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Accepted to Graduate Schools... I need to pick the right one.

Folken FanelFolken Fanel J.2CWhen's KoFRegistered User regular
edited April 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
So I applied to 3 graduate schools and was accepted by 2 of them (still haven't heard from the third). The two schools that accepted me both awarded me with teaching assistantship positions, which means I get free tuition plus a stipend. While this is great news, it presents an interesting problem. School A is offering me more than twice the stipend that school B is offering. In fact, I have doubts that I will be able to survive off the stipend that school B is offering, while I could live more than comfortably off the stipend from school A.

The problem is that school B is more reputable than school A. I'm very proud of the fact that school B offered me what they did, especially considering that out of all the masters students they accepted, I was one of only 2 people awarded with financial aid. However, reputable school B is not necessarily well known for the program I was admitted for, or so I've been told. I'm wondering how I can verify this claim.

Essentially, I would be more than happy to attend either of these institutions. The problem is that I don't know how else to measure one program against the other. When I applied to these schools, my main criteria was to pick the best schools in a certain region of the US. An easy answer to my question would be.... pick the one that best suits your academic interests. Well... I did that already before I even applied. Both schools offer programs that I have a great deal of interest in, so as of right now, differences in stipend and a conjecture that the lower stipend school is better is all I have to go on.

What kind of resources are available to me to do my own research about this matter?

Also, how much are these schools willing to bargain with me? What can I expect to hear if I say, "Look I have other offers better than yours, what else can you do for me?"

Folken Fanel on

Posts

  • BlochWaveBlochWave Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    I'm not sure if there's like a grad school comparison website out there that you want to trust(since most people only attend one you're not getting very unbiased comparisons)but remember, they accepted your application and wanna pay you to go there basically, THEY want YOU

    You can mention to school B that you would prefer to go there but school A offered more, and that MIGHT be the make or break factor, but since they awarded so little money, it's possible they awarded all they could

    And remember, just because the school itself is prestigious doesn't say much about the individual program. I wouldn't go to one of the most prestigious colleges in the country if it's primarily a liberal arts college to do graduate work in physics, for example. Well, unless it did happen to be my best choice >_>

    You could always contact the head of the department, or if you'll be doing research and work for a specific professor, that professor, or both, or whatever, and say you're very interested in attending but have been accepted to another university that you're also interested in and would like their input, then you put it in their hands to convince you

  • RichyRichy Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    I'd go with the more prestigious school. Try to negotiate for more money, but if it doesn't work out (and somehow I doubt it will, but good luck) go with them anyway.

    If you can't survive on the amount they're paying you, there are other ways to get the money. From what you say, you sound like a very intelligent and capable student, so academic scholarships are definitely something worth looking into. Then look into jobs that pay more than a TA, like teaching (although I doubt they'll hire a Masters' student as an instructor) or private tutoring (though that's time consuming). Or if all else fails, take out student loans.

    RichyFlag.gifsig.gif
  • Folken FanelFolken Fanel J.2C When's KoFRegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Richy wrote: »
    I'd go with the more prestigious school. Try to negotiate for more money, but if it doesn't work out (and somehow I doubt it will, but good luck) go with them anyway.

    If you can't survive on the amount they're paying you, there are other ways to get the money. From what you say, you sound like a very intelligent and capable student, so academic scholarships are definitely something worth looking into. Then look into jobs that pay more than a TA, like teaching (although I doubt they'll hire a Masters' student as an instructor) or private tutoring (though that's time consuming). Or if all else fails, take out student loans.

    They actually have a provision that prevents me from getting a part time job without the expressed written approval of the department chair, which is kind of shitty. You would think that if that provision is in there, that they'd pay me more to make up for it.

    I guess loans are an option, but I've got plenty of those already from undergraduate studies and I'd rather not take out any more. By the same token, I'm already in debt, so whats a little bit more debt tacked on to that, right?

    I'm leaning towards the more prestigious school though, but its a question of living off ramen noodles every meal, or getting a steak for dinner if i feel like it. I really like steak. Hence the issue in question.

  • Uncle LongUncle Long Registered User
    edited March 2008
    Have you been to both campuses? Are these about evenly matched as places you'd like to live?

