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I figured I'd make a post in case anyone wanted to discuss/ask questions about anything related to the decision stage of this process (e.g., deciding factors, campus visits, post-admitted communication w/ POI, grad directors etc., meeting w/ POI, informing programs of decisions, etc. etc.) :) 

 

I know for me personally I'm still a little nervous about campus visits and meeting w/ POI just because I'm horribly shy and I'd also like to hear others perspectives about factors that have made them lean towards/away from certain programs and for those who have already made final decisions how they came to that 

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Good luck to all of you still trying to make decisions.

I'll be honest my decision was pretty simple, UCI had been my top choice entering into the application process. Although I was admitted and waitlisted at other programs I made my decision based on the impression I got during my visits. The faculty members, the students, the feel of the campus were the most important factors for me. Although I think I would have been happy with any of the programs that I applied to. 

Best wishes to all as you make your final choice. 

Edited by OptimiscallyAnxious

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Hi everyone! 

Just wanted to post that I'm attending UAlbany's PhD program starting this fall. Albany was my top choice for awhile, and after attending the visiting weekend I knew my decision was made.

Good luck to everyone else who is contemplating decisions and nervously waiting replies. Just remember in the long run nothing is ever worth worrying about because we are all in the same situation. Everything happens for a reason! ? 

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Hi guys! Congrats to all of you who have made decisions on great programs. I'm officially going to attend Northeastern in the fall. It was a little bit of a tough choice between there and Cincinnati but I feel like I picked the best fit for me!

 

Good luck to everyone making their decisions :)

Edited by RoadtoPhD

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Congratulations @warwick, @RoadtoPhD, and all others that have already made their decision. Making a choice can be extremely difficult, but finally making a decision is a huge relief.

Best wishes and good luck to all those still trying to make their final choice. 

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On 3/15/2017 at 7:27 PM, OptimiscallyAnxious said:

Good luck to all of you still trying to make decisions.

I'll be honest my decision was pretty simple, UCI had been my top choice entering into the application process. Although I was admitted and waitlisted at other programs I made my decision based on the impression I got during my visits. The faculty members, the students, the feel of the campus were the most important factors for me. Although I think I would have been happy with any of the programs that I applied to. 

Best wishes to all as you make your final choice. 

 

 

12 hours ago, RoadtoPhD said:

Hi guys! Congrats to all of you who have made decisions on great programs. I'm officially going to attend Northeastern in the fall. It was a little bit of a tough choice between there and Cincinnati but I feel like I picked the best fit for me!

 

Good luck to everyone making their decisions :)

 

 

On 3/16/2017 at 8:52 AM, warwick said:

Hi everyone! 

Just wanted to post that I'm attending UAlbany's PhD program starting this fall. Albany was my top choice for awhile, and after attending the visiting weekend I knew my decision was made.

Good luck to everyone else who is contemplating decisions and nervously waiting replies. Just remember in the long run nothing is ever worth worrying about because we are all in the same situation. Everything happens for a reason! ? 

 

Out of curiosity, what were some things that made you guys so confident in your decision? Any insight on post-admit visits/what to expect/things to look out for? I'm just in a position where I formally declined one offer I felt certain wasn't a good match, but still have 4 schools that I don't feel ready to cross off the list (2 stand out ahead of the other two right now, but I was offered a university fellowship at one school I applied to that was much lower ranked than all the others and spoke to my POI there and I really liked her and got along well with her, but my POIs at the two programs I'm leaning toward are a bit more in line with my interests and were very nice via email so I'm a bit conflicted). I'm visiting the two programs I think my decision might ultimately come down to in about a week and my only comparable experience is UCI's pre-admit interview weekend so any insight would be much welcomed— if you don't mind of course :)

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Hi everyone, I need some advice on choosing between three programs. Two are crim, one is a psych program where I can have an emphasis in psych & law. I would essentially be researching the same thing at all three.

Program 1 (PhD):
This is where I did my undergrad, which makes me reluctant to stay here for another 4-5 years with the same faculty members. It is close to home for me though. I would be working with a professor that has almost my exact interests, but there is no other faculty member in the department that does research in our area. She has produced a few very good Ph.D. students, but she is often hard to reach over email and you sometimes have to pester her for a response. This school seems to have more prestige compared to program 2.

Program 2 (PhD):
Very far away from home, which also makes me reluctant to go. I would be working with a professor that also has almost the exact same interests, and she’s extremely proficient in statistics, but I would be her first official student. She’s been kind of mentoring two students this past year, her first year as an assistant professor, but they aren’t her official students. Even though she only graduated a year ago, she has already published 7 articles in a top journal, and she has some very interesting ideas and models. She has also mentored 5 undergraduates when she was a graduate student. There are also 2, potentially 3, other faculty members that have somewhat overlapping interests at this school. The impression I got was that this program is on the rise.

