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Picking a grad school

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Hey all,

It's getting to that time where we're supposed to pick graduate schools and I'm hoping to get some insight on how to make my decision. I'm torn between a few very different programs but I really like them all. Is it best to go for the highest ranking school? Or the one that makes me feel the most at home? How much should I be considering the amount of debt I'll incur? Any insight into how you all are picking your schools is really helpful. I'd love to connect with anyone else who's also struggling with decision making. Thanks!

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I'm in the same boat. I've applied to four schools--two private (Northwestern and Vandy) and two public (IU and UTenn). Still waiting to hear from Vandy and IU. I'd love to attend NU, but the cost of attendance, even with the funding, is overwhelming, and I'm not yet convinced that taking on that much debt is worth it. Friends of mine in medicine and law seem not to have a problem accruing six-figure debt loads, but, at least in the case of medicine, salaries are capable of paying that back. I went to IU for undergrad and I'm from the Bloomington area. I can't say enough good things about Bloomington and IU. I foolishly graduated early--how I regret not doing a victory lap! The cost of attendance would be very affordable, and I've been doing some research about funding. IU offers many internal fellowships for doctoral students. From what I've been able to find, it offers more than NU. I've ruled UTK out due to the lack of funding and the price tag on their instate tuition, for which I would qualify as I've live in TN for the past two years. One thing that has become important in my increasingly lengthy pro/con list is employment outcomes. I have a somewhat clear idea about where I'd like to work--good hospital or VA--and I'm not sure if those opportunities would be harder to attain if I attended IU. The AuD program is housed in Bloomington, not on the medical campus in Indianapolis.

Maybe it's best to put all the names of the schools into a hat and draw one (?)

I realize I've been no help. I'd be curious to hear what factors are most important to you. Cost and employment are two biggies for me. Rank comes into play as a secondary factoring stemming from my two primary concerns. The private schools have a higher rank and a higher price tag because they are private. Maybe the employment opportunities are better for students graduating from those programs? Some enlightenment on employment outcomes would be helpful.

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For me, I chose the school that offered me the most funding. If all goes to plan I will get my degree with little to no debt. Starting a professional career with little to no debt will be a huge advantage to you and your family (if you have one). There are a lot of jobs in this field; it may take some sacrificing to get one by relocating. Just some thoughts. 

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I'm leaning the same way--in the direction of the school that provides the most funding, I mean. Sure, it'd be nice to have an NU or Vandy diploma on the wall, but at what cost? And are the job opportunities for students coming out of those programs that much better? So much so that they're worth the stomach-churning debt? I'd like to believe that an NU or VU degree certainly couldn't hurt job prospects, but it seems that a field like audiology doesn't give much weight to "prestige." I'm speculating, of course. I could be entirely wrong.

When I visited Wash U I was astounded by the students' lack of concern about the amount of debt they were accruing. Wash U advertises that it is "proud to provide all incoming students with funding." As I learned (after picking a prodding the answer out of one of the guides) that funding amounts to $10k per incoming student for four years. Sounds nice, BUT, the fourth year of the program--extern year--costs the same as years 1-3. So the degree carries a $120k price tag, not including cost of living. I cannot begin to imagine having to pay that off with a five-figure salary, while attempting to live the middle class dream of owning a nice home and filing it with some hungry hungry kiddos. Needless to say, I decided against St. Louie, even if it is a lovely program. 

I'm beginning to preach, but something must be done about the cost of professional degrees, beginning with the consumer--the people willing to pay, or rather, borrow. Caveat emptor, people. As I said in the last post, I might be able to justify six-figure loans if I were attending med school, and maybe law or business, depending. To each his own, though. If you are comfortable with that heavy load, god bless you for your strength. 

If anyone has attended or is attending a private school like NU, VU, or WU, I'd like to hear why you made the decision, especially if you matriculated without funding. Do you believe the employment outcomes justify the expense?  

