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1st, The facts: My ultimate goal is to get a tenure-track academic post. It doesn't have to be at an R1 institution or even have any kind of grad degree program. I'd try super hard to position myself for the best placement, but as long as I can do some research activities on the side in addition to a teaching load, I'd be happy. I guess you could say I had been in denial about wanting to get a Ph.D, and it wasn't until last year that I finally owned up to the fact that I belong in academia or contributing in some capacity to economics research. For someone late to the game, however, I still managed to rack up upper-level math courses, have a research paper under review, and create LOR connections that managed to get me into some doctoral programs. Because I've taken this roundabout way to a Ph.D., my research interests are still in the formative stage. I know that I don't want to study macro; I'm much more interested in individual behavior, firms, and markets. In particular, I find IO interesting, including the regulatory and rent-seeking side and where it might mesh with political economy. I also find urban and international on a micro scale interesting, and I'm very intrigued by lab and field experimental methods. However, though I find lab experimental research interesting to read, I have concerns over it's relevancy to the outside world and its "marketability" when it comes time to look for an academic job, especially coming out of a lower-ranked place. I'm definitely going to do applied research rather than theoretical. At this point, I have two relevant offers in hand. The first is at Florida State with full tuition remission and a TAship with 20K stipend. The second is at Indiana University, where I'm waitlisted for a similar financial aid package. For the purposes of evaluating offers, I'm going to pretend like I'm funded at IU. I've been informed that chances of getting off the waitlist are high based on past experience, but it might not happen until April 15th. If I don't hear from IU in regards to funding by the end of the business day on April 15th, I'm accepting FSU's offer. 2nd, My feelings on each school IU: Those of you who have seen my write-up on IUB know that I would be more than happy to go here if it was my only choice. They have a variety of faculty that would come in handy should my interests shift, and though their rep is built on their macro and econometrics people, students speak highly of their micro faculty. IO in the business school is kind of a tossup: some say they there isn't a willingness to work with the econ dept, but Dr. Baye sold it differently. The faculty are hit or miss on their accessibility or their willingness to work with students, but Drs. Walker and Page received good marks from student conversations. The program places pretty decently given their rank, though it varies, and I think their macro students have a better shot. Bloomington seems like a fine college town to spend 5 years FSU: I think I would fit in very well at this school. All of the students I've talked to have been super friendly, cooperative, and smart potential economists. They all emphasize the faculty's perpetually opened doors and focus on mentoring PhD students which is extremely important to me as someone who could use some mentoring on the path to becoming a serious economist. It appears to be a rigorous-enough program. For example, there is a math camp and they use Mas-Collel in the micro core sequence. Though their faculty aren't superstars, they do have a few senior faculty like Ihlanfeldt and Isaac who have a decent record with placing students and are both very well-published. Students speak highly of both. The department has heavily invested in experimental people (9-10 on staff), and some faculty do a lot of work in public choice. I'm curious about PC, but I don't know enough to say I'd want to do research in it. Some of my concerns include it's rank and reputation which are reflected in it's fairly poor placement record. Yes, the market has been tough but they've had a lot of people in post-docs and visiting positions and maybe 1 or 2 TT positions (besides the industry placements). They are also limited in their variety of micro faculty with 2 urban people, 2-3 IO people, and a cadre of experimentalists/behavioralists/applied game theorists, so if I change my mind about fields, there are not a lot of places to go. Ihlanfeldt in urban and Fournier in IO are nearing retirement in 2-3 years. Should I decide that experiments are not something I want to have as a field or include in my dissertation, I'm further limiting myself. Regardless, I wouldn't be considering FSU if I didn't think I could do meaningful work here. 3rd, Love: the confounding factor: My S.O. is a PhD student in English at FSU. We currently live 1,000 miles apart, and our entire 2-year relationship has always been at various degrees of distance (this ain't no Manti Te'o thang; we first met in undergrad). I'm years away from wanting to settle down and get married, but this lady is definitely everything I could want in a partner. Moving 1,000 miles away from friends and family to move in together is a big step, but I think I'm willing to make it. There are many benefits from going through an arduous program with your best friend at your side. Also, Tallahassee's weather is vastly superior to the Midwest's, coming from somebody who despises winter. It sounds like a slam dunk decision, but the problem arises when you look at FSU's ability to prepare both her and I for the academic market. I would be making it harder for me to get an academic job if I went to FSU, though whether that marginal difference in expected placement from FSU vs IU is large and/or statistically significant is a big unknown. The academic market for the humanities is currently a big, steaming pile of triceratops dung, and FSU's English program is very low ranked, so the probability of her securing a permanent position without first being a long-time adjunct/visiting prof is slim. In addition, we would suffer from what academia calls a "two-body" problem, because we would desire to get posts that would allow us to live together. Should we both be lucky to get academic posts to begin with, they might be very far apart leading to much strain and possibly a death blow to the relationship if we have to be apart again. She'll be on the market 1-2 years before me. Should I decide to go to IU, we'd be living apart for at least another 5 years. That's something that's theoretically possible to do, but my patience for this LDR would wear thin with each passing year. I could see my isolation during the 1st core year driving us apart emotionally and ending things right there. As much as I'd be comfortable with attending FSU, I am trying to optimize here, and I sometimes feel as though my choice between IU and FSU is a choice over whether to sacrifice my great relationship in order to get possibly better career prospects. Dramatizing too much? Ultimately this is my decision to make, but if anyone can provide their prospective on the issue it would be greatly appreciated.