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*Decision Help* Should I Wait for Michigan State?


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I am currently torn between two programs. I have inquiries out with more than a half dozen profs in my department, but I would greatly appreciate any insight the trememdously helpful and support 2015 GC cohort can provide.

 

Here's the situation:

 

I went to the Michigan State for the visit weekend in February. I loved the campus and the department and thought it would be a great fit. I had a chance to talk to my POI (one of the most fitting mentors of any of the schools to which I applied), and he mentioned that he was excited to work with me. Additionally, he has a tremendous track record of publishing/placing his advisees. MSU also houses the PCA journal (I study pop culture), and it is the only school that offers an Animal Studies concentration, which I'm really keen on. They also have a great part-time MBA program for my SO (or the option to go to nearby UMich). Basically, I was ready and willing to sign on the dotted line. The problem? They still haven't released funding information, and it's unlikely they will before April 15. If funding does happen, it would be a solid paackage because they have baselines set by the grad student union. However, funding is NOT a certainty.

 

Fortunately, I came off Ole Miss's wait list on Monday. Since then, they've offered a five-year, competitive fellowship in addition to the stipend. (MSU's base funding package is slightly higher--if it happens.) There's no clearly standout POI for me there, but there are several people I'd love to work with. There's also not the same, explicit popular culture focus, though they have faculty that do a lot of work in film (especially film and gender). They have a very similar placement record to MSU, and they have an in-house journal with editorial opportunities.

 

It seems like MSU is a better fit (or maybe it's just because I visited?), but is it worth putting off Ole Miss to hold out and hope for funding? If we're following USNews/NRC rankings, MSU is much higher (63/52 v. 91/72), but does it really matter at that point? Despite loving the program, these funding issues are giving me pause with MSU. Am I right to be concerned? Is Ole Miss a better choice regardless? Maybe I could still ask the MSU POI to be a reader at some later point? These are some of my many thoughts at the moment. Any guidance/insight/advice is much appreciated.

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So, I really really don't intend to freak you out, or anything, but I just want to point out: I know for a fact that a lot of grad directors read this board, and I particularly know that quite a few in the Big Ten do. And I also think that anyone who has access to your application would probably be able to put together who you are from this information. I don't at all say that to intimidate you and 90% of the time I'm sure it won't matter. But I did just want to mention that.

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Thanks, ComeBackZinc, the thoughtfulness is much appreciated. Fortunately (or not), I've informed both DGSs about my other offers, so I'm not disclosing anything they don't already know about me.

 

ETA: And I don't think I'm being mean to either school, which is why I felt comfortable using names. At least I hope it doesn't come across as mean in anyway. Obviously I love both programs or this wouldn't be an issue for me!

Edited by InHacSpeVivo
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Yeesh, that's a tough one. If I were you, I'd probably delay until April 15th on the off chance that MSU got back to you, but then I'd go with the sure thing. Yes, I do think the disparity in prestige/rank matters, but personally I'd stick with the lower ranked program instead of risking an unfunded deal at Michigan State.

 

Either way, I'd delay the decision right up to the 15th. You might even see some movement in your other waitlists by then.

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I'd wait until April 15th and hope you hear about funding. If you don't, accept the offer in Mississippi. If by some miracle you do get funding at MSU, you can always ask Ole Miss to allow you to withdraw and accept another offer.

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Yup -- I agree with Ramus and Rising_star. I think you send MSU an email on Monday or Tuesday to see where they're at, then depending on how (or if) they respond, you pull the trigger on the 15th.

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Have you tried contacting the POI and describing your situation?  I don't mean to imply that you should pressure anyone, but simply stating (to her / him) your situation, reiterating your desire to work with her / him, and in the program, for the reasons you mention, might prompt the POI to see whether the dept. can free up the funds.  I wouldn't even necessarily *ask* for that, but it seems to me perfectly reasonable to restate your interest and describe your situation.

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Have you tried contacting the POI and describing your situation?  I don't mean to imply that you should pressure anyone, but simply stating (to her / him) your situation, reiterating your desire to work with her / him, and in the program, for the reasons you mention, might prompt the POI to see whether the dept. can free up the funds.  I wouldn't even necessarily *ask* for that, but it seems to me perfectly reasonable to restate your interest and describe your situation.

 

Yeesh, that's a tough one. If I were you, I'd probably delay until April 15th on the off chance that MSU got back to you, but then I'd go with the sure thing. Yes, I do think the disparity in prestige/rank matters, but personally I'd stick with the lower ranked program instead of risking an unfunded deal at Michigan State.

 

Either way, I'd delay the decision right up to the 15th. You might even see some movement in your other waitlists by then.

 

Sincere emails about how much you want to be in the program seem like a good idea to me, if you haven't already sent them. If Ole Miss knows about your situation, you might want to tell them that you will call them with your final decision at X time on April 15th. 

 

I hope this works out for you, InHac! Good luck!

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Thanks so very much for the advice all; it is very much appreciated. I have ben considering. Emailing my POI to let them know, and given what's been said I think I'll do that.

I also want to say, as someone who went through two app cycles without having the benefit of a decision, that I understand that this is a very good problem to have. I feel very, very fortunate in that I think I could ultimately be happy at either school. The worst part really is that the DGS at Ole Miss is really fantastic and I am excited about that program, so I feel terrible putting them off.

Once again, thanks to everyone for their input. It's really a comfort in this stressful situation!

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In Hac, did you hear from MSU yesterday? According to Dr. Powell, there are two PhD student who haven't accepted or turned down their offers yet, and three offers available from the writing center for the other 11. I just turned down the MSU acceptance, so there's at least 10 students with the possibility of 3-5 opportunities for funding. I hope this works out for you! MSU's an amazing program, but I had earlier deadlines for my other offers so ended up going elsewhere. 

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