    Personally, I'd go with B and do whatever it took to tough it out. There's pretty stiff competition even after grad school in the job market and any edge you can have, be it name recognition or alumna associations, will be most beneficial.

  • RichyRichy Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Uncle Long's right.

    And as my father once told me, you're doing grad studies to get the best education you can get, not to make a profit. If you wanted to make money right away, you'd get a job and earn more than you can by being a student. So it's a little silly to turn down the better education for the more profitable one.

    So if jobs and loans are not options, you still can get scholarships. There's no way the university would forbid you to do that. Quite the opposite, they'll encourage it, because it makes them look good too (they get to brag about having so many students objectively recognised as good by external organisations). And it'll look great in your resume - and like UL said, every little bit helps to get a job later on.

    And many universities offer bonuses in some form. Some give cash bonuses when you publish, or when you achieve some milestone in your program on time, or if you're one of the best students in the department, or so on. It's hard to find out about those until you're actually inside the program (unless you know someone in you can ask about it). But my point is, there might be ways you can garnish your stipend.

    RichyFlag.gifsig.gif
  • kaliyamakaliyama Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    It would be a lot easier to give you advice if you were willing to give details on what programs and schools you were talking ab out.

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  • witch_iewitch_ie Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    I agree that you should probably go with B, but another way that might help you to decide is to find out what alumni from each school are doing. After all, they will be one of the networks that you'll have available after you graduate and are also indicative, especially recent alumns, of the opportunities you might have immediately upon graduation.

  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Hey OP,
    I'm having my own grad school troubles, so I know how you're feeling right now! If you PM me which schools they are it might help.

    For me, it hings on the US "Publish or Perish" mentality. Is it so little money that you think you will be unhappy, or unable to juggle the workload? If so, you might find yourself negatively impacted in that way.

    However, if you can maybe get a loan and tough it out, if this school is worth it prestige-wose, you'll be better off in the long run, and can have the loan absorbed.

    I don't envy you in the slightest. If you can visit the campuses, do so. It might help a great deal to solidfy in your mind where you want to be. You'll just get a vibe from the right school, that you won't eel at the other one.

  • Folken FanelFolken Fanel J.2C When's KoFRegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Hey all, thanks for all the advice so far. A few things:

    Uncle Long: I've been to school A to visit and I loved it. I can easily imagine myself living there. I'm going to visit school B the weekend of April 4th, with all expenses paid.

    Richy: I looked into scholarships a little bit today. I'm not a minority with no special talents, so its hard to find something significant to help me out. I haven't looked into it nearly enough, but its not something I want to rely on.

    Kaliyama: I do realize this would help a great deal, but I'd rather not publish these things for all to see. People from all walks of life read the forums, and I'm probably overreacting, but I just don't feel comfortable posting that in the thread. If you're that curious I could PM you.

    witch_le: This would definitely help, but I haven't found such a thing on school B's website. Maybe I'll email the department or something.

    Lewisham: I actually saw your thread but I didn't want to hijack it. PM sent.

  • chromdomchromdom That Guy Parkin' on the BoulevardRegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Are you just getting out of your undergrad degree this spring? It seems to my your undergrad profs and departmental councilors are your best resource. They're in academia, they know about trading off money for reputation. And hell, they probably know a fair bit about the institutions, maybe even some of the intelligencia you'd be studying with. Just go talk to one of your professors whose judgment you respect.

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  • GdiguyGdiguy San Diego, CARegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    for me it basically came down to liking the enrivonment a lot more here than the other schools I got accepted to & visited... my stipends were closer, though this one wound up being a little higher than the others (though one thing to keep in mind, even though you were looking in a certain region, is that $20k in boston is a lot less than $20k in baltimore, for example)... double is pretty tough, though. It's hard for me to judge, I think our stipends are way higher than most other fields (definitely well higher than the couple friends I have in math/physics). What're the specifics of your stipend - can you get paid extra for additional ta'ing of classes? Do they both require the same?

    but honestly, it's going to depend a lot on your field... in biology, the school (though it's nice) doesn't matter so much as the lab you join and (especially) the work that you do; there are plenty of very good people at non-top-tier universities.. for fields where you're more heading into industry, maybe the school name is more critical, I dunno

    if you're interested, if you pm me (and especially if you're in a biology-related field) I can probably give you more specific advice

  • Folken FanelFolken Fanel J.2C When's KoFRegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    chromdom wrote: »
    Are you just getting out of your undergrad degree this spring? It seems to my your undergrad profs and departmental councilors are your best resource. They're in academia, they know about trading off money for reputation. And hell, they probably know a fair bit about the institutions, maybe even some of the intelligencia you'd be studying with. Just go talk to one of your professors whose judgment you respect.

