Indecisions 2009

  • This has become our largest and most active forum because the physics GRE is just one aspect of getting accepted into a graduate physics program.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

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bryanwitha_y
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Indecisions 2009

Postby bryanwitha_y » Fri Apr 03, 2009 5:55 pm

It only seemed fair (and symmetrical) to make this topic.
So, to those who are still pulling hair out trying to decide where to go to last-minute, share the agony of indecision!

enemy_boat
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby enemy_boat » Fri Apr 03, 2009 6:15 pm

Still having anxiety filled days deciding between Irvine, Boston, or taking some time off.

alkemas
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby alkemas » Fri Apr 03, 2009 8:25 pm

go to Boston, California is going broke.

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dustdevil
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby dustdevil » Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:58 pm

I'm deciding between U. Michigan and UMass Amherst for Astronomy (primarily in star formation or something related). Well, and UT but I think I've been in Texas long enough. Any thoughts anyone??!?!? I'm at a total loss. Mich is paying me substantially more than either school and I have research experience in fields they are strong in (fields that I enjoy), but I also am interested in work done at UMass, though it would be a change. Additionally, my boyfriend, whom I consider myself to be serious with, is also in Mass and will be applying to graduate school in two years (he took some time off to work) and it is more likely that he will have a stronger application at UMass. I never realized how hard this decision would be..! The weather is going to kill me at both northern schools but I'll purchase a body suit and deal... If there was a worried smiley, insert 50 of them here.

devil_incarnate
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby devil_incarnate » Sat Apr 04, 2009 1:01 am

Hi! I thought I could also be a part of this post.To intrduce myself,I am an International student applied for PhD in Physics, Fall 2009.I am interested in exp. condensed matter, particularly quantum transport and nanoscale physics.I got schols from FSU, Pittsburgh, Virginia tech and SUNY Buffalo...and I am in a fix which one to go for.The choice is mostly between FSU and Pittsburgh. Apparently, Pittsburgh has excellent faculty and academic atmosphere, while FSU has the National High Magnetic Lab and my research interest matches more with FSU.I have noo idea about the faculty at FSU. Could you guys please help me out?

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G01
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby G01 » Sun Apr 05, 2009 1:41 am

alkemas wrote:go to Boston, California is going broke.


Agreed. I get the feeling that California Schools have a hard time ahead of them in the next couple years.

Also, Boston is a great place to live and go to school. And (I assume you mean Boston Univ.) Boston University is still running faculty searches for physics for next year, a sign that the department still has money.

TychoBrahe
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby TychoBrahe » Sun Apr 05, 2009 6:19 pm

As I mentioned in another thread, I am having a difficult time deciding between Ohio State and U. of Rochester.

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a13ean
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby a13ean » Sun Apr 05, 2009 6:57 pm

blanked
Last edited by a13ean on Wed Aug 14, 2013 11:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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grae313
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby grae313 » Sun Apr 05, 2009 7:24 pm

a13ean wrote:I have absolutely no idea what I can/should/will do next year. If my girlfriend gets into Cornell everything will be dandy, but other than that the field is wide open. She got into UIUC and Stanford both of whom rejected me, and while we both got into Harvard she is no longer interested in her program there. We were both accepted to U Washington, but while there's great people for her to work for there I'm not particularly sure who I would work for. We also both got into Berkeley, but she's not very interested in her department and while I know the physics department is great there, I don't have any idea who I would work with.

I wouldn't mind taking a year off while she starts at UIUC for example, but there's no guarantee that I could get into there next year. Similarly, she could take a year off while I started at Cornell, but there's no guarantee she would fare better next year. Individually, we both are very happy with where we got in, but the two-body problem has messed everything up.


Tell her to suck it up and go to Harvard. Poor thing--OH! THE SACRIFICE!

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a13ean
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby a13ean » Sun Apr 05, 2009 8:45 pm

grae313 wrote:Tell her to suck it up and go to Harvard. Poor thing--OH! THE SACRIFICE!


