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Is it ethical?

  1. Mar 28, 2008 #1
    In June 2007 I applied for a Ph.D. to some universities for Spring 2008.Up to November 2007, I didn't get any response from these universities. This in turn motivated me to apply for fall 2008. In spite of my despair , I applied to the top universities for the fall term.

    Howevre,one of the spring universities ( a middle rank one) has offered me a research assitanship and I accepted the offer and actually started my research and classes. I'm very statified with my research and advisor and in my opinion it is a top class research in my area of speciality.

    Surprisingly , I recieved today an e-mail from MIT( the top ranked institute in my research area) that include my acceptance to the fall term!!

    Is it ethical to leave my current school and ignore the money which has been spent on my tuition and evenually go to MIT?

    I'm really confused about this. My dream was to study in such a great institute but I'm also convinced that adhering to ethics is also a very valuable thing.

    What do you think?What are you going to do if you were in my place?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 28, 2008 #2
    When I accepted my offer to the school I'm going to attend, they made me sign a statement saying that I had only accepted to attend that school. I think you have some very real concerns in your case. People turn down great offers all the time when they apply to multiple schools, but once you've already committed to one place then the situation becomes much different. On the other hand, universities can't really force you legally to stay anywhere.

    You want my personal opinion? Go for what's best for you. You don't really owe anything to anywhere.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2008
  4. Mar 28, 2008 #3
    Just finish this semester and then tell your advisor you're transferring. Go to MIT!
  5. Mar 28, 2008 #4


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    Is your current appointment letter at your current institution for just the Spring semester?
    If so, then you have no commitment for the subsequent semesters.

    If your appointment is longer, you can still leave if you wish.
    However,... some things to keep in mind.

    How do you find your coursework?
    Qualifying exams... have you taken them already?

    If you have a good advisor, a good problem, and good resources to work on your problem, then you are probably in good shape already.

    Of course, nothing stops you from transferring.

    You might want to visit MIT [possibly at their expense] and see for yourself if that is really where you want to be and can be successful there. While the name and reputation is great... will it be a good fit for YOU?

    Do you know for a fact that you can work with a particular person there?
    (You probably don't want to get there to find yourself stranded. Do you have a plan B?)
    What financial support have you been offered?

    Good luck in your decision.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2008
  6. Mar 28, 2008 #5


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    there is nothing unethical about it. Is it not that you get in because you have some "connections" or load of $$$. But as some previous posters said, you must work out whether it would be a good switch.... advisor wise, coursework wise, etc.

    I am sure your current advisors and colleagues would be very proud of you if you succeed at MIT. We use to have a few guys here who only spent 8 months or a year with us before moving onto Havard, Cornell and Oxford... and we simply keep bragging that we know someone at Harvard/Oxford! :)
  7. Mar 28, 2008 #6
    -My appointment in my current institution is for 3 years .The financial aid is guranteed in the first year and is renewed upon satisfactory performance.

    -I'm taking three classes and doing well in them, I was also planning to take the qualifuing exam this summer(it is offered in summer only).

    -I do really have a good advisor and a good problem and the atmosphere in my current institute is very resourceful.

    -I'm not sure that MIT is a good fit for me. But I'm sure that a plcae like MIT where good students from all over the world come to learn and exchange ideas should be an optimum place to learn. Also The Boston-Cambridge universitied surrounding MIT (needless to say including Harvard) should also be a very resourceful environment.

    -I've have not been assigned to an advisor in MIT.

    MIT has offered full financial support in the form of teaching assitanship (tuition+fees+stipend+insurance). This is for one year and renewed upon satisfactory perfromance.
  8. Mar 28, 2008 #7


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    You may have to take the MIT qualifying exam. Ask.

    In my opinion, these aspects are most important...wherever you are.

    Certainly, Cambridge MA is a great place...
    but the goal is to complete a PhD.

    One is rarely assigned an advisor at this stage.
    It's up to you to make that connection.
    You may want to contact some faculty members and find out more about their research and research opportunities available to you.

    While teaching can be a good thing [and is a skill that many graduate students neglect to develop], it does take time away from research. While you may get a research assistantship there someday, you have to work your way to it.... By contrast, you have one now at your current institution.
  9. Mar 29, 2008 #8
    Do what is best for you. You are not required to stay at your institution for three years, even if they gave you a "three year" plan.

    You could drop out. You could find employment. You could change career paths. Why should "You could go to your dream school" not be on the list of good reasons to leave?
  10. Mar 31, 2008 #9

    Andy Resnick

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    I agree with most of the advice, that you need to first determine what you agreed to by accepting a slot at your current institution.

    We occasionally have students switch to other schools after attending here for a year or so- although there is nothing wrong with it, per se, it does cause some resentment within the faculty. This may or may not be a problem for the student- the research community is not that big, and you end up dealing with the same few people over and over again.

    To some degree, it's just like quitting a job for a better one. The good guys will miss you, but understand your desire to excel and wish you the best of luck. The bad ones will resent you 'leaving them behind'.
  11. Mar 31, 2008 #10
    Thank you all for your input. It was really of great help !

    I took the decision to MIT and I should discuss this with my current advisor soon , so that he can get a new student in a suitable time for him.

    Again , thank you for help!
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