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My boss is leaving my current school what to do ?

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My PI just informed us on Friday that he would be moving to a different university because they offered him a half a million dollar salary and other great perks. He would be starting at his new school on August 17, 2015.  

About me, I am in my second year of PhD program, I have finished all the coursework at my current school, passed my quals, and have my candidacy exam scheduled for August 19 2015. My current project was not renewed so I will have to start a new project regardless of where I go. I had previously switched schools due to personal reasons after 1 year. I have one week to decide ( ughh) 


so here are my options 

1. stay at my current school by joining a new lab and starting a new project. this might take me 3 to 5 yrs to complete 

2. Move to the new school but stay a student at my current school, I will keep my committee members, keep classes and quals. take me 4 to 5 yrs to complete since I will be losing close to one year to set up a lab. 

3. change schools again. this will mean taking more classes, taking quals since the have them, get a new commitee and do candidacy exam. This will take me about 5 yrs to complete. making my total time in grad school 8 yrs.


I need get answer to the following questions before I make my decision. 


1. will I be paid according to my current school or the new school?the new school pay is $24,00 while ours pays $27,000. I currently have NSF which will end in may 2016. 

2. how will this affect my relationship with my boyfriend, we starting talking about marriage not so long ago? 

3. will by boss pay relocating fees and loss of deposit? i just signed a new lease that required $500 deposit. if you end your lease early I have to pay one month rent with is about $1200 a month 

4. If i decide to go but keep current committee, who will pay for my flights across the country for me to meet with my committee members 

5. How will my health insurance he handled? 


I am super stressed about my decision so I would like all advice and other questions that I need to get answers to. For me who have relocated or stayed behind, please give me insights on what have been the pros and cons 

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All of your questions need to be addressed to your advisor. There is no one correct way to make these arrangements, so it's completely dependent on the situation. I wouldn't even try to guess here. The question about how this will affect your relationship is up to you and your boyfriend. I'm really not sure how you think we can know anything more than you do. The one thing I will say is I think your third option (start over at a new school) doesn't make a lot of sense, given your other two options. I fail to see why this is something you are even considering. 

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I agree with fuzzy that we can't answer these questions for you and that choices #1 and #2 make a lot more sense.


All of the questions about pay and reimbursement of expenses completely depend on what you and your adivsor/schools agree to. I know several students in similar situations and each one is different. If it helps to see more examples, here are some: (You are not the first student to have to go through this!)


1. One student's advisor moved to a school in Europe. The student spends about 8 months per year here and 4 months with their advisor in Europe. They remained a student at the current school and took on a new coadvisor. While in Europe, the student is considered "on leave" from our school and is funded and paid by their advisor in Europe. While here, they get paid by our school. Their advisor pays for all of their flights (probably 3 or 4 roundtrips per year). The pay in the European school is a lot higher than here, but that is offset by the fact that the student has to pay full-year rent here in California because it's too expensive/too much hassle to continually sign short term leases.


2. Another student stayed here while their advisor moved to the Eastern US. They continued to be paid by our school here and remain a student here. They did not change advisors at all (this student was 2 years from finishing) and instead, just have a long-distance advising relationship. They meet with their advisor about once every 1.5-2.5 months. Sometimes their advisor pays for them to fly out (if there's a specific thing they need to work together on) or the advisor flies back and meets with all of their old group at once. 


3. Another student moved with their advisor to a new school but remained a student at the old school. The advisor paid for moving expenses, however, since they remain a student from the old school, the stipend came from the old school. Lucky for them, the cost of living in both places were similar. Unfortunately, their old stipend is lower than the new school stipend so they got paid less than the students around them. They also remained on their old school's student health insurance program etc. So, for all intents and purposes, they were simply a visiting graduate student at the new school, with no access like library, insurance, benefits etc. at the new school. This created some complications but they managed to make it work.

4. Another student (first year) had their advisor move to the Eastern US and their advisor even paid for them to come visit the new school to see if they would like to switch completely. In the end, they chose to stay at the current school and switch to a new advisor.


The possibilities are endless and you need to talk to your advisor to find out what will happen. This is a stressful time and although some of the questions you list here aren't the most fun to talk to your advisor about, they should understand that this information is necessary for you to make the best decision for yourself. Your advisor should hopefully be trying their best to ensure you get the support you need. However, you must advocate for yourself. If you need something (help with moving, help paying contract cancellation fees etc.) then you must ask for it. In the above examples, part of the reason why the advisors there are able to pay thousands of dollars for their students to fly around a lot is because they negotiated for money to do this in their startup with their job offer. If you need something, you have to ask for it!

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I'm in the same exact boat as you, except I'm a first year and I was only ~6 months into my project. This really is a personal decision only you can make. I sat down with my SO and we weighed my pros and cons of staying where I was versus going with my new advisor. (I only had two options) I talked to quite a few people in my department about exams, getting paid, and whatnot. If you have a graduate coordinator or something similar they may be able to help.

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