Apparently none of the professors in her program talk to each other, people are constantly fighting over projects, funding, students etc. There's also some sort of strange seniority system that allows older grad students to take over any newer student's project at will if theirs doesn't pan out. If any of my programs were like that I wouldn't go there either =/

astrofan
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby astrofan » Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:12 am

dustdevil wrote:I'm deciding between U. Michigan and UMass Amherst for Astronomy (primarily in star formation or something related). Well, and UT but I think I've been in Texas long enough. Any thoughts anyone??!?!? I'm at a total loss. Mich is paying me substantially more than either school and I have research experience in fields they are strong in (fields that I enjoy), but I also am interested in work done at UMass, though it would be a change. Additionally, my boyfriend, whom I consider myself to be serious with, is also in Mass and will be applying to graduate school in two years (he took some time off to work) and it is more likely that he will have a stronger application at UMass. I never realized how hard this decision would be..! The weather is going to kill me at both northern schools but I'll purchase a body suit and deal... If there was a worried smiley, insert 50 of them here.


I am a fan of Amherst astronomy over Michigan. Both are great schools though. Its cold during the winter in MA, but the summers are quite mild.

As for pay, Worcester is not Boston, it is western MA (which means much less to do as well). Ann Arbor is cheaper than Worcester, but Amherst gives a good enough stipend.

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meowful
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby meowful » Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:24 am

astrofan wrote:As for pay, Worcester is not Boston, it is western MA (which means much less to do as well). Ann Arbor is cheaper than Worcester, but Amherst gives a good enough stipend.


Wait, just so no one gets confused: Worcester, home of WPI, is actually halfway between Amherst and Boston. Amherst is near Springfield and also the charming town of Northampton.

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dlenmn
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby dlenmn » Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:40 am

Like meowful said. For the geography impaired:

Amherst, MA
Worcester, MA
Boston, MA

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dustdevil
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby dustdevil » Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:08 am

When I visited I was told Ann Arbor was a bit pricey in terms of living costs (rent on average is about $700-$800) whereas Amherst was fairly inexpensive ($500-600) (and Boston isn't too far away :) ). UMich's stipend was about ~$24K vs. UMass's ~$20K. Is $20K enough to get by on in Massachusetts? I loved UMass's people (and apparently they liked me, they sent my advisor an email shortly after) but I'm still slightly worried about starting in a completely different research area than what I have done in the past.

Oh and to add, Michigan also has quite a few recent hires in star formation, further complicating the decision.

IDL
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby IDL » Mon Apr 06, 2009 2:54 am

I haven't been deciding between UT Austin, Wisconsin Madison and Columbia for Astronomy. I have been working on galactic dynamics using N-body simulation. While UT Austin is more attractive for me, I think that the atmosphere of the department has focused on observation and instruments than theory. Is there anyone who can give me some advice?

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dustdevil
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby dustdevil » Mon Apr 06, 2009 3:07 am

IDL wrote:I haven't been deciding between UT Austin, Wisconsin Madison and Columbia for Astronomy. I have been working on galactic dynamics using N-body simulation. While UT Austin is more attractive for me, I think that the atmosphere of the department has focused on observation and instruments than theory. Is there anyone who can give me some advice?


Hello IDL,
During my visitation weekend it seems like the department is pushing towards theoretical astrophysics in their new hires. You can't beat the weather, and the computational power is pretty incredible. Also there are a lot of people to work with there. I think it would be a good place for computational people.

Were you there at the second visiting weekend?

I've all but taken UT off my list, but that's mainly because I'm at Rice (in Houston) and want to move somewhere new. But who knows, maybe I'll still go there if I can't make up my mind on the other two. :wink:

Cheers,
IRAF

J/K.

nathan12343
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby nathan12343 » Mon Apr 06, 2009 3:14 am

dustdevil wrote:
Cheers,
IRAF


The horror...

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dustdevil
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby dustdevil » Mon Apr 06, 2009 3:31 am

Come on now, IRAF is not that terrible. DAOPHOT has been my best friend this semester.

IDL
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby IDL » Mon Apr 06, 2009 4:01 am

dustdevil wrote:
IDL wrote:I haven't been deciding between UT Austin, Wisconsin Madison and Columbia for Astronomy. I have been working on galactic dynamics using N-body simulation. While UT Austin is more attractive for me, I think that the atmosphere of the department has focused on observation and instruments than theory. Is there anyone who can give me some advice?


Hello IDL,
During my visitation weekend it seems like the department is pushing towards theoretical astrophysics in their new hires. You can't beat the weather, and the computational power is pretty incredible. Also there are a lot of people to work with there. I think it would be a good place for computational people.

