Since we've been talking about grad student applications this week, I noticed that Dr. Zen had a post up about choosing a grad program. Normally a purveyor of decent advice, Dr. Zen has the following to say:
Deciding on a grad program is a complicated choice. Do you pick based on the institutional name? The program? The advisor? Here’s a way to simplify your decision.
Which program will pay you the most?
Money talks, bullshit walks.
I’m not saying you should choose only by that criterion. But it is a quick way to shake out who wants you the most.
I couldn't disagree with this more. While I understand the importance of the stipend when it comes to supporting oneself and possibly family in these situations, how much does your sanity cost? How about your lifestyle? Can I give you an extra grand a year to be at my beck and call at all hours? Will you routinely put in 16 hour days for an extra $2K? How much will it cost for you to sell your free will and self respect?
I'm going to hope the good doctor was joking, because disregarding little things like student happiness, departmental/lab culture, graduation rates and your interest in the research being done, all in the name of a couple extra bucks is, in my mind, profoundly stupid and short-sighted.
But hey, it's just 4 - infinity years of your life, right? You can survive that. And you'll have more money to pay for therapy if you end up in a lab that breaks your soul.