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Decisions Help: Stanford vs. MIT vs. Harvard


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I've been hearing that I won't make a wrong choice wherever I go, but I am still struggling to make the decision. Seems like most schools have pros and cons. I would appreciate any feedback, especially from current grad students or other prospective students. 



- Research-wise, I am most interested in 2 professors at Stanford compared to the professors in other institutions. However, one of them is notorious for being very demanding and intimidating; he is known to be very moody and many of his former students refer to him as a "terror". Another professor is a superstar and she is away a lot. I heard her own grad students need to make an appointment with her 2 months in advance to talk to her... One of her grad students said it took awhile for him to be adjusted to this environment. So even though I am very interested in their research, I just don't know if they are good learning environment for me. 

- Chemistry facilities are surprisingly poorly managed. I heard some equipment in certain labs have been broken for 2 years. 

- I've done my undergrad in California and I prefer to stay in California due to the weather. It may sound silly but since my alternative is Boston, it is important. Also, my fiance is here...

- Loved the campus and the grad students were easy to talk to. 


- I am also interested in 2 professors here, but they are professors from U-Wisconsin-Madison joining MIT faculty this year. They seemed genuinely caring and nice and I would love to work for them. I just didn't get to talk to their grad students, because they are still in Wisconsin. 

- Other than those 2 new professors, I didn't really like MIT. The other professors were nice, but I wasn't as interested in the research.

- The buildings at MIT look a bit depressing...several  prospective students thought it looked like a prison. My mood is easily influenced by my surroundings (I used to live in the east coast and I feel a lot happier living in California now). 

- Grad students there were also not as social/welcoming. MIT Chemistry also has a lot of requirements, such as the cumulative exams, that are not required by other schools. 



- I am interested in only one professor in the Chemistry Department, but I am also interested in some professors at the Medical School or Dana Farber Institute. I heard CCB students do get to work outside of the department. It's just I don't really know anything about them except their research online, because I didn't get a chance to meet with them or their students. 

- The professors and grad students in the chemistry department were very nice. The atmosphere was very lively. 

- Since I am interested in the application of chemistry to medicine, having access to Harvard Medical School and Dana Farber Cancer Institute is a big plus. 


Given these backgrounds, does it sound like one school is more suitable for me than the others? Because right now, I don't really see it... Any feedback would be appreciated. 

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Well, it sounds like you're going to be miserable at MIT and that you need to learn more about Harvard. I recommend getting in touch with the Harvard faculty and current grad students so that your decision would be more informed. Other than that, it sounds like Stanford could work if you're good at independent research. Your fiance being there is definitely a plus. I know plenty of people who would not even consider moving away from their significant other.

Edited by ThousandsHardships
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Reach out to Kiessling and Raines' graduts students at Wisconsin. The ones I spoke with were very helpful and the profs recommended emailing their students to get a feel for lab environment. 

There are a lot of reasons to choose a grad program and being close to family and a fiancé is definitely a good one. 

Honestly based on what you wrote you had the least negative things to say about Harvard, whatever that's worth. 

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