Were you there at the second visiting weekend?

I've all but taken UT off my list, but that's mainly because I'm at Rice (in Houston) and want to move somewhere new. But who knows, maybe I'll still go there if I can't make up my mind on the other two. :wink:

Cheers,
IRAF

J/K.



Thank you for your kind advice!
I didn't participated in visiting day. It wasn't easy for me because I'm an international.
Could you tell me how many students visited there?

I'm really grad to hear that the department is supporting theoretical astrophysics.
Anyway, choosing school is so hard because this decision will be going to determine my 4~5 year's life!

activegalaxybuff
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby activegalaxybuff » Mon Apr 06, 2009 11:03 am

dustdevil wrote:Come on now, IRAF is not that terrible. DAOPHOT has been my best friend this semester.


Hey! Try working the STScI general help desk and answering every single stupid question anyone has about PyRAF. :shock:

astrofan
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby astrofan » Mon Apr 06, 2009 11:14 am

meowful wrote:
astrofan wrote:As for pay, Worcester is not Boston, it is western MA (which means much less to do as well). Ann Arbor is cheaper than Worcester, but Amherst gives a good enough stipend.


Wait, just so no one gets confused: Worcester, home of WPI, is actually halfway between Amherst and Boston. Amherst is near Springfield and also the charming town of Northampton.


:oops: I should proof read (not sure where I got Worcester from), Amherst is in fact further to the west as has been indicated.

dustdevil wrote:When I visited I was told Ann Arbor was a bit pricey in terms of living costs (rent on average is about $700-$800) whereas Amherst was fairly inexpensive ($500-600) (and Boston isn't too far away :) ). UMich's stipend was about ~$24K vs. UMass's ~$20K. Is $20K enough to get by on in Massachusetts? I loved UMass's people (and apparently they liked me, they sent my advisor an email shortly after) but I'm still slightly worried about starting in a completely different research area than what I have done in the past.

Oh and to add, Michigan also has quite a few recent hires in star formation, further complicating the decision.



Okay, I was just using a cost of living comparison calculator online, which said Ann Arbor was a little cheaper. I think it furthers the case for UMASS, as Western Mass is pretty cheap and $20K is a good amount of money. I sort of messed up the cities, but my point is still true; Amherst != Boston. In New England, if you are closer to Foxwoods (~30 miles away from Amherst) than Boston (~90 miles away) its not really MA (NYC folk say the same thing about Ithica being in NY). Since you said something about Texas, Amherst:Boston :: College Station:Austin; which is true for expenses, stuff to do, and the type of people you will meet.

As for research, I don't think its that big a deal to change sub fields. In fact, many professors have suggested that I try working with Profs in different areas of research just to get a taste of the rest of astronomy. It sort of depends on how confident you are about what you would like to study.
Last edited by astrofan on Mon Apr 06, 2009 11:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

astrofan
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby astrofan » Mon Apr 06, 2009 11:16 am

activegalaxybuff wrote:
dustdevil wrote:Come on now, IRAF is not that terrible. DAOPHOT has been my best friend this semester.


Hey! Try working the STScI general help desk and answering every single stupid question anyone has about PyRAF. :shock:


I am one of those people asking stupid questions about PyRaf. :wink:

They should make the documentation easier to follow...

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Helio
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby Helio » Mon Apr 06, 2009 11:41 am

dustdevil wrote:Come on now, IRAF is not that terrible. DAOPHOT has been my best friend this semester.



IRAF is so bad that I have seen grad students give up on it and program their own stuff instead

dustdevil wrote:
IDL wrote:I haven't been deciding between UT Austin, Wisconsin Madison and Columbia for Astronomy. I have been working on galactic dynamics using N-body simulation. While UT Austin is more attractive for me, I think that the atmosphere of the department has focused on observation and instruments than theory. Is there anyone who can give me some advice?


Hello IDL,
During my visitation weekend it seems like the department is pushing towards theoretical astrophysics in their new hires. You can't beat the weather, and the computational power is pretty incredible. Also there are a lot of people to work with there. I think it would be a good place for computational people.

Were you there at the second visiting weekend?

I've all but taken UT off my list, but that's mainly because I'm at Rice (in Houston) and want to move somewhere new. But who knows, maybe I'll still go there if I can't make up my mind on the other two. :wink:

Cheers,
IRAF

J/K.


