Ph.D. relocation question part deux: Stillwater, OK; Lafayette, LA, Hattiesburg, MS; and Athens, GA. Have you been there?

  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Apr 04, 2011 5:32 PM GMT
    So last time I asked about Normal, IL, and you guys were very helpful about assessing that city. I've recently been admitted into several great programs (Oklahoma State, Southern Miss, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and University of Georgia), and like Normal, IL, I have no idea what life is like on those campuses and in those towns. It would be awesome if any of you guys had any insight into those places (as a student, resident, or visitor) that you'd be willing to share because I want to make sure I end up in a school that not only is good academically, but also in a town I can live in for 3-5 years. Comments here or e-mails would be greatly appreciated. Thanks guys.
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    Apr 05, 2011 11:01 PM GMT
    I would recommend Athens personally. It has a pretty good 'scene' due to the university and that certain Southern charm that really draws you in. Also, it's not that far from Atlanta. And the B-52's are from Athens!

    In addition, I really like Lafayette because of its location and cultural background. These two aspects have helped make it a center of Cajun, Creole, and Acadian culture, which means Zydeco music and great food as well as exposure to a totally unique culture.

    Stillwater is just northeast of Oklahoma City (which is really coming into its own) and may have its own share of decent culture given its proximity to Oklahoma City.

    As for Hattiesburg, I really can't say.

    Many congratulations on the acceptances and best of luck!
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    Apr 05, 2011 11:11 PM GMT
    Hattiesburg = mind-numblingly boring and about as ultra-religious and conservative (read: extremely homophobic) as towns come in MS. I'd stay away from that one if I were you icon_eek.gif
  • MattTCU

    Posts: 34

    Apr 05, 2011 11:14 PM GMT
    Calibro:

    Congratulations on being accepted to so many wonderful universities!

    I hold a Bachelors of Arts from Oklahoma State University, and I love Stillwater. Stillwater is a pleasant community of around 50,000 people, and the university has around 25,000 students. The campus is beautiful, and is at the center of the community. OSU has wonderful athletics, and is a great place to watch football, basketball, baseball, and wrestling.

    Location:
    Stillwater is about 45 minutes from Edmond/Oklahoma City, one hour from Tulsa, and a little over an hour from Wichita. All three of those cities are really big, they have major airports, and everything you would expect from a city. Dallas and Kansas City are both within about four hours of campus.

    Homes and apartments are cheap in Stillwater, and you can eat out or go to the local bars on a small budget. The city has most major retailers and a number of the big chain restaurants, but the real charm is in all the local, college-town restaurants and bars.

    I don't know much about the other communities, but if you get a chance you should visit Stillwater.

    Good luck!
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    Apr 05, 2011 11:30 PM GMT
    I don't know anything about Oklahoma, but of the other three, I'd lean towards Athens. The University of Georgia has good programs in many of the core disciplines, and its proximity to Atlanta is nice. Lafayette is a really cool small city. It's 2.5 hours from New Orleans, which is an amazing city to visit with tons of stuff to do. As Coumbusite said, Lafayette has a culture that is unique in the U.S., if that appeals to you. The university is good and the city small enough to have a "small town feel," yet still it has plenty of restaurants and something of an interesting night life. It's also only four hours from Houston. The downside to Lafayette: Our Republican governor has decided to leave his mark by decimating higher education through budget cuts. So although I'm a Louisianian and work in higher ed, I'd avoid this state at present until the funding situation calms down.

    Despite its reputation as redneck central, Mississippi has a lot to offer these days, but Southern Mississippi has had SACS accreditation issues in the recent past. They have supposedly resolved them, but still.... the stigma remains. They seem to be a place in flux, without clear direction from the higher administration (this statement is based upon discussions with three former employees at USM, plus my experience as a candidate for a job there a few years ago - I pulled out due to their situation). I'd stay away from there for now, given the choice.

    It's nice that in this economic climate you have this many options. Many graduate programs have cut their student funding in half (several in Florida, for one), so great going to get so many offers!

