How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

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muons
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How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby muons » Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:09 pm

Hi everybody, this may sound like a ridiculous question but... hear me out:

I'm a top notch undergraduate (domestic male, not minority) interested in high energy theory. I love my gf but our grad school plans kind of failed. I was hoping she would apply to CA schools but she refused.. in turns, I only applied to the top notch schools:

Princeton, Harvard, MIT, UChicago, Stanford, Berkeley.

I got into all of them, and got a fellowship offer from Stanford. However, my gf didn't get into any. She's into high energy experiment, and she got into:

JHU, Cornell, Rutgers, Rochester, Boston U

Now she seems pretty set on Cornell. However as stupid as I was, I did not apply to Cornell. She does not seem to want to compromise. It'll be 4 hours away from Princeton (my top choice), however, I seriously hate long distance relationship and even 4 hours sound ridiculous to me... my only regret now is that I did not !@#%# apply to Cornell...

Now, what if (I know it sounds crazy...) I send the admission committee people an email, stating my situation... would there be a slight chance that I'll get admitted?


I have a very strong record:

- 990 PGRE, 800 Math GRE, 520 Verbal GRE, 4.5 Writing GRE, gpa=3.97

- 3 summer of experimental research, 1 out of 3 summer at CERN

- I just got the new DOE fellowship 35k per year (that means no funding needed from the department)

- grad courses: 3 semester QFT, 2 QM, GR, applied group theory (in physics), 2 EM, Stat Mech (right now)..

- My recommendations are from well known hep experimentalist and one theorist but it would almost be impossible to
get their recommendations at this point... They would totally KILL me for even considering this... and my parents, advisors and recommenders will surely be disappointed...

So my question is:
1. How likely can I pull this off seeing how admission decision deadline is April 15th?
2. How stupid am I? I'm blowing off Princeton, MIT, Harvard... just to go to Cornell and be with my gf... am I making sense? How much of a sacrifice would it be?
3. Am I insane for considering this?

Mataka
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby Mataka » Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:29 pm

1- I would be very surprise if Cornell admitted you, especially without seeing your recommendation letters and way pass the deadline. But I could be wrong, and you surely have nothing to loose by trying...
2-You're not being stupid, but what will you do when it comes the time to apply for postdoc ? Will you again restrict your options to stick by your gf ? ...
3- No, but it sounds like it's something you should have seen coming. If you knew that you wanted to stick by your gf for your phd, then why did you two apply to different schools ?

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HappyQuark
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby HappyQuark » Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:39 pm

muons wrote:Hi everybody, this may sound like a ridiculous question but... hear me out:

I'm a top notch undergraduate (domestic male, not minority) interested in high energy theory. I love my gf but our grad school plans kind of failed. I was hoping she would apply to CA schools but she refused.. in turns, I only applied to the top notch schools:

Princeton, Harvard, MIT, UChicago, Stanford, Berkeley.

I got into all of them, and got a fellowship offer from Stanford. However, my gf didn't get into any. She's into high energy experiment, and she got into:

JHU, Cornell, Rutgers, Rochester, Boston U

Now she seems pretty set on Cornell. However as stupid as I was, I did not apply to Cornell. She does not seem to want to compromise. It'll be 4 hours away from Princeton (my top choice), however, I seriously hate long distance relationship and even 4 hours sound ridiculous to me... my only regret now is that I did not !@#%# apply to Cornell...

Now, what if (I know it sounds crazy...) I send the admission committee people an email, stating my situation... would there be a slight chance that I'll get admitted?


I have a very strong record:

- 990 PGRE, 800 Math GRE, 520 Verbal GRE, 4.5 Writing GRE, gpa=3.97

- 3 summer of experimental research, 1 summer at CERN

- I just got the new DOE fellowship 35k per year (that means no funding needed from the department)

- grad courses: 3 semester QFT, 2 QM, GR, applied group theory (in physics), 2 EM, Stat Mech (right now)..