 

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I thought I'd share some insight as I am currently a 2nd year Au.D. student. First off, congratulations on your acceptances! When I applied to a handful of audiology programs, they varied in terms of rankings and tuition.  However, they were quite similar in curriculum and somewhat similar in clinical experiences. I'm assuming that the list of schools you applied to were all considerable choices meaning that wherever you would be accepted, you would likely attend. But, maybe not! At least in my case, I told myself... if I get into any of these 7 schools... I would enroll, but at that point of the selection process, it came down to finances. And that is exactly what happened. Of the 4 schools, only 1 offered significant tuition reduction and a graduate assistantship. My answer was right in front of me. But it wasn't an easy decision. The program came with a lot of sacrifices. It meant several things: 1) I had to move from the East coast to the Midwest, 2) I left my family (I am young and single, but it is still hard!), and 3) I experienced culture shock of a small town. Deep down, I really wanted to attend the University of Tennessee or Syracuse.... both programs that are at big name schools with solid reputations and higher rankings.... but also came with an unrealistic price tag.

I don't want to make this long, but I chose a program in the Midwest that has a low "ranking" but one of the many things that I learned in graduate school is that rankings only mean so much. I've talked to my professors about the rankings, and they are influenced by research publications, etc  Although it took me a good portion of first year to adapt to the Midwest lifestyle, I wouldn't do it all over again at another program. I am in a small cohort allowing me to get a lot of interactions with my professors and clinic supervisors. The curriculum and clinical rotations are so diverse that I truly consider my program a hidden gem. I came from a large university (undergrad) on the east coast that has a reputable AuD program, but my program definitely offers a variety of clinical experiences. 

My point is, don't make a decision without considering the lower ranked programs on your list. I was heavily concerned about rankings when I was deciding where to go that I was THIS CLOSE to taking a gap year and reapplying the next term. Now that I am in my 2nd year, that would have been by far the worst decision I would have made... It was a blessing in disguise that I ended up where I am now.

Also, when you look at the AuD programs you got into, it may help to find out where the professors got their AuDs from because mine earned theirs from top 10 audiology programs. That statement right there goes against my argument that rankings shouldn't matter so much, but... 

I will be applying for 4th year externships this upcoming September... (HOW.... does time go so fast?!). I am confident that my personal experience, knowledge, and clinical skills will help me land an externship of interest. Also, I am proud of the AuD program I am representing. Previous students of my program have landed stellar externships at competitive places all over the U.S. Trust me, do not let ranking of program fool you! While it can certainly help you with opportunities, lesser ranked programs won't prevent you from opportunities. 

You will figure it out. Just take your time, don't hesitate to e-mail the programs (where accepted) and ask to talk with professors and current students about their experience  Go with your gut! Good luck! :D

Edited by becoming-ear-responsible

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4 hours ago, foregolf said:

For me, I chose the school that offered me the most funding. If all goes to plan I will get my degree with little to no debt. Starting a professional career with little to no debt will be a huge advantage to you and your family (if you have one). There are a lot of jobs in this field; it may take some sacrificing to get one by relocating. Just some thoughts. 

Exactly what I did. Very much worth it in the long run!

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@PhDinPublicHealthHopeful Bloomington is fantastic. The campus is beautiful; the town is quaint. I'm from Indiana and I think I always took Midwestern hospitality for granted. I've lived in the South for a couple years, and people here are certainly friendly, but folks from the Midwest are the same way. Bloomington is very diverse, and for a small Southern Indiana town, cosmopolitan. There are so many great restaurants, bars, music venues, theater performances, etc. And being a small Southern Indiana town, the cost of living is low, too. I highly recommend that you visit the campus soon to get a feel for it.

As far as winters go, the best I can tell you is that it's anybody's guess. Personally, I think the snow before Christmas is lovely (walking through campus during a snow you feel like you are in Godric's Hallow). After Christmas, cold weather will last into early March. I will say that I've grown accustomed to the mild winters in Tennessee, but an Indiana winter truly isn't that bad. The beautiful summer and fall make enduring a somewhat long winter worth it. I'll also add that being a major research university, the faculty is incredible.

Make the trip! You won't regret it.

Edited by tninaud
Typo

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I made my decision based on a few different things.  To me it was important to attend a program where I felt comfortable.  I also wanted to attend a program that would allow me to explore different areas of audiology and that had a wide variety of clinic placements.  Lastly, I considered funding/costs.  Rankings didn't have any impact on my decision, because I think that future employers will care more about our clinical experience and clinical abilities than about the rankings of the programs we attended.  I think it's important to choose a school where you will be happy, because you will be spending several years there! I hope this was at least somewhat helpful! 

