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View Full Version : Does it ever make sense to attend NE Dakota Tech?



Skipper
03-15-2007, 03:33 PM
I've read in a lot of places that you should always go to the highest-ranked school you can. I'm wondering if that's necessarily true.

Let's assume a student ("Bob") has 2 offers: one at Prestigious Univ. (ranked #10), and one at NE Dakota Tech (ranked #30). Bob was barely accepted to Prestigious U; he'll have to fork over tuition for the first year. By contrast, Bob received a tuition waiver and a generous fellowship from NE Dakota Tech. Moreover, the director of grad admissions at NE Dakota Tech called Bob and told him he was one of the top applicants.

Aside from the money, I think there are other compelling reasons for Bob to attend NE Dakota Tech. First of all, Bob would have a much better chance of passing qualifying exams at NE Dakota Tech. Prestigious U. probably cuts about 20% of its 1st-year students, and after all, Bob barely got accepted. By contrast, Bob is probably the top student at NE Dakota Tech.

Secondly, Bob will receive much more attention as he writes his job market paper from NE Dakota Tech than he will at Prestigious U.

Finally, once Bob hits the job market, he can reasonably expect his professors at NE Dakota Tech to brag on him as one of the top students. By contrast, if Bob was coming from Prestigious U., he would probably be one of the weaker students on the job market.

What do you guys think?

commodore
03-15-2007, 03:38 PM
If you want an academic job, you should almost always go to the higher-ranked school, and certainly if it's that big a difference in ranking. On the point about passing the exams, that depends on the school. A place like Chicago or Penn might flunk that percentage, but other places pass almost everyone.

Antichron
03-15-2007, 03:39 PM
I think Penn State's placement records are consistent with this notion.

rdblots
03-15-2007, 03:49 PM
these are all thoughts that I've been having. And I don't have anything even resembling an answer to that question. I think the answer rests on the individual. If you have high confidence in your abilities to work hard and you think you have been underestimated by the prestigious university, then go for the higher ranked school.

But the fact still remains, there are plenty of people every year who say "I believe I am good enough to go to this program and succeed" and they fail out after the first year. This could be a result of lack of information about the university attended, or it could be poor information about yourself (over-estimation of your personal abilities). The funny thing about it all, you won't really know if you're over or under-estimating your abilities until you start graduate school (maybe some form of winner's curse?). Those with M.A.s already probably have a better idea of their own abilities, which relates somewhat to why those with master's have lower attrition rates (besides the obvious better preparation reason).

I can definitely see the merit of turning down the prestigious university to go to a lower ranked school with particularly great placements (i.e.- penn state) if you have some reason to think you WILL be at the top of the class at the lower school (i.e.- penn state). However, this in itself is a risk.

I guess my point is, no matter your decision, you're already screwed for life because you've chosen to be an Econ PhD. Congrats.

Terd Ferguson
03-15-2007, 03:50 PM
if you know you are not going to do academics afterwards, i would MAYBE think about the #30. If academics is even a choice, then I think its a no brainer. You have to go for #10. Don't worry about flunking out. I figure that anyone that is bright can pass any of those qualifying exams if they try hard. The fact that you got into a #10 school shows that you are definetely bright.

kanishka
03-15-2007, 04:28 PM
I've been told that if an applicant is interesting in academics then the ranking/prestige of the department the phd is done from does not matter, because in a manner of speaking - your work will speak for itself.

I imagine that whether you end up in Princeton or in NEDT when starting out you do pretty much the same thing i.e. in terms of teaching/admin responsibility at least till you get tenure. am I wrong? is it the case that if you're from a higher ranked/more prestige-d department you get more opportunity than if you're not? in what way and why?

btw I dont really know what it means to "get tenure". I keep reading about it though.

dafrk3in
03-15-2007, 04:34 PM
there is also a feasibility constraint. is it even possible financially to go to #10?

daageep
03-15-2007, 04:50 PM
I have a similar concern. no funding at UT austin (the "good" school in our example) versus fantastic funding at UCI (the "not so good" school).

are there any opinions on job market opportunities relating to this matter? will salaries and job choice be pretty similar for a UT austin grad vs. UCI?

rdblots
03-15-2007, 04:59 PM
I have a similar concern. no funding at UT austin (the "good" school in our example) versus fantastic funding at UCI (the "not so good" school).

are there any opinions on job market opportunities relating to this matter? will salaries and job choice be pretty similar for a UT austin grad vs. UCI?

Alright, here are more specific words of advice on this topic. Here's what I say: check out the top 3 placements from the lower university versus mid-pack placements of the higher university you're considering from each year over the past 5-10 years. Compare them against each other. Then look at the advisors for each of these JMCs. Are these advisors doing research you're interested in? Are the advisors even still around? What do you think the likelihood of attaining these advisors is? More advisors getting top placements would be a better choice than a school with 1 or 2 advisors getting ALL of the top placements for that school.