- My recommendations are from well known hep experimentalist and one theorist but it would almost be impossible to
get their recommendations at this point... They would totally KILL me for even considering this... and my parents, advisors and recommenders will surely be disappointed...

So my question is:
1. How likely can I pull this off seeing how admission decision deadline is April 15th?
2. How stupid am I? I'm blowing off Princeton, MIT, Harvard... just to go to Cornell and be with my gf... am I making sense? How much of a sacrifice would it be?
3. Am I insane for considering this?


1. It is probably pretty unlikely as Cornell has probably sent out acceptances and at such a late stage in the game, I would doubt that they haven't already allocated most of the funding they have at their disposal. With that said, it is certainly worth a try (if you decide that this is what you want to do). As you pointed out, your profile is strong and if you appeal to a professor in the department then you might stand a chance, especially if you can convince them that your research area would be a perfect fit for the faculty in some way.

2. Nobody can answer that but you. I realize that this is a bit of a cop out, but really none of us can really know how significant your relationship is with your girlfriend. If leaving your girlfriend behind would be enough to make your stay at Harvard, MIT or Princeton unbearable, then you would probably be better off being happy at Cornell than miserable at MIT.

3. The painful but honest truth of the matter is that the 2 body problem will haunt you for the next 10-15 years, at least. Right now you will have location issues with going to grad school. In 5-7 years you will likely be moving around for post doc positions. after 2-5 years of that you will be traveling around trying to get a teaching position at a university (assuming you don't plan to go into industry) and even then there is the possibility that you will have to move around until you get a permanent position.

I don't know your situation well enough to give you any real advice and I'm not an advocate of psycho-analyzing someones motives from their statements, but the simple fact that you are considering leaving her behind might be enough to tell you that it isn't worth a decade or more of problems with this specific person. If, on the other hand, you were convinced that you couldn't leave your girlfriend under any conditions, then I would probably think it would be worth it to at least try to make it work.

AO
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby AO » Wed Apr 07, 2010 1:24 am

I went through the same thing last year with my ex (which probably gives an indication of which choice we made.) I decided that it was too big of a deal in our lives to not go where we each, individually, fit best. It was an extremely difficult and painful experience but I think/hope we are both better off because of it. This might give an indication of our relationship (we had been together for 5 years off and on but at that point for a 3 year stretch) and yours may be different, but I don't think either option is ridiculous. Good luck.

Josh

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YellowXDart
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby YellowXDart » Wed Apr 07, 2010 2:23 am

Honestly, and this might sound a little harsh, if you aren't willing to sacrifice a 4 hour drive to be with her, this relationship is going nowhere. I don't think it's fair to the students who were committed to going to Cornell from the very start for you to step in and say "Hey, look at me! I'm awesome! I totally want to be there only because of my girlfriend, but you should let me in anyway!" It's selfish. A 4 hour drive is a small investment to be with somebody if you really truly love them, so you might as well go with your best choice and let her go with her best choice. If things don't work out then it wasn't meant to be.

peglegjeff
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby peglegjeff » Wed Apr 07, 2010 3:04 am

My 2 cents:

I seriously doubt that Cornell will accept you if you're 'applying' this late in the game. Especially if your stated reasoning is not that the program is interesting to you, but rather it is convenient for your relationship. Sorry muons, but that's probably out of the question. Best case scenario: you spend a year making that four hour drive on the weekends and apply to Cornell as a transfer student in the fall. With your stats, I'd imagine a transfer would be do-able.