    I'm actually working on a Master's right now. I graduate in May. Almost all my professors have told me I'd be crazy not to go to school B, and one of them is asking his colleagues in academia about the programs in question.

    Gdiguy: I'll be pursuing a degree in statistics. School A is giving me 14,500 for a stipend, while school B is giving me 800/month for 9 months. There's no way anyone in that city can survive off 800/month. I really really don't want to take out a loan, but i think i might have to.

  • GdiguyGdiguy San Diego, CARegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    chromdom wrote: »
    Are you just getting out of your undergrad degree this spring? It seems to my your undergrad profs and departmental councilors are your best resource. They're in academia, they know about trading off money for reputation. And hell, they probably know a fair bit about the institutions, maybe even some of the intelligencia you'd be studying with. Just go talk to one of your professors whose judgment you respect.

    I'm actually working on a Master's right now. I graduate in May. Almost all my professors have told me I'd be crazy not to go to school B, and one of them is asking his colleagues in academia about the programs in question.

    Gdiguy: I'll be pursuing a degree in statistics. School A is giving me 14,500 for a stipend, while school B is giving me 800/month for 9 months. There's no way anyone in that city can survive off 800/month. I really really don't want to take out a loan, but i think i might have to.

    ouch, ok, that's pretty bad; it might have to be a pretty huge academic difference to recommend living on 7k/year... I guess with roomates you might be able to do it, but just barely in even the cheapest cities I was looking at (and no way in hell if you're in Boston)

    btw, why the 9 months? are they intending you go get an internship-type thing in the summer?

    i have a friend doing a phd in more theoretical math, if you want i can ask what he knows about the two schools... or yeah, ask some faculty where you are now, and they should be able to give you a sense of whether A/B are really a significant difference in terms of the quality of research (and also the quality of the other students, which can make a difference in your education/enjoyment as well)

  • Folken FanelFolken Fanel J.2C When's KoFRegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Gdiguy wrote: »
    chromdom wrote: »
    Are you just getting out of your undergrad degree this spring? It seems to my your undergrad profs and departmental councilors are your best resource. They're in academia, they know about trading off money for reputation. And hell, they probably know a fair bit about the institutions, maybe even some of the intelligencia you'd be studying with. Just go talk to one of your professors whose judgment you respect.

    I'm actually working on a Master's right now. I graduate in May. Almost all my professors have told me I'd be crazy not to go to school B, and one of them is asking his colleagues in academia about the programs in question.

    Gdiguy: I'll be pursuing a degree in statistics. School A is giving me 14,500 for a stipend, while school B is giving me 800/month for 9 months. There's no way anyone in that city can survive off 800/month. I really really don't want to take out a loan, but i think i might have to.

    ouch, ok, that's pretty bad; it might have to be a pretty huge academic difference to recommend living on 7k/year... I guess with roomates you might be able to do it, but just barely in even the cheapest cities I was looking at (and no way in hell if you're in Boston)

    btw, why the 9 months? are they intending you go get an internship-type thing in the summer?

    i have a friend doing a phd in more theoretical math, if you want i can ask what he knows about the two schools... or yeah, ask some faculty where you are now, and they should be able to give you a sense of whether A/B are really a significant difference in terms of the quality of research (and also the quality of the other students, which can make a difference in your education/enjoyment as well)

    Well, 9 months b/c I'll be working as a TA for the 9 months of the academic year. For the summer I might have to either get an internship or maybe a separate summer TA contract.

  • PeekingDuckPeekingDuck __BANNED USERS
    edited March 2008
    What are the schools?

