Take the 2-minute tour ×
MathOverflow is a question and answer site for professional mathematicians. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I am split between two graduate schools in my decision. One of them is ranked about 25 places higher on the latest NRC rankings. The higher-ranked school emphasizes research, and over half its graduates get postdocs, while only around 25% of its graduates go straight into tenure-track positions. I spoke to the graduate advisor, who said it would be possible to make special arrangements for me to teach more than once at instructor of record if I desired.

The second school is almost the inverse of the first: over 50% of its graduates get tenure-track positions (most often at 4-year colleges or liberal arts colleges), and only around 23% of its grads get postdocs. Students are allowed to be instructor of record as many times as they want after their first year.

As someone really unsure of which of these paths I'd rather pursue, is there a clear answer on what to do here? Both schools offer many professors in my areas of interest. The lower-ranked school offers a better location, more money, and I felt like it fit me very slightly better when I visited. However, I've heard that if I decide to look for a job at a larger research university, it's difficult to move up the rankings list, while most end up moving down.

I look forward to your advice.

Thanks!

share|improve this question

closed as too localized by Daniel Moskovich, Todd Trimble, Andres Caicedo, Pete L. Clark, Ben Webster Apr 14 '11 at 2:44

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

7  
I don't think MO is a place for advice in general. –  Daniel Moskovich Apr 14 '11 at 0:54
1  
As a side note, the moderators do appreciate people putting in real email addresses, but they should be careful about gravatars (admittedly, I don't recognize the picture of the OP, but it does present an issue for anonymity). –  Ben Webster Apr 14 '11 at 2:43
5  
On the subject of your question: this is a very serious question, but you can't expect to get a useful answer from people who don't know you and who don't even know the schools in question. If you really want at all useful advice, you have to supply more details; I can understand your hesitation in doing so in such a public forum, but that just underlines how it is the wrong place. If you really want the opinion of random internet people, send me an email with actual details, and I will answer. –  Ben Webster Apr 14 '11 at 3:08

1 Answer 1

up vote 10 down vote accepted

You should go to the higher-ranked school. You are likely to be surrounded by stronger students and learn more math there. Unless the higher-ranked school is one of a very few VERY highly-ranked places, the faculty will be very friendly to and supportive of your ambitions towards LAC teaching, should that be the direction you decide to go.

On the other hand, you should probably not take the NRC rankings too seriously. Ask your undergrad advisor whether the "higher-ranked" department is really a lot higher-ranked.

share|improve this answer
1  
+1. Ditto the fellow-student line. –  Allen Knutson Apr 14 '11 at 1:51

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.