YellowXDart - I do think you're being too harsh. Long distance relationships (4 hour drive counts) frankly suck, especially if you're used to spending nearly every day together. It puts a real strain on the relationship, not to mention your personal emotional state. Maybe some couples handle it better, but in my experience it just puts the relationship in a weird Limbo, where you're just hanging on until you can be in the same place.

muons - As a married student, I completely sympathize with you. When you're in a serious relationship, you will no doubt have to make sacrifices to make it work. That said, with both of you going into highly specialized fields (that is, with relatively few jobs scattered around the nation), you should both expect to make some pretty serious sacrifices to keep the relationship going in the long term. As others have mentioned, this same issue will crop up again in 5 or so years when you apply for a post-doc (and I imagine if your choosing your grad program based on the relationship, you are planning to still be together then). It's something that the two of you should talk about and figure out what sacrifices you both are willing to make, and equally important, which ones you are not. If that sounds like it's too serious a talk for the two of you, then you should really consider whether the relationship is serious enough for you to sacrifice your dream school.

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zxcv
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby zxcv » Wed Apr 07, 2010 3:28 am

Hi muon,

I think you have an excellent chance of pulling this off. Cornell wants your girlfriend and clearly you would be a steal for them, too. Read Sean Carroll's story. He got into Harvard astro, applying only after he got the NSF. Just don't let your girlfriend tell them yet that she's coming whether you go or not.

Why would your letter writers resent this? Nearly everyone understands the importance of love. I think they will be far more understanding than you expect. You're not asking them to do much more than dig through their archives for an letter they've already sent. I don't think Cornell would be offended either. Clearly, you want to go there both because you're interested in their physics program and because of your girlfriend. It was a mistake not applying there in the first place, but we are only human. This is how two body problems work.

So contact Cornell's admissions committee and the administrative staff which handles admission decisions right away. The clock is ticking, but you have two major factors in your favor: 1) your girlfriend is already in and 2) you just won a major fellowship. Both these factors could be decisive in yielding you an admit under normal circumstances. Oh, and you'd pretty much be an auto-admit in normal circumstances anyways. This may not be logistically feasible but since nobody on this forum claims to be on the Cornell admissions committee, don't let them stop you from trying. Make your case!

Whether this is ill-advised is an entirely different matter. As has already been stated, nobody else can evaluate how important your relationship and proximity to your girlfriend are to you. My long distance girlfriend lives 3000 miles. We weren't dating when I started grad school, but if we were I might have chosen very differently -- and in your circumstances, I might very well have tried to pull off a stunt like you're considering. I suppose with my new fellowship I might even have a chance now of transferring to Harvard or MIT, but it's not worth spending an extra year in grad school. Fortunately she's not in a PhD program and currently applying for jobs near me. For now, I'm racking up the frequent flyer miles.

I don't know exactly how strong the research in your desired subfield is at Cornell, but clearly Cornell is no slouch at physics. Cornell may be a step down, but only a small step. Your success in physics is ultimately going to be far more about your drive and initiative than exactly where you went to grad school. After yourself, your precise research adviser matters most, but that's something is hard to predict at this point. Just make sure you have multiple reasonable options.

Good luck!

BTW, if you decide to ditch your girlfriend you should totally come to Berkeley now that money is not a consideration.

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noojens
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby noojens » Wed Apr 07, 2010 3:48 am

Agreed with zxcv: with external funding, you're pretty nearly a free student for Cornell. It's definitely worth contacting a few professors (perhaps some of our PGRE.com Cornellians can tell you who's chairing the department this year, and/or who's on the admissions committee). I've also seen a lot of faculty go out of their way to accommodate couples, both at the grad school level and in faculty hires. Give it a shot, and good luck. :)

mobytish
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby mobytish » Wed Apr 07, 2010 6:54 am

I definitely think it's all worth a shot. But, if you do end up going to the two separate schools, I don't think it would be the end of the world. Sure, it'll take a major adjustment (as will being together again when you're no longer long-distance), but you'll both be incredibly busy with your first year of grad school, so that should definitely take your minds off of things. Aside from possibly losing time if you transfer into Cornell next year, I'd personally say to do that because, especially with the harder challenge of finding post docs and jobs together and the larger sacrifices that will be required down the road, it might be nice to find out now and not later if the relationship can survive it.