Program 3 (Masters):
The biggest downside to this program is that it is a masters program. They did not allow students without a masters to apply to their PhD program, so I applied to their masters. I really liked the campus, the location, and the faculty. There is one faculty member in particular that I really meshed with in terms of research interests. I guess the reason why I’m sill considering a masters program when I’m already accepted into two phd programs is that this is a top school with some great faculty.

I have comparable stipend offers from all three, so money isn’t really an issue. Sorry this is so long, thanks for any insight!

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On 3/17/2017 at 10:38 PM, wknd_worrier said:

 

 

Out of curiosity, what were some things that made you guys so confident in your decision? Any insight on post-admit visits/what to expect/things to look out for? I'm just in a position where I formally declined one offer I felt certain wasn't a good match, but still have 4 schools that I don't feel ready to cross off the list (2 stand out ahead of the other two right now, but I was offered a university fellowship at one school I applied to that was much lower ranked than all the others and spoke to my POI there and I really liked her and got along well with her, but my POIs at the two programs I'm leaning toward are a bit more in line with my interests and were very nice via email so I'm a bit conflicted). I'm visiting the two programs I think my decision might ultimately come down to in about a week and my only comparable experience is UCI's pre-admit interview weekend so any insight would be much welcomed— if you don't mind of course :)

I don't mind at all! 

Basically, 4 factors guided my decision. In order:

1.) Location

2.) Prestige of program

3.) Fit

4.) Everything else

 

I rank it in this order because for me personally, location is most important. Fit and prestige have a little more wiggle room (I will explain what I mean later), but location is most important because location is permanent. You can't pickup your university and move it. If you don't like the location because say, it's too hot or cold for you, or it's too rural or urban for you, or the cost of living is too high for you, the chances of you flourishing there are slim. As sociologits, we know how important environment is on individuals, whether it is influencing behavior, mental health, physical health, etc. If you're going to be living in this place for 4-5+ years, you need to make sure you're happy there. If you're miserable living in the area, it will just suck all of your motivation out of completing your PhD. 

For prestige, you have a bit more wiggle room because sometimes universities rise and fall in the ranks. Rank is usually static, but going to a lower-ranked university doesn't necessarily preclude you from success in the market, as there are things you can do to increase your chances for hire (like publishing). There are candidates from R1 universities who for whatever reason can't land a job post-doc, and then there are post-doc candidates who land jobs after graduating from lower-ranked universities. There is more variability here. That being said, if you are considering different schools and all other things are equal, always go to a higher-ranked school that can offer you more opportunities than a lower-ranked school can. High ranked schools usually have more funds or resources for you to pay for things like attending conferences, getting scholarships, getting research grants, etc. Plus name-dropping definitely helps, and people will be more impressed if you come out of a top program vs a no-name school (not to diminish any schools reputation). It's unfortunate, but thats just how "the game" works. Rank definitely matters, but less so than location in my opinion. 

Fit is less important to me because your research interests will naturally change or be refined as you progress with your PhD. So for example, if you go into a program 100% committed to studying victimization, in 2 years you might discover that gender and violence is actually more interesting to you. After talking with your peers and professors, you will naturally become more refined in this field as you become exposed to new ideas, and you might discover new things in the field that you didn't know existed. From my experience during visiting weekend, many of the current graduate students talked about how their research interests evolved while they were there. This is antithetical to what many people say when choosing a school. I read people on this website say to "choose a school that has faculty that fits well with your research interests". While this is good advice, a lot of times, you're not going to study exactly what you planned on studying going into the program. So fit matters in a general sense, like you get along with faculty and their research is in the ballpark of what you want to study, but just remember that both you and your advisor's interests will evolve as you do research together. 

That's basically it. If you have any other questions you can PM me if you want. I'm happy to help. Good luck with your decisions, no matter what school you pick I'm sure you will succeed!

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On 3/17/2017 at 11:38 PM, wknd_worrier said:

Out of curiosity, what were some things that made you guys so confident in your decision? Any insight on post-admit visits/what to expect/things to look out for? I'm just in a position where I formally declined one offer I felt certain wasn't a good match, but still have 4 schools that I don't feel ready to cross off the list (2 stand out ahead of the other two right now, but I was offered a university fellowship at one school I applied to that was much lower ranked than all the others and spoke to my POI there and I really liked her and got along well with her, but my POIs at the two programs I'm leaning toward are a bit more in line with my interests and were very nice via email so I'm a bit conflicted). I'm visiting the two programs I think my decision might ultimately come down to in about a week and my only comparable experience is UCI's pre-admit interview weekend so any insight would be much welcomed— if you don't mind of course :)

I second this sentiment. Very interested to hear what others have to say!