  • A BearA Bear Registered User
    edited March 2008
    As a somewhat dissatisfied student of an "option B" school, I often regret not taking an "option A" offer. But at the same time I know that it should help in the long run. If you are worried about student debt, remember that your education should be an investment in yourself. The more prestigious and "better" program should hopefully turn into more and better career opportunities down the road. If a loan today means a more satisfying (and better paying) job in the end, you win on all fronts. If your field is not one where money is to be made in seeking further education, then go get an MBA or something :P

    Edit: Oh, statistics!? Bah! Make a graph or do a poll... But really, education is a serious way to invest in yourself, generally it is wise to go for the "best" you can achieve without going so far as completely overextending yourself, scholastically or financially.

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  • Folken FanelFolken Fanel J.2C When's KoFRegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    I know it would obviously help if everyone knew exactly what schools I am talking about, but as I said before I'd be much more comfortable not revealing that in the thread. If you're that interested, I could reveal that information in a PM.

    There's also this matter which I don't think I mentioned before: my department head at the school I'm currently at told me that the offer made to me by school B was probably a half-stipend, since I'm only responsible for 5 contact hours, rather than the 10 hours most schools would expect of me. School B usually only gives stipends to PHD students, and most likely split a stipend between another student master's student with myself. I'm wondering if I could just tough it out for a year at 800 a month, change my program to a PHD track, and start getting double that pay. Does this sound logical?

  • ReitenReiten Registered User
    edited March 2008
    Look at the professors in your program. You want to match up with someone that has interests similar to yours and has a good reputation in the field. Your advisor in graduate school is the single most important person in your graduate career, so I strongly recommend that you pick based on that. Your current advisor and school should be able to help some with this, but look at the CVs at the schools you're accepted to and also check their publications. That said, school rep does matter (for example, a Harvard graduate will almost always get the benefit of the doubt over someone from a less prestigious place).

    You pursue a PhD for long term benefit. You should take short term pain if the long term benefit is greater at School B and if that school's program/faculty are a better match for you.

  • KakodaimonosKakodaimonos Registered User regular
    edited March 2008

    I'm actually working on a Master's right now. I graduate in May. Almost all my professors have told me I'd be crazy not to go to school B, and one of them is asking his colleagues in academia about the programs in question.

    Gdiguy: I'll be pursuing a degree in statistics. School A is giving me 14,500 for a stipend, while school B is giving me 800/month for 9 months. There's no way anyone in that city can survive off 800/month. I really really don't want to take out a loan, but i think i might have to.

    What's your ultimate end goal? Get a Ph.D. and work in the industry? Get a Ph.D. and work in academia?

    If it's the former, the school with the better name isn't as big of a deal. You can go for School A if they have the type of program you're looking for and an advisor that you can deal with, ideally one who has a good assortment of industry contacts.

    If you're looking to get a Ph.D. and get into teaching and research at the university level, absolutely go for the better school (again making sure you have an advisor you can deal with and like and is in your area of interest). The better name recognition in your field is going to be fairly important if you're going to be trying to get a tenure track position after you graduate.

    But the biggest thing with either school is get an advisor you like and can work with. Usually what will happen with the students who had TA stipends is they will find an advisor working on a research area they like and will then typically start working with the advisor either on the advisor's projects and research or they may work on getting a grant that's related to the advisor's project area. So the TA ship is usually a short-term (1 - 2 years while you're still doing your coursework) sort of thing.

    So start talking to your professors and find out who's doing what in the fields you're interest in. Start looking at what the professors at the schools have published and what they are currently researching to find out if there's a professor working in an area you're interested in. If you do find some professors who's research sounds interesting, try to get in touch with them at the schools. Most professors are going to be more than happy to talk to any incoming Ph.D. students about their research.

    And this may seem like a really big deal right now, but remember that plenty of top-notch researchers have come from smaller schools. You're getting to the level where it's not just where you go to school, but also what you publish. So try not to stress out about it too much.

  • Folken FanelFolken Fanel J.2C When's KoFRegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    So I looked a little deeper into the research that the professors at both schools are doing.. and honestly the research work at one school doesn't seem better or worse to me than that of the other. They both interest me greatly.

    Also,

    As I mentioned in the OP, I applied to three schools, 2 of which offered me TA-ships with school A offering me lots of money, school B offering less money (but has a better name), and lets call school C the one that hasn't gotten back to me yet. I found the rankings for math departments and stats programs for the three schools:

    For math:
    • 39th - school C
    • 41st - school B
    • 51st - school A
    • 131st - the school i currently attend (ha!)

