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One funded offer and I have mixed feelings

Guest neoblinds90

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Guest neoblinds90

I recognize that this is a good problem to have. Basically, i have one funded PhD option but I am having a tough time making the decision.

This is my dilemma.

This was my first application season and I was invited to 3 onsite interviews.

1) first interview....I was very nervous. However, I immediately felt comfortable, everyone was very friendly, and the faculty all seemed very active and generally happy. I had "good vibes" from that place so to speak. My prospective mentor seemed awesome and her work overlaps my interests pretty well.

2) second interview.....the faculty member I wanted to work with was very nice, but their research took a turn and their current work doesn't match as well as I had hoped. I didn't feel like I had strong research fit there, however, we did click and I think mentorship is just as important as research fit. Also, I felt like there were a handful of other faculty members I could "hop" over to if it really ended up that my mentor's interest diverged too much from mine.

3) my third interview... when I arrived, I immediately felt out of place. But in a sense, I pushed those feelings down because I wanted to have an open mind and also wanted to make sure it wasn't just my nerves. The setting of the university was very different from what I had imagined. I keep trying, but I can't see myself being happy in this town but that maybe doesn't matter as much as long as I can be "happy enough" to be productive. During my actual interviews, I felt like I didn't feel that I fit that well with most of the labs that were present during recruitment weekend (not all the available faculty members were there). I did meet one person I was interested in working with, but he wasn't sure about his funding situation. He did tell me that he wants to get his lab fully funded and running in the next couple of years(he just started). He is taking students but I would be rotating or TAing until funding is acquired. Outside of that, I didn't feel a strong connection with the current graduate students.

After the interview season, i wrote off school 3 because of my feelings post interview. I didn't withdraw officially because I wanted to think things through things fully.

Fast forward a couple of months later, school 3 is actually the only place that has given me an offer.

Since then, I've been trying very hard to find all the positives of the situation and figure out if i can make it work. I worry about how I didn't feel connected to the labs and essentially, would be relying on this one faculty member whose lab wouldn't be fully where they'd like to for awhile.

Oh, also, I'm in my early 30s. So I have a mix of "just start now" feelings and then "make sure you are making the right choice since you are putting your income and other priorities on hold for 5-7 years". I also know how competive things are and there's a chance I won't get any offers next time.

I would love to hear from people who are going through this or went through it.

Has anyone taken an offer that their gut said didn't feel right, but then once starting, those feelings went away and they were happy?

Similarly, anyone taken an offer that didn't feel right and it ended up being pretty bad?

TLDR: I have one fully funded offer to a place I didn't like. I don't know if I should take the risk of applying again and hope to find a better fit(balance of research, mentor, and living situation) or if I should go and make it work.

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You say 3 is the only place that has given you an offer. Are you saying you're waiting to hear from 1 and 2, or you were rejected there? I don't really have any good advice, but this bit was unclear to me.

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Guest neoblinds90

Rejected from 2 and wait listed from 1 but from my communication with my prospective advisor, he thinks all offers that went out will be filled so I basically took that as no option

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