So I am right now deciding between UT Astronomy and Wisconsin Physics... I am right now very much leaning towards Wisconsin (who would have thought) and that has a couple reasons.

Yes i would like to do observation and instrumentation, but I only saw 1 person that did instrumentation at my visiting weekend, and the observation stuff well yeah let me put it this way lets hope to got there is no fire at McDonald Observatory else somebody has a major problem. There seems to be this extreme focus on this one thing, which I have heard from the people that designed it isn't that good after all. Yes I could be happy in either city, the weather well i can always buy arctic gear and the money *** i am in this for research not money. Most people would tell me i am insane because I want to go to Wisconsin over Austin.

The theory people have a very good environment (except for Shapiro) and the resources I have to say are great. I was amazed by the simulation work they do and I remember Kip Thorne using their simulations during a talk he gave. The problem I see is that observation just dominates over the theory people because of the observatory, but the people that do do theory are very good to work with. I heard a comment from a guy at the visiting weekend that Volker Bromm must be like a walking encyclopedia of astrophysics and that he always had interesting projects even for his undergrads.

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dustdevil
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby dustdevil » Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:24 pm

McDonald is a more personal Observatory than say, Kitt Peak. There are no operators on the main mountain (I don't know if HET has an operator) so to me it feels more like true observing. And I'm biased since my first real observing run was out there in west Texas. One could do a lot of, say, monitoring-type work since there it's not too hard to get multiple nights over a long time span. It is definitely a great asset for a school to have.

IDL, would you like me to private-msg you the link to my picasa album with my pictures from the recruitment weekend?

astrofan
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby astrofan » Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:06 pm

Helio wrote:
dustdevil wrote:Come on now, IRAF is not that terrible. DAOPHOT has been my best friend this semester.


IRAF is so bad that I have seen grad students give up on it and program their own stuff instead


I love how this thread turned into Astro Indecisions 2009. :P

All the physics people must be like wtf is IRAF and IDL. Just to add my 2 cents, you have to use IRAF to use HST. I seriously doubt that any grad student could duplicate some of the stsci packages in IRAF.

activegalaxybuff
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby activegalaxybuff » Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:12 pm

astrofan wrote:I love how this thread turned into Astro Indecisions 2009. :P

All the physics people must be like wtf is IRAF and IDL. Just to add my 2 cents, you have to use IRAF to use HST. I seriously doubt that any grad student could duplicate some of the stsci packages in IRAF.


You say that now, but wait until you see my personal IDL library. Lol. In my defense, though, I actually work on the ACS/WFPC2 team for HST, so I have to write a lot of programs to do special behind-the-scenes magic.

In the meantime, playing off the title of the thread, New Mexico State is still undecided about me!!! :cry: Apparently, I'm waiting for first-rounders to turn down their offers...asifjarghjfsoekjf. I wanna know now!!!

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Helio
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby Helio » Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:24 pm

dustdevil wrote:McDonald is a more personal Observatory than say, Kitt Peak. There are no operators on the main mountain (I don't know if HET has an operator) so to me it feels more like true observing. And I'm biased since my first real observing run was out there in west Texas. One could do a lot of, say, monitoring-type work since there it's not too hard to get multiple nights over a long time span. It is definitely a great asset for a school to have.

IDL, would you like me to private-msg you the link to my picasa album with my pictures from the recruitment weekend?


the HET is operated by a resident observer that is at least what my host told me

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Andromeda
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby Andromeda » Mon Apr 06, 2009 2:37 pm

dustdevil, you should go to UoMI because I'm on the waitlist at UMass. :P No really, I'll resolve from judgment, just saying if deciding one or two days earlier is possible you'd make some other person very happy (someone's prolly still crossing their fingers from UoMI as well!). :D

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bryanwitha_y
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby bryanwitha_y » Mon Apr 06, 2009 3:02 pm

I've mentioned this in another thread, but here's my pickle:

UIUC vs. Yale, and the iron physicist ingredient is Nuclear/Medium Energy Physics.

UIUC Pro: It is closer to home, has lower cost of living, they really want me, I might not have to ever TA (RA from this summer on), the faculty seem very friendly and connected, and the people there seem pretty normal (my kind of people).

