Indecisions 2009

  • This has become our largest and most active forum because the physics GRE is just one aspect of getting accepted into a graduate physics program.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

astrofan
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Post by astrofan » Thu Apr 09, 2009 12:51 pm

stargazer wrote:
03D3bb wrote:@stargazer.

From what I know, Hawaii likes to use their grad students as data slaves; most people say that being a postdoc there is >> than being a grad student so if I were you I'd save it for later :)


Really??? quite a shock to me.. :cry:
Yeah, I hadn't heard that either. I heard that Hawaii had chill professors; a 2nd year was telling me about getting caught drinking beer while observing. She was scared, but the prof just laughed when he caught her. The grad students I met who go to Hawaii were very happy.

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bryanwitha_y
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Post by bryanwitha_y » Thu Apr 09, 2009 1:20 pm

I just read something on thegradcafe that I thought was fitting here.
saritapie wrote: [An] "adventure" is a good way to conceptualize it, too. Another thing my once and future advisor says is that getting a PhD should be fun ("the coolest thing ever" is another phrase he has used). You should go where you need to go to remember why you wanted to do this in the first place. Good luck!
I like the last part. Even though I'm pretty decided at this point, it's made me feel much better about my decision.

to read the thread, go here: http://forum.thegradcafe.com/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=17052

tensorwhat
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Post by tensorwhat » Thu Apr 09, 2009 3:19 pm

astrofan wrote:... getting caught drinking beer while observing. She was scared ...
hard lolz

milkyway
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Post by milkyway » Fri Apr 10, 2009 5:58 am

To stargazer:

In terms of the postdoc job market, Hawaii and UT grad students do much better than Texas A&M students. I am an older grad student applying for jobs currently, and I do not think I have ever seen a Texas A&M student win a big fellowship. Personally, I think your decision should be between Hawaii and UT; I think either would be good for what you want to do.

astrofan
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Post by astrofan » Fri Apr 10, 2009 10:59 am

They should really invite internationals to open house if they are going to accept you. I really think you would see what the rest of us are talking about if you did visit, stargazer.

As an aside, it is unfortunate that JHU has such a low reputation. Maybe its because my research involves HST a lot and I am interested in supernovae that I look so highly on JHU for astronomy.

Also, just to point out, the reason you will not see any Texas A&M post docs is because 0 students have graduated with a degree in astronomy (or training in astronomy) in the history of the school. The department is new, and they are throwing money at it like crazy to try and grow it. I think in 10 years it will be a good choice for astronomy.

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Ren
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Post by Ren » Fri Apr 10, 2009 11:53 am

Why do I feel like I am making a decision between choosing the one I want or the one that wants me. I know both programs accepted me and they would not have done so if they don't want me to go there.

I'm not really sure who I would work with at UT Austin, or who would want to work with me. I don't think it's a problem because they have many observational projects that I can choose from once I'm there. While at BU, there are already some numbers of professors who showed interests in me, and would like me to join their research group. And I think their projects are very interesting too. I feel like the professors are more friendly and would like to help me with whatever questions I have. I don't get the same impression from UT though.

Another issue is that BU has more groups doing instrumental. They even collab with engineering department a lot. They also have more space-based research going on.
I wish it's true that UT is doing a lot of instrumental, but I only met one professor doing that during the visit. And I don't think the astronomy department there collab much with anyone else outside. (maybe except for CS people with computational research). Is this true??

@astrofan >> your profile sounds similar to a student I met when I visited BU. I don't think you're the same person though. :?
Are you still making a decision? Are you also considering BU astronomy? What do you think of their program?

astrofan
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Post by astrofan » Fri Apr 10, 2009 6:13 pm

See my pm Ren.

Another case where you are comparing a safety school to a powerhouse. Though, I guess it makes sense if you are interested in instrumentation.

flaxcapacitor
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Post by flaxcapacitor » Sun Apr 12, 2009 1:11 am

I am deciding between Cornell vs. Columbia for carbon stuff: graphene and CNTs.

Cornell has: McEuen,Ralph - both are difficult groups to get into
Columbia has: Kim,Stormer, Hone etc. etc. (nanocenter seems awesome for carbon stuff).

Cornell is in a small town, but very nice/comfortable for academics. People are talented and friendly. Cornell makes good physicists.
Columbia is in NYC, which is an amazing rush. People are more diverse too. Not sure about the educational experience.

Cornell expertise is in many fields -- biophysics, engineering etc.
Columbia is good at most stuff, but not as famous in many fields.

thoughts? could the cornell and columbia people pleasepleaseplease chime in? I think the decision will hurt either way -- brilliant department vs. possibly brilliant mix of lifestyle/academics.

excel
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Post by excel » Sun Apr 12, 2009 1:32 am

flax, you mentioned Cornell's expertise in diverse fields. The system is quite flexible and allows students to take advantage of this diversity. For example, at Cornell, several PhD students (including physics PhDs) at the main campus in Ithaca do their thesis in collaboration with or actually in Cornell's medical school in New York CIty. But, will Cornell's diversity benefit You?

