Berkeley's AST or Stanford's App Physics?

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dka
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Mar 15, 2011 1:53 pm

Berkeley's AST or Stanford's App Physics?

Postby dka » Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:06 pm

Hey guys,

I'm really torn between the two schools I got accepted to for applied physics. I think i like the berkeley lifestyle way more than the stanford, but financial aid at stanford is significantly more. Also, at berkeley I will be doing research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab with particle/nuclear detection which I really enjoy and from what I hear is great for opportunities after I graduate. But I got a fellowship for five years at stanford which makes me wonder.


Berkeley AST:
-$27k/year, $2250/month
-Research at LBNL
-Work with David Nygren inventor of TPC
-Very interested in the research
-Love berkeley lifestyle and city
-Budget/financial problems?

Stanford App Physics:
-Fellowship $5300 per year for 5 years
-$37344/first year, $3112/month for first year


Any insider help or advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

twinb87
Posts: 35
Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2009 12:11 am

Re: Berkeley's AST or Stanford's App Physics?

Postby twinb87 » Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:27 pm

This is just my opinion but I would recommed you go to Berkeley and do the research that you enjoy and seemed excited about. If you pass up this research just to go to Stanford for its higher stipend you will probably regret it later.

vesperlynd
Posts: 194
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:28 am

Re: Berkeley's AST or Stanford's App Physics?

Postby vesperlynd » Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:47 pm

Did you visit Stanford? I take it that you visited Berkeley. You could always try negotiating Berkeley's offer. Then you would have the best deal: good research, lifestyle, and pay.

negru
Posts: 308
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 3:49 pm

Re: Berkeley's AST or Stanford's App Physics?

Postby negru » Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:18 pm

When in doubt, always go for the $$$. Research interest, lifestyle preferences? They can change on whim. Money is forever.

bck2school
Posts: 23
Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2011 7:20 pm

Re: Berkeley's AST or Stanford's App Physics?

Postby bck2school » Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:41 pm

negru wrote:When in doubt, always go for the $$$. Research interest, lifestyle preferences? They can change on whim. Money is forever.


I disagree. Go with your research interests, if you are getting into Physics for the money I suggest you rethink your career plans.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Berkeley's AST or Stanford's App Physics?

Postby bfollinprm » Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:29 am

bck2school wrote:I disagree. Go with your research interests, if you are getting into Physics for the money I suggest you rethink your career plans.


I would normally agree, and am pretty sure I do in this instance too, but if I were given the decision I'd choose Stanford. Berkeley is definitely better in CMB (which is what I do), but Stanford has faculty who are productive and enterprising, and seems to be on the up and up (and Berkeley seems to be sliding some). Getting a fellowship shows a school is excited about you; that translates into more than just free money (it will open doors with faculty).

I'd have to know way more about both school's particle instrumentation programs to make informed advice here, but I'd be surprised if Stanford has no connections to LBNL at all.

Both stipends are enough to live on, though. I think Berkeley is a little bit cheaper than Palo Alto, and I've heard Stanford doesn't cover 100% health insurance, so you should check the difference in real dollars in your pocket.

vesperlynd
Posts: 194
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:28 am

Re: Berkeley's AST or Stanford's App Physics?

Postby vesperlynd » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:29 am

Let me reiterate that you should negotiate Berkeley's offer. Mention that you want to go to Berkeley, but Stanford has given you much more money. See what they say. You'd be surprised what you can get when you ask.

bck2school
Posts: 23
Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2011 7:20 pm

Re: Berkeley's AST or Stanford's App Physics?

Postby bck2school » Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:25 am

bfollinprm wrote:
bck2school wrote:I disagree. Go with your research interests, if you are getting into Physics for the money I suggest you rethink your career plans.


