Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

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xbomber88
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Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby xbomber88 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 4:34 pm

Can anyone tell me about the quality of life as a grad student at Harvard and Stanford? I've been accepted to the PhD physics programs at both schools and have no idea which one to choose. Since both schools are excellent academically and I don't yet have a specific area I want to specialize in I think I'm mostly going to make my decision based on the quality of life at these schools. For example: do the grad students socialize and work together with each other or do they just do their own thing? Are the other grad students and professors there friendly? Do people there just spend all of their time in the lab or do they have a life outside of physics? Things like that. Anybody know anything about these schools?

bfollinprm
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby bfollinprm » Wed Mar 09, 2011 4:43 pm

xbomber88 wrote:Can anyone tell me about the quality of life as a grad student at Harvard and Stanford? I've been accepted to the PhD physics programs at both schools and have no idea which one to choose. Since both schools are excellent academically and I don't yet have a specific area I want to specialize in I think I'm mostly going to make my decision based on the quality of life at these schools. For example: do the grad students socialize and work together with each other or do they just do their own thing? Are the other grad students and professors there friendly? Do people there just spend all of their time in the lab or do they have a life outside of physics? Things like that. Anybody know anything about these schools?


Palo Alto > Cambridge. Just a personal opinion though.

admissionprof
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby admissionprof » Wed Mar 09, 2011 5:19 pm

xbomber88 wrote:Can anyone tell me about the quality of life as a grad student at Harvard and Stanford? I've been accepted to the PhD physics programs at both schools and have no idea which one to choose. Since both schools are excellent academically and I don't yet have a specific area I want to specialize in I think I'm mostly going to make my decision based on the quality of life at these schools. For example: do the grad students socialize and work together with each other or do they just do their own thing? Are the other grad students and professors there friendly? Do people there just spend all of their time in the lab or do they have a life outside of physics? Things like that. Anybody know anything about these schools?



I have never known a Stanford student who was unhappy. I have known many Harvard students who are unhappy.

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Wed Mar 09, 2011 6:00 pm

Also, you can use Princetonreview.com to get an idea of quality of life in areas. For example, Stanford makes the top 20 happiest students list, while Harvard doesn't. Of course the way they calculate this might be shady, but it's at least a good idea.

-Riley

pqortic
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby pqortic » Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:57 pm

You can always contact students by email and ask specific questions even before your visit. and don't forget to post your profile in the admission thread.

Astro-K
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby Astro-K » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:37 pm

As a relatively recent California transplant, I'd always argue for the California school. (It's 70 degrees here right now!)

tut tut
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby tut tut » Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:42 am

Offering a dissenting opinion here. I got a lot of advice along these lines choosing an undergrad school, and ended up going with the "unhappy" school. Really loved the intensity and the environment suited me perfectly, but I always wondered what it would have been like if I had spent my college years somewhere warmer. Right after graduation I moved to California and spent a year doing research at Stanford. The weather is beautiful and my allergies were gone but the environment didn't suit me, didn't motivate me. When I applied to grad schools this year I left Stanford out.

I think the average "happiness rating" of a school (probably mostly a survey of undergrads) is only informative for the average person. For what it's worth I do know people who are unhappy at Stanford and wish they had chosen another graduate school. May not be in your department. Good luck :]

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:25 am

tut tut wrote:I think the average "happiness rating" of a school (probably mostly a survey of undergrads) is only informative for the average person.


So that is why it says on PrincteonReview - Happiness Rating*

*- Only for average people.

-Riley

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grae313
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby grae313 » Thu Mar 10, 2011 12:35 pm

I think you should wait until you've visited the two schools and then come back with some more questions.

xbomber88
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby xbomber88 » Sat Apr 09, 2011 10:50 pm

So I've visited both schools and still can't decide which one I like better. I have until Friday to decide. Any advice?

bfollinprm
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby bfollinprm » Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:47 am

admissionprof wrote:I have never known a Stanford student who was unhappy. I have known many Harvard students who are unhappy.


The end.

axiomofchoice
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby axiomofchoice » Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:02 pm

xbomber88 wrote:So I've visited both schools and still can't decide which one I like better. I have until Friday to decide. Any advice?


Harvard's dorms suck (but you can live off campus). Boston's weather also kinda sucks. I really like the fact that their first year students and second year students, respectively, all have office at the same place.