astrostar
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby astrostar » Wed Apr 07, 2010 7:07 am

Muons, if I were you, I'd give it a shot since you have nothing to lose at Cornell by trying. The DOE fellowship will probably make all the difference. On an aside, I hope you've declined Harvard, MIT, Chicago and Berkeley since Princeton is all you need in hand right now.

mirage
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby mirage » Wed Apr 07, 2010 1:24 pm

I recently visited a school where I heard probably some of the most interesting advice regarding the 2-body problem. The prof said that if two people are really bent on being together, the best thing that they could do for themselves would be to each go to the best program that they got into instead of attempting to go to the same school, because that's the only way that they may have a realistic chance of scoring good jobs in the same location in the future (i.e. of having their pick of location). Otherwise, either they will have to separate in the future or one will always be trailing the other - which, if you're two ambitious people, is a recipe for a relationship disaster.
So if she's the one and you see yourselves together for years to come, then your relationship will stand a four hour drive and you will both do yourselves a favor by going to Cornell & Princeton respectively. And if you're not sure about the future of your relationship, all the more reason not to step down from your best offer. But, having said that, there's no formula to these things... I'm not sure though why you've failed to communicate properly about where to apply in the first place.

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grae313
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby grae313 » Wed Apr 07, 2010 4:05 pm

muons wrote:Hi everybody, this may sound like a ridiculous question but... hear me out:

I'm a top notch undergraduate (domestic male, not minority) interested in high energy theory. I love my gf but our grad school plans kind of failed. I was hoping she would apply to CA schools but she refused.. in turns, I only applied to the top notch schools:

Princeton, Harvard, MIT, UChicago, Stanford, Berkeley.

I got into all of them, and got a fellowship offer from Stanford. However, my gf didn't get into any. She's into high energy experiment, and she got into:

JHU, Cornell, Rutgers, Rochester, Boston U

Now she seems pretty set on Cornell. However as stupid as I was, I did not apply to Cornell. She does not seem to want to compromise. It'll be 4 hours away from Princeton (my top choice), however, I seriously hate long distance relationship and even 4 hours sound ridiculous to me... my only regret now is that I did not !@#%# apply to Cornell...

Now, what if (I know it sounds crazy...) I send the admission committee people an email, stating my situation... would there be a slight chance that I'll get admitted?


I have a very strong record:

- 990 PGRE, 800 Math GRE, 520 Verbal GRE, 4.5 Writing GRE, gpa=3.97

- 3 summer of experimental research, 1 out of 3 summer at CERN

- I just got the new DOE fellowship 35k per year (that means no funding needed from the department)

- grad courses: 3 semester QFT, 2 QM, GR, applied group theory (in physics), 2 EM, Stat Mech (right now)..

- My recommendations are from well known hep experimentalist and one theorist but it would almost be impossible to
get their recommendations at this point... They would totally KILL me for even considering this... and my parents, advisors and recommenders will surely be disappointed...

So my question is:
1. How likely can I pull this off seeing how admission decision deadline is April 15th?
2. How stupid am I? I'm blowing off Princeton, MIT, Harvard... just to go to Cornell and be with my gf... am I making sense? How much of a sacrifice would it be?
3. Am I insane for considering this?


If you wanted to:
I think your only option would be to apply for the spring. This is rare and discouraged, but you have good reason. Get connected with professors in the department. If there are any that would want you in their lab, they will fund you to come out and do research with them now, then they can write you a letter and get you into the department officially for the spring term. You'll still need to come up with two other good letters from somewhere.

