Accept Offer from Safety School or Reapply?

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I've been accepted by the PhD program at my safety school (where I am completing my undergrad), and have been declined admission at my reach schools. While my safety school's offer is solid, I would prefer to attend a better school in a different city. I am still completing research for my undergrad thesis, which is taking longer than expected, and would retake the PGRE in the fall. Both of these would enhance my application, so I think I would have a much better shot next year.

The way I see, it the options are as follows:

-Ask to complete a Masters program at safety school instead of PhD . The reason I didn't apply to the Masters program in the first place is because I heard from a prof that some schools just trash those apps.(Drawback: graduate committee might get seriously pissed)
-Get a job and reapply next year (Drawbacks: No current job offer, Unsure what happens to LOR's)
-Accept safety school offer; the deadline hasn't passed yet. (Drawbacks:4-5 years of boredom with current location.)

I would appreciate your opinion on how suicidal the first two options are.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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I would appreciate your opinion on how suicidal the first two options are.
That highly depends on why your "reach schools" rejected your application. Would you mind telling us the details of your application, and the quality of schools you applied to. You don't have to go into such details that would give away who you are.
 
  • #3
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GPA: 3.25
Physics GPA: 3.3.
pGRE: low 600's.
GRE: above 90th in quant/verbal.
I have two previous research presentations resulting from an internship at a top university. My current research is publishable. Target schools are large state schools. I had difficulty picking reach schools for my interest that were not close to impossible given my GPA/pGRE combo. LOR's I believe are very strong, except for one (standard A-in-the class without much detail). LOR's and research experience will only improve in the next few months, and I can realistically fix my pGRE to the point where it compensates for my GPA to some point. The rest will ride on research experience and charisma.
 
  • #4
Vanadium 50
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You have no guarantee that you will be re-accepted next year. Are you prepared for that?
Many students think they will substantially improve their GRE scores by retaking it. Not nearly as many do. If you end up not improving your pGRE, your application will be no stronger than it was. Are you prepared for that?
 
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  • #5
Choppy
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I agree with Vanadium50. Taking a year off for the chance that you *might* get accepted elsewhere is risky.

I also can't help, but wonder if you've fallen victim to this "safety" and "reach" school mindset that seems to be pretty common among undergrads. You either want to do a PhD at a particular school, or you don't. If you didn't want to attend, then it might be worth asking yourself why you applied in the first place. Look at the opportunity that you have in front of you and make a decision based on whether you think you can be successful with it.
 
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