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OK, here is the deal:

I am a computer science student in Turkey graduating this June. I have applied to PhD programs in the US to work in computer architecture. I have a decent bachelor's degree, and my college is reasonably respected. Before admissions, I contacted some professors, and they seemed very interested in my background. During admissions, I was interviewed by some other professors. However, it turned out that there was only one offer with a scholarship, which I decided not to accept. (You may ask why I didn't opt for that one, the response may make the issue personal. But at least I can say that I didn't waste a resource that can be used by someone more enthusiastic about it.)

Now, I am in the middle of nowhere. The opportunity to work in computer architecture in my country is really small. During my bachelor's studies, I took all computer architecture related courses, even graduate ones. Plus, I almost missed all the graduate program admissions in Europe (with scholarships).

What do you think are my options? My idea is to get into a graduate program and be an academic.

  • I may start a master's degree in my country, but the area most professors teach that most relates to my studies is embedded systems. In fact, I doubt whether this may take me away from my intentions.
  • I can reapply during spring term admissions. (I have been told that these admissions are way more selective than during the fall term and this brings extra financial cost.)
  • I may work in the industry for a year, then reapply. (But how about my new profile for admissions? Plus, who wants someone, who is probably leaving soon, to hire?)

So I need some serious advice.

Here is some information about me: I have 3.6 overall and 3.85 major GPA. 6 different people have written references for me.

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Do you want to go to industry or academia?

Turning down a scholarship to reserve the money for someone more "enthusiastic about it" sounds at odds with "my idea was to ... be academician [sic]".

If you want to work in industry, unless it's for some deep part of, for example, Google or AT&T, I would recommend getting a Master's wherever and begin getting real-world experience.

If you want to be an academic (and so almost absolutely need a PhD) then you should find people from Turkey who did something like what you are trying to do and get in contact with/ emulate them.

At the risk of being provocative and with the caveat that I doubt this is the main issue, your message gives the sense that money is an issue. It is for many of us- but consider if you conveyed that in an unproductive way as you tried to get admissions to graduate school. Some in academia are touchy about that.

  • I do want academia. I will turn down the scholarship mentioned, because I don't want to really take it. This is not about the money, but more about the school. – mert Apr 2 '12 at 18:04
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    I understood his comment about the scholarship as the perfectly sane "Only one department admitted me with funding, but I didn't like that department." rather than something more mercenary. Admission without funding means (1) they don't really want you and (2) you may not be able to eat. And if a school gives you bad vibes when they accept you, it probably is better not to go. – JeffE Apr 2 '12 at 20:20
  • It seems then that I misunderstood. I go to an American graduate school for neuroscience and so all positions are funded. I think I missed that you could be admitted but without funding. – mac389 Apr 2 '12 at 20:24
  • @JeffE thanks. I got not really good wipes, then decided not to take and let someone else to use it. But now it has become more difficult to decide on what to do. – mert Apr 2 '12 at 20:57
  • @mac389: You're right. A PhD offer without funding is very unusual, indeed—and should probably be avoided. – aeismail Apr 3 '12 at 8:30
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There is always the path of a one-year research assistant-ship at an European University of your choosing. This won't give you any degrees but at least you'll get paid (little) and you'll have the chance to build up some momentum in computer architecture. An added plus will be that you won't waste any time getting a MS education in a field you're not interested in.

The only tricky thing is finding a group that you mesh well with and that will have funding to take you for a year.

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