    For statistics:
    • 9th - school C
    • 24th - school A
    • not listed - school B (does not have a stats program, but gives stats degrees within its math program)

    Now, I know that in many regards, these rankings should not be considered the be-all/end-all authority, but the fact that school C is ranked as a top ten school in stats is impressive. I emailed them an hour ago telling them to please update me on my applications status, mentioning that I have already received several offers from other schools.

    However, I'm still wondering what I should do in the event that school C rejects me, since then I'm still back to deciding between schools A and B. I talked to my parents about it, and they are vehemently opposing me taking out any more loans. Their advice directly contradicts the advice that I've received from most of the professors at my current institution who have urged me to go to school B.

    What a shit show... thanks for all the advice so far.

    EDIT: To Kokodaimonos: My goal is simply to be a statistician rather than working in academia. I haven't decided to get a phd after my masters yet, but chances are decent that I'll want a phd.

  • MurphyMurphy Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Outside of Academia, your employers are unlikely to worry too much about what school you went to. Especially if School B isn't known for its statistics program. What they care about is that you have the degree, regardless of where or how you obtained it. Obviously there are going to be exceptions this, but that's the general rule.

    I can't imagine what it is about your schools that you are wary about revealing to us. I sincerely doubt any of us are going to track you down. But it's certainly your prerogative to keep things private, and I'm not going to press.

    Regardless, best of luck in choosing the right school for you.

  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    You need to talk to school B and ask them why the stipend is as low as it is. I hand't realised you didn't apply for a PhD position: I thought they were just fucking with you TBH, with an offer they didn't expect you to take.

    You need to clarify wha'ts going on.

    Also, having seen the school's in a PM, the locations of each school are going to be pretty different. Renta car and go and see them, it's the only way to choose at this point I think.

  • jothkijothki Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Lewisham wrote: »
    You need to talk to school B and ask them why the stipend is as low as it is. I hand't realised you didn't apply for a PhD position: I thought they were just fucking with you TBH, with an offer they didn't expect you to take.

    You need to clarify wha'ts going on.

    It could be that they normally don't give stipends to master's degree students, but really wanted you. I applied to the master's program at a few places, and one of them replied back asking me if I wouldn't rather apply for a PHD instead so they could give me money. School B might have more flexable restrictions on that, enough that they could offer money to master's applicants, though maybe not the full stipend.

  • Folken FanelFolken Fanel J.2C When's KoFRegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Murphy: What I'm worried about is that a school might see these posts and say, hm... this guy is leaving his decision to the internet? wtf? I know this is probably completely irrational, but I'm paranoid. In regards to getting a job, I have a friend who worked on Wall Street for about 10 years, and is currently going to school at Carnegie Mellon to pursue another masters degree. He pointed out that among those at Wall Street at least, they would look much more favorably at a degree from school B than from school A. I imagine this viewpoint might extend to places outside Wall Street as well.

    Lewisham: I'm actually going to visit school B in early April, as they offered to pay for all expenses necessary for me to visit and arrange hotel accommodations for me. Clearly, the department has money, which makes it all the more frustrating that they're offering me such a small stipend.

    Also my parents are telling me that its hard to obtain a student loan for living expenses. Are they full of shit, or is this a valid concern? I know its ultimately my decision, but its not easy given the fact that they are flat out telling me I'm stupid for considering school B given their offer.

  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    jothki wrote: »
    Lewisham wrote: »
    You need to talk to school B and ask them why the stipend is as low as it is. I hand't realised you didn't apply for a PhD position: I thought they were just fucking with you TBH, with an offer they didn't expect you to take.

    You need to clarify wha'ts going on.

    It could be that they normally don't give stipends to master's degree students, but really wanted you. I applied to the master's program at a few places, and one of them replied back asking me if I wouldn't rather apply for a PHD instead so they could give me money. School B might have more flexable restrictions on that, enough that they could offer money to master's applicants, though maybe not the full stipend.

    Yeah, this is what I was getting at (silly me), most of the documentation I read about US grad schools is Masters meant zero cash, whereas PhD meant full funding. I'm confused as to why either school are offering money!

