Cornell vs. BU

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cheers
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2012 1:34 pm

Cornell vs. BU

Postby cheers » Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:14 am

Hi everyone!

I'm confronted with the dilemma to choose a grad school between Cornell and Boston University for CMT, and I hope you could help me out a bit :). Below is a list of all the things I came up with so far: feel free to add/ask me about other stuff if it seems important to you:

- both schools have professors with whom I'd like to work. I contacted them, and they both said they are willing to give me a project upon arrival

- at Cornell I must teach in the first year (prof. does not have funding for an RA in my first year), at BU I'd have to teach too but it might be possible to start on an RA earlier (prof. said he's very well funded, although he didn't mention funding me on RA upon arrival)

- prof. at Cornell is US, at BU - Russian: no means to offend anyone - just it seems to me that Russians are kind of more radical sometimes, although I myself come from Eastern Europe. Both of them graduated from a top 10 US grad school and I heard only positive things for both of them - so this might not be an issue at all. Also both of them were very friendly to me.

- it seems that the project topics I was offered at BU are a bit more interesting (and probably a bit harder) than those at Cornell

- at BU I was accepted as a post master's student, which means that if I manage to high-pass the written comprehensive exam upon arrival, I might skip the first year of coursework

- as far as I understood Cornell only require their grad students to take one Lab grad course. All else is left to the students to decide - if they need it or not.

- There is an oral Qualifying exam at Cornell, whereas there's a written Comprehensive exam + an Oral specialized exam at BU.

- Cornell's offer: ~ $25.5 K for 9-month TA + $4 to $7K summer RA/TA + health insurance.

- BU's offer: $20K for 9-month TA + at least $10K summer RA/TA + health insurance

- Ithaca is in the middle of nowhere (again, no means to offend anyone, just my European point of view) and it is a small town (never lived in a place < 1 million before, yet never lived in a city > 2 million pop.), while Boston is fairly big and closest to Europe. Europeans describe Boston as 'the most European city in the US'.

- proximity of Harvard and MIT in Boston: would be able to take some of their specialized courses, and some of their seminar talks in my area of interest.

- living expences in Boston definitely higher than in Ithaca (although I don't know how much it might cost to travel to the nearest big city from there). Finding on-campus housing definitely easier at Cornell than at BU.

- Cornell has clearly the bigger institution name.


What do you think about it? What would you do in my place? Also, I've never been to the US before, and I'm afraid I might be missing something important (or just have the wrong impression about certain things).

I'd be happy to have your opinion on this!

photonic
Posts: 37
Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2011 11:36 pm

Re: Cornell vs. BU

Postby photonic » Sat Mar 23, 2013 3:01 pm

I'm in a similar situation (cornell vs rutgers for particle theory), and the only thing I would tell you to look at that you haven't mentioned is where the graduate students get postdoc positions and where they end up.

Another thing to consider is how many professors do you think you could work with at a given institution? Is there just one or are there multiple people you'd like to work with in case something falls through?

It is important to consider where you want to live and I'd recommend visiting cornell if you haven't already. By bus cornell is 5 hours away from NYC and it costs ~$90 although there should be cheaper carshare and/or car rental programs.

cwcomplex
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:23 am

Re: Cornell vs. BU

Postby cwcomplex » Sat Mar 23, 2013 8:32 pm

It would certainly take $90 to get you from NYC to Cornell if you take the Campus-to-Campus bus, which takes about 4 hours. Cheaper options (e.g. Shortline bus) cost around $25 or so and much less comfy.

janisper116
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:06 pm

Re: Cornell vs. BU

Postby janisper116 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:54 am

That would be an easy choice for me. Cornell has a bigger name and you will live much better on your stipend. Most of the other concerns you list seem a bit silly imo. That said, I find myself obsessing over similar silly points in choosing schools. Unless you really hate living in a small city or the research at BU is significantly better I would go with Cornell.

cheers
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2012 1:34 pm

Re: Cornell vs. BU

Postby cheers » Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:26 am

photonic wrote:I'm in a similar situation (cornell vs rutgers for particle theory), and the only thing I would tell you to look at that you haven't mentioned is where the graduate students get postdoc positions and where they end up.

Remaining in academia after the PhD might be easier if I go to Cornell. Although I heard that it is the name of the advisor and his group that matters for this, since they are supposed to introduce you to the community during conferences. Is that right?

photonic wrote:Another thing to consider is how many professors do you think you could work with at a given institution? Is there just one or are there multiple people you'd like to work with in case something falls through?

If I don't change my research interests in the grad school, it's only one prof in each university.

photonic wrote:It is important to consider where you want to live and I'd recommend visiting cornell if you haven't already.

Unfortunately I cannot afford the flight to the US just for the sake of visiting. The best I can do is skype and google maps :mrgreen:

janisper116 wrote:That would be an easy choice for me. Cornell has a bigger name and you will live much better on your stipend. Most of the other concerns you list seem a bit silly imo. That said, I find myself obsessing over similar silly points in choosing schools. Unless you really hate living in a small city or the research at BU is significantly better I would go with Cornell.

This was my way of thinking initially too, but when I talked to a few famous profs at my school about this choice they made it clear they'd choose BU in my place, and agreed it's a tough choice. And this made me think about all these points.

friedrice
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Dec 28, 2012 3:55 pm

Re: Cornell vs. BU

Postby friedrice » Tue Apr 02, 2013 5:19 pm

I can't say much about BU, but I visited Cornell about a month ago. Ithaca, although a small town in upstate NY, is actually a really really nice place. It's really beautiful and it's got a lot of food shops that you might enjoy. The population there is half Cornell-half local population. Therefore, the town is very much catered towards college students.

The graduate students there also seem very happy, which I think is a wonderful thing. The environment is definitely nurturing and friendly.




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