Quantcast

Help deciding on a program

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.

Natty

Junior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
Any input, ideas, fresh perspectives are appreciated!

Me:

Going in to clinical. I am not sure if I was to do research or be a clinician. I like research, I think I am good at it, and I like ideas although sometimes I get discouraged with it because it seems somewhat redundant...so although I enjoy it I don't know if I see myself making a 35 year career of it. Of course, this could always change if I get into an area I see as highly relevant and fulfilling. I don't know if I will like clinical. I am attracted to it because it is practical and I want to help people but I don't know entirely if I will find that it is for me...I'm kind of hoping to figure that out in grad school. I am pretty independent but I like a certain amount of supervision, structure, and predictability. I work hard. I think I do good work but I am not a research superstar or anything...I have a lot to learn.

Program 1
In the city I am currently living which is, and think is not simply my biased opinion-most people would agree, an AWESOME place to live; I love it here. I am well settled here; been here for 8 years.

PhD program (5 years) I will have 2 supervisors: one is known for often being absent, having way too many students, but he is clearly brilliant, has great ideas, is said to care about his students (they say he is there when they really need him), and is famous. The other has a widespread reputation, among students and faculty, for being one of the nicest, most kind people you could ever meet, his students publish a lot, and they say he is supportive, busy but available, is attentive but hands off; gives good feedback when you ask for it, not when you don't. I will be working on a project for which a lot of the data is collected but there are opportunities to collect more. The cons of this arrangement are: the project I will be working on is neither the primary area of interest or expertise of either supervisor (I worry about getting adequate supervision), I have heard (from someone I know who definitely knows) that among some of the research assistants on the project there have been some kind of nasty interpersonal issues (I got a little taste of this when I visited: one of the grad students on the project was a bit rude with me). However, current grad students on the project are not collecting data (so I may not be in direct contact with the RAs on the project on a daily basis), some of the students I will be working with and in the program are really nice, it is a huge project with many different faculty from different departments associated with it (my supervisors say that if I need help with my project beyond the scope of their expertise they will make sure I am put in contact with other investigators on the project whose expertise is more relevant to what I am doing). I think the scope of the specific research questions I could pursue on this project is huge and really in line with my interests. I am pretty excited about the research here. The program is extremely research focused, however there are a lot of exciting practicum opportunities. Students in the program seem very happy. It is at one of the universities ranked in the top 15 or 50 (depending on the list) in the world for research. Funding is very good. The university is in the city I want to live in.

Program 2
In a very small university town. MSc (2 years) and Phd (3 years) program. I will have 1 supervisor. I have spoken to her students, past students, old supervisors, faculty at other universities. Everyone says the same things about her: she is very smart, a great researcher and supervisor (great feedback, supportive, flexible but gives structure), organized, efficient, on the ball. My research here is much better defined; I would be working on the stuff she works on and that is her primary area of interest and expertise. The lab is small, my supervisor is young; I think I will get a lot of attention and support. The city is tiny but cute and lively, some people find it gets boring. The people in the program seem really nice and I have heard that it is a really friendly, tight knit group. I am interested in the research here however the scope is not as broad as at program 1 and maybe a TINY bit less interesting to me (although I don't totally know for certain; I could become really interested in the research here). The clinical program here is said to be better (the program is more clinically focused than program 1 but still research focused). The downside is that practicum opportunities seem a little less varied and exciting. The funding is not very good. It is about 6000/year less than program 1. I will have about 1000/ month to live off ( I will be poor) and the cost of living is quite a bit more than where I am currently living. Although, there is a chance I could get external funding; if I do the low funding will not be an issue.

I feel like Program 2 is clearly a great opportunity to work closely with someone who is an expert in her field, a great supervisor, and to learn a lot about research and clinical work. Seems like a sure bet.

