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Which School Shall I Choooooooose?


MinaminoTeku

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Lame pop songs aside, I am in-between a rock and a hard place with deciding between two schools:

School 1:

Pros:

  • It was my second choice (first choice rejected me).
  • The staff is more receptive to my ideas (and I think I have a good chance at working with one of them).
  • The distance from it and my hometown is not that far (five hours driving, one hour flight).
  • Cost of living is stupid cheap (I live in CA so anywhere outside of there is cheap AF).
  • I know people there (two friends already go to the same school and I know people in the general area).

Cons:

  • No funding.

School 2:

Pros:

  • Full funding with a teaching gig and bonus money to help with the first year
  • I can assume cost of living is cheap because it is not CA.
  • Faculty seemed receptive to my ideas but...

Cons:

  • ...I've never met any faculty in person before (applied based on what the grad students said).
  • In the middle of the country in a red state (coming from CA and wanting to research sex, this may or may not be an issue).
  • Distance from the school to my hometown is way farther so visiting home is tougher.
  • I don't know anyone personally at the school (my one friend might leave) nor do I know anyone in the state.

I am leaning towards School 1 because it is where I ultimately want to go to and it is a better program for me and I am about 90% sure I will go there with or without funding, but dang the money at School 2 is looking mighty good...especially with the struggles my friend who has no funding is going through at School 1. I don't want to worry about money during my entire time at School 1 because I fear that would restrict my growth and experience there.

Thoughts? Advice? Has anyone gone through this before? What happened? My worry is regretting my decision (which is the biggest worry any one of us has when choosing between two schools).

friday.jpg

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I have more questions than answers. Who would be your advisor at each institution? What is their placement track record? What do you want to be doing after your PhD? Which school would best prepare you for that? Which school has the most financial support for your research? Which school has students working on similar topics (so that you have people to bounce ideas off of and/or collaborate with on research)? Which program is offering financial support for the summer? Are there major grants that you'd need to get to fund your dissertation research? Which program/PI has the better track record with their students getting those (if that's something you need)?

These are just some of the factors I'd be considering. FWIW, I only applied to one PhD program that was incredibly far from home and it's the one I ended up going to. I didn't know a single person there either (didn't even visit before accepting the offer). At times I was lonely but, being on my own forced me to make friends, get to know people, and, ultimately, to grow up and become more of an adult in a lot of ways. It also better prepared me for the reality of the academic job market, where you don't often get to choose where you live. YMMV obviously but it's something worth considering. 

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I would not attend any PhD program without funding, no matter how phenomenal it is.

That said, I think it's fairly common to go programs/cities where you don't know anyone. You'll meet and get to know people.

Do faculty members at School 2 already do research on sex? If so, then you can ask them what the political climate is like for getting that work done. In public health, some of the top schools in my field for researching sex and sexual behavior are in red states. I don't think it necessarily matters much.

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On 3/17/2017 at 6:52 PM, rising_star said:

I have more questions than answers. Who would be your advisor at each institution? What is their placement track record? What do you want to be doing after your PhD? Which school would best prepare you for that? Which school has the most financial support for your research? Which school has students working on similar topics (so that you have people to bounce ideas off of and/or collaborate with on research)? Which program is offering financial support for the summer? Are there major grants that you'd need to get to fund your dissertation research? Which program/PI has the better track record with their students getting those (if that's something you need)?

These are just some of the factors I'd be considering. FWIW, I only applied to one PhD program that was incredibly far from home and it's the one I ended up going to. I didn't know a single person there either (didn't even visit before accepting the offer). At times I was lonely but, being on my own forced me to make friends, get to know people, and, ultimately, to grow up and become more of an adult in a lot of ways. It also better prepared me for the reality of the academic job market, where you don't often get to choose where you live. YMMV obviously but it's something worth considering. 

Thanks for your response. I know the answers to those questions for School 1 but not School 2 so I got some homework to do.

Yeah, I'm no stranger to moving to places where I don't know anybody. I packed up and moved to Japan for two years without knowing a single person who was close by to me there and I did just fine.

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On 3/18/2017 at 0:46 AM, juilletmercredi said:

I would not attend any PhD program without funding, no matter how phenomenal it is.

That said, I think it's fairly common to go programs/cities where you don't know anyone. You'll meet and get to know people.

Do faculty members at School 2 already do research on sex? If so, then you can ask them what the political climate is like for getting that work done. In public health, some of the top schools in my field for researching sex and sexual behavior are in red states. I don't think it necessarily matters much.

Thank you for your advice.

As far as I know, no one really does it as their main area of interest but there are faculty there who are open to whatever the students want. I am very much a hands-off sort of person so that works perfectly for me (as long as I get some direction where I need it). Yeah, I mean both schools are in red states but one is closer to blue so I can escape if I need to. The other doesn't border any blue.

It's just a worry of mine to not get to do what I love because of some bs archaic climate and viewpoint about sex and sexuality. Even if it isn't the case in major cities, the state itself may think differently. Or maybe I'm just being silly and worrying for nothing.

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