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Thread: Should I emphasize location pref. in response to the question "why this program?" ?

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    Should I emphasize location pref. in response to the question "why this program?" ?

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    All else being equal id prefer to attend a program near my hometown. As I think your social support network motivates you to do better work, and if there is a good school with strong research fit, why move?

    Obviously the first reason applying to a program is research fit.

    But after that, should you emphasize in your SOP that the school location is an additional reason why you want to attend their specific program?

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    Re: Should I emphasize location pref. in response to the question "why this program?"

    I think it's worth a brief sentence or half-sentence, e.g. "I am also excited about State University because it is near my hometown of Middletown, PA." But it's definitely not as important as strong research fit, so I wouldn't add anything else. It also depends how much other non-research content you have, e.g. if you're talking about consulting experience as something that got you interested in studying remote collaboration, then you should try to minimize other non-research content in your SOP.

    Just my opinion as a fellow prospie.

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    Re: Should I emphasize location pref. in response to the question "why this program?"

    Quote Originally Posted by instajar View Post
    I think it's worth a brief sentence or half-sentence, e.g. "I am also excited about State University because it is near my hometown of Middletown, PA." But it's definitely not as important as strong research fit, so I wouldn't add anything else. It also depends how much other non-research content you have, e.g. if you're talking about consulting experience as something that got you interested in studying remote collaboration, then you should try to minimize other non-research content in your SOP.

    Just my opinion as a fellow prospie.
    I probably wouldn't emphasize it. A line or two at the bottom wouldn't hurt, but it also probably wouldn't help. As far as I know, schools aren't as concerned about getability of students at the PhD level. Sure if you're an all star (i.e. already published, perfect GPA and test scores, coming from an elite undergraduate program with research experience and letters from top scholars) and you are applying to a very low ranked program, you may need some additional reasons that you would come there. Ideally, though, your letter writers will provide those reasons in addition to a line in your SOP.

    In my opinion, I believe that it is unlikely to inform your packet either positively or negatively. Schools just don't care that much. Good luck!
    Til now I always got by on my own
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    Re: Should I emphasize location pref. in response to the question "why this program?"

    Quote Originally Posted by XanthusARES View Post
    ..... As far as I know, schools aren't as concerned about getability of students at the PhD level...... Schools just don't care that much. Good luck!

    I was looking at it from the perspective that schools want to make sure students will finish the program and that a local student (all else being equal) might be less likely to dropout for many of the commonly cited reasons/causes for student attrition. I.e. financial stresses, lack of social support, health issues. Also a few of the schools ive applied to have a text box that say "why are you applying to this school?" this is in addition to the "which faculty research fits with your interests box"

    Local students have less financial challenges (less stress), they presumably have a better social support network (more motivated, easier to find meaning in work), health issues are much more easily managed in a place with existing care.

    I do know there are no shortage of applications at programs (although i don't know how many of those are actually in the race, i.e. a certain amount of applications have to be from students not even remotely qualified).


    Why I was concerned about mentioning it.
    That it could be interpreted as this student is just applying here because its convenient. Which while it would be true that attending locally would be convenient its certainly not the only and definitely not the main reason.

    TLDR
    Didn't mention it, I figure its obvious that if any student were applying to programs and there was one near his house that fit his research interests it would be weird if he didn't apply. Hence, no need to state the obvious.

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    Re: Should I emphasize location pref. in response to the question "why this program?"

    schools want to make sure students will finish the program and that a local student (all else being equal)

    The assumption of "all else being equal" is a risky one here. Someone here at my school once told me something that would be quite the opposite of your conclusion.

    In short, with more support and more alternatives, that person expected local students to have an easier time deciding to quit. If they quit, it wouldn't be so hard to adjust to life outside of a PhD again. For students who came from distant places, quitting the program would be much more of a drastic change. All else is not equal, the impact of dropping out is different. So, there are pros and cons, and it's hard to know whether the person analyzing your application will think it's indeed a good thing to be local.

    A few of the schools ive applied to have a text box that say "why are you applying to this school?" this is in addition to the "which faculty research fits with your interests box"

    Research fit is very important, but that doesn't mean it should be the only reason. I had a long talk about my reasons when I got an interview, well beyond research fit.

    You should be prepared to have good answers for that question, regardless of being local or not, having a text box or not.

    although i don't know how many of those are actually in the race, i.e. a certain amount of applications have to be from students not even remotely qualified

    Yeah, of course there should be some applications from people who are not qualified. But also we see a lot of applicants that seem to be very qualified, but don't get many offers or don't get offers at all. Usually, I think there are more than enough applicants in the race. It's no wonder that imposter syndrome is such a big thing among PhD students, there are some amazing people out there.

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