  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    jothki wrote: »
    Lewisham wrote: »
    You need to talk to school B and ask them why the stipend is as low as it is. I hand't realised you didn't apply for a PhD position: I thought they were just fucking with you TBH, with an offer they didn't expect you to take.

    You need to clarify wha'ts going on.

    It could be that they normally don't give stipends to master's degree students, but really wanted you. I applied to the master's program at a few places, and one of them replied back asking me if I wouldn't rather apply for a PHD instead so they could give me money. School B might have more flexable restrictions on that, enough that they could offer money to master's applicants, though maybe not the full stipend.

    Yeah, this is what I was getting at (silly me), most of the documentation I read about US grad schools is Masters meant zero cash, whereas PhD meant full funding. I'm confused as to why either school are offering money!

  • MurphyMurphy Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    I know for the program I'm planning to pursue there are graduate assistantships that pay tuition + small stipend. So I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case with other programs as well.

  • chromdomchromdom That Guy Parkin' on the BoulevardRegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    My understanding is that student loans are for whatever you want them to be for. With scholarships, that's different, but loans are checks to you. You can spend that money however you like. When you visit the schools, have appointments scheduled with financial aid, just to see if they have any more insight or help for you.

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  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    the thing you need to think about is where you feel you fit in better. so you shouldn't worry about a descision just yet until you hear from all the schools and visit all of them. Grad school is going to be tough so little things like being able to get a decent cup of coffee or having a nearby place to unwind are going to make a huge difference

    secondly. Getting money for a masters program is not very common at all. My program doesn't give anything to them. You go in , they help you find a TA position and set you on your way. that being said. check to see if the 900 is for one quarter/semester or is guarenteed for the entire time you are there. more than likely you will be able to find a better position once you are there.

    student loans are supposed to be used for any expense related to school whether its housing books or tuition. so long as its related to school you could buy a new computer if you wanted.

    i would go with whatever school you feel is a better fit for you, you will have a better experience.

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  • RocketSauceRocketSauce Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Back when I was thinking about going to Grad School, one of my professors told me to always go where the money is. He said you should never have to pay to go to Grad School, they should be paying you. I say go where you're going to get more money, even if it's not the most well-known school.

  • DrFrylockDrFrylock Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Getting money for a masters program is not very common at all.

    There is very, very little funding for Masters-only students, unless possibly you're talking about a field where the Masters is a terminal degree, in which case strike out one of the "very"s. Really it is surprising that a Masters-only student would be funded at all. You're effectively just extending your undergraduate study by a year or two. At most universities, the funding is reserved for the PhD students because there is already limited money and those people are spending many years actively contributing to research at the university, whereas a Masters student is usually, at best, doing introductory research work or TAing.

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  • BlowfluBlowflu Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    I'm going to use my school as an example here. I go to the University of North Florida (in Jacksonville, Florida). Not a lot of people would consider UNF as a 'prestigious' school, yet we have the 2nd or 3rd best Nursing School in the NATION. Just because one school is more prestigious doesn't mean that you should count out the lesser one.

    Here's one last piece of advice: YOUR GRAD SCHOOL DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU WILL BE BETTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE. My father works with doctors as a medical salesman, and he could name many doctors who suck, but went to places like Johns Hopkins or Harvard. He can also name many more doctors who graduated from crappy schools that are much better than all the Ivy educated guys. I'm not saying that it would be a great idea to go to a shitty grad school, or that it would not be beneficial to go to a better program. I'm saying that if you're good at what you do, it really won't matter where you go. Keep in mind that your performance in grad school will also be affected by outside variables such as money and surrounding environment. Make sure those two things won't be an issue where you decide to go.

  • grungeboxgrungebox Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    DrFrylock wrote: »
    Getting money for a masters program is not very common at all.

    There is very, very little funding for Masters-only students, unless possibly you're talking about a field where the Masters is a terminal degree, in which case strike out one of the "very"s. Really it is surprising that a Masters-only student would be funded at all. You're effectively just extending your undergraduate study by a year or two. At most universities, the funding is reserved for the PhD students because there is already limited money and those people are spending many years actively contributing to research at the university, whereas a Masters student is usually, at best, doing introductory research work or TAing.

