I have two very good admission offers from good universities in the US, and I am having a hard time choosing between them. So much that I am starting to consider less relevant factors, such as the position of the department in the different rankings. I believe that the ranking from the US News and World Report is the most prestigious one. However, they only show the top-10 departments on my field. I would need to pay 30 USD to see the full ranking. Is it worth it?
closed as off-topic by Brian Borchers, Buzz, virmaior, OBu, EnergyNumbers Feb 18 '18 at 17:39
This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:
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No, it's not worth paying $30 for an extended list of rankings in a discipline. Why not use more productive factors, such as:
- Who has the wider range of faculty working in areas that interest you?
- Where would you like to live as a grad student (in a city, a small town, etc.)? Does region of the country matter?
- How does your stipend compare to cost of living where you are?
- Will you be close to potential collaborators?
- Do you want to work in a small department or a large department?
- What do your current faculty mentors and advisors think of the two departments?
I'd suggest talking your current advisors and mentors - the people who wrote your recommendation letters. Even if they no longer do research, they can still offer you opinions on where to go. You can also do things like talk to the prospective supervisor's current graduate students. There are much more tangible things to consider than the US & WR ranking (see aeismail's answer).
Having said that, if you really do end up in a "both equally good" situation and need to use a ranking, I'd suggest the THE reputation ranking. If you ever need to find a non-academic job, the recruiter is not likely to know your supervisor or your research topic. They're only likely to know the brand name of the university. The THE reputation ranking is as good a proxy as any of how the university is perceived by the public. I stress though that this is only a tiebreaker, and it should never outweigh the factors mentioned by aeismail.
First of all, congratulations on your offers. The existing answers have offered good alternatives to spending the money on the ranking report and are worth considering.
However, it could still be valid to pursue the avenues suggested by the answers and still pay for a ranking report. The question asks if it is worth the 30 dollars. Consider that you will be spending the next 5 or so years (assuming an average length PhD in the US) at one of the institutions. Where you go will also affect your career trajectory in the next following years if not more. If I were you, I would not begrudge these expenditures if they would help you in making your decision. I would even suggest you to invest in visiting these two choices in person first (though in many cases the department will offer to pay for the travel expenses).