UIUC Con: It's still building up it's world reputation, it is pretty far from any large populace, and it's a public school, so it's at the mercy of economic woes, though the Nuclear Dept. seemed to be pretty well funded.

Yale Pro: It is someplace new to live, it has that shiny name "Yale" which I'm sure holds some weight in things, there's that in-house stand-alone tandem Van de Graaff accelerator which would yield valuable hands-on experience.

Yale Con: Higher cost of living, less desirable place to live (the notorious New Haven) -- I have to digress on that point, because when I visited, a professor even joked about how many people have died of "lead poisoning" (haha :( ) in New Haven recently. Also, the people there (sans physics dept.) don't really feel like my kind of people.

Note: I'm more interested in the particular research UIUC is doing, but I'm aware that this does not really dictate one's career after PhD.

I suppose I have the same problem as in the thread about UIUC's rep. Either way, I feel like I might regret turning down Yale, yet I also feel I'd regret not living some place comfortable and closer to home with a research topic I feel suited for.

I feel like I know the answer, but it doesn't make me feel better about making the decision, if that makes any sense. :(

astrofan
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby astrofan » Mon Apr 06, 2009 3:05 pm

activegalaxybuff wrote:I love how this thread turned into Astro Indecisions 2009. :P

You say that now, but wait until you see my personal IDL library. Lol. In my defense, though, I actually work on the ACS/WFPC2 team for HST, so I have to write a lot of programs to do special behind-the-scenes magic.

In the meantime, playing off the title of the thread, New Mexico State is still undecided about me!!! :cry: Apparently, I'm waiting for first-rounders to turn down their offers...asifjarghjfsoekjf. I wanna know now!!!


Wow, you work on the HST pipeline! I should be talking to you about my ACS issues. Did you apply to Hopkins, I can't imagine you not getting in there regardless what your scores are! I am a little surprised that you are waiting on New Mexico.

fastones3
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby fastones3 » Mon Apr 06, 2009 3:08 pm

bryanwitha_y wrote:I've mentioned this in another thread, but here's my pickle:

...

I suppose I have the same problem as in the thread about UIUC's rep. Either way, I feel like I might regret turning down Yale, yet I also feel I'd regret not living some place comfortable and closer to home with a research topic I feel suited for.

I feel like I know the answer, but it doesn't make me feel better about making the decision, if that makes any sense. :(


It does sound like you've made your choice, and I would say that it's probably the better way to go. Don't let the overall 'institutional prestige' factor get to you. Go to the place you truly feel is the best fit and where you'll be most productive.

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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby activegalaxybuff » Mon Apr 06, 2009 3:24 pm

astrofan wrote:
activegalaxybuff wrote:I love how this thread turned into Astro Indecisions 2009. :P

You say that now, but wait until you see my personal IDL library. Lol. In my defense, though, I actually work on the ACS/WFPC2 team for HST, so I have to write a lot of programs to do special behind-the-scenes magic.

In the meantime, playing off the title of the thread, New Mexico State is still undecided about me!!! :cry: Apparently, I'm waiting for first-rounders to turn down their offers...asifjarghjfsoekjf. I wanna know now!!!


Wow, you work on the HST pipeline! I should be talking to you about my ACS issues. Did you apply to Hopkins, I can't imagine you not getting in there regardless what your scores are! I am a little surprised that you are waiting on New Mexico.


Actually, I didn't apply to JHU because of some issues I have with their program (technical things like the way they do their qualifying exams and such, not issues with the faculty). I'm still waiting on New Mexico because, well, I got rejected from every other Ph.D. program I applied to. :cry: But my PGRE score kinda sucked. Stupid test. I did get into Wesleyan's Masters program, but I'm apparently very close to getting in NMSU once someone rejects their offer.

In the meantime, feel free to email me with questions about ACS! It's actually my job to help you. :P Lol.

My creativity in hiding my email address and making it a link did not work, so here it is for EVERYONE! desjard@stsci.edu

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dustdevil
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby dustdevil » Mon Apr 06, 2009 3:56 pm

My main issue is that I am leaning 55% towards UMich and 45% toward UMass based on the program alone, but my real hang up is that my significant other lives in Mass and would go to UMass if I were there.. They are both great programs and have great people... I just can't make that decision right now (or in the next two days). Should love trump that 10%? We've been doing long distance for nearly a year now, and if we have to continue doing so we will, but it isn't our first choice situation.

