Help my SO and I solve this intricate PhD two-body problem.
March 26, 2012 7:46 PM Subscribe
Help my SO and I solve this intricate PhD two-body problem. Options galore!
posted by kuju to Human Relations (35 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Alright. First off, apologies for the loaded question, but I really, really can use some help thinking out loud. I am a senior in college going for a Phd in Electrical Engineering in 2013. I am in at a few places, and I am trying to decide between two of these options. The locations of the grad schools are: College Park, MD and Ithaca, NY. I have fellowships at both of these schools, so that is not a deciding factor.
Now, here's the complication. I have been dating my boyfriend for the past 3.5 years, and I am very happy. He's awesome, and I really see us marrying one day (we have talked about it). He's even becoming pretty competent at my native language (I am not from the US). My main worry is that he will be working in NYC for at least a year, living in probably Hoboken, NJ (or around the area). He's willing to move out to where I am going to grad school at, but obviously he'd have to get a new job. This is where the problem starts. My top choice currently (I haven't visited the school in College Park yet) is the school in Ithaca. Honestly, I am worried if we will be able to make our relationship work. It would be about a 4 hour drive, and we would be seeing each other either every weekend, or every other weekend. Since we have been practically living together for the past 3.5 years, this has hit us both pretty hard. The problem with Ithaca is that he wouldn't really be able to get a job there (he's a Mechanical Eng. Econ double major), so we'd be "long distance" for 4-5 years (however long it takes me to finish a PhD). If I were to move to College Park instead, he could move there with me in about a year.
So given this background info, my question is twofold:
1. During all my visits the grad students that I have been talking to have been telling me how it's a bad idea not to go to your top choice because of a relationship. They say while the relationship is not guaranteed, the school is and one should not sacrifice one's career for relationships. I feel as if I am willing to make to sacrifice (and go to the school in College Park), but everybody keeps telling me how bad of an idea it is. Keep in mind I have not visited yet, so I don't really know how good of a fit it is. This school however, it less "awesome" compared to the school in Ithaca. Is it as bad as they make it out to be? Would I be a stupid person if I choose a slightly worse fit to keep my relationship?
2. The Ithaca schools offers many benefits. It's superb in the field, it has an amazing Hotel Management/Food Science program (a true dream of mine, I can minor in it because there are no course requirements), I can see myself working with 4-5 professors. It is however, in a tiny, tiny town. Do you think the 4 hour drive 3-4 times a month is doable? (I would be on a 38K fellowship on top of tuition coverage, and he would be making a pretty decent amount too - this figure is to account for driving costs.) Is this realistic? Will it result in a burn-out in the future? Am I insane in thinking that 5 years like this will kill us?
Please help me. My friends are not really giving me much hope either way. I really want to make this work.