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Difficult decision to make...any advice?

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    I'm having to decide where to do my PhD next year - it's in number theory, and the choice is between Imperial and King's. The problem is: I don't have any funding from King's, but the supervisor there is amazing and is someone I'd always wanted to work with - the supervisor at Imperial is by no means bad, but I don't really like his research area I don't think he'll look after me as well. I can afford to go without funding as my parents live in London, so it's really just a question of whether I choose money over a more enjoyable 3 years... What would other people do in this situation? I would really appreciate some advice
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    But King's is also in London, so surely the money issue doesn't come up with King's? It seems that if you take money out of the question then at one university you have the perfect supervisor, and at one you don't. You'll be in London for both, you have the money for both, so I would choose the supervisor.
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    (Original post by Tasha1986)
    But King's is also in London, so surely the money issue doesn't come up with King's? It seems that if you take money out of the question then at one university you have the perfect supervisor, and at one you don't. You'll be in London for both, you have the money for both, so I would choose the supervisor.
    Thanks for your reply It's just it's an awful lot of money to turn down, and it's not like Imperial is a bad place to be. And I feel a bit unwanted at King's since they didn't offer a funded place - surely the natural thing for most people would be to go where there's funding?
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    I see - I didn't know you had a fully funded place at Imperial. It is a lot of money to turn down. You could also think of it like this: you can share your work with whomever you choose, so the supervisor at King's could be the second supervisor for your thesis?
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    Remember a scholarship is not just about money - if you're going on to a career in academia it might be worth considering that generally students who get funding for their PhD are in better positions to get paid posts when they graduate (I'm a bit confused - were there no scholarships available at King's or did they give them to other people? If the latter, I'd defo take the funded place).

    I'd find it hard to say no if I were you - a scholarship will give you some independence from your parents and as Tasha1986 says, Universities are encouraged to work together at postgrad level, so I see no reason why you couldn't still work with the academic at King's.

    On the other hand, if you can afford to go it alone and you'd actually really rather go to King's that might be a good option. That way someone else (who may not be able to self fund) could take your funding place at Imperial. However, the decision is yours - just because someone might NEED the money more than you, doesn't mean they should get it. You have been chosen for funding because the academics believe in YOUR capabilities, which to me would be a very good reason to take up that offer. Obviously if King's doesn't have any money to give you, that doesn't mean they believe in you less.

    To sum up: I am poor and would always take the funded place. I think it will 'look good on the CV' as they say. You could still work with your supervisor from King's
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    I am also a PhD applicant.

    I think that when it comes to a PhD your guide is very crucial: not just during the 3-4 years but also after you graduate. In helping you build academic collaborations, in exposing you to their social/intellectual networks, and general pastoral support.

    I also think that scholarships are not simply a comment on your ability, they are also outcomes of positions your guides/departments occupy in the larger school/university system, the influence they can wield, the perceived relevance of a department, the need to encourage internal/external candidates. Universities, much like everything else, are also social constructions which are embedded in certain politics, interests and agendas.

    So, being turned down for one isn't the end of the world. You can also look for other sources of income once you are in it, with your guide, on funded research projects, teaching assistantships, invigilators and as evaluators.

    - From a PhD aspiration, accepted at first choice university under first choice guide, waiting to hear on my studentship. Since I am from the third world, funding is critical to my being able to attend university.

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Updated: April 18, 2012
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