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On 3/20/2017 at 9:07 AM, Waitingforgrad said:

Hi everyone, I need some advice on choosing between three programs. Two are crim, one is a psych program where I can have an emphasis in psych & law. I would essentially be researching the same thing at all three.

Program 1 (PhD):
This is where I did my undergrad, which makes me reluctant to stay here for another 4-5 years with the same faculty members. It is close to home for me though. I would be working with a professor that has almost my exact interests, but there is no other faculty member in the department that does research in our area. She has produced a few very good Ph.D. students, but she is often hard to reach over email and you sometimes have to pester her for a response. This school seems to have more prestige compared to program 2.

Program 2 (PhD):
Very far away from home, which also makes me reluctant to go. I would be working with a professor that also has almost the exact same interests, and she’s extremely proficient in statistics, but I would be her first official student. She’s been kind of mentoring two students this past year, her first year as an assistant professor, but they aren’t her official students. Even though she only graduated a year ago, she has already published 7 articles in a top journal, and she has some very interesting ideas and models. She has also mentored 5 undergraduates when she was a graduate student. There are also 2, potentially 3, other faculty members that have somewhat overlapping interests at this school. The impression I got was that this program is on the rise.

Program 3 (Masters):
The biggest downside to this program is that it is a masters program. They did not allow students without a masters to apply to their PhD program, so I applied to their masters. I really liked the campus, the location, and the faculty. There is one faculty member in particular that I really meshed with in terms of research interests. I guess the reason why I’m sill considering a masters program when I’m already accepted into two phd programs is that this is a top school with some great faculty.

I have comparable stipend offers from all three, so money isn’t really an issue. Sorry this is so long, thanks for any insight!

Hmmm. Tough choices! Which one is CJ/crim? Which one is psych law? Here's' how I'd think through it:

1) Are you certain you want a PhD/career as a researcher? If the answer is yes, then I'd throw out #3. IMO there is no reason to take the time to do an MA/MS first if you don't have to if you are already sure you want a PhD and have gotten into 2 programs where you have good fit and are interested in. The only reason why I would reverse this is if you told me that the school for this one was MUCH higher ranked than 1 or 2. E.g. if it's on the top 10/top 5 and the other schools are not ranked. If they're all in the top 10/top 7 I don't think rank matters as much. Outside the top 10 it could. Especially if you are looking at working at an R1 school. Im talking about Crim Rankings here.

2)Unless school 1s prestige is much higher ranked than school 2 (see above) id probably go with school 2. This is because I think that fit with your potential advisor is so important. But I'd make sure to ask about the #2 profs plans are because this reasoning depends on their answer. Do they plan on going for tenure at school 2? If yes, how do they feel about publishing with students?? If they're going for tenure that means they're going to have to publish a TON. That's good news for you if they like to work with students and you want to be a researcher. How do they see their mentorship style? Does it mesh with what you want in an adviser? Are the other people you are interested in tenured? Are they willing to work with you? How do they mesh with you? If your answers to all of these questions are positive, I'd go with school 2. It will also allow you to diversify your experience as compared to school 1. But this is just my 2 cents. Location is not so important to me. If it is to you, maybe this is a deal breaker!

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Good day guys.... I am prospective student for Msc Criminal Justice. I have a Bsc Psychology in 2016.. I have low GPA of 2.87, I am currently preparing for the GRE, I will like to know which GRE score is decent for admission. I need schools I can apply to with my profile  with large acceptance rate ... I am also an international student... Your response will really go a long way.. Thank you

Edited by Lollyij

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2 hours ago, a little-stitious said:

Quick question about declining offers! To whom should I direct my decision to decline an admissions offer...the department chair or the grad director? Or does it not really matter?

 

I've been contacting the grad directors

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4 hours ago, a little-stitious said:

Quick question about declining offers! To whom should I direct my decision to decline an admissions offer...the department chair or the grad director? Or does it not really matter?

 
 

I've been reaching out to whoever my primary point of contact has been (i.e., who informed me of my acceptance, answered questions, etc.). For most programs this has been the grad director, but for one it was the department chair so that is who I reached out to inform of my decision. I've also been sending a quick email to any other faculty at each program who took the time to talk to me just to let them know and say thank you for their time etc. 

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