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Admissions Unexpected waitlist admissions

  1. Apr 14, 2009 #1
    I just got an a very unexpected admissions of the waitlist at school A and I'm not sure what to do. I have pretty much today to decide to go to a school that just admitted me as opposed to a school that admitted me almost 2 months ago, call it school B!

    The pros of school A are great location, great vibe with grad students , big faculty and great financial offer.

    The pros of school B are they have two prominent professors along with 3 or 4 other good professors in my field that regularly takes on students. The research fit is very close.

    The cons of school A are there are only a few advisers who work in the field I want to pursue, and even then it's not as great of a fit as school B. And school A is very far from home.

    The cons of school B are that it is very poorly run, the two advisers who are well known are also well known for being surly and tough to work with (but they always place their students in great postdocs), grad students don't seem happy, the surrounding area is a dead zone, there is nothing going on or anything that is fun.

    Please help! I need to make a decision by tomorrow.

    PS: How often does it happen that you get admitted to a school like school A. You like everything but they don't have an exact research fit, and you transfer to another school to work on your thesis? This would happen either via networking and getting in touch with professors you would like to work with and then telling them you want to transfer or your professor at school A getting in touch with some schools to get you in. Just curious.

    One of my advisers from undergrad told me it doesn't matter where you go, as long as the school is "good enough," then it totally matters you I do and how hard I work. While I believe this to be true, I do not believe it is the whole truth. Going to a school that is very good in algebra but wanting to do statistics is just a bad idea.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 14, 2009 #2


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    This would make my decision for me. If, when applying to universities, the students did not look happy in one department, I would not want to go there.. at least not without asking them questions about this.
  4. Apr 14, 2009 #3
    A research fast track can make up for everything else, but make sure that if you do choose B you really will be able to start doing research right away.
  5. Apr 14, 2009 #4
    Let's just say I know what goes on at school B REALLY WELL. I don't want to get into specifics. But I think they are unhappy more so because of the lifeless area around it. Very small town, there is not even a movie theater within walking distance. It's a veritable ghost town.

    But I'm wondering, is that a good enough reason to turn down working with these professors? Everyone says grad school is all about your adviser, there are only a handful of advisers that I'd take over these two professors.

    To isabelle: I don't think I will be able to start research right away. I have personally contacted these professors before and their genealogy shows that they regularly take on students and more over, they help them complete theses.

    At school A there are a 2 or 3 professors whose research I like, but it's not exactly what I wanted to do. There is one professor I really really like but he has never supervised a PhD student.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2009
  6. Apr 14, 2009 #5


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    This is a tough dilemma.

    If time is an option, I might suggest you contact the specific professors you would be interested in working with at both schools. Tell them your research interests, and then see what projects they are willing to advise a graduate student on. Ideally, you don't want to make your decision based on the assumption that you can work with Professor X and find out that he/she doesn't have room for any more students, etc.

    If your gut instinct is that you won't be happy in a place, I think that's a good enough reason not to go. But, happiness is largely a frame of mind. If the only real issue is the small-town feel (which in my opinion is a lot better than city life any day) and you feel that you can still be happy there, I would go ahead with it.

    Good luck with your decision.
  7. Apr 14, 2009 #6


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    I would go for school B because of the pros you gave. Furthermore you don't want to be distracted if you're a serious student. The location for me would be a plus thanks to its quietness but as you live far it's a bit bothering to travel.
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