Now, you are just going to have to assess probabilities, which is very arbitrary, but you have to work with what you have. Figure out what you think the probability of being at the top at the lower university compared with the rewards (job placement opportunity) there. Then do the same for the higher university. To get a better idea of these probabilities, talk to the faculty at the schools, talk to recent grads, talk to the current students, talk to the professors at your undergrad school. The more credible info you can collect, the better your decision will be.

mosfro
03-15-2007, 05:48 PM
i love how NEDT gets used often,
i think the next step is to write ballad or alma mater of some sort for the school

by the way, i would compare Presitigious U (#10) to Big State U (#30) with NEDT being #100+

as far as teh OPs question goes....it really depends on past placements of the #30,,,if there top guy is still not goin anywhere nice, then go to Prestigious U

personally speaking, i would go to prestigious U, and fork out the moneys

Skipper
03-15-2007, 06:14 PM
by the way, i would compare Presitigious U (#10) to Big State U (#30) with NEDT being #100+You are ignoring NEDT's recent faculty hires.

EconMist
03-15-2007, 06:31 PM
Just out of curiousity, if one is not bothered by becoming a professor at a Master's/bachelor's degree granting institution (as opposed to Ph.D. granting/research univeristy), how easy or difficut/easy is to achieve that goal coming from NEDT (given the most recent definition of NEDT[#100+])?

mosfro
03-15-2007, 06:41 PM
what ive noticed is that once you move down the ranks, say 60+, and want to stay academic, it seems that the job placements are very close, geographically speaking, to the institution you received your degree from

so a phd from NEDT might land you a job at South Dakota State at Farmtown

this is the reason i wanted to attend any University of california school, because although placements out of UCI or UCR, UCSC arent the greatest, there are so many freaking cal states and private unis that you have plenty of places to get a teaching job at a masters granting institution

EconMist
03-15-2007, 06:49 PM
The reason that the placement of a 60+ institution is geographically close to the institution, I don't think, has a lot to do with the ranking. Instead, most people choose to go to a low ranked university for geographic reasons (i.e. they want to be in that area, which does not change when they graduate). That's how I see things.

grahamcoxon
03-15-2007, 08:59 PM
I am facing a problem similar to the one introduced by Skipper (well, not yet actually, but I must think as I am facing it). My NED Tech is Caltech and my Prestigious Univ. is Yale. Let's assume that in 2 years the field I want to specialise in is Political Econ. If I went to Caltech, I would be one of the 6-7 1st year students and, based on chats at the flyout, there would be just 1 or 2 other students pursuing that field. If I went to Yale, I would be the last one to be dragged out of the waitlist and I would have 21 firstyear colleagues. Funding is more or less the same. Caltech students on the job market this year with a paper in Political Econ landed in Chicago (Econ) and NYU (Politics) but also at Cal State Fullerton (#274 of econphd.net rankings). Yale PhDs with a job market in Political Econ in the last 5 years are only 2: one went to UCI and the other disappeared (but, generally, Yale placement is great). Researchers involved in Political Econ are more at Caltech, but Yale's faculty is broader (and this is indeed a plus). What reasons, apart from ranking, do I have to prefer Yale over Caltech? (this being a serious thread, I won't accept location/weather as a good answer).

ps: generally speaking, I think that the main difference in placement between top10 depts and 10-25 ones lies in placement of students in the middle of their year "ranking". Top students will probably do well anyway.

Jhai
03-15-2007, 09:37 PM
I don't see why location/weather doesn't matter. Going to graduate school is five years of your life - often during the prime of it. Being unhappy due to location - or feeling like you're the least valued student in your class - should be an important consideration. I'm not sure if I see the point in a lifestyle where you attend the best-ranked university for five years (even if you're unhappy there), so that you can get the best job (where you sweat over tenure decisions for six years), so that, at the age of 35+, you can finally start living your life.

grahamcoxon
03-15-2007, 09:54 PM
I don't see why location/weather doesn't matter. Going to graduate school is five years of your life - often during the prime of it. Being unhappy due to location - or feeling like you're the least valued student in your class - should be an important consideration. I'm not sure if I see the point in a lifestyle where you attend the best-ranked university for five years (even if you're unhappy there), so that you can get the best job (where you sweat over tenure decisions for six years), so that, at the age of 35+, you can finally start living your life.

I definitely agree with you. But I didn't want to take weather/location into account in this discussion because I was mainly interested in the utility-gap due to ranking position. I will therefore weigh in location. ;)

snappythecrab
03-15-2007, 09:57 PM
Come to Wisconsin, mr. not-so-ambiguous-school-references.

You weren't barely accepted. The department is broke. That's all.

mosfro
03-16-2007, 01:36 PM
if caltech only has like 1 or 2 ppl specializing in political econ in a given job market year, then you are automatically at worst, the second best job market candidate for that year.......so there goes your "middle pack" for a school like caltech

apropos
03-16-2007, 01:40 PM
My NED Tech is Caltech and my Prestigious Univ. is Yale.


Haha. That's one of funniest things I have read on this site.