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Schools Grad School Conundrum

I'm sure my questions which will follow are rather pedestrian about choosing a grad school when one has several different options.
I have offers from Rutgers, Boston University, and University of Florida. I'm planning to do research in Experimental Condensed Matter. So my questions regarding these, and generally relevant for other prospective grad students when looking at places, places are

  1. Is one program drastically seen as being better than the other two?
    USNews, and NRC have Rutgers as being slightly better(20s for Rutgers compares to 30s for UF and BU), which I don't see as being very significant. Also, is there a comprehensive ranking for different condensed matter programs or more generally programs within physics. USNews has one but it terminates after the 10th position.
  2. How hard is to live on the stipends in the different locations? UF is in the middle of nowhere, and is offering around 20k/year, Rutgers is in suburban NJ and offering slightly more, and BU is in the middle of Boston and is offering around 30k/year. Are these differences equivalent when adjusting for the different cost of living in these areas?
  3. How does the location of the university affect research/education? Again, UF is in the middle of nowhere, while Rutgers and BU are very close to other universities. Is this a relevant factor to consider?

I suppose at-the-end-of-the-day one simply must choose and not look back on that choice. But I have two weeks till I decide, I still have to visit BU, and I'll allow a week for my thoughts to incubate--the next two weeks are going to kill me.

Thanks for your opinions!
:smile:
 

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