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bryanwitha_y
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby bryanwitha_y » Mon Apr 06, 2009 5:58 pm

I just talked to one of my old professors for some advice on these matters, and I just thought it might be useful to share the advice that she gave me. (For credentials, she's one of the best professors that I've known, she's a CalTech PhD, and she's been a professor for an appreciable amount of time)

- If you know which professor you'd like to work under, there are some things to be cautious of: (1) somehow check on the professor's reputation, as grad school is much more political than undergrad. She related to me the story of how she would tell people which professors she worked for, and since one was particularly unliked, they would brush her off. Talk to their grad students and ask how they like them, and talk to other grad students and see how they perceive that professor. (2) Beware if they single you out to help be a part of some research due to a skill set you might have. Some professors like to ride their students until their skill set is no longer useful and then set them aside.

- Check out the age and status of the faculty members. Many careers have been nearly ruined by students who lose their advisors due to sickness, death, or the faculty having a sick spouse, etc. Also, it's a bad sign if the school doesn't have a lot of tenured staff in your specific department.

- Check on the resources of your specific department, seeing as it will determine how much they will be able to support your own thesis work down the line.

- Focus on your possibilities at publications. If you go to Berkeley and make two publications that don't really make it anywhere, and you go to lesser-prestigious-university X and publish 6 papers, two of which make it into Nature Physics, then you've made your own prestige.

- If you're stuck between two places, write down 10 things that are important to you, and then rate each university on a scale from 1 to 3 (not 1 to 10, because then one could clear the other too easily). If you add it all up and one score appreciably more than the other, then you have an answer. However, if one scores higher than the other and your gut starts churning, listen to your gut and what it's telling you.

Probably the most important thing she said to me when I asked about X vs. Y:
- "If you really have what it takes to be a physicist and be successful, they're close enough that you'll be successful as a physicist regardless of which you choose." (paraphrased) I like it.

Hope this helps more people as it has helped me.

sterculus
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby sterculus » Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:19 pm

I'll chime in on this thread - I'm so hopelessly up in the air at the moment. I just got to MIT today for their visiting days, so I guess after that it's decision time. Scary.

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Re

Postby xudis149 » Mon Apr 06, 2009 10:11 pm

~
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astrofan
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby astrofan » Tue Apr 07, 2009 1:40 am

activegalaxybuff wrote:Actually, I didn't apply to JHU because of some issues I have with their program (technical things like the way they do their qualifying exams and such, not issues with the faculty). I'm still waiting on New Mexico because, well, I got rejected from every other Ph.D. program I applied to. :cry: But my PGRE score kinda sucked. Stupid test. I did get into Wesleyan's Masters program, but I'm apparently very close to getting in NMSU once someone rejects their offer.

In the meantime, feel free to email me with questions about ACS! It's actually my job to help you. :P Lol.

My creativity in hiding my email address and making it a link did not work, so here it is for EVERYONE! desjard@stsci.edu


Yeah that is what I figured. It is a real shame that you are waiting on NMSU, and haven't been accepted anywhere else. Shows how stupid grad schools are; I can see top 20 schools not taking you, but common. I feel like anyone who primarily uses HST would love to have you as a grad student; you would publish so quickly...

Good luck with NMSU.

boomsdaydevice
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby boomsdaydevice » Tue Apr 07, 2009 11:57 am

Do you really think California's economic woes will significantly affect research at Irvine? I too am split between Irvine and a Boston school, and I hadn't really thought that would be that big of a factor... they do get alot of NIH funding... hmmmmmm...

astrofan
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby astrofan » Tue Apr 07, 2009 3:32 pm

boomsdaydevice wrote:Do you really think California's economic woes will significantly affect research at Irvine? I too am split between Irvine and a Boston school, and I hadn't really thought that would be that big of a factor... they do get alot of NIH funding... hmmmmmm...


Private schools are also hurt by the economy. Maybe not as badly, but it is still a problem (unless you are talking about Harvard or MIT, but I assume not if you are considering them with Irvine).

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noojens
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby noojens » Tue Apr 07, 2009 9:10 pm

astrofan wrote:Private schools are also hurt by the economy. Maybe not as badly, but it is still a problem (unless you are talking about Harvard or MIT, but I assume not if you are considering them with Irvine).

