For once, I'm having a major major internal conflict about something totally unrelated to food, weight, body image, bodily health, eating disorderedness, treatment of said eating disorderedness, or any other iterations of eating disorderedness. It's this damn graduate school decision. Basically, I have offers from my two dream schools and have zero concept of how to make a decision that will determine my academic/professional/personal future. I never expected to get into either program, and therefore never expected being faced with this kind of dilemma.
School #1: Big name, highly prestigious university located in Big City about an hour from my parents' house. Same Big City where my brother lives, my dad works, and my mom visits at least once or twice a week. I should also add that my dad (who is helping me fund this venture, and therefore should probably get some input into the decision...) very much wants me to go here. Because of the school's reputation, this would probably open a ton of doors for me, and would give my daddy something to brag about at the water cooler. Plus, Big City has every possible type of opportunity imaginable in terms of research, internship, and job opportunities. That being said, I'm a little iffy on how the school's curriculum is set up. When I visited last week, I didn't get the impression that the faculty and administration were super approachable, and I feel like it might be an uphill battle to get the kind of education I want.
School #2: This is actually my undergraduate university. While the university itself is not as well-known as the first school, the graduate program I'd be attending is actually ranked first in the country. So while School #1 has the name/prestige factor, School #2 has a more prestigious position in my particular field of study. In addition, School #2 has a whole research center devoted to the kind of work I want to do, and there would be several formal opportunities for me to work in both labs and clinical settings. I would have more control over my own curriculum. Plus I'd be staying in College City (which I adore), so the living arrangements would be much simpler (and cheaper!). Big City intimidates me a little, but College City feels super manageable and comfortable. Also, my eye doctor is here.
If this weren't obvious, I have a gut feeling about School #2. I love this university, this city, this part of the country. A lot of things about the program seem pretty perfect. BUT. I hate living a thousand miles from home, and I hate knowing that my dad would be disappointed. School #1 is a prestigious, fancy, globally recognized institution and there are a lot of advantages that come with that.
And to be perfectly honest, my health needs to enter the equation. While I'd like to be optimistic, I have no way of knowing what sort of shape I'll be in six months or a year from now. I feel like a pathetic little kid admitting this, but having so many health problems makes it really hard to be fully independent and hard to be so far from my parents. After four years of living out here in College City, the prospect of being able to hop on a train and head home for the night or weekend when things get rough is hugely appealing.
I talked Dr. P's ear off today in my appointment and she definitely helped me isolate some of the major factors affecting my decision, but I'm still totally floundering here.