Help: reputable school or good advisor?

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
Post Reply
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 10:36 pm

Help: reputable school or good advisor?

Post by msbear » Sat Apr 13, 2013 10:59 pm

Hi fellow math friends,
as April 15th is only about a day away, i am in need of some serious help. (edit: I am aware that this is very last minute, but I got back from the visits last night so I couldn't make a decision until this weekend (got admitted to USC a couple nights ago)). I am trying to decide between University of Minnesota and University of Southern California. I am interested in geometric combinatorics and low-dimensinal topology (knot theory) (although I keep an open mind about these interests.. could change later). U of M is an extremely great school for combinatorics and there are quite a few people (who are well-known in their field) I would like to work with; on the other hand, USC also has a great, reputable advisor (Francis Bonahon) who said he'd be willing to work with me in knot theory, and there is another person in combinatorics who I'd like to work with as well (when I talked to her, she told me U of M would be a great school for combinatorics). I have visited both schools and I loved both of them. I am so confused as to which school I should pick. If I went to USC, I would only have two options for advisors, one in each of my areas of interest. If I went to U of M, I think I'd mostly likely be doing combinatorics, with plenty options for an advisor, but I'm not sure If I'd have any options for knot theory.
So far I've been leaning towards U of M, because it had more of a friendly, homey vibe that I really adored when I visited. And I really liked the combinatorics group there. I got along great with everyone there, and the whole program is just so supportive and there's a cooperative friendly atmosphere. As with USC, despite their lower ranking, they've been doing a great job at placing students with jobs (haha) as well, and I shouldn't have any problem getting a job if I work with Bonahon. Also I am afraid that I might change my mind about combinatorics later. And, although this isn't a deciding factor, weather in southern california is just too gorgeous and USC's campus is just stunning. USC has offered me a bit more money, about $3000 more, but considering it's LA it's not that significant of a difference.
What should I do? I am in need of some outside opinions. Please help!! Any feedback would be appreciated!

Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2013 1:55 am

Re: Help: reputable school or good advisor?

Post by cpmoni » Sun Apr 14, 2013 1:30 am

When I was deciding there were two questions my advisor asked me that were very helpful in my determining clearly what I was feeling:

1. Why would you choose U of M over USC? Why would you choose USC over U of M? (You mention a couple of factors that you like about both, but that isn't really going to help you decide between them). When I answered this question, I realized that one of the schools had a much shorter list and the reasons I would choose school A over school B weren't as important to me as the reasons I would choose school B over school A.

2. If you say you are going to U of M what is your initial gut feeling? What about USC? Again, for me, with school A, my initial gut feeling was disappointment that I wasn't going to B. I would have been really excited about going to A, but I realized I would be more excited about going to B.

Good luck with your decision! Take comfort in the fact that you will probably be happy and successful at either school, and so there isn't a "bad" choice here. Either way, it will work out. This is an exciting time, so try to enjoy that! (And I will say, once I decided I was so much happier-- it is a wonderful feeling)

Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:26 pm

Re: Help: reputable school or good advisor?

Post by elektron1999 » Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:57 am

Hey man/girl !

I hope you end up choosing Minnesota, I was in the visit as well.

Personally, I was in a very difficult position choosing between 3 tops schools
Minnesota was giving me much less money than the other two schools, but the
environment they have, their graduate director, and the professors there
just made me choose Minnesota and turn down the money, the hot weather, etc, etc.

Just keep a couple of things in mind:

1.- Minnesota professors tend to be VERY available to their students. Some advisors are available for hours if you need them.
Can you say the same about USC?

2.- Minnesota is SO CHEAP that in reality Minnesota might be giving you "more money" than USC is. I have found some close-by housing options under $450 per month.

3.- Minnesota is more highly ranked, which is never a bad thing

4.- Minnesota has the IMA.

5.- If you go to UMN and want to be roommates, let me know!

Anyway, I am sure several people will have great things to say about USC, but I do hope you come to Minnesota next year.
Good Luck!

Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 10:36 pm

Re: Help: reputable school or good advisor?

Post by msbear » Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:54 am

Hi all,
thank you for all your help! I decided to take U Minn's offer, after careful consideration. I am very happy about it, and I'm excited to begin my career as a graduate student there! And elektron1999, I know who you are! haha see ya next year :)

Post Reply