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Accept the offer or not accept the offer?


Grumpymeow
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I got accepted into my safe school, which is ranked lower than any other schools that I applied. I was planning on going straight to PhD from undergrad and I felt like I deserved better schools than just my safe school. Although I don't feel like going to my safe school, I am an international student and the only option left for me is to work for two years max in the US before I reapply. Right now I am still waiting to hear back from schools and it would probably be a little too late to apply for jobs in mid April. I don't know what the situation would be two years later and so I debating whether I should accept the offer and settle down or take a year off to improve my resume. 

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IMO everyone 'deserves' a school/program where he/she has a good research fit; no one 'deserves' or 'doesn't deserve' a school just because of its ranking. In other words I think the more pertinent questions you should ask yourself are: is this school a good research fit for me? Will I feel excited getting out of bed each day knowing I would be doing something that interests me, or will I be procrastinating and feeling miserable doing what disinterests me (even though the school is, say, Princeton, the school that currently ranks #1 in US News).

Edited by kewz
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IMO everyone 'deserves' a school/program where he/she has a good research fit; no one 'deserves' or 'doesn't deserve' a school just because of its ranking. In other words I think the more pertinent questions you should ask yourself are: is this school a good research fit for me? Will I feel excited getting out of bed each day knowing I would be doing something that interests me, or will I be procrastinating and feeling miserable doing what disinterests me (even though the school is, say, Princeton, the school that currently ranks #1 in US News).

 

Why do you think people rank schools then if the only thing that matters is research interest. 

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You cannot quantify research interest (it depends on the PI's and applicant's interests). However, you can quantify research facilities, PI productivity, NIH grant funding, and things of that nature - and that is what leads to rankings. If you weren't able to get into "higher" ranked programs then you weren't a 'fit' for that program (it can be a subjective process). You can choose to work for a few years and retry again (after you have a better idea of what research entails) or you can accept the offer you have right now and get the best training you can (program ranking doesn't necessarily dictate the quality of training). Now I'll warn you - if you don't like the program, research or town that the program is in - then don't attend since someone else will enjoy taking that spot. Everyone works hard to get into grad school and it is not your birthright, therefore the concept of 'deserving' doesn't make a lot of sense. 

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I second @eteshoe.

 

I don't think you should judge a program solely on the ranking.  There are still good programs regardless of rank, so you should be focussed on making decisions based your own research about the program (program strengths, research interest, etc).

 

Make an informed decision based on your research on each school or find out why they received the ranking that they did.  Make a decision based on reasearch fit, future career prospects (do the students go where I would want to go in the future? Industry heavy? Academic heavy?, etc), and other aspects that are important to you (funding, particular advisor, location, etc)

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Why do you think people rank schools then if the only thing that matters is research interest. 

Well, USNWR does it to make money for one (advertising dollars:  the more people who check out their rankings, the more ad space they can sell).

 

In the U.S., Carnegie and the U.S. Fed Gov also have their lists, too, which typically, like lists created in other countries, are used for internal standards allowing individual universities to judge how they are doing against other universities of similar caliber. 

 

Most students use the rankings as a guide when selecting programs but sometimes the top programs are not at a top school (U. Delaware, as an example, is ranked something like 76th nationally according to USNWR, yet also according to USNWR UDel's chemical engineering program is ranked 10th in the nation).  To add, when students finalize their lists based on fit, they often find that the schools they originally ranked high now hang from a lower rung -- if they even remain on the finalized list at all.  Some just want the bragging rights, too, I suppose, and with others the "top" program/school truly is their best fit. 

 

A question that arises from your OP and others like it is why did you apply to the "safety" in the first place considering that you seem to have such a low opinion of it?  I mean, at some point you thought that this "lowly" school/program was worth your time and money (application, application fee) right?  Perhaps you are just upset that the "safety" admitted you first, or that you regret applying to the safety in the first place, I dunno, these situations baffle me.  All schools/programs applied to should be the ones that you would want to attend, which would ultimately include the safety, no?

 

*There are other lists in the U.S., too, besides the three I mentioned above.  

 

Also, I am pretty sure that the college rankings/admissions blogs are the #1 draw to USNWR.  You'll be hard pressed to find an American who actually reads USNWR. 

Edited by Crucial BBQ
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Well, USNWR does it to make money for one (advertising dollars:  the more people who check out their rankings, the more ad space they can sell).

 

In the U.S., Carnegie and the U.S. Fed Gov also have their lists, too, which typically, like lists created in other countries, are used for internal standards allowing individual universities to judge how they are doing against other universities of similar caliber. 

 

Most students use the rankings as a guide when selecting programs but sometimes the top programs are not at a top school (U. Delaware, as an example, is ranked something like 76th nationally according to USNWR, yet also according to USNWR UDel's chemical engineering program is ranked 10th in the nation).  To add, when students finalize their lists based on fit, they often find that the schools they originally ranked high now hang from a lower rung -- if they even remain on the finalized list at all.  Some just want the bragging rights, too, I suppose, and with others the "top" program/school truly is their best fit. 

 

A question that arises from your OP and others like it is why did you apply to the "safety" in the first place considering that you seem to have such a low opinion of it?  I mean, at some point you thought that this "lowly" school/program was worth your time and money (application, application fee) right?  Perhaps you are just upset that the "safety" admitted you first, or that you regret applying to the safety in the first place, I dunno, these situations baffle me.  All schools/programs applied to should be the ones that you would want to attend, which would ultimately include the safety, no?

 

*There are other lists in the U.S., too, besides the three I mentioned above.  

 

Also, I am pretty sure that the college rankings are the #1 draw to USNWR.  You'll be hard pressed to find an American who actually reads USNWR.

