I have been studying as a computer science Ph.D student for 3 years in a relatively low-tier school. I have done pretty bad during my first 1-2 years as an undergraduate. Even though I have received top grades during my second half of study, the GPA pit cannot be filled up. I end up being admitted to a less ideal school and start doing research there. However, recently I feel like quitting my program (transferring to master) and get into a higher-ranked department. I have the following reasons.
My platform now is not high and people around lack motivation. Environment has huge impact on people. I wish to be at some place where everybody has their earnest enthusiasm for research.
I worked really hard on myself, and managed to publish several good papers. I am among the most productive student in the department. With several years' research experience. I have demonstrated my intelligence capabilities, thus stand a better chance to get to a top-tier department, where I can receive better training and prepare for my future career.
Top-tier departments have much better connections, from industrial, from external labs, from alumni, etc. Connections matter in any place. That is also a reason why people do care about where you get your PhD from. With the same research outcome (paper), a school is most likely to choose a candidate from a more prestigious school. It is just how it works.
I have thought about post-doc. However, I do not think a post-doc will receive better training or so from the advisor. Furthermore, people do have higher expectations for post-docs. People would be surprised a Ph.D has published 5 top-tier papers. For a post-doc, hmmm... Please do not be obsessed with my example, you get the idea.
Something to clarify:
I definitely do not wish to defer my career by another several years. I do not intend to use another PhD as an excuse not entering the real world.
I am 25, I still have some time to follow my heart. I am hardworking and self-motivated. These days a CS guy can easily find a crazily high-paying job. I give it up, and I still wish to set a best path for my future career. So here are my questions.
Will admission committee be hesitant to admit students who quit another Ph.D program? Would I be looked down upon simply because I wish to join a higher-tier department?
I guess I can only re-apply for the next fall, which leaves me a year in between. What should I do to further enhance my chance?
Is completing my current PhD and get to a related field (such as CE, ECE, EE) an option? I somehow prefer this way because I still do not intend to ruin the relationship with my advisor while I get to do what I want. (Assume I get lucky and graduate in 4 years) But again, does it hurt my chance of being accepted to another program?
I know It my not be the best choice I have, but it is what I really want to do. As long as the price is not a leg or arm, I am willing to accept it.
I welcome any comment and suggestions. However, please be REALISTIC. Let's talk about it in a realistic world, where better department does provide a higher platform and help a student achieving higher goals, at least in probability.
Thank you in advance.