When I was still trying to come up with the list of schools to apply to, SL (my former research advisor), told me:
“You’re smart enough to get into a big name school. So try applying to some, like Stanford, Caltech, Berkeley, UCLA, Yale, Columbia, Harvard, Cornell, and MIT.”
I didn’t apply to any of those schools and I ended up going to a school that no one I know would classify as a “big name” school. But I ended up in a research group that collaborates with a research group at one of the above schools.
This week I am visiting this Famous University for a multi-group meeting. I have had a chance to gauge the caliber of grad students who go here. And you know what? SL was right. I was smart enough to go here.
But I’m glad I didn’t apply, nonetheless, even though the school is clearly so much better funded than mine. I like my school. I like being part of a small department. I love my advisor. (Also, I get to do the fun half of the collaborative grant, i.e. the field work, while they’re all stuck in lab.) I get a lot of benefits of being at the Famous University without all of the pressure.
Despite seeing what I missed out on, I am still content with my choice.