Purdue vs. Vanderbilt vs. UMass Amherst

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Joined: Fri Mar 21, 2014 11:43 pm

Purdue vs. Vanderbilt vs. UMass Amherst

Post by Vendilionaire » Fri Mar 21, 2014 11:45 pm

Hi all,

I'm interested in experimental condensed matter physics. I have offers from Purdue, Vanderbilt, and U Mass Amherst for Physics PhD programs (with funding), and I'm on the wait list for a few other schools (U Minnesota, Stony Brook).

I visited Vanderbilt and enjoyed it, but generally speaking Vanderbilt has lower rankings than Purdue. How seriously should I take these rankings? I'm assuming I can be successful with a degree from either program, but I've heard that grad students at larger schools generally have a harder time getting individualized attention from PIs / get worked to death with TA-ing huge classes / use their qualifying exam to just weed out the weaker students after a few years of teaching undergrad labs. Vanderbilt seems to have good faculty and facilities (I haven't visited Purdue) - can anyone out there compare the two?

I don't know if it matters, but I've also heard that outside of Purdue/UMass Amherst there's essentially no city at all...I'd like for a more urban environment and Vandy delivers there.

Thanks for the input.

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Joined: Sun Nov 17, 2013 11:24 am

Re: Purdue vs. Vanderbilt vs. UMass Amherst

Post by torch000 » Sun Mar 23, 2014 12:16 pm

So cause no one else is replying I'll try and add some information to this as I'm doing my undergrad at UMASS and I've spent quite a lot of time around Vanderbilt (but not with the department).
UMASS is a great school and has a great department, I don't think there's any of the faculty that I've ever had a problem with. The amherst area can definitely be nice though, fall is amazing but the winters are rough. Just this recent winter alone we've had about 3-4 ft of snow in less than a week.
Vanderbilt, while I've never had any experience with the actual school only the campus and the Nashville area as far as I have had experience with is very nice. You won't run into such harsh winters in Nashville which is very nice. I think the worst thing I've ever experienced there was in 2007 when they had a dusting of snow and it closed down the entire city. Like you mentioned I also like being in a campus that is adjacent to everything you could possibly need because it is in downtown Nashville. Just judging between these two schools (never been to Purdue), I'd honestly take Vanderbilt. I love UMASS but I've had enough of the winter, Nashville was a great city when I lived nearby, and I kind of hate being away from everything in western MA.

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