I think you might be right. I was kind of upset that they admitted me first and I was gonna go to a PhD program no matter what. At least that was the plan.

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I think what I meant by "deserve" is that the experience that I have had and all the effort that I have put into these four years should get me into a better school and I don't know if I should just settle down when I could've gone to a better program with more opportunities for jobs and research.

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If you are posting to honestly get our opinion, then you need to tells us more.  From what we're reading, it seems like you are basing your decision solely on the program's ranking and you think you could get into a higher ranking school.  If you don't like the program because of XYZ reasons (not in your research area, funding, the people were weird), then state that.  We are not mind readers who can divine your opinions on this program.

 

If you are worried about jobs and research opportunities, does this mean that the program doesn't fit your research interests? The alums have not gone into the industry you are looking to for future career?  Then those might be reasons for not going to said program.

 

Right now, based on your responses, it seems like your perspective is really narrow and you are fixating one minor-ish thing (rank; unless the school is ranked extremely low with very little funding availability) rather than big picture things.

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I honestly hope you're joking... Also without knowing the school or program, none of us can really help you out at all. 

What do you mean? Consider yourself in my situation, if the school you got accepted into is the school you applied because you knew you were gonna get accepted and maybe only one or two PIs match your research interest; however, you hoped to go to a school with more job opportunities and more collaboration in research, would you go to this school just because you want to settle down/you don't know what the situation would be next year/any other reasons? 

Edited by Ruuu
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If you are posting to honestly get our opinion, then you need to tells us more.  From what we're reading, it seems like you are basing your decision solely on the program's ranking and you think you could get into a higher ranking school.  If you don't like the program because of XYZ reasons (not in your research area, funding, the people were weird), then state that.  We are not mind readers who can divine your opinions on this program.

 

If you are worried about jobs and research opportunities, does this mean that the program doesn't fit your research interests? The alums have not gone into the industry you are looking to for future career?  Then those might be reasons for not going to said program.

 

Right now, based on your responses, it seems like your perspective is really narrow and you are fixating one minor-ish thing (rank; unless the school is ranked extremely low with very little funding availability) rather than big picture things.

It is very low on my ranking. The reason why I ranked it that low was because: research interest, overall ranking, job opportunities and interview experience.

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What do you mean? Consider yourself in my situation, if the school you got accepted into is the school you applied because you knew you were gonna get accepted and maybe only one or two PIs match your research interest; however, you hoped to go to a school with more job opportunities and more collaboration in research, would you go to this school just because you want to settle down/you don't know what the situation would be next year/any other reasons?

The point is, you may or may not get in ANYWHERE the next time around, especially as an international. Also there are likely a few dozen people who would do anything to have an acceptance regardless of where its at. An acceptance is a privelage, not an entitlement...

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The point is, you may or may not get in ANYWHERE the next time around, especially as an international. Also there are likely a few dozen people who would do anything to have an acceptance regardless of where its at. An acceptance is a privelage, not an entitlement...

That is exactly what I am concerned about....

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Hey as an international student I can understand your concern. Talk to your PI or your recommendation letter writers and see what they think. If they think you can have a higher chance of getting into your "dream" institute by working in their lab or other labs, maybe it is worth a try. Gap year is not uncommon and not a bad thing if you can find a place to improve yourself during the gap year. Go to somewhere you strongly dislike, esp for five year straight does not sound appealing to me. You should also talk with you poi at KUMC to see if their projects really interest you and if they really want you there.

Just some thought and wish all my best.

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You sound like you REALLY don't like this place. That kind of attitude is going to show around the other grad students and PIs. That's not a good thing and could end up hurting your career in the long run. It might be best to just try again verses going somewhere that you hate or where you act like you're entitled.

Edited by poweredbycoldfusion
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As poweredbycoldfusion said, if you really don't like this place it will leak out into your work, your interactions with faculty and peers and really end up hurting yourself.

 

Not saying you haven't done this, but if you peruse this forum, you'll see the word "fit" littered everywhere. That's because it is genuinely one of the most important factors to consider. From all the various things that you stated above that let to this school being a "low ranking" in your mind, it clearly is not a good fit.

 

Weigh being unhappy with your research, your work, and your general location for 5-7 years versus being able to reapply and get into another "better" school.

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It is very low on my ranking. The reason why I ranked it that low was because: research interest, overall ranking, job opportunities and interview experience.

 

If that's the case, like everyone said, talk to your advisor/recommenders and make an informed decision, whether it is accepting the offer or trying again in the fall.

 

If you decide to apply again, I would definitely recommend contacting adcomms of the schools you applied to (or if you know faculty members who've been on an adcomm) and try to get some CC to improve your application for the next round.

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Hey as an international student I can understand your concern. Talk to your PI or your recommendation letter writers and see what they think. If they think you can have a higher chance of getting into your "dream" institute by working in their lab or other labs, maybe it is worth a try. Gap year is not uncommon and not a bad thing if you can find a place to improve yourself during the gap year. Go to somewhere you strongly dislike, esp for five year straight does not sound appealing to me. You should also talk with you poi at KUMC to see if their projects really interest you and if they really want you there.

Just some thought and wish all my best.

Thank you! I will definitely talk to my PI first!

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If that's the case, like everyone said, talk to your advisor/recommenders and make an informed decision, whether it is accepting the offer or trying again in the fall.

 

If you decide to apply again, I would definitely recommend contacting adcomms of the schools you applied to (or if you know faculty members who've been on an adcomm) and try to get some CC to improve your application for the next round.

Thank you!! I appreciate your help and information a lot!! I will definitely talk to my PI and also the adcomms for suggestions to improve my resume for the next round! 

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