Stanford v. Berkeley

aksjdkhas
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Stanford v. Berkeley

Postby aksjdkhas » Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:29 pm

I am interested in HEP Experiment and am deciding between Berkeley and Stanford, both of which have accepted me (yay!) They both seem pretty good for HEP. I was initially favoring Berkeley because the area seems more interesting to me. However, Stanford offered about 5k more money and the whole UC financial situation looks pretty bleak. Stanford's support is 30% TA 20% RA which seems kinda weird because it doesn't seem like either of those could possibly take less than around 15 hr/week. Berkeley is standard straight TA. Any thoughts on the respective merits of the schools, especially in terms of non-academics (e.g. grad student quality of life, friendliness of profs and students, etc.)

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notnaps
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Re: Stanford v. Berkeley

Postby notnaps » Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:55 pm

I think the cost of living difference probably cancels out the difference in stipend (Someone who actually goes to one of these places could correct me)? As someone who is looking at these schools that's how I'm viewing it for the time being at least. Although I agree that the financial situation in the UC system makes me weary.

TAing at Berkeley is supposed to take 15-20 hrs/wk and Stanford expects you to teach a 1hr disc and a 2hr lab section, although I'm not sure how much prep that would entail.

Anyways, I'd also be interested if anyone had any info on the non-academic aspect of both of these school.

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grae313
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Re: Stanford v. Berkeley

Postby grae313 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 5:19 pm

notnaps wrote:TAing at Berkeley is supposed to take 15-20 hrs/wk and Stanford expects you to teach a 1hr disc and a 2hr lab section, although I'm not sure how much prep that would entail.


Stanford TA duties might take slightly less time but not a lot because once you teach one discussion/lab section, a second is hardly more effort. Figure in grading and preparation.

I don't expect the workload to be significantly different between the two as this is somewhat standard across the board. As for cost of living, the straight up numbers have Stanford being way more expensive to live in. It's a very yuppie, wealthy area whereas Berkeley still has that college town feel. There lots of good, cheap food near Berkeley.

Stanford is more isolated and spread out. You'll miss not having a car a lot more than at Berkeley, where most of what you need is within easy walking distance. Stanford is about 45 minutes away from San Francisco by car, Berkeley is about 20.

TrueBLUE
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Re: Stanford v. Berkeley

Postby TrueBLUE » Fri Mar 19, 2010 10:14 am

Completely agree with grae313. Stanford is way more expensive than Berkeley. Berkeley is also closer to SF and importantly you have ready access to the BART. Stanford campus is much more picturesque though (personal opinion), but it gets really hot during summer .

aksjdkhas
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Re: Stanford v. Berkeley

Postby aksjdkhas » Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:31 pm

I am definitely with you guys on the whole Berkeley > Palo Alto in terms of geography. Any thoughts on the relative prestige of each, especially outside academia? Also, I have heard bad things about the competitiveness of Berkeley students and the difficulty of the qual. But that was from grad students at my undergrad who didn't get into Berkeley, so perhaps it was just bitterness.

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grae313
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Re: Stanford v. Berkeley

Postby grae313 » Sat Mar 20, 2010 5:01 pm

I think the Stanford name carries more prestige, especially outside of academia, but the prestige of Berkeley's name is still nothing to sneeze at. It definitely still has a reputation as a hippie/liberal school though.

When my mom was a grad student at Berkeley, it was extremely competitive and they did use the qual to weed out students. This was a large concern of mine when I visited both Stanford and Berkeley as a prospective student. During lunch at Berkeley, I asked a table full of current Berkeley grad students if it was true that Berkeley used the quals to weed out students, and if they felt that the environment was competitive. I was told that many years ago, the department changed this policy and that it is definitely no longer the case. Berkeley fully intends to support all of its admitted graduate students through the completion of their degree, and I found the grad students to be extremely happy and satisfied with the environment there.

Stanford has a reputation of not kicking anyone out of the program ever, and their quals are known to be fairly easy.

It's hard to go wrong at this point. However, it's important that you visit the campuses if you haven't already and have the opportunity to. The two schools have very distinct and distinctive feels to them, and I think if you visited you'd get a good idea pretty quickly of where you'd fit in best.




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