

I'd get LORs from both schools. 

 

The two body problem is a deep philosophical quandary. Plenty of people take a year off then come back to graduate school. Maybe you could do that and apply to UK programs next year. A move to the US just to move back seems like quite a lot of squandered resources and sanity. Idk you or your relationship but generally, making promises you can't keep leads to resentment. But so does not ever making promises. 

 

Thanks for the detailed and thoughtful answer. The thing I worried most was the scholarship status. No I don't have a specific reason but I just didn't know the common terms for a grad student scholarship agreement. With LOR's I will do my best I guess, so far as there is no reason for them to not to write me except that they are not satisfied with my academic performance.

 

While that much moving is a real hassle, I think I prefer studying in US over UK and there is no way for us to find out if living there will be satisfactory for my girlfriend too except that she comes along with me. If all goes well and she's happy then there is no problem and I will finish my Ph.D. in US. The UK is just a backup plan.

 

The resentment issue is exactly the reason why I try to make a promise which I can most likely keep, and why I needed some information here :)

Edited by indukted
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1) Won't ever happen.

2) If anything, I imagine if you're applying as a graduate student from a good US PhD program, that'll look better than if you were applying out as just an undergrad from a UK university. (I don't know if there's any preferential treatment for those in the UK already, but even if so, that would be offset by the fact that you were admitted and are attending a grad. program and will thus be a bit better trained)

3) I don't think know about expectations, but I think it'd be best to get letters from at least both places. US programs should be fine. I knew a guy who transferred one year into his program to another program, and he was able to acquire some nice letters from h is current program.

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Just to clarify, is the meta question whether you can promise that, if she's unhappy, you'll apply for UK programs which start in 2016? In order to make that promise you'd have to be prepared to apply out at the end of this year, right? And that means you'd need to start asking for letters from your new professors during your first semester in the program. Also, it gives your partner just a few months to decide whether she would rather return to Europe. It might be more sensible to plan on spending two years in the US, reserving the possibility of applying out again in 2016 for programs that begin in 2017. This would give you enough time to get an MA from your US institution and strong recommendations from the professors there, and your partner would have enough time to make a really informed decision about whether she can live in the US long term. Of course, this advice completely depends on the details of your circumstances, so take it with a grain of salt.

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@Establishment: Thanks, I am relieved to hear those answers from multiple people. So it is viable to think that I could be able to transfer from US to UK.

 

@aduh: Very good points indeed. One thing is that I already have an MA from the home country university, so maybe the other MA will not be absolutely useful for the UK application. Also that path would require me to take terminal MA policies of the departments in mind when making the decision for the US university. On the other hand now that you pointed out, I totally agree that we will need more time to make an informed decision and also I will need more time to at least get fair LOR's. Some teaching experience (which I will be deprived of in UK) also wouldn't hurt. Thanks a lot, your advice is exactly what I needed from this topic.

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Just to clarify, is the meta question whether you can promise that, if she's unhappy, you'll apply for UK programs which start in 2016? In order to make that promise you'd have to be prepared to apply out at the end of this year, right? And that means you'd need to start asking for letters from your new professors during your first semester in the program

 

I agree with the sentiment expressed in this statement: the option you suggest just wouldn't work out.

 

I don't know your priorities or the details of your situation, but if I were in a similar situation, I would not pursue the option that you suggest. If it helps, I'll say that I have faced (and will soon face) a very similar dilemma in my own situation. It really sucks. I hope you can figure it out. I don't know enough to say what path I would take, but my guess is that I would reapply next year exclusively to UK programs. Do you know how likely it is that you would succeed in UK admissions next year? It's pretty hard to guess at these things, but maybe you have some idea.

 

Here's what I wouldn't do. I wouldn't go to the US unless you are very confident that you will want to finish the degree in the US. I would not tell your partner that there's some chance you would go to the US and come back to the UK only a year or so later. If I may say so, I think that's a very bad idea. It's a way for you to delay a tough decision. Right now is the time for you two to decide whether living in the US (for several years, at least) is the best thing for the two of you. My feeling is that your option is a way to delay the difficult tasks of having that conversation and setting these priorities.

 

This is a tough situation. You're obviously concerned about your partner's priorities, and I think that's a good sign. I wish you the best.

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Well, you would not pursue because 1 year is not much to make an informed decision or you would not pursue for another reason?

 

Because let's say I delayed 1 year and applied to UK next year. There are plenty reasons for going to the US even if I will apply to UK: 

 

1) One year of money to live off from philosophical activity. 

2) Trying out the US. Maybe my partner will like it.

3) Traveling to US. We've never been there.

4) Chance to get LOR's from the US department. Never hurts.

 

Reasons for not going:

 

1) Plane tickets and other means that will be used to move to US in the first place. Then again the scholarship is money out of thin air so for me its benefits are greater than the money I spent for the tickets etc.

2) The gap will have to be 2 years instead of 1. But I think we'd find it still bearable, and I don't feel the urge to finish Ph.D. immediately and join the market.

3) ?

 

If I manage to get accepted to the US university, I believe I have a fair chance to get into at least a PGR 2.5+ university in UK. But if I don't get admitted, then my girlfriend knows my career is very important for us and I know she will let me finish the Ph.D. in the US. So if I don't go to US in the gap year and don't get admitted to the UK the next year, then it is worse for us compared to going to US and her being (relatively) unhappy.

 

To me the best solution right now seems like going to the US, trying it out for 2 years. My gf comes after I settle in, and begins living with me (maybe applies an MA of her own, she has better academic background than me in Sociology and Politics). If we don't like it, I apply for the UK 2017 admissions. Meanwhile I get teaching experience and LOR-level relations with some of the people in the US university. If she hates it, she can stay in the home country for most of that 2 years. I know we can manage 1 year of long distance. If I don't get admitted, then that means I wouldn't anyway for 2016 so we suck it up until I finish the studies in the US university.

Edited by indukted
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