    Most schools include that "don't get a second job" clause, but I don't know of any that enforce it. At my school lots of people tutor on the side for extra cash. Also, I'd look around for TA and RA positions. Often, those will help get you a tuition waver, they did for grad students at my undergrad institution anyway.

    Also, unless you want to do academia the school rep isn't that important. More important for entering industry is where the school is located and what you learn. The former is important because there will be more on-campus interviews, and it is often overlooked. Be aware of what jobs are related to your area, too. Don't go to Houston if you don't like oil, don't go to Seattle if your goal is investment banking, don't go to Detroit if you don't like the car industry, that sort of thing.

    School rep is very very very important for academia, unfortunately. If you graduated top of the pops at a mid-name school (let's just pick one at random, say U of Iowa, which I'm not at all affiliated with), you will have a very hard time getting faculty job at an upper-name school like Stanford or MIT. It's a sad fact of academic life.

    Quail is just hipster chicken
  • Folken FanelFolken Fanel J.2C When's KoFRegistered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Gah! This is getting harder by the day. In hindsight I guess I should have applied for a phd, seeing as my top choice (school C) told me they were only giving funding to phd students. The thing is, I'm not sure if I want a phd in stats just yet... and it didnt seem appropriate to apply for a phd when I was on the fence about it. I'm psyched about going for another master's though. A phd... that's something I should be 100% about before I apply.

    Another reason I didn't want to apply for a phd was that I had a fear that I would be stuck in academia if I did. Well... my dumb ass didn't realize that isn't the case at all.

    At this point I feel so torn that I may as well flip a coin, and something this serious shouldn't come to that. I guess my biggest fear is that I go to the better school and find out I can't cut it - then have an extra loan to take on. I know I'm being irrational and that my performance and history suggest that I can kick ass in this program, its just one more thing I'm thinking about.

    I honestly think I'm leaning towards the "more prestigious" school. The only thing keeping me from going to that school and applying for that loan is my mom. She insists that I'm absolutely retarded for even considering it, regardless of all my suggestions why it would be a good idea, and despite the fact that most of my professors have told me that i have to go there. My mom has always had a complex of her being right and everyone else being wrong... but I think my professors are more equipped to answer this question than she is.... I just can't bring myself to come out and say that to her.

    So torn...

    Thanks for the help so far everyone.

    Also: grungebox, I love your title of disgruntled grad student... I really don't want to have that title come next fall...

  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    so keep in mind assuming the school you choose has a phd program in the one you are getting your masters you can just petition to move on, or have an easier time applying and getting in

    camo_sig.png
  • Folken FanelFolken Fanel J.2C When's KoFRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Hey all. I've had the chance to visit both schools and I've come to a decision. It came down to deciding between the University of Florida and Georgia Tech. I ultimately decided to go to the University of Florida. Here's why:

    Florida has its own statistics department. I had the chance to meet with about 8 of their professors and I'm interested in the research that almost all of them are doing. I'm coming in as a Master's student, but there's a chance Ill want to stay for my PhD if I end up liking the department as much as I'm thinking that I will.

    Georgia Tech does not have its own statistics department. I was accepted into their math program that hands out statistics master's degrees. I had a chance to meet with the professors here as well, and even had a chance to sit in on a class (Stochastic Calculus I - was really good) but none of the professors were doing statistics as research... rather they were doing research which happened to include some statistics. The math department also does not offer a PhD degree, so if I wanted to continue towards a PhD in stats, I would have to transfer to the industrial engineering department.

    Once I realized that I had more interest in what the professors at UF were doing, the rest sort of fell into place. Another one of my concerns had been that I should probably accept Georgia Tech's offer regardless of other factors because of how prestigious it is. This point became moot once I realized that the rankings I had posted earlier in the thread were very outdated. In a very recent article from US News and World Report, UF's graduate statistics program was ranked 9th nationally. Whatever reservations I had about the strength of UFs program were quickly resolved.

    Ultimately, I don't think that picking either school could be considered to be a bad choice. Both are very strong programs, and I feel lucky to have the "problem" of having to choose between the two. Thanks for all the help you guys gave me, and thanks especially to whoever recommended that I visit the schools... that helped me make this decision more than any other factor.

    Thanks again to everyone who contributed to the thread.

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