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Perfect/Hard vs PrettyDamnGood/Easy


diamedic17
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Hey everybody...just looking for some advice

 

I've been admitted to a few schools but I've narrowed it down to two. The problem is I don't know which one to pick.

 

Background: My career goals are to work for the gov't in some sort of biodefense capacity. I have a wife and a daughter with another one on the way (Due June). I've done a year of PhD work already but had to leave due to family issues that arose, some (but not all of which) were financial issues living on Long Island.

 

My choices:

 

George Mason University: Huge biodefense focus, a lot of great faculty and amazing facilities. Faculty has connections at USAMRIID, NIH, DTRA, DARPA, and the likes. They are also going to transfer my credits from my previous school so I will be able to finish much sooner than usual. Location in Manassas, VA is a pretty high cost of living and while it is nowhere near as expensive as Long Island, we worry about finances and don't want to have similar issues.

 

University of Central Florida: Pretty awesome research, I'd have the opportunity to do some work on some biodefense agents but obviously not as much as GMU. Faculty connections I'm sure are there but nothing like they have at GMU. Cost of living is much lower and we know that we would not have any financial issues in Florida. Also it is further from family which is relatively important to us (not a deal breaker but important nonetheless).  Note: UCF will consider transferring credits but they don't know what until I get there and meet with my advisor. Looking at the courses it really doesn't look like much would transfer but you never know.

 

Basically it comes down to do I pick the school that is perfect for my education/career goals but difficult cost of living area or do I pick the school that has interesting work but is not nearly as perfect but has a much easier lifestyle on my family.

 

Note: Stipend, tuition, and insurance are very similar at both schools. Both schools are just as interested in me as GMU gave me the Presidential Scholarship and UCF gave me the Graduate Dean's Fellowship and the Chatlos Doctoral Fellowship.

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GMU sounds like it'd be the better program long-term.

 

I won't presume to know how you and your family handles finances, but doing a PhD is usually not about the money - I've been told that it's about acquiring the best possible education for yourself, while ensuring the widest, strongest network possible after you graduate so that you have the best possible industry job.

 

You and your family are clearly important to you, and you have another child on the way - I would posit that long-term financial stability via the better (and by your words, an easier to complete) program would be the more optimal path. You'll have to endure some financial squeezing for the duration of your degree, but if you're going to be finishing your degree faster, wouldn't that balance out?

 

Just my two cents! 

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Congratulations on your acceptances, and on the scholarships. If you'd like any information regarding UCF's Biomed program, feel free to pm me.

I can think of a few PI's who work in the micro area, but biodefense does not really come to mind with any of the researchers here.

I can tell you that all of the electives will be with undergraduates, the only difference being the grading scale, types of test questions, and the requirement for a paper and oral presentation to the class. 

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Hi!  I'm pretty sure we spoke via PM last year (I remember your scary avatar ;) ).  Anyway, I'm sorry you had some family issues.  I hope everything has been resolved, and congrats on the second child.  I vote for GMU.  FuturePhD basically took the words out of my mouth.  The job market is tough.  You want as many formal connections as possible.  Think long term.  Plus, the program overall seems to be a good fit.

Cheers! 

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Hi!  I'm pretty sure we spoke via PM last year (I remember your scary avatar ;) ).  Anyway, I'm sorry you had some family issues.  I hope everything has been resolved, and congrats on the second child.  I vote for GMU.  FuturePhD basically took the words out of my mouth.  The job market is tough.  You want as many formal connections as possible.  Think long term.  Plus, the program overall seems to be a good fit.

Cheers! 

 

HAHA We did!!!  The family issues sucked but these things happen sometimes. I'll say things did work out for the best though. I agree wholeheartedly with GMU, its just that some of those family issues were financial and neither myself nor my wife wants to have a similar situation happen again so we are being extra cautious. I really do think we can afford Northern VA but its a bigger risk than Florida.

 

 

GMU sounds like it'd be the better program long-term.

 

I won't presume to know how you and your family handles finances, but doing a PhD is usually not about the money - I've been told that it's about acquiring the best possible education for yourself, while ensuring the widest, strongest network possible after you graduate so that you have the best possible industry job.

 

You and your family are clearly important to you, and you have another child on the way - I would posit that long-term financial stability via the better (and by your words, an easier to complete) program would be the more optimal path. You'll have to endure some financial squeezing for the duration of your degree, but if you're going to be finishing your degree faster, wouldn't that balance out?

 

Just my two cents! 

 

I agree and it more than balances out its just as I said above we don't want to risk some of the same problems again so we are being extra cautious and believe me I know grad school isn't about the money haha, if it was about the money it'd be a totally different situation haha

 

 

Congratulations on your acceptances, and on the scholarships. If you'd like any information regarding UCF's Biomed program, feel free to pm me.

I can think of a few PI's who work in the micro area, but biodefense does not really come to mind with any of the researchers here.

I can tell you that all of the electives will be with undergraduates, the only difference being the grading scale, types of test questions, and the requirement for a paper and oral presentation to the class. 

 

Hi! Thanks for the congrats and the info. The two PI's at UCF are doing work with Ricin and Flu/Nipah. There are also a few TB labs there as well. It's not nearly as biodefense heavy as GMU but still close or BSL3 that can go on my CV for the future. If you don't mind could you PM me with your opinion on the school/program? I'd greatly appreciate the info. I think a PhD from either school would be excellent but I'm interested in hearing from a UCF student being that I didn't get a chance to actually visit campus and meet anyone.

 

 

THANKS AGAIN TO EVERYONE FOR YOUR ADVICE/RESPONSES!!

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