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GATech vs. UPenn PhD in BioE


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Hi everyone,


So until Tuesday last week, I had mostly decided on Georgia Tech. I hadn't heard back about a decision from UPenn and had given up on it. However, the previous week, I found out I got NDSEG (which was super awesome), and called up UPenn on Monday to see if it would alter their decision. I also listed out additional professors that I had grown more interested in since the initial application process last fall.


Turns out not only are the initial professors now interested, but these other professors as well. This is both awesome and stressful, because I hadn't gotten the chance to visit and the April 15th deadline is this week! After multiple Skype calls with various faculty, they decided to fly me out for a last minute visit Monday (tomorrow). While I hope this visit will help steer me in one direction or the other, it most likely will just make me more confused. My thoughts on the two programs:


Georgia Tech



Pros: The BioE program is super flexible, I can work with any associated faculty at GT or Emory, the climate and environment is very similar to my undergraduate school (UT Austin), there are faculty in almost every area in which I'm interested, it's a top engineering school with access to a great medical school, I have friends going to the school, their Bioengineering Graduate Association is super active, and I met great people at my visit


Cons: I have yet to find the best match for advisor. Everyone I've talked to is either super nice but I'm not as interested in\have mixed feelings about their research OR they do great research but I'm not feeling their personalities\seem too hands-off for me. There are still faculty I have yet to explore, but since I'm going to be at UPenn this week, I'm running out of time before the deadline to speak with them. Additionally, you have to pick an advisor within the first six weeks of attending, and there isn't an infrastructure for rotations.





Pros: I have had very good conversations with faculty, who seem to match up in terms of both research and personalities. Additionally, they do rotations and have gone out of their way to fly me up last minute. The program seems pretty flexible, though not quite as much as GT.


Cons: Originally from Pittsburgh and having been spoiled by Austin, I'm not very keen on returning up north. They also didn't initially accept me, which makes me slightly apprehensive, and I'm worried about a potentially snobby atmosphere given that it's an Ivy (is this true?). The program isn't quite as interdisciplinary and flexible as GT, though it's still pretty good.


Basically GT has the ideal social situation and environment for me, but is a bit risky in terms of finding an advisor (though it might be different once I'm there). UPenn might be better because they do rotations and I jump around a lot on what I actually want to focus on. Additionally, I liked the faculty I've talked to so far both in terms of research and personality. However, I have a lot of doubts about how much I'll enjoy living in Philly or the culture of the school.


Most people tell me to follow the better research opportunities, but I'm worried about getting depressed in the grayness of the northern winters again. Should I bother asking for a deadline extension at both schools to see if I could reach out to a few more professors at GT before deciding? I would greatly appreciate any advice y'all have! Thanks in advance!

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Real Original name there "White Ranger".  Since I know you it would be unfair to say anything regarding the matter.  Although this doesn't help, they are both great programs and I would have had difficulty with choosing if I had been accepted into both as well.  Penn had a few people I were HIGHLY interested in and if they liked me, then I may have chosen them.

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