Stanford definitely have the better weather, but its location is not ideal. It seems like you need a car to do anything more interesting than biking around the campus. And everything is expensive. On the other hand (um... the third hand?), it seems like it's not uncommon that students get involved rather heavily, as much as being a grad student permits, in non-physics activities.

It's hard to say... how about throwing dice? :mrgreen: Have you talked to professors with whom you really want to work in either places? For me personally, the research opportunities make the decision relatively easy between Harvard and Stanford.

TheBeast
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby TheBeast » Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:45 pm

xbomber88 wrote:So I've visited both schools and still can't decide which one I like better. I have until Friday to decide. Any advice?

If you can't reason your way through a decision, have you thought about flipping a coin? Assign each side of the coin to one of the schools. Flip the coin. While the coin is in the air, you may feel that you want the coin to land on a particular side. The school assigned to that side is the place you should attend, regardless of how the coin falls.

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:29 pm

xbomber88 wrote:So I've visited both schools and still can't decide which one I like better. I have until Friday to decide. Any advice?


Let me help you out! Here is a statistic taken from theU.com. Top one is Stanford, bottom one is Harvard. I think it's obvious where you should go. ;)

Image

-Riley

bfollinprm
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby bfollinprm » Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:50 pm

I'm serious. If you can't decide based on anything tangible, choose the safer option. That's Stanford; no one regrets that decision. Plenty of people are happy at Harvard, but not everyone. I've heard some horror stories from that department, which seems to be more widespread (e.g. AdmissionProf's post). They scared me enough that I didn't apply, despite some connections to the department.

admissionprof
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby admissionprof » Sun Apr 10, 2011 3:54 pm

WhoaNonstop wrote:
xbomber88 wrote:So I've visited both schools and still can't decide which one I like better. I have until Friday to decide. Any advice?


Let me help you out! Here is a statistic taken from theU.com. Top one is Stanford, bottom one is Harvard. I think it's obvious where you should go. ;)

Image

-Riley



You are assuming that xbomber88 is (a) male and (b) heterosexual. If (b) is incorrect, then Stanford is the clear choice. If (a) is incorrect, then what does the site say about the looks of the men (I can guess...)? If they are both correct or both incorrect, then your plot is relevant.

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sphy
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby sphy » Sun Apr 10, 2011 4:05 pm

TheBeast wrote:
xbomber88 wrote:So I've visited both schools and still can't decide which one I like better. I have until Friday to decide. Any advice?

If you can't reason your way through a decision, have you thought about flipping a coin? Assign each side of the coin to one of the schools. Flip the coin. While the coin is in the air, you may feel that you want the coin to land on a particular side. The school assigned to that side is the place you should attend, regardless of how the coin falls.

Hey wait! I was scrolling down to write what you wrote exactly. Are you a thought police? :?: :wink:
Man, I was exactly thinking that.

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sphy
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby sphy » Sun Apr 10, 2011 4:13 pm

admissionprof wrote:
WhoaNonstop wrote:
xbomber88 wrote:So I've visited both schools and still can't decide which one I like better. I have until Friday to decide. Any advice?


Let me help you out! Here is a statistic taken from theU.com. Top one is Stanford, bottom one is Harvard. I think it's obvious where you should go. ;)

Image

-Riley



You are assuming that xbomber88 is (a) male and (b) heterosexual. If (b) is incorrect, then Stanford is the clear choice. If (a) is incorrect, then what does the site say about the looks of the men (I can guess...)? If they are both correct or both incorrect, then your plot is relevant.

In either way xbomber88 should choose Stanford.
i. If xbomber88 is male, then Stanford is right. He'll get a hottie. (Assuming he is heterosexual.)
ii. If xbomber88 is female, then also Stanford is right. She'll get hotter then. (Assuming nothing.)

But I'm sure xbomber88 doesn't need this to choose a school.

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HappyQuark
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby HappyQuark » Sun Apr 10, 2011 4:18 pm

admissionprof wrote:
WhoaNonstop wrote:
xbomber88 wrote:So I've visited both schools and still can't decide which one I like better. I have until Friday to decide. Any advice?