    Good luck!
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    Apr 05, 2011 11:45 PM GMT
    Forget it. You're going to Normal. It'll make it easier for me to stalk you.
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    Apr 05, 2011 11:57 PM GMT
    Without a question, Athens! Very cool college town. I wish I had gone to school there. I lived in Atlanta and would try to get there as often as I could. And, as an extremely cool person above mentioned, The B-52s are from there. That's reason enough for me.
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Apr 06, 2011 3:09 AM GMT
    Thanks guys. That really helped. This decision is weirdly complicated because my field of study is so dependent on place that my dissertation would be completely different depending on where it's written. So definite thumbs down on Hattiesburg from what you're saying with much love to the other three. You guys are awesome as always (and I have been known to unlock my private photos for awesome guys icon_wink.gif )
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Apr 06, 2011 3:12 AM GMT
    You might have a problem with Stillwater... I would...LOL
  • turtleneckjoc...

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    Apr 06, 2011 3:21 AM GMT
    A huge "yes" to Athens! I have partied there many a time back in the day visiting friends at UGA. A great place and not far from the ATL.

    Mississippi??? Stay away!!! They may still burn crosses there.......
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    Apr 06, 2011 3:22 AM GMT
    HndsmKansan saidYou might have a problem with Stillwater... I would...LOL



    Just cause you are a KU fan..
  • OklahomaBreak...

    Posts: 167

    Apr 06, 2011 4:09 AM GMT
    Stillwater is a good place to be a student. There is always something going on. Also it is an easy drive from there to OKC and Tulsa, which have a lot to offer in the way for occasional study breaks. The best part about Oklahoma, other than the friendly people, is the cost of living. Your money goes twice as far down here compared to other places.

    Not too familiar with the others on your list. Best of luck with your choice.
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    Apr 06, 2011 4:21 AM GMT
    Lafayette is pretty open and diverse for a deep southern city. Downtown even had gay bars. Plus you have the tipsy taxi service which offers free rides home for drunks.
  • gumbosolo

    Posts: 382

    Apr 06, 2011 4:22 AM GMT
    Spent a bit of time in Lafayette and had several friends go to ULL - for cities of its size, especially in the south, it's pretty liberal, and the folks I know there have a great time. There's a gallery district, an active downtown, an okay gay scene, lots of good food, an annual arts and culture festival that's a pretty big deal in the state . . . it's not New Orleans, but it has its own artsy and alternative culture in addition to the conservative Catholicism that typifies southern Louisiana. Though as conservative cultures go, you can't do much better than Cajuns; they're a pretty fun-loving and minimally flagellating lot. And of course the weather is great most of the year, as long as you like sun and don't mind some rain now and again. That said, the predominating culture in Louisiana is still conservative, and ULL may be subject to the higher ed cuts that are threatening some state schools in New Orleans. That's something the school could probably address for you, though.
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    Apr 06, 2011 4:25 AM GMT
    I went to Oklahoma State. The school is great, it's a fun college town & the distance between Oklahoma City & Tulsa makes it a pretty desirable location for quick trips if you want to experience a real city. I have nothing but positive memories about my time in Stillwater. Good Luck!
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    Apr 06, 2011 4:42 AM GMT
    so having a Ph.D. makes your relocation differ from anyone else's how?
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    Apr 06, 2011 5:20 AM GMT
    Athens

    Not sure the specifics of your PhD program, but Athens is a great town and overall, UGA has a reputation that miles ahead of the other schools.

    *twiddling thumbs waiting to get slammed*
  • txkockyjock

    Posts: 1

    Apr 06, 2011 5:41 AM GMT
    Definitely UGA. As someone who has a job in academia, it helps to come from a school that has a good overall reputation, regardless of the reputation of the individual department (unless it is just really bad). I would definitely avoid ULL and Southern Miss for those reasons alone. I'm very familiar with Stillwater, and the only good things about it are that its close to Oklahoma City and Tulsa. I would only consider those schools if the department you are going to be in is known nation-wide. Otherwise, stick with the overall reputation of the school, which would be UGA.
  • MattTCU

    Posts: 34

    Apr 06, 2011 6:41 AM GMT
    atl2atx85 saidAthens

    Not sure the specifics of your PhD program, but Athens is a great town and overall, UGA has a reputation that miles ahead of the other schools.

    *twiddling thumbs waiting to get slammed*



    I'm not going to bash the University of Georgia (or the other two fine universities mentioned in this topic), but Oklahoma State University is a damn good school. I think OSU has a great reputation and is listed along with all the other snobby schools in the stupid magazines.

