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Guide vs. Program Dilemma


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I posted this elsewhere, but perhaps it is better here....


I have two acceptances: EE PhD programs from UCSD and UW-Madison.

Both a great, top 20 EE graduate programs, so I ams stoked.


However...here's the dilemma:


At one place, I have a guide (who claims he can fund me when his proposals are accepted, which hasn't happened yet and most likely won't until many months later). For the other place, I really like the program and several of the groups but I can't seem to find a research guide. (talked to 4 people: one won't take students until next year, another already has spots filled, haven't heard back from 2).


Is anyone else in a similar situation? I don't understand why a program would accept me without having professors who actually are willing to take me on... :unsure:



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It depends on how your program works.  Do you need to go into a lab/ work with an adviser right away?  (not typically the case).  You may be doing rotations in the first year to find the person that you want to work with. 


It's unlikely that the program would accept you if you didn't have people willing to work with you, so I'm not sure why you are not having luck.  How are you approaching these people?  Just a cold email of, "hey I'm a new student can you take me into your lab?" is not the best way to do it.  Go to a talk or meet them in person somehow.  They will pay more attention to an inquiry that is coming from somebody they have met. 


Also, be wary of somebody who says "when proposals are accepted."  It's very tough out there, and nothing is a sure thing. 


edited to add: if you are not at the school yet and need to correspond by email that will work, it's just easier to do once you are there. Have somebody look over the email to catch any mistakes before you send. Also, it's likely that the schools are on spring break, so don't worry too much if you don't hear back right away.

Edited by MoJingly
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Thank you for the advice! 


I have met them in person and had some lovely conversations. One directly told everyone that he isn't taking any new students this year. Another, I only talked to the grad students/post doc in his lab since the POI was busy, and another said I should focus on classes first. 


There are many students who already have an advisor, and that way they are receiving funding for their study. I won't have anything my first year it seems :/ which I am a bit upset about.

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