How to Decide?

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tshafer
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:59 am

How to Decide?

Postby tshafer » Sat Feb 28, 2009 11:24 pm

First, apologies to all who have not heard back yet in the affirmative... I do not mean to be callous, I assure you. This is, I suppose, a great problem to have.

For various reasons beyond my control, I am limited to applying to mid-range (30-50) schools and have been accepted to two. Having visited both departments, I am at an impasse. Uni A is more highly-ranked and highly-regarded in theory (~35), but seemed less like a place I would want to be for 5-6 years; Uni B is less highly ranked (~45-50) but seemed to be a much more enjoyable place to be. Project-wise, there are questions at both places - A has fairly highly-regarded faculty who have published a good bit but can be somewhat difficult to work with (from what I've heard talking to older theory PhD candidates and I can only see myself working with one specific individual), while B has younger/less published faculty who seem to be easier to work with.

I guess the question is how important is pedigree? Is it worth going to A for the one/two faculty even if it might be a much tougher time when both are not top-20? Or would it be better to go somewhere less prestigious if you think it would be a better overall experience/more topics to choose from? Or is it too case-by-case to know?

Thanks for any suggestions!

tom

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noojens
Posts: 187
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:59 pm

Re: How to Decide?

Postby noojens » Sun Mar 01, 2009 5:22 pm

Obviously no one can make this decision for you, but here is my take.

Since the schools are of roughly the same tier, the deciding factor in "pedigree" will not be the school you graduate from, but the advisor you work with. So: do you know for certain that you can work with the one highly reputed professor you're interested in at school A? If there's a chance that that professor isn't taking new students, or may take some other student instead of you, then I'd say go for the school you'll be more comfortable at.

Personally, I'd rather work with a young, active and amiable advisor than an old crotchety one. And I think the five years of your PhD (most of which will be pretty high-stress) will be a lot more enjoyable in a town/department that you feel at home in.

Just my thoughts. :) Best of luck to you.

MrKite
Posts: 17
Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:01 pm

Re: How to Decide?

Postby MrKite » Mon Mar 02, 2009 11:34 am

I have come to a similar conclusion. When I applied I thought I would outright reject the 'bottom' few on my list if some of the 'top' ones came in. Now that I have been accepted to a few, I dont really care about 'top' or 'bottom' because I feel I have enough hand to be picky and make my choice based off of the professor rather than the school.

Now I wonder, how can I get the reality on how reputed a professor is. (since I havent been reading articles in the field for years, I just dont know) I can see how many publications they put out and thats a good metric, but can I find out how much funding they get somehow?

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noojens
Posts: 187
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:59 pm

Re: How to Decide?

Postby noojens » Mon Mar 02, 2009 3:20 pm

MrKite wrote:Now I wonder, how can I get the reality on how reputed a professor is. (since I havent been reading articles in the field for years, I just dont know) I can see how many publications they put out and thats a good metric, but can I find out how much funding they get somehow?

The easiest way is just to ask other researchers in that professor's field. Have they heard of her? What do they think of her research? This may not give you "the reality," but it'll give you a basic idea.

Otherwise I suppose you could compare average citations per paper on the ArXiv or something.




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