Edited by OhioAud

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I think I am in the same boat as most people who have been accepted to multiple programs. I haven't heard about funding from all of my options and I think it will probably come down to choosing the best deal. What do people think about programs that can't provide information about funding before the deadline to accept? I feel like it would be crazy to take that kind of risk if you do have a program that has offered you funding ahead of time. I am also concerned by these posts I've seen about schools offering funding but taking it away after the first year. Stressful! 

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I've been accepted to 3 schools. One of them being where I am doing my undergrad and they offered me almost a full ride the first year. The other two schools are much more appealing but I will not know about funding until after the deadline to accept (ugh). Any advice? Do I accept both and then decline one later?

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19 hours ago, alf2016 said:

I've been accepted to 3 schools. One of them being where I am doing my undergrad and they offered me almost a full ride the first year. The other two schools are much more appealing but I will not know about funding until after the deadline to accept (ugh). Any advice? Do I accept both and then decline one later?

I turned down a school (where I did my undergrad) that offered me a full ride because I just didn't feel like it was the right fit for me and I didn't think it provided me with the opportunities I wanted.  To me it was more important to pick a school that I really wanted to go to and that provided me with an opportunity to experience a wide variety of clinical settings.  The school that I currently attend ended up offering me a 50% tuition waiver, a stipend, and the cost of rent is much lower in this area.  Even though it is costing me more I honestly don't regret my decision.  

I was always told that you should avoid accepting an offer and then withdrawing your acceptance, because there is a chance that it will prevent someone on the waitlist from getting a spot in the program and could negatively impact the opinion that the faculty members have on you.  I would ask your advisor or another faculty member about that.

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On 3/29/2016 at 5:09 PM, OhioAud said:

I turned down a school (where I did my undergrad) that offered me a full ride because I just didn't feel like it was the right fit for me and I didn't think it provided me with the opportunities I wanted.  To me it was more important to pick a school that I really wanted to go to and that provided me with an opportunity to experience a wide variety of clinical settings.  The school that I currently attend ended up offering me a 50% tuition waiver, a stipend, and the cost of rent is much lower in this area.  Even though it is costing me more I honestly don't regret my decision.  

I was always told that you should avoid accepting an offer and then withdrawing your acceptance, because there is a chance that it will prevent someone on the waitlist from getting a spot in the program and could negatively impact the opinion that the faculty members have on you.  I would ask your advisor or another faculty member about that.

To add to the last part: I was offered admission into my undergrad university's program, and I accepted it because the school's deadline to accept was prior to me receiving any other acceptances, plus I was highly considering staying. Now that I have all my acceptances, I will likely be telling my current institution that I am no longer attending. It's not the ideal situation, but at the end of the day, you have to do what is best for yourself. Personally, I wasn't going to not accept an offer when I had no other offers on the table. My hands were tied. I am nervous if the faculty will be upset with that (especially since I need references for an assistantship at another school), but all I can hope is that they understand. Ultimately, you have to do what's right for yourself. :)

Edited by itsabeautifullife

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On April 3, 2016 at 9:46 PM, itsabeautifullife said:

To add to the last part: I was offered admission into my undergrad university's program, and I accepted it because the school's deadline to accept was prior to me receiving any other acceptances, plus I was highly considering staying. Now that I have all my acceptances, I will likely be telling my current institution that I am no longer attending. It's not the ideal situation, but at the end of the day, you have to do what is best for yourself. Personally, I wasn't going to not accept an offer when I had no other offers on the table. My hands were tied. I am nervous if the faculty will be upset with that (especially since I need references for an assistantship at another school), but all I can hope is that they understand. Ultimately, you have to do what's right for yourself. :)

I was just sharing information that was passed on to me.

I think it completely acceptable to retract your acceptance when you're asked to make a decision prior to the standard deadline.  Everyone's situation is different, and like you said in the end you do need to make the decision that is best for you!

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Hey all, 

Its getting really close to decision day and I'm still struggling between a few schools. I know a lot about 2 of the programs I'm considering but I don't know much about the third, Northwestern University. Does anyone have any insight on the program? Are there any disadvantages of the 3 year program? Thanks!

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