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University of Michigan vs University of Virginia


dormcat

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Hi all, thanks in advance for any insight.

I've tried to figure out the best way to compare the schools from my POV and I think pro/con list is the easiest way to info-dump. 

UVA pros: second choice, in my and my husband's home state (we don't live there now, but we're close enough to visit on weekends), strong financial package, collaborative and kind faculty, extremely established PI, lower cost of living, summer funding, already familiar with most common methodological and analytic approaches, students all seemed very happy
UVA cons: ranked lower, area of field is less competitive on the TT job market, teach all 5 years, PI doesn't really have grants anymore so can't buy me out, older PI so less concerned about publications, only two faculty in the entire department (and only one in my area, my PI) do research in my area of interest

Michigan pros: top choice, fantastic research university, faculty are all doing research in my area of interest, teach for 2.5 years, summer funding, additional research and travel funding available, I'd be trained in new (to me) methodology, more politically engaged department, talked with the PI's newest grad (in 2nd year) who had nothing but good things to say
Michigan cons: much further from "home", housing costs are friggin insane, borderline frighteningly low stipend considering the aforementioned housing costs, newer faculty member (still assistant professor though is in 5th year), faculty member doesn't have any big grants (but, Michigan provides what UVA intends to come out of PI's grants), talked to a student in the area a few years ago who had nothing but bad things to say (not necessary about my PI, but the general rat race at Michigan)

I visit Michigan in the coming weeks and will have a better idea of how I 'fit in' there. I didn't totally feel like I fit in at UVA, but I did really like all the faculty which is just as important to me. However, while all the faculty were great, only 2 faculty have research that makes me want to be at UVA. Aside from my PI, the other came from the same department I've been accepted to at Michigan, and I felt the strongest connection to them even over my PI. I know asking for advice on choosing between my first and second choice seems unintuitive (seeing as I've already ranked them as first and second), but I don't want to be starry-eyed by the ranking and overlook everything else. Obviously both have pros and cons. To make it worse, I am a people pleaser and don't want to disappoint anyone at either institution by not going there :( so any and all advice is welcome!

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Without knowing anything about your field or your research interests, it's kind of tough to provide a nuanced answer to this. That being said, it sounds like the cons of UVA (worse placement, worse fit) are significantly worse than the cons of Michigan (far from home, housing costs) if your goal is to get an academic job. Plus, having grown up in Ann Arbor, I can say that it is expensive to live near the university but significantly less so if you move towards the outskirts. It's a really fantastic place to live, too, although the winters are pretty brutal.

 

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8 minutes ago, dagnabbit said:

Without knowing anything about your field or your research interests, it's kind of tough to provide a nuanced answer to this. That being said, it sounds like the cons of UVA (worse placement, worse fit) are significantly worse than the cons of Michigan (far from home, housing costs) if your goal is to get an academic job. Plus, having grown up in Ann Arbor, I can say that it is expensive to live near the university but significantly less so if you move towards the outskirts. It's a really fantastic place to live, too, although the winters are pretty brutal.

 

Sorry, I was trying to maintain some sense of anonymity (not that having a posting history helps) but they're different areas of psychology. Michigan is interdisciplinary, while UVA is just a more unusual area that doesn't have as much TT "pull" as say, social, developmental, cognitive. 

Anecdotally, it seems almost everyone who goes to school in AA loves it, which is great. My husband will be touring apartments while we're there, so we'll get an idea of what's realistic for us. I really appreciate your feedback! 

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