10 Ways to Decide Between Two Schools

Disclaimer: the entirety of this post (except, you know, this italicized part) is tongue-in-cheek. I am a planner, through and through, and have spent hours (oh, so many hours) debating, making pro/con lists, emailing faculty and grad students with questions, researching, etc. I take this choice VERY seriously, but I also need to decompress from research-mode so that I can visit both places without all of the facts swirling around in my nutty-little-noggin’ and just experience each place before I make my final choice. 


Here’s a not-so-hypothetical situation for you: you’ve been accepted to a couple of PhD programs, you’ve researched them extensively and, although the programs are different, they’ve both got lots to offer. There are pros and cons to each place, sure, but no matter how many times you tally them up and compare, you come to the conclusion that they’re both great choices–and, despite the different atmospheres they offer, they’re both about equal in terms of education/career opportunities.

What do you do in that situation? How do you choose? I’ve compiled a handy list of possible solutions:

  1. Paint the toenails of one foot in one school’s colors and the toenails of the other foot in the other school’s colors. Choose whichever school’s colors last the longest.
  2. Dress your pet up as the school mascot–which costume is more flattering? Choose that school.
  3. Take a long, hard look at the school colors. Which ones work better with your complexion? Choose that school.
  4. Pin a map to your wall, take a couple of shots of whiskey, spin around just enough that you are dizzy but not so much that you vomit, point to a spot on the map: whichever school is closest to your finger is the school you should choose.
  5. Flip a coin.
  6. Grab an apple and twist the stem while chanting the ABC’s schoolchild style. When the stem twists completely off, take note of the letter you landed on: whichever school’s name is alphabetically closer to that letter is the school you should choose.
  7. Ask a magic eight ball.
  8. Keep  an eye out for license plates from the states your potential schools are located in: whichever state you see first is the winner,
  9. Base your decision on which mascot you like more.
  10. Whichever school contacts you next is the one you should choose.


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