Let me help you out! Here is a statistic taken from theU.com. Top one is Stanford, bottom one is Harvard. I think it's obvious where you should go. ;)

Image

-Riley



You are assuming that xbomber88 is (a) male and (b) heterosexual. If (b) is incorrect, then Stanford is the clear choice. If (a) is incorrect, then what does the site say about the looks of the men (I can guess...)? If they are both correct or both incorrect, then your plot is relevant.


I believe this is a non-issue because, as we all know, according to the traditional "hottness" scale, a person is only allowed to deviate from their score by roughly ±2 (i.e. if you're an 8 you can only date someone that is between a 6 and a 10. Additionally, according to sociocultural evolutionary theory we know that if you stick a group of 5s together in a room the tendency of the hottness of that room is to remain around that number (i.e. How are a bunch of 5s supposed to attract any 8s or higher?). Therefore, over time if women in Stanford average roughly a 5, according to Riley's references, it is reasonable to conclude that the male population tends to be roughly around that same number. Harvard, on the other hand, appears to be made primarily of people averaging around a 2 (I believe the technical term is "Toe up from the floo' up") and the male population likely matches.

In conclusion, go to stanford because they've got fewer ugo's.

xbomber88
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby xbomber88 » Sun Apr 10, 2011 5:15 pm

bfollinprm wrote:I'm serious. If you can't decide based on anything tangible, choose the safer option. That's Stanford; no one regrets that decision. Plenty of people are happy at Harvard, but not everyone. I've heard some horror stories from that department, which seems to be more widespread (e.g. AdmissionProf's post). They scared me enough that I didn't apply, despite some connections to the department.


What are the bad things you've heard about the department at Harvard? Most of the people I met seemed to be pretty happy. Although there were a few professors that I wasn't warned that I should never work with. The one thing that really worries me about Palo Alto is that it's out in the suburbs almost an hour from San Francisco and it seems like there isn't very much to do in Palo Alto and the surrounding area.

bfollinprm
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby bfollinprm » Sun Apr 10, 2011 5:39 pm

xbomber88 wrote:
bfollinprm wrote:I'm serious. If you can't decide based on anything tangible, choose the safer option. That's Stanford; no one regrets that decision. Plenty of people are happy at Harvard, but not everyone. I've heard some horror stories from that department, which seems to be more widespread (e.g. AdmissionProf's post). They scared me enough that I didn't apply, despite some connections to the department.


What are the bad things you've heard about the department at Harvard? Most of the people I met seemed to be pretty happy. Although there were a few professors that I wasn't warned that I should never work with. The one thing that really worries me about Palo Alto is that it's out in the suburbs almost an hour from San Francisco and it seems like there isn't very much to do in Palo Alto and the surrounding area.


If I shared they'd be at least 3rd degree heresay. As i said, most people are perfectly happy. but I've never heard a bad thing about stanford.

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:00 pm

xbomber88 wrote:The one thing that really worries me about Palo Alto is that it's out in the suburbs almost an hour from San Francisco and it seems like there isn't very much to do in Palo Alto and the surrounding area.


It's funny how one person's definition of things to do is different from another person's. Truthfully, I would be surprised if there isn't enough to do at both places. Plus, even though you will have some free time, it will be limited due to graduate studies. As long as you're not going to a school in a cornfield, I don't think entertainment will differ that much. Also, I've found that when there is more fun things to do in an area, there is usually a higher chance of getting raped and killed (and not necessarily in that order).

-Riley

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sphy
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby sphy » Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:29 am

xbomber88 wrote:I'm serious it seems like there isn't very much to do in Palo Alto and the surrounding area.

I'm sure Palo Alto and the surrounding area is great for doing Physics.

vesperlynd
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby vesperlynd » Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:27 pm

sphy wrote:
xbomber88 wrote:I'm serious it seems like there isn't very much to do in Palo Alto and the surrounding area.

I'm sure Palo Alto and the surrounding area is great for doing Physics.
I think xbomber means that there isn't much in terms of fun things to see and do. San Francisco is certainly a fun place, from what I understand.

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grae313
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Re: Grad student quality of life at Harvard and Stanford?

Postby grae313 » Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:31 pm

meh... Palo Alto is no Boston, that's for sure. But I don't think it's bad enough to make or break a decision, especially when SF is so close... Plus, you can enjoy Palo Alto all year round in a t-shirt or light hoodie :P




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