Regarding Columbia and NYC, I am just curious: are they offering you subsidized housing?

FNR
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Post by FNR » Sun Apr 12, 2009 7:02 am

I am still unsure whether I should accept the offer from US grad school(s) or another offer from Singaporean grad school. Here is the detail:
http://www.physicsgre.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2281

Gee, what would you all do if you were in my position? :|

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grae313
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Post by grae313 » Sun Apr 12, 2009 4:13 pm

flaxcapacitor wrote:I am deciding between Cornell vs. Columbia for carbon stuff: graphene and CNTs.

Cornell has: McEuen,Ralph - both are difficult groups to get into
Columbia has: Kim,Stormer, Hone etc. etc. (nanocenter seems awesome for carbon stuff).

Cornell is in a small town, but very nice/comfortable for academics. People are talented and friendly. Cornell makes good physicists.
Columbia is in NYC, which is an amazing rush. People are more diverse too. Not sure about the educational experience.

Cornell expertise is in many fields -- biophysics, engineering etc.
Columbia is good at most stuff, but not as famous in many fields.

thoughts? could the cornell and columbia people pleasepleaseplease chime in? I think the decision will hurt either way -- brilliant department vs. possibly brilliant mix of lifestyle/academics.
There is also Craighead in the AEP department. I didn't see your profile in the profiles thread. Have you posted? If you haven't, you should really consider it. It's a huge help to future physics applicants. I don't know how much you like big city life, or if you would be miserable in a small town. Personally I'd rather visit downtown Manhattan then live there! Both schools are excellent choices, and you are right about McEuen and Ralph groups being tough to get in to. Have you emailed both of them and expressed your interest? They might give you some hints as to their availability for next year. I'm extremely biased, but I think Cornell is the better program and if there are other things you could see yourself doing besides working with McEuen or Ralph if those options don't work out, and if you don't hate small towns, go to Cornell. The CNF at Cornell kicks nanocenter's ass, I promise.

flaxcapacitor
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Post by flaxcapacitor » Sun Apr 19, 2009 5:34 pm

Grae and Excel, thank you for your excellent responses. Sorry it took me so long to respond -- I was quite swamped this past week. I finally chose Columbia because there are two professors there that I am very interested in working with, and they are willing to take me on.

Excel -- you are right about Cornell's diversity perhaps not benefiting me . For instance, they have a very strong program in nonlinear optics/photonics (between the physics/AEP/ECE departments), but this is something I am not interested in. They also do a lot of optics based biophysics (Michelle Wang's optical trapping lab, Watt Webb and his collaborators in fluorescent microscopy). I want to be at the interface between biology and physics, but working more with STM/AFM systems, or interfacing Carbon systems with biology...and for this, Columbia ain't bad.

Grae -- I am in love with CNF as well. I think what makes it special are the people there -- they seem so knowledgeable and ready to teach. But my interest is not so much in fabrication of devices (same reason I am not interested in Craighead -- he seems very biosensor fab. oriented). Ralph did not respond to my email, and McEuen said that he takes 1 student per year. I am not sure if I can compete with these superstars who give up Harvard for Cornell just so they can work with McEuen...

Cornell has much, much more prestige, and Ithaca is a great academic environment. But I am choosing Columbia because of some great professors, and the diversity of NYC. Maybe it will come back to bite me in the ass, who knows?

I will post my profile in a couple of days. thanks again to both of you.

Edit: excel, yes...they have graduate student housing that runs between $700-1000 (1 bedroom in a shared aprtment) including utilities. That probably compares to $400-700 in Ithaca. So it's definitely not cheap.

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grae313
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Post by grae313 » Sun Apr 19, 2009 8:53 pm

flaxcapacitor wrote:Cornell has much, much more prestige, and Ithaca is a great academic environment. But I am choosing Columbia because of some great professors, and the diversity of NYC. Maybe it will come back to bite me in the ass, who knows?
I wouldn't worry about it "biting you in the ass," Columbia is a great school with a great reputation, and it sounds like you chose it for some good reasons. Good luck!

excel
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Re: Indecisions 2009

Post by excel » Sun Apr 19, 2009 9:43 pm

@flax: It seems like a well thought out decision. Also, I think Manhattan is a great place to do an interdisciplinary PhD for students with interest in biology. In additon to Columbia, it has Mt. Sinai, Rockefeller university, and Cornell's medical campus. These institutions collaborate a lot with each other; Columbia and Cornell even share the same hospital with a branch at each university. So, you would have access to plenty of relevant seminars and workshops, and opportunities of collaboration.



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