However, I don't think you should. Go to your top choice school, and if the separation proves too much for both of you to stand, apply as a transfer student for next year. If you do it now, you'll always wonder if it was a mistake and it will sour your relationship. If after a year at Princeton or wherever you decide that your girlfriend is worth more and she hasn't moved on, you'll know it is for real and you'll have no problem transferring.

volcano
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby volcano » Wed Apr 07, 2010 7:03 pm

@Muons

But you have the option to live together in the same town!!! i.e why don't you go to Harvard or MIT and your gf to Boston University or you can go to Princeton and she can go to Rutgers. Personally I would prefer the Boston city case. Its an excellent choice for both of you, you will leave together, you will study at TOP universities and life will be easier. You might argue that your gf will lose the option to study in Cornell, but is Cornell going to fill the sadness that she is going to experience when she will be all alone there? Why not, I don't get it..

muons
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby muons » Wed Apr 07, 2010 11:34 pm

Thanks for all the advices... I'm still battling whether I should try it out or not...

But on another note, she'll be off to CERN eventually (probably in the third year or so and this stunt will only score me two years with her)... also to answer volcano's comment, she dislikes both Boston U and Rutgers U as they seem to be wayy more subpar than Cornell (and yes I agree that they are wayyyy less prestigious than Cornell). To her, the long distance isn't that big of a deal, but to me, driving drives (no pun intended) me nutssss!!! and public transportation will take 7+ hours. In the busy semester that's coming up, I can probably only visit her one weekend per month and over major holidays....

I guess I might just have to suck it up...

(and don't worry, I'll decline some offers after checking out MIT and Harvard.. I just need to check the out).

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quizivex
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby quizivex » Thu Apr 08, 2010 1:52 am

@ muons, hmm, grad school is 6 years of your life and sets the stage for your career. Why would you be willing to give up your dream school(s) to be with your gf, but a 4 hour drive, say, every other weekend, is so prohibitive?... especially considering this two body problem will be a recurring issue.

Is it because you'd expect to see each other more often than every other weekend? Why can't you alternate who makes the trip? Also, it doesn't have to be "all or nothing", i.e. go to school together or break up. There's nothing wrong if you two stay close (personally) and see each other when you can, but still have your own lives at your respective schools.

If you two are that dependent on each other, then why didn't you apply to all the schools she did? Based on your profile (which has no real relevance to this thread), it sounds like you've been planning years ahead with your career, and probably started doing physics before you even got your driver's license. So why couldn't you anticipate this when you applied to schools?

I hate driving too. Seriously. Highways are so hectic during the day and in town areas there's always careless suicidal pedestrians just trying to jump in front of my car. But when I go home (which is luckily only an hour away from here), I leave after midnite and it's a much smoother, faster ride than it would be during the day. I don't know what specifically bothers you about driving, and 4 hours is a long longer than one, but I think if you made the trip after midnite it would be pleasant. You could listen to music and think about physics lol. So that's my suggestion.

BTW, Princeton is awesome.

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grae313
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby grae313 » Thu Apr 08, 2010 8:59 am

quizivex wrote:@ muons, hmm, grad school is 6 years of your life and sets the stage for your career. Why would you be willing to give up your dream school(s) to be with your gf....?


I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, as what's the point if you are not happy? Call me a romantic, but I think the right person is worth anything. What I don't like about this situation is that it seems like the gf is not willing to meet muons half way here. That's why I say, try it at different schools, and if you both really can't stand it, you'll never have to wonder. You'll know it's the real deal. However, my hunch is that you guys will be happily immersed in your respective programs and will go your own ways.

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quizivex
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby quizivex » Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:03 am

Ah grae, the second part of my sentence was key. I was not saying career opportunities should never be sacrificed for relationships. But I was saying if he's willing to make such a tremendous sacrifice, then why isn't he willing to sacrifice 4 hours of doing something he doesn't enjoy? He could have both the dream girl and his dream school. The "inconvenience" of driving is minimal compared to picking another school or giving up the girl. Indeed, I agree happiness is what matters most.

pqortic
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby pqortic » Thu Apr 08, 2010 8:46 pm

I think love is a sort of brain disorder and you need to cure yourself sooner or later. from your posts I noticed that your gf is not as much into you as you are into her which is bad and I don't think she would contemplate this too much if the situation was reverse. sometimes we really have to concentrate on life rather than play with it. and how do you know that you might not have the happier life than you have right if you and your gf live away for a while?
btw, these are all personal views and do vary person to person.

