Posted by: unlikelygrad | March 11, 2009

Grand tour

Yesterday I made travel arrangements to visit the last of the three universities that have accepted me. I will be visiting all three within eight days: CloseU a week from today (though I’ll have to go back later, when my top advisor choice is back in town); then FarthestU the two days after that (Thurs, Fri); then MountainU Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

It’s going to be a very interesting choice. You see, the research I want to do–enviromental chemistry–is very interdisciplinary. Thus, there are several different tacks I can take to get to where I want to go.

My oldest sister, who’s a professor of environmental engineering, tells me that I should have applied to env. eng. departments as well as the ones I did; that’s a tack that was totally off my radar screen until too late in the game. Alas.

In the mean time, the three schools that have accepted me represent three completely different approaches to my goal:

  • MountainU has a chem department with a strong focus on environmental chemistry
  • CloseU admitted me to the interdisciplinary graduate group of Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry, which features professors from chemistry, environmental engineering, toxicology, soil science, and more.
  • At FarthestU the work I want to do is done in the geochemistry program, which–unlike most geochem departments–is a collaboration between the chem and geo departments. So my program would be geochem, but my home department would be chemistry.

I can see benefits to going to all three. I have to admit that I am starting to rule out one of them. However, one thing last week’s visit to GU taught me was that you can’t truly judge a school until you visit–the benefits you think you perceive may not, in fact, exist, and unexpected red flags may wave in your face.

I will be exhausted and overwhelmed after my grand tour, but I’m sure it will be very eye-opening.

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