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Studying Got an MS admission offer -- Have some questions

  1. Feb 15, 2017 #1
    I had applied to several universities and got a positive reply from the University of Florida for the program in MS Nuclear Engineering.

    Anyway, these are my questions:

    1. Is there anything I should be aware of in particular about the university or the program at this university? Whatever you guys know is fine. It would be too much of me to ask everybody detailed info on this.

    2. My undergraduate background is in Electronics and Communications so that might make people a bit skeptical. However, I have this admission offer now. They must have seen something and regardless of what it is, if something trivial, I will not back off from any and all work it takes me to make the most of this opportunity and beyond that. What preemptive measures can I take prior to joining to ease myself to the greatest degree into my studies?

    3. The letter says that I have to respond by April 15. Obviously, I am still waiting for other responses. It is not possible that they would rescind the offer prior to that date, would they?

    4. What is the research scene like at the MS level? My thesis will be the most important, I have come to learn, but is there anything else I can or should do during my MS to improve my credentials as a researcher in this field? I am not particularly familiar with the process it takes to become a fully fledged and recognized researcher. I only know a few bits and pieces such as you have to work well with other recognized professionals in the field on research projects, internships during summers/after the program, perhaps submitting some papers of your own (though, you have to be affiliated with a recognized institute in my understanding). However, this is a bit vague, so is there anything that I should specifically be informed of?

    5. How exactly does writing a thesis work? And how would I find a suitable topic to write one on? Or hot topics for research in general?

    6. Given my background, is there an heavy obligation to draw from it at the university, in my studies or otherwise?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 15, 2017 #2
    Have you only been admitted, or is there a significant financial aid package (fellowship, research assistantship, teaching assistandship)?

    I wouldn't take too much confidence in merely being admitted, if you are going to have to pay six figures to attend. They admitted you, because they want your money.
  4. Feb 15, 2017 #3
    No. $1500 tuition waiver per semester for 3 semesters currently. Anything I should note?
  5. Feb 15, 2017 #4
    That's not much love in light of the in-state tuition of $12,470 per year and total expenses estimated at $30k per year.

    I encourage students to think of financial aid in that ballpark more as a discount coupon than as real aid. They want your money, not your mind.
  6. Feb 15, 2017 #5
    I get that. I am an international student, just so you know.

    What I was asking was is there some other serious problem it leads to?

    I really wish I could pass on the offer but circumstances are not in my favour. Besides, couldn't I attempt for a scholarship or assistantship midway?
  7. Feb 15, 2017 #6
    Wow! So you likely have out of state tuition also. That's going to be expensive.

    Scholarships midway are unlikely (at least of the magnitude to make a significant dent in overall costs.)

    Assistantships depend on the relative supply and demand of research and teaching labor needs. I would not be optimistic unless you investigate it thoroughly and determine that you are well qualified for those and they are likely. But if that were the case, one wonders why that offer is not already on the table.

    Safer to assume they only want your money until they put the money on the table to prove they want your mind.
  8. Feb 15, 2017 #7
    I myself did not ask for assistantships. It's true my record isn't great so I just didn't ask for it in my application.

    Regardless, some help is better than no help, so I'll probably be on the lookout if opportunities arise for better aid.

    However, I still would like to know, perhaps they are after my money but does this also lead to other problems? As in do I not get a certain service everybody else does or do they not perform some duty they are supposed to generally?
  9. Feb 15, 2017 #8
    It can. Since you are paying them, they do not have the same level of motivation for you to complete your degree as quickly as if they were paying you. One or two more semesters means more money for them. As a result, faculty may not be as eager to help you complete all your course and research requirements in a timely manner compared with how eager they would be if your tuition and stipend were coming out of a faculty member's research grant. Faculty tend to be more invested in the success and graduation of students they are paying.
  10. Feb 15, 2017 #9
    Any particular example? Do they purposely try to sabotage me or find stupid, petty reasons to hold me back from something or another? And which part of the faculty may be responsible for any such deeds? Teaching, administratve, others?
  11. Feb 15, 2017 #10
    Nothing as bad as purposeful sabotage - more of being less willing to go out of their way to help you. More likely to cancel a course you might need due to low enrollment or less likely to get something you need approved in a timely manner.

    Being an RA or TA you have a built in advocate - the faculty member you are working for.
  12. Feb 15, 2017 #11

    Vanadium 50

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    I have never seen a professor make that kind of calculus. I can't even imagine it - it's not like faculty are paid on commission.
  13. Feb 15, 2017 #12
    No, not that kind of calculus. But I've seen professors decline to help students that were not "their" students dozens of times. Who can say what the intent was. But "no" means "no" regardless of intent.
  14. Feb 16, 2017 #13
    To be honest, I'm trying to get my foot in the door at this point. If it is nothing nearly as bad as open, rampant corruption, I can't really concern myself with it. I'll just have to find ways to mitigate all this, be on top of things from the get-go and you did say it was not impossible even if difficult to obtain assistantships during the course.

    Do you remember any examples or any times where it was particularly obvious and/or bad?
  15. Feb 16, 2017 #14


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    If that is the case, you need to step back and look at the bigger picture. Are you prepared for their program? And as Dr. Courtney has stated, they ain't showing you a lot of love. You may be much better served by going to a school of your choice, chasing after a degree of your choosing, and initially paying your first semester (with savings and loans as required).
    Chances are you may choose a school with lower tuition with a program that is more in line with your background or desire. Most mid-tier schools will welcome you aboard if you have a halfway decent GPA and an acceptable GRE. Most Grad students can receive some assistance once on board, certainly an amount comparable to $1500.
  16. Feb 16, 2017 #15
    Any particulars you have in mind when you think about preparation for the program?

    Also, I don't understand what you mean by school or degree of my choosing. I would not have applied to this school in this program if it was not my choice.

    Wait, how is that any different from me joining this school and proving my worth for assistantships or the like?

    Anyway, I'll let you know more. I still have a few responses I am waiting for.
  17. Feb 19, 2017 #16
    Bumping because I believe I could benefit from the advice.
  18. Feb 19, 2017 #17


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    I agree, you're paying the university not the professors.

    I also dont see the conundrum, most Engineers in the US pay out pocket for a masters, less any finacial aid, at least all the ones I've met. If you want to find out ways to help pay for the program, email the admissions officer who you've been in contact with or better the schools finacial aid department/engineering department. You're an international student, so many avenues of aid are closed to you.

    If you want to study there, study there. Your biggest concern should be with your lack of preparatory work. If I were you I'd look at the undergraduate courses in a comparable bachelors program in the US and see where you stand. Then self study those topics between now and when you start.
  19. Feb 19, 2017 #18
    Their course list is available on their website and the respective syllabus can be easily found. Can I use those to guide myself where necessary?
  20. Feb 19, 2017 #19


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