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Thread: QOL in doctoral programs - lower-ranked progs v higher-ranked?

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    QOL in doctoral programs - lower-ranked progs v higher-ranked?

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    Hi, I work with doctoral students at one of the top 5 management schools. They seem pretty unhappy and stressed. The professors demand a lot from them, which I know makes their training top notch, but has taken a toll on them (for example, they get sick often). I worry about burn out for them.

    I am considering applying to management/OB programs next year (micro focus), but am worried about quality of life issues. Do lower ranked schools (like top 25 or top 50) maybe have better quality of life than the top 5, for example? Or do rankings not contribute to this issue? Is there anyway to tell, other than in interviews?

    Thanks.

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
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    Re: QOL in doctoral programs - lower-ranked progs v higher-ranked?

    I don't think that there is a big quality of life difference across rankings. The program will demand all you have. There is probably more pressure at higher ranks and you see other people doing better, but the demands are high everywhere. You need to learn how to create balance for yourself and work effectively in the time you allocate.

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    Re: QOL in doctoral programs - lower-ranked progs v higher-ranked?

    Having seen both ends of the spectrum (top 5 and top 100), it seems stressful for everyone. QOL just differs largely by location, i.e. anything to do besides grad school?, whether or not you have an SO, if wife/husband/fiance(e) probably higher but not if it's just GF/BF, your strong friendships in the area, and how much your stipend/accumulated wealth is worth in the region. I wouldn't say there's more pressure at the top, just that you're directed toward topics that are more likely to get into A journals. Beyond that, the topics of B and C journals take as much time and stress as the topics featured in A journals.

    For what it's worth you're not going to hear this from the interviews except obliquely. As a practical matter, no lower ranked school is going to acknowledge they're lower ranked to prospects and certainly not by saying because they're lower ranked they'll make it easier for everyone. Think of it as a "poor" person introducing themselves as "lazy" to someone they're trying to impress.

    May be you'll get lucky and only have projects soar, but if you're like most of us, they'll dash into the rocks more often then you'll care to acknowledge. The trick is learning to learn something from each collision. Once you figure that part out, the balance gets easier.
    If we do our job right, we'll tell you something you already knew. If we do our job well, we'll tell you something you didn't. Unfortunately, the latter is often indistinguishable from doing our job poorly.

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    Re: QOL in doctoral programs - lower-ranked progs v higher-ranked?

    Lower ranked programs will also tend to have higher teaching loads for PhD students throughout the program. So while a lower ranked may have a little less research pressure and maybe not as much of a sink or swim mentality, the stress saved there is replaced with stress of trying to teach a lot while also managing your PhD coursework and research agenda.

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