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Harvard vs. UCSF (neuroscience)


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Hi everyone, 

 

I'm trying to make a tough decision between Harvard's PiN program and the UCSF neuroscience graduate group. I'm coming from a small liberal arts college on the east coast and am interested in the approaches of integrative neuroscience (looking at behavior from multiple perspectives and levels from cell/molecular to circuits to observable behavior) and also generally in cell/molecular neuroscience. In terms of topic, my previous work has been in stress and vocal learning (separate projects at different labs) and I'm interested in moving into a different field: understanding sleep and wake-sleep regulation. I'd like to have the opportunity to gain teaching experience at my institution. I'm also moving with my girlfriend, so the environment needs to be LGBT-friendly. 

 

 

UCSF-

- There are a number of sleep researchers I would be interested in working with, though I believe there are less than at Harvard. One I am considerably interested in told me they are very particular about their undergrads and recently asked one to leave because they weren't working hard enough.

- Great location. This was definitely my favorite recruitment weekend, largely because it was so beautiful out all the time. 

- The students seem very relaxed and like they have a great work-life balance

- Expensive - the stipend is about $1000 lower per year than Harvard but SF is a little more expensive than Boston

- Far from my family and would require a substantial relocation. 

- No undergrads for teaching, but they said you can teach at SFU. I wonder how common this is though. 

 

Harvard

 

- There are a ton of researchers I'd be interested in working with and many of them are available for rotations. 

- I have never lived in Boston, but it seems like a city I could live in for some years. I've lived with winter all my life, but it isn't my favorite season. 

- I had a hard time getting a read on how happy the students were there or what work life balance was. Generally, I got the sense that it varies based on PI, but I'm unsure of how to evaluate this outside of trying to contact the graduate students of some of the PIs I'm interested in working with. 

- Expensive - Boston is expensive, but I think it would probably be slightly more affordable than SF. 

- This is only about four hours away from my family

- Teaching here is a possibility, but it's treated more like a privilege than a given. I'd like to know how common it is. 

 

So I'd love your input on these two schools, particularly in which would be the best to A) have a life outside of school at and B) would prepare me well for teaching and C) better overall career move. 

 

Thanks!

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fantastic choices obviously. But this is also clear as day. Closer to family, both are similarly priced and expensive, but access to research is probably similar as well (high). Harvard. 

 

The thing about a Harvard degree, is that it transcends into everything you do in life. "Oh he/she went to Harvard." 

 

You know which one to choose. *whispers repeatedly, "come to harvard"

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Hi everyone, 

 

I'm trying to make a tough decision between Harvard's PiN program and the UCSF neuroscience graduate group. I'm coming from a small liberal arts college on the east coast and am interested in the approaches of integrative neuroscience (looking at behavior from multiple perspectives and levels from cell/molecular to circuits to observable behavior) and also generally in cell/molecular neuroscience. In terms of topic, my previous work has been in stress and vocal learning (separate projects at different labs) and I'm interested in moving into a different field: understanding sleep and wake-sleep regulation. I'd like to have the opportunity to gain teaching experience at my institution. I'm also moving with my girlfriend, so the environment needs to be LGBT-friendly. 

 

 

UCSF-

- There are a number of sleep researchers I would be interested in working with, though I believe there are less than at Harvard. One I am considerably interested in told me they are very particular about their undergrads and recently asked one to leave because they weren't working hard enough.

- Great location. This was definitely my favorite recruitment weekend, largely because it was so beautiful out all the time. 

- The students seem very relaxed and like they have a great work-life balance

- Expensive - the stipend is about $1000 lower per year than Harvard but SF is a little more expensive than Boston

- Far from my family and would require a substantial relocation. 

- No undergrads for teaching, but they said you can teach at SFU. I wonder how common this is though. 

 

Harvard

 

- There are a ton of researchers I'd be interested in working with and many of them are available for rotations. 

- I have never lived in Boston, but it seems like a city I could live in for some years. I've lived with winter all my life, but it isn't my favorite season. 

- I had a hard time getting a read on how happy the students were there or what work life balance was. Generally, I got the sense that it varies based on PI, but I'm unsure of how to evaluate this outside of trying to contact the graduate students of some of the PIs I'm interested in working with. 

- Expensive - Boston is expensive, but I think it would probably be slightly more affordable than SF. 

- This is only about four hours away from my family

- Teaching here is a possibility, but it's treated more like a privilege than a given. I'd like to know how common it is. 

 

So I'd love your input on these two schools, particularly in which would be the best to A) have a life outside of school at and B) would prepare me well for teaching and C) better overall career move. 

 

Thanks!

Both SF and Cambridge are going to be queer-friendly, but I know Cambridge better. I'm a Wellesley grad and have tons of queer women friends still in the area. They are very happy with the queer scene, and there are plenty of bars/places to go/things to do where you will not be gawked at.

 

If your goal is academia, the answer is Harvard.

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I'm actually in the same situation (well, I've just about ruled out UCSF, but I'm thinking strongly about Rockefeller). I'm sure we spoke at the Harvard interview! I'm also trying to get a read on how happy the students are, my impressions at the interview were quite positive but it's hard to be sure. I think it seems that UCSF students are more balanced even if Harvard students are also happy. Harvard might have a bit of an edge for teaching opportunities (I spoke to a few students who had done it), but neither emphasize it at all.

 

I mostly wanted to pass on some advice I received from a Harvard neuroscience graduate who's done postdoctoral work elsewhere. He doesn't feel that the Harvard name overshadows schools like UCSF in an academic context. When talking to your family, sure - but he thinks that the top few schools are treated pretty equally when it comes to hiring. Considering how many Harvard faculty were trained at UCSF, MIT, Rockefeller, etc, I am inclined to believe it.

Edited by Marrow
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I'm actually in the same situation (well, I've just about ruled out UCSF, but I'm thinking strongly about Rockefeller). I'm sure we spoke at the Harvard interview! I'm also trying to get a read on how happy the students are, my impressions at the interview were quite positive but it's hard to be sure. I think it seems that UCSF students are more balanced even if Harvard students are also happy. Harvard might have a bit of an edge for teaching opportunities (I spoke to a few students who had done it), but neither emphasize it at all.

 

I mostly wanted to pass on some advice I received from a Harvard neuroscience graduate who's done postdoctoral work elsewhere. He doesn't feel that the Harvard name overshadows schools like UCSF in an academic context. When talking to your family, sure - but he thinks that the top few schools are treated pretty equally when it comes to hiring. Considering how many Harvard faculty were trained at UCSF, MIT, Rockefeller, etc, I am inclined to believe it.

If you don't mind me asking, why did you decide to rule out UCSF?

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If you don't mind me asking, why did you decide to rule out UCSF?

It was as simple as not fitting with as many PIs. I found a bit of a strange situation where several people who did the kind of research I'm most interested in had it as more of a side topic in their lab. Harvard and Rockefeller both have PIs who match my interests more directly, even though UCSF seemed very strong in general.

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