So I applied, and have gotten most of my replies. Now I have to decide between Rice and PSU. I am looking at doing CMT with primary interest in examining the topology of various CMT systems. I also have a cursory interest in biophysics, and Yang-Mills theory (from more of a mathematical physics view). My end career goal is to stay in academia doing research with a backup of working at a national lab, also doing research. I would consider industry, but as a theorist I fear my options will be limited to financial analysis or working for some oil company (you know...Texas). I don't know much about either school prestige wise, and I was wondering if anyone else is more familiar with the reputation of these places in my desired fields. I would ask them, but it seems kind of strange to ask a department "hey how prestigious are your faculty?" I was just wondering if anyone had any insight on these departments. I have visited Rice, and will be visiting PSU shortly.
Also any comments on living in these areas. I know PSU is in the middle of nowhere, and while Houston isn't the best city it is probably preferable to State College.
Finally, I was considering taking a year off, but I don't feel I should. It seems like Rice and PSU will give me more than enough opportunities to continue on into academia. I have been talking to my professors, and they have said these schools are good enough that it is simply on me to do the work, and get lucky, and that waiting and applying to a "better" program isn't really necessary. Just wondering whether you guys agree with this tip or not.
Thanks for reading.
P.S. If anyone knows where there is a database of jobs PhD recipients from Rice get please post the link! I've been scouring their website. Otherwise I'll just have to email someone I guess.