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UChicago, Caltech, Berkeley(?)


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I am having a hard time finalizing my decision. I am grateful if you could give me some advices.



> have had some nice mail/skype conversations with many professors. they are all interested in taking me (since thay are basically working on the same thing as a group, just with different approaches/energy ranges). I am very sure their interests suit me super well, and their plans for the projects and my training will be good. They also provide funding plans if I don't like the school/department-provide one.

> I care about my work/play balance VERY MUCH. Most people back in my home institude think I spend too much time for fun, but I did do my research better than most of them and balanced my time well. I am a hardcore cyclist, a marathone runner, and a sufer. I train every day and surf every weekend (workout in gym doesn't count). I don't know what it would be if I can't do that anymore, uh....in Chicago?

> I am an international student, and my girlfriend (might be wife soon) is a programmer. She is going to the US with me, and she will probably have a CS master and get a job there.



> There's only one project in Caltech I like, and there's only one professor in Caltech is working in the project. He is a long-time member of the project actually. I have had some mail discussion with him, and he wants to take me into the project (I guess he is the one who admitted me...). We have similar interest in the science topic, but he is actually big in abother project (same topic) which I am totally not interested in its experimental techiques. He wants to take me as the only grad student in Caltech working in the project I like, and he has quite some other students in the other big project I don't like. btw Berkeley and Stanford have many professors/students/$$ in the project I am interested in.

> Obviously, southen Cal fits my life style. And my girlfriend will probably have more chances to work in the CS industry there.

> I have to admit "I go to Caltech" is hard to refuse, but UChicago is no less...people are telling me if I want to work in the acadamy after graduation, they are no differnece in ranking.



well...I am still hoping that I will be admitted at the last moment, but I know my chance is low (~25 acceptances have been posted here). Berkeley is one of the main collarborator in the project mentioned earlier, and it has nice weather, nice eviroment, nice wave. But if I do receive an acceptance in the next few days, since its pretty late now, is there still good opportunities left for me?


Thank you very much for reading my silly question.

Edited by gixd
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I did my undergrad at UChicago. If work/play balance is really important to you think carefully about Chicago winters. I was totally fine with them because I'm a gym rat type and never really had any outdoor hobbies, but this might be a problem for you. For November through March - about a third of the year - being outside is almost prohibitively unpleasant, and it will be grey and cold for most of that time. I was fine with this, and in fact kind of liked it (winter sunlight up north is beautiful! and the campus' neo-gothic architecture makes it even better), but it might be different for you. 


On the other hand it sounds like UChicago would be a better academic fit. It's a bit risky to go to a place where you can only see yourself working on one thing. Sure, people's interests change but if for whatever reason you don't get along with this professor/project/approach it's good to have other options. The fact that multiple professors at UChicago would like to have you as a student also suggests that it could be a good, supportive environment with more opportunities.


I don't know how different the CS job market is between LA and Chicago. Bay area vs. Chicago would obviously be a different story, but I'm not totally sure that LA (around Caltech) is automatically better.


Tough choice, but both are nice options to have. Good luck!

Edited by pascal_barbots_wager
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