Yep, some Ivies lost as much as 40% of their endowments in the crunch.

Physics departments across the board depend on NSF/DOE funding more than funding from their host universities, I believe.

Nambla
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby Nambla » Tue Apr 07, 2009 11:53 pm

I am trying to decide between Rice University and Penn State University for experimental condensed matter physics / nanotech research.

On the one hand,
Rice is offering me substantially more money, has the more desirable location and climate, has lighter TA duties, and does not have a qualifying exam (which is only a minor factor).
But Penn State has a better research match in terms of professors I would want to work for and better facilities from what I perceived during my brief visits to each school. I even have a summer research position already lined up with my first-choice research advisor at Penn State should I attend.
Both schools are well-funded, as far as I can tell, and are fairly highly ranked for the research I wish to do (perhaps Penn State may be slightly higher depending on the source).

I have a long list of logical reasons, as well as recommendations from people at my undergrad school whose opinions I value, to choose Rice, but at the same time the research match at Penn State and my “gut” tell me to go the other way.

I would be interested in hearing others’ opinions if you are considering either of these schools (or even if you are not).

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dustdevil
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby dustdevil » Wed Apr 08, 2009 1:36 am

Nambla, I'm currently at Rice as an undergrad (an astrophysics major, but I take all of the physics classes along with the astro) and I really support it. Great professors who are also great people (which is sometimes a difficult combination to get). Rice is really beautiful too, and the city is full of things to do (and eat). The grad students all seem happy here, and they do pay really well.

However it's really important to go with your gut. That extra underlying element of feeling you get at a place really affects your overall happiness when you actually attend. I wish I knew what my gut was telling me!

But yeah, Rice is awesome! Yay owls. I sometimes even see owls up in the trees on the campus, which seems out of place for downtown houston.

stargazer
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby stargazer » Wed Apr 08, 2009 2:40 am

I am also having a really tough time to choose between the schools.
So please help me :cry:

If you guys want an extragalactic observation and are accepted to UT, Texas A&M, Hawaii, JHU,
which school would you join in?
and what do you think are the strength/weakness of these school?

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bryanwitha_y
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby bryanwitha_y » Wed Apr 08, 2009 11:28 am

stargazer wrote:I am also having a really tough time to choose between the schools.
So please help me :cry:

If you guys want an extragalactic observation and are accepted to UT, Texas A&M, Hawaii, JHU,
which school would you join in?
and what do you think are the strength/weakness of these school?


Just doing a cursory look into rankings (I'm sure you've done as much, if not more), it looks like UT and Hawaii are your two front-runners (you are talking about Hawaii at Manoa, right? Or at Hilo?). First, look into what their big research areas are and see if one tickles your fancy more than the other. That's a big factor regarding your enjoyment of your grad career. If it helps, I've attended UHM for a year on exchange, and you really can't ignore the value of living in a place with perfect weather all the time, a nice quiet setting and a really good setting for observation. I moved there from the NM desert, and never regretted the setting change. I wish I knew more about the others so I'd be able to help you more, but insofar as having a ranked program and a great locale, UH would be my pick (do note my bias though :wink: .

Good luck, yon gazer.

astrofan
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby astrofan » Wed Apr 08, 2009 1:44 pm

@stargazer:

If your research interests are that broad (extragalactic observation astronomy is not that broad, but in the sense that it is not specific like supernovae), Texas A&M should not be on your list. I am not trying to be mean, but why haven't you already told them that you have way the hell better options? I guess if you want a small department, than A&M is an option, but then the other 3 make no sense.

(Just as a side note, the only research reson to choose Texas A&M astronomy is for Type Ia supernovae (Nicholas Suntzeff), but JHU has Adam Reiss who is more famous and is doing the same research.)

Now, UT and Hawaii give you the same type of research. Both have observatories that students are encouraged to observe at (both also have nice climates). I think in terms of research, it is as bryanwitha_y says, figure out which schools' professors you want to work with most. Other factors include that UH is in the middle of no where; you really have to like the outdoors to be happy in Hawaii. Yeah, they pay you a lot, but it costs a lot of money to live there. Austin is a big city and very lively (unlike the rest of Texas). Both are really good options, and I really can't tell you which to choose.