Program 1 could also be these things but it seems (despite having asked a lot of questions and talked to a lot of people) more hit or miss: I could have great supervision and clinical experience but I feel like I could also miss out on these things. I worry that I could possibly find myself in a situation with inadequate mentorship. But it could be great too...I just don't know...I would much rather live in the city Program 1 is located in: I won't have to move and I love this place, have friends, am settled. It is also better financially (although like I said this may be a non issue if I get funding next year). This program just seems a bit sketchier....Program 2 seems more safe. Also Program 1 has no Master's if I quit b/c it's not working out I have nothing to show for it. With program 2 I could always leave after the Master's if I wanted.

I am having a hard time deciding if the possible benefits of program 2 are worth moving for and whether my worries about program 1 are worth moving for (as they may be unfounded)...I really would like to stay here.

I'm having a really hard time deciding! Any words of wisdom are appreciated!!!!
 

empathiosis

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2008
Messages
503
Reaction score
244
Tough call and ultimately up to you but from my POV Option 1 is better mostly because doctoral studies is tough and it can be extremely helpful to have a good support network in place. This will get you through the rough spots. It sounds like you have that in in place in your current city but would not have that if you moved. Add to that great funding, and to me it sounds like a no brainer. It also sounds like you will have better options come internship time because your supervisors (good or not) are well-known. So from where I'm standing it's definitely Optin 1 despite great opportunities for mentoring and supervision in Option 2.

Any input, ideas, fresh perspectives are appreciated!



I'm having a really hard time deciding! Any words of wisdom are appreciated!!!!
 

EquestriAnn

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2008
Messages
196
Reaction score
0
As much as I like to root for the underdog, applying to grad school has taught me that who you know is incredibly important. I would choose #1 (actually I did choose #1 as I was in a very similar situation) because ultimately this is a career choice and #1 is probably going to be better for your career, in my opinion. I am very competitive and ambitious, so it's important for me to be with people who can get me far. If that isn't as important to you or you want to strictly be a clinician, that is a very different story.
 

bassist695

New Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2008
Messages
8
Reaction score
0
Try not to think about what you'll end up with if you quit! Like the other posters, I also would choose #1. It seems like you have too. Your social network , preferred city, and "alreadysettledness" should ameliorate any unknowns that are causing you some anxiety.

As you said, Option #2 is safer. This is not to say that this choice is poor, but you'd be sacrificing more for a less-than-ideal program as far as funding and location are concerned.
 

Natty

Junior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
Guys! Thanks for your comments!! I really appreciate your perspectives. I really don't want to leave the city I am in...but I wonder if I pick Program 1 if I am being foolish given what I know about supervision in program 2 vs. program 1. But...it is nice to know what you guys would do (given what you know about my options) in the same situation. If any one else wants to add their 2 cents, I won't be making any final decisions until tomorrow so I'd love to hear what you think.

Also, just to clarify, program 2 although it is at a university that is not as well known worldwide it still has a very good reputation more locally. Also, although potential supervisor at program 2 is young and not well known she has some very good connections...she did grad studies and post docs with some of the top people in her field...just thought I would add that.

Thanks again!!!!!:)
 

EquestriAnn

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2008
Messages
196
Reaction score
0
Do you have anyone else important who you can ask? For me that was a big factor, I liked two advisors/programs really well so I went and spoke with an old advisor of mine who is pretty much the king of the field of research I want to go into and he said it was a "no-brainer" of who to work with and gave me good reasons why. It was hard to go against what he said after that!
 

Natty

Junior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
No, didn't really have any one who really knows the field I am going into really well. I talked to my supervisors and stuff but I really shifted my area of research a lot so they are not that well in the know about what is going on in the area of research I am getting into. That said, it was still useful to get their perspectives on a lot of things. I went with Program 1. Thanks for your input guys!!
 

EquestriAnn

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2008
Messages
196
Reaction score
0
No, didn't really have any one who really knows the field I am going into really well. I talked to my supervisors and stuff but I really shifted my area of research a lot so they are not that well in the know about what is going on in the area of research I am getting into. That said, it was still useful to get their perspectives on a lot of things. I went with Program 1. Thanks for your input guys!!

Sure thing, good luck! I found it reassuring when my current boss/advisor told me to chill out because I really couldn't go wrong. She said there are many "right" paths in life and it's totally true. I'm going to miss her!!! :(
 
Top