5 out of 5 members found this post helpful.
Re: Committing to a school
Here is some of the advice my advisors have given as I've been going through the process:
1. Think of the relative rankings of schools in terms of tiers. That is, don't get obsessed at the difference between a school ranked 19 and a school ranked 21. There are far more similarities than differences between most programs.
2. However, as you go further down into the rankings, research fit between yourself and the department becomes far more important. Don't pick a school that only trains micro labor economists to go and study macro at, for instance. Ideally, you want a school that gives you a bit of flexibility in terms of what you can research, as your interests may change.
3. Look at who the advisors tend to be in programs in your field(s) of interest, and the median placement of students. Do you like the placement? Do you like what the common advisors research in the program?
4. Don't go anywhere without a stipend/tuition waiver unless you are filthy rich. Can you live off of the offered stipends? Don't overweight stipends and locations in your preferences, unless you have serious constraints (spouse, family nearby, a serious medical condition etc.), or if you're sure you'll be absolutely miserable in a given location with a given stipend - you are making an investment into your future as an academic and economist with this choice, not picking where you'll retire or your ideal spa vacation location.
Hopefully those who are more competent than I will respond to verify if I have contributed anything of value.