Just to further frustrate your decision, you can't throw out JHU right away. JHU on paper, looks like a smaller department. However, one must keep in mind that STSCI (they control Hubble) is right across the street from JHU. You could do your PhD with someone working at STSCI and not JHU (the situation is similar to Harvard; Harvard has a good department, but Harvard + Smithsonian make up the Center for Astrophysics, which is arguably the best place in the world to study astronomy).

That being said, I would love to have your problems :wink:

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bryanwitha_y
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby bryanwitha_y » Wed Apr 08, 2009 2:35 pm

astrofan wrote:@stargazer: [...]
Other factors include that UH is in the middle of no where; you really have to like the outdoors to be happy in Hawaii. [...]


Much better feedback than I can offer, astrofan, but I just wanted to point out that I'm pretty sure the graduate program for astro is in Manoa on Oahu, not Hilo on the Big Island. Now, Hilo is the kind of place where you have to really love the outdoors, because there is *nothing* else around. After visiting there, I concluded that I'd have to resort to hard drugs if I lived there.

I'm assuming that that's the UH location you're thinking of, because UH at Manoa is a short bus ride from Honolulu. Yeah, it's in the middle of the Pacific, but I wouldn't go so far as to say it's in the middle of nowhere. That being said, I should point out (because it surprised me) that UH is in no way a party school. Very chill and relaxed through-and-through.

However, you're probably absolutely right when you say that Austin is much more lively with many more things to do, city-wise. Either way, great feedback all around -- especially the point about JHU.

Just one more piece of advice, stargazer, is to call the department secretaries (like, now -- time's getting short) and ask them to send you a short (but complete) list of recent astronomy phd grads and where they ended up going to after getting their phd. This will help you gauge how valuable the outside research world (and industry) view grads from that university.

Good luck with the decision making. It is stressful, but holy hadron, ain't it exciting?

astrofan
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby astrofan » Wed Apr 08, 2009 3:25 pm

In terms of the big city apeal: NYC>Boston>Austin. I don't even consider Manoa a small city.

From what I have heard, Manoa is a lot like College Station (Texas A&M land). College Station is very close to Austin.

stargazer
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby stargazer » Thu Apr 09, 2009 12:18 am

Wow!! Thank you all for the valuable advice :D


astrofan wrote:@stargazer:

If your research interests are that broad (extragalactic observation astronomy is not that broad, but in the sense that it is not specific like supernovae), Texas A&M should not be on your list. I am not trying to be mean, but why haven't you already told them that you have way the hell better options? I guess if you want a small department, than A&M is an option, but then the other 3 make no sense.

(Just as a side note, the only research reson to choose Texas A&M astronomy is for Type Ia supernovae (Nicholas Suntzeff), but JHU has Adam Reiss who is more famous and is doing the same research.)

:



I totally understand what you said, but if my research interest would not change, there certainly are professors at Texas A&M who I would like to work with(Papovich & Vy tran). and that's why I could not decline their offer easily.

However, I thought my research interest might change in the future (within extragalactic observation astronomy, I guess), then I think I should choose a big department.

So what's here is.. if I only consider the professor to work with & my current research interest, my choice would be Texas A&M > Hawaii > UT > JHU.
However, I had a better offer from UT, and considering the risk of changing research interest and general life, my choice would be UT, Hawaii, JHU > Texas A&M. :shock:

03D3bb
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby 03D3bb » Thu Apr 09, 2009 12:48 am

@stargazer.

You should go to UT. It has a nice-size department with a wide range of research (all of which are good), excellent observational opportunities (face it, if you want to use Hubble you/your advisor can always apply for time..), and is in a kick-ass town (I'm not a UT grad student trolling around, don't worry). From what I know, Hawaii likes to use their grad students as data slaves; most people say that being a postdoc there is >> than being a grad student so if I were you I'd save it for later :) JHU is a good school doing great work in probably one of the worst cities in America, unless of course you really like schools with gritty charm and getting mugged every once in a while. Texas A&M should be a non-factor. One day they'll be great, but you have such great options that I'd recommend turning that one down immediately.

stargazer
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Postby stargazer » Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:38 am

03D3bb wrote:@stargazer.

From what I know, Hawaii likes to use their grad students as data slaves; most people say that being a postdoc there is >> than being a grad student so if I were you I'd save it for later :)




Really??? quite a shock to me.. :cry:




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