Need help with astrophysics program

cosmosis
Posts: 55
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2016 2:20 pm

Need help with astrophysics program

Postby cosmosis » Mon Mar 27, 2017 5:12 pm

So I am very confused at this point as to where to go for graduate school with 2.5 weeks left. I have had the good fortune of being accepted to multiple programs (U Arizona, UCSC, UCLA, Michigan Ann Arbor and Johns Hopkins) and a couple of waitlists (Columbia and Harvard). I visited the first three schools and liked all of them.

I am interested in cosmology (dark matter, dark energy) and potentially high-energy astroparticle. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Tacosbeforevatos
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2017 2:45 am

Re: Need help with astrophysics program

Postby Tacosbeforevatos » Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:32 pm

I don't think this will be very helpful but thought I should mention it. I was steered away from U of Arizona by professors before.. not sure why but I think something happened a few years back?

Did you rule out Michigan already? I would lean towards Michigan.
I think of UCSC as more of an exoplanets place but that may be biased because of the people I know from there.

Also... I didn't realize there was only 2.5 weeks left until this post lol O.O sorry I can't be of much help.

ckitc
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:52 pm

Re: Need help with astrophysics program

Postby ckitc » Tue Mar 28, 2017 9:53 pm

Tacosbeforevatos wrote:I don't think this will be very helpful but thought I should mention it. I was steered away from U of Arizona by professors before.. not sure why but I think something happened a few years back?


What happened is this: http://jjcharfman.tumblr.com/post/33151387354/a-motivational-correspondance

My impression, from having spoken to people at other programs who work closely with this program, but also from visiting myself (I was also accepted to this program) and talking with the grad students about this, is that A) There's some important context missing, B) the whole thing was taken out of proportion, C) despite that there was still some backlash and the department responded accordingly, and D) the current grad students absolutely do not work -- nor are they expected to work -- anything approaching 60, 80, or 100 hours a week under normal circumstances.

cosmosis
Posts: 55
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2016 2:20 pm

Re: Need help with astrophysics program

Postby cosmosis » Wed Apr 12, 2017 12:50 pm

Hey everyone,

Thanks for your feedback. I have narrowed it down to U Arizona and UCSC. At this point, it feels impossible to decide. If you know anything about these two programs that could be helpful, I would appreciate it.

TakeruK
Posts: 848
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Need help with astrophysics program

Postby TakeruK » Wed Apr 12, 2017 7:26 pm

What places can best support your specific research interests and what personal factors are important to your decision?

I'm in exoplanets so I mostly know UCSC for its exoplanets program, but I know they are great at astronomy in general too. The current 1st year graduate class is *17* students. There are only 35-40 grad students total so the current 1st year class (2nd year when you get there) is more than half the department. This is due to more than expected number of students accepting offers and some newly recruited professors bringing their old students with them. My experience with the department there is that everyone is very collegial and I feel like it would be an awesome place to work. I actually applied to take postdoc fellowships there. That didn't work out and I did end up with a postdoc offer at another great place, but UCSC astro is certainly a place I could be very happy at. In addition, the UCSC Astro dept is one of the most productive and strongest departments at UCSC. It certainly wields a lot of clout at the school. If you are an observer, access to UCO Lick and the Keck telescopes (through the UC system) is great.

I have also visited Arizona a few years ago but did not spend much time in their Astro department (I visited the Lunar and Planetary Lab / Planetary Science department). I don't know much about the culture other than the letter posted above, which does seem scary but based on my experience with grad schools, I can see how it could be taken out of context and while the letter still raises legitimate concerns, I also wouldn't let the letter without context affect my decision. If you haven't talked to students there yet about quality of life, then it would be a good idea to do so! Steward Observatory is also a very strong astro department! If you are an observer, access to the MagAO and other southern hemisphere telescopes is great.

So, maybe that's not super helpful to hear great things about both schools, but the good news is that in terms of astro research quality, I don't think you can really go wrong. I would make the decision based on your specific research interests and your personal interests. I feel that Santa Cruz, CA and Tucson, AZ are very very different places to live so it just depends on what you like more. I hope you did have a chance to visit both cities.

For me, I would love living in Santa Cruz. It is very expensive though, but the UCSC campus being in a forest is so lovely to me. I found Tucson way too hot and dry for my personal tastes. However, grad students can afford to buy houses there or rent super nice luxury apartments/condos. So there are certainly trade-offs.




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