Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Technically they're bison

Final decision is in, papers are signed in triplicate, faxed, emailed and overnighted, and it looks like I'll be going to SUNY Buffalo in the fall.

I want to thank everyone who offered me their advice over the past few days. I can be a remarkably insecure, nervous person when I have to make big decisions, and it was immensely reassuring to have people reinforce my gut feeling about the choice I had to make. While I loved Seattle and the University of Washington, I felt like I really couldn't pass up the chance to work with the group at SUNY Buffalo, especially since I would have the opportunity to do work at a volcano observatory and on active mountains.

And, as everyone has said, it's only for two years. I may think that the campus (the North one, anyway) looks like a prison complex and that Buffalo is a dreary former industrial city (which it is at this time of year), but I will also have a wonderful advisor, a great project and, since the cost of living is so much lower in Buffalo, I will not be extremely poor. Everything else is just details.

What really sucks is writing/calling everyone else to let them know I won't be working with them. I'm trying to be as polite as possible, but I still feel like a horrible person. And how the heck do I approach them later on, if I want to work on a PhD at one of those places? "Sorry I didn't choose you the first time around, but hopefully you can ignore that whole rejection thing?"

Oh well. Even if two years go fast, it's still two years. And I suppose they deal with this often anyway...but it doesn't make me any less uncomfortable. At least I can't dither anymore, since today's the deadline and everything is signed, sealed and sent.


Silver Fox said...

That sounds like a wonderful decision, and maybe you'll gradually find something about Buffalo that you like (maybe!). What volcano observatory(s) and volcanoes will you be working at? - maybe you don't know, yet. It sure sounds exciting!

As for the other offer, the words might seem difficult, but I would think that almost anyone working in your field would understand an opportunity to work at a volcano observatory. Maybe just tell them you really appreciate their offer, had an offer you couldn't refuse, and say something like you look forward to working with them sometime in the future. If they are really great people, maybe you can even keep in touch somehow? Would it be appropriate for one of the Seattle profs to be an off-campus advisor? That might not be available or reasonable, though.

Callan Bentley said...

Congrats, Tuff!

Kim said...

You've read the discussion about "thanks but I'm not coming" letters at Female Science Professor's blog, haven't you? I think they are excellent advice.

(I, ummm, never even responded to calls from one of the two schools where I applied to grad school. I decided that I didn't want to go there even before I was accepted. And they still happily accepted one of my senior thesis students for a PhD later on, so I don't think they even remembered the snub.)

I think you should tell the Seattle people that you appreciated the offer, and that it was a difficult decision.

Tuff Cookie said...

Fox - Looks like the project will either be dealing with pc flows at Soufriere Hills (with the Montserrat Volcano Observatory), or pc flows and lava dome collapses on Santa Maria in Guatemala. Depends (as always) on funding, but it will definitely be one of those! I hadn't thought about doing an off-campus advisor, but I feel like the masters work will end up being too short for that kind of thing. Maybe for PhD work, though.

Callan - Thanks! :)

Kim - Thanks for reminding me; I had read those, as well as the link to Dr. Shellie's post on "The season of yes or no", in which someone suggested a note they'd like to see. I'm working up the letters now, which pretty much say "thanks for everything, I really appreciated your time and effort, my visit was great, but I decided a different program would be the best fit for me," which was true of everyone. I'm also sending handwritten thank-you notes, so hopefully I'll improve my chances for future collaboration.

Geology Happens said...

Good decision and congratulations on this stage of your adventure. The projects you will be working on sound like they could be lots of fun! I think everyone out there understands that you are trying to maximize your own future and that they won't hold it against you later on. I hope you don't get so busy in grad school that you slow down your blogging.