I would normally agree, and am pretty sure I do in this instance too, but if I were given the decision I'd choose Stanford. Berkeley is definitely better in CMB (which is what I do), but Stanford has faculty who are productive and enterprising, and seems to be on the up and up (and Berkeley seems to be sliding some). Getting a fellowship shows a school is excited about you; that translates into more than just free money (it will open doors with faculty).

I'd have to know way more about both school's particle instrumentation programs to make informed advice here, but I'd be surprised if Stanford has no connections to LBNL at all.


Actually my disagreement was more with the idea of going with the money.

I have no idea about the the research quality at either place, but it is my belief that you will be far happier at a place where you are satisfied with the quality of your work (or the quality of work available).

You can always supplement your income with grants, fellowships, marrying rich, selling your body :wink: down the line. However if you end up in a place where the research doesn't agree then the only options will be to go with something less palatable or even worse dropping out, remember this is where you are planning to spend the next 5+ years of your life.

dka
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Mar 15, 2011 1:53 pm

Re: Berkeley's AST or Stanford's App Physics?

Postby dka » Sat Mar 19, 2011 1:18 pm

Hey guys thanks for all your help during this confusing time for me. I spoke with a professor here at my university (a UC), and here's basically what he told me:


1. Go visit each campus, walk around and ask questions. Although Ive been to each campus already (no tour, just myself), he urged that I visit and just go by the labs and the department and start knocking on doors. He said that I dont need to arrange an official visiting day, just show up. He said to approach graduate students ("you should be able to recognize them") and ask them how they like the program and to basically ask them the same thing I asked you guys: "I got accepted to Berk and Stan, and trying to decide between the two, got any advice?".


2. He said the UC system is in a bad state right now and is going to only get worst before it gets better. He said I should take that into account.

3. He said that the research that I would be doing in Berkeley is VERY specific and is probably not the best idea if I wanted a career in academia. I would be doing research on, as my acceptance letter says, "studying how instrumentation and techniques originally developed for nuclear and particle physics can be used to address nuclear security issues". Also, I showed him a paper I received on Detection of Double Beta Decay. He further said:

- Good; Nuclear research with respect to national security will only increase
- Good; Jobs at national laboratories may be readily available when I graduate
- Bad; if I want to go into academia because not too much interest in a nuclear detection post doc
- Bad; the research is too specific, he emphasizes breadth

4. He thought both offers were surprisingly high: $27k from Berk and $37k from Stanford.

5. He didn't think that I should negotiate the offer with Berkeley; "I have no compelling reason". I have no wife or child to support. Yeah, he said he wouldn't suggest it.

6. He said in his opinion, Stanford sounds like a good deal (never explicitly told me to accept that offer though).


Thanks for everyones help!!!! I hope this helped some of you that are in the same situation as myself!

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zxcv
Posts: 402
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 11:08 pm

Re: Berkeley's AST or Stanford's App Physics?

Postby zxcv » Sun Mar 20, 2011 1:31 pm

Something to keep in mind: Berkeley AS&T program is not affiliated with any particular academic department. This can make things more tricky with regards to research options and funding (according to my adviser), since you're pretty much stuck working for whoever agreed to take you on. So definitely meet the guy you'd be working with at Berkeley and do your best to make sure he'd be someone you could work with! Maybe take a few of his grad students out for a beer to get the real dirt?

Hopefully they have plenty of funding at the national lab, because if you need to teach it could be tricky to find a position since you don't have a home department. For example, physics usually has a need for extra grad student instructors, but it prioritizes its own students first (if you have a physics undergrad degree that definitely helps, though).

You'll also might need to work a little harder to find a community of grad students since again you don't have a home department. These are not insurmountable obstacles but they add a little more risk in heading to Berkeley perhaps. On the plus side, the fact that you got admitted to this program means that the guy who agreed to take you on really likes your application since he's pretty much committed to fund you for the next 5 years. I also love Berkeley and think it's a great place to live and work. Setting yourself up for a national lab job is also nice, but you'll have those opportunities even if you go to Stanford.




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