Berkeley or Stanford - Condensed Matter Experiment

chickenz
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Dec 02, 2010 2:46 pm

Berkeley or Stanford - Condensed Matter Experiment

Postby chickenz » Sat Feb 26, 2011 3:03 am

Hi!

Can anyone give me advice on this grad school decision?
I got accepted to both Stanford and Berkeley, both of which I am strongly considering. I'm doing condensed matter experiment with the goal of pursuing a career in academia.

I go to Berkeley as an undergrad and really love it there. When people think of Stanford, they think of rich kids. When people think of Berkeley, they think of leftist nutjobs. I definitely fit into the leftist nutjob category. Plus Berkeley's got alotta crazy people around, and I like crazy people.

But of course, political orientations and weirdo population percentages mean very little to someone who's going to spend all his waking hours trapped in a lab. Stanford has certain advantages over Berkeley:
1. Prestige. Academia jobs are few and hard to get. If I wind up looking for a job in industry, that Stanford prestige might mean a lot.
2. Money. A Stanford TA/RA is probably better paid than a Berkeley GSI/GSR (and it's worth noting that the State of California is in a budget crisis). Of course, cost of living in Palo Alto might negate this.
3. I hear that it is better for my CV if my undergraduate and graduate degree come from different places. Having a BA and a PhD from Berkeley might not look as good as having a BA from Berkeley and a PhD from a different institution.

I also hear from several people that Stanford's physics PhD program is overrated and not really that great. But of course, the people who tell me these things are Berkeley undergrads/grad students/employees, so there might be a bias at work. And I noticed that Stanford has a lot of high temperature superconductor people, and I don't really care for high temperature superconductors.

So any information, suggestions, insults would really be helpful. And if anyone can point me to a place where I can find statistics about different graduate schools (e.g. department size, publication rate, cost of living, salaries, gender ratios, crime rates, average GRE scores, whatever), that would be really nice too.

Thanks for your time, everyone!

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WhoaNonstop
Posts: 851
Joined: Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:31 am

Re: Berkeley or Stanford - Condensed Matter Experiment

Postby WhoaNonstop » Sat Feb 26, 2011 5:10 am

chickenz wrote:So any information, suggestions, insults would really be helpful. And if anyone can point me to a place where I can find statistics about different graduate schools (e.g. department size, publication rate, cost of living, salaries, gender ratios, crime rates, average GRE scores, whatever), that would be really nice too.


You were accepted to almost every top school in the nation and you don't know where to find this stuff? And honestly, I truly doubt the difference in prestige between Berkeley or Stanford will matter much as far as getting a job in academia. The fact that your background contains very little research concerns me about your reasons for wanting to choose Berkeley. If you had all that research available to you, why have you done so little as an undergraduate? Hell, I would have killed to have more available research at my undergraduate institution so I could get into decent graduate schools. I just find it ironic that you'd want to continue at Berkeley if you haven't started looking for research already there.

-Riley

The_Duck
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:04 pm

Re: Berkeley or Stanford - Condensed Matter Experiment

Postby The_Duck » Sat Feb 26, 2011 6:19 am

Do you know about http://www.gradschoolshopper.com/ ? You can pull up some of the info you mention there.

axiomofchoice
Posts: 199
Joined: Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:45 pm

Re: Berkeley or Stanford - Condensed Matter Experiment

Postby axiomofchoice » Sat Feb 26, 2011 12:45 pm

I'd pick Stanford just because of your point 3. I'm positive that I've seen other Stanford vs. Berkeley threads on this forum. Go thou and searchth.

vttd
Posts: 53
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:23 pm

Re: Berkeley or Stanford - Condensed Matter Experiment

Postby vttd » Sat Feb 26, 2011 5:15 pm

As a former Golden Bear I have to say HSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS Stanfurd. Go Bears! But in all honesty you really should consider a different school for your grad work from your undergrad. The simple reason why is that you have a chance to network with other scientists. You really can't go wrong with either, but I'd strongly urge you to visit schools. The other schools you were accepted to are the cream of the crop so you should really consider them as well, people would kill for the opportunity to choose from those schools. I visited Stanford in my undergrad when I was considering applying to physics graduate schools (my advisor set up a meeting with a group doing something similar to what I was doing). It was really nice, not going to lie. But you really should pay attention to the intangibles, like if you'd be happy in a smaller more intimate community or not. Look up the NRC rankings for physics, they have a lot of that information.

Also congrats on the acceptances and the crazy GPA. With barely no grade inflation, that is quite a feat.




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