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YellowXDart
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby YellowXDart » Thu Apr 08, 2010 8:51 pm

Honestly, I'm a bit of a cynic when it comes to love. Unless you're positive that you will one day marry her it is definitely not worth the sacrifice of your dream school. There are plenty of other girls out there if this relationship doesn't work out.

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Helio
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby Helio » Tue Apr 13, 2010 11:40 pm

muons wrote:Thanks for all the advices... I'm still battling whether I should try it out or not...

But on another note, she'll be off to CERN eventually (probably in the third year or so and this stunt will only score me two years with her)... also to answer volcano's comment, she dislikes both Boston U and Rutgers U as they seem to be wayy more subpar than Cornell (and yes I agree that they are wayyyy less prestigious than Cornell). To her, the long distance isn't that big of a deal, but to me, driving drives (no pun intended) me nutssss!!! and public transportation will take 7+ hours. In the busy semester that's coming up, I can probably only visit her one weekend per month and over major holidays....

I guess I might just have to suck it up...

(and don't worry, I'll decline some offers after checking out MIT and Harvard.. I just need to check the out).



I am think you mentioned the crux of the situation right here.... she will be shipped off to CERN. I know people that have pulled off not going to CERN or DESY as HEP Experiment, but those are the minority and at the moment CERN is and will be the place to be for HEP.

I personally would talk to her about the CERN thing first before raising hell with Cornell. If she might be willing to work with CLOE or ILC people instead you might want to consider. I agree with other people that you can pull it off, but you might have to make compromises.

On another note, I remember a guy who had been working at UT Austin astro for a year as like a research assistant without grad student status and he considered going to OSU astro instead because his gf got in there for her program, so he would basically throw a year out the window

meggo
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby meggo » Wed Apr 14, 2010 12:14 am

So...I am currently dating a Cornell AEP grad student, and I'm at Penn State (3 hours away). I'll tell you right now that it has been extremely difficult, but we've been doing this for two years now almost. I applied to transfer to Cornell for next year (for more reasons than just him), but I'm not sure what'll happen (I'm still waitlisted).

If you're going to do a long distance relationship at a 4 hour distance, it can work if you make sure you see each other as often as you can (given that you will be extremely busy, especially during the first two years). You just really need to be committed to it if you want it to work, while keeping in mind you will also need to have some semblance of your own life and friends at Princeton (as she will need at Cornell).

I think it's worth trying to get into Cornell for next year if you really want that and there is research there that you want to do. But if you think you'd regret not going to Princeton, then go to Princeton. If it's too hard after a year and you decide you want to transfer (and your relationship is still doing well at that point), then apply to transfer. Then, you'll more likely be sure that being at Cornell is really what you want.

Hope that was helpful and not just a rant haha

matonski
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby matonski » Wed Apr 14, 2010 12:31 am

meggo wrote:If you're going to do a long distance relationship at a 4 hour distance, it can work if you make sure you see each other as often as you can (given that you will be extremely busy, especially during the first two years).


How often did you see each other?

meggo
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Re: How ridiculous does this sound - solving 2-body problem?

Postby meggo » Wed Apr 14, 2010 12:43 am

matonski wrote:
meggo wrote:If you're going to do a long distance relationship at a 4 hour distance, it can work if you make sure you see each other as often as you can (given that you will be extremely busy, especially during the first two years).


How often did you see each other?


It depends on how much work we have. Usually anywhere between 3 to 9 weeks apart at a time. I was in Ithaca last week, but I don't expect to see him again until next weekend at the earliest. It's certainly not easy haha




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