    Furthermore, in 2009 the Oklahoma State Cowboys obliterated the Georgia Bulldogs 24-10 in football. Enough said. icon_biggrin.gif
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Apr 06, 2011 5:11 PM GMT
    tomk7 saidso having a Ph.D. makes your relocation differ from anyone else's how?


    I don't think I ever claimed my Ph.D. made my relocation different, but I do think it changes the circumstances of the relocation in a way a normal one need not address. Whereas I have relocated to cities for personal reasons, I always had the opportunity to move or find a different job if things weren't working out as I planned; it's a bit different with a degree. I was asking people what they thought of the cities and universities based upon a five-year commitment that can't be changed in many of the ways a normal relocation can. I also think I'm asking for specific information that isn't necessarily pertinent to a normal relocation, such as how life is as a student.

    The better question deals with asking yourself why your question screams insecurity solely because the word Ph.D. is in there, and your need to act combative when this post was only about getting some help from guys.
  • rf_dal

    Posts: 380

    Apr 06, 2011 5:19 PM GMT
    I lived in Hattiesburg for years (went to USM) It's pretty dern boring. I'd go home to New Orleans pretty frequently to get away from it... lol Definitely not the best place for gay happenings either.
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Apr 06, 2011 5:20 PM GMT
    txkockyjock saidDefinitely UGA. As someone who has a job in academia, it helps to come from a school that has a good overall reputation, regardless of the reputation of the individual department (unless it is just really bad). I would definitely avoid ULL and Southern Miss for those reasons alone. I'm very familiar with Stillwater, and the only good things about it are that its close to Oklahoma City and Tulsa. I would only consider those schools if the department you are going to be in is known nation-wide. Otherwise, stick with the overall reputation of the school, which would be UGA.


    Actually, of the five programs I'm considering (counting Illinois State too), UGA does happen to be the best (in my opinion), but that really doesn't have to do with UGA's overall reputation. I think they are just better funded and I prefer the work their students are generating. Creative Writing (the field I'm in) is really odd; the University of Iowa, at the masters level, has the top program in the country and most of the most well-known programs are from schools that aren't traditionally associated with being "the best." At the Ph.D. level, you'd be surprised at how often a "mediocre" school will have one of the best-ranked programs nationally. I got my masters from the University of Montana, which is considered tenth in the nation for what I study. So even though I would agree that UGA holds more notoriety than the other schools on a general name recognition basis, the other four have really wonderful programs that are respected by people in those disciplines, and when looking for a job in academia, people who hire you are aware of the specific rankings of those programs. So in conclusion, I think UGA is wonderful, but from an English department perspective, all the other programs are well-received too in terms of that Ph.D. program (which would be different perhaps if we were discussing another discipline). So no hating on any of the programs.
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    Apr 06, 2011 8:47 PM GMT
    I figured I could share a bit about UGA. I'm currently a 2nd yr PhD student. Athens is a pretty unique town with quite a few eclectic shops downtown. There are also a lot of bars/pubs/etc. to choose from. Although there is no longer an official "gay bar," there are definitely some that are gay friendly. As several people have mentioned Atlanta is about 2hrs away and Savannah is about 4hrs. If you're into beer there's the local brewery (Terrapin) that does tours and tasting towards the end of the week for $10 (and you get a nice glass). Athens also has a very good bus system and UGA students have access to it as well as the UGA bus system. As for the campus, it does cover a lot of area, but I find I stay within a small radius of my department's building. I will say that during home football games it gets difficult to get downtown with the influx of people (and football is huge here). As for negative points, my biggest pet peeve is that a lot, if not most, people don't use a blinker light. Politically the area is pretty conservative, although at the grad level it's more liberal (especially the sciences), at least from my experience. Personally that doesn't phase me much, but I know some people that complain about it all the time. If there's anything you'd like to know feel free to ask.
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    May 12, 2012 1:19 PM GMT
    Based on reputation alone, I would go UGA.

    On another note and opposed to some of the others, we don't "still burn crosses in Mississippi". USM, does not have an outstanding reputation and but, the town, while boring, does have a fairly high gay population based on percentage driven in no small part by USM students I would guess.

    I live near Oxford, home of Ole Miss, and I am very at ease here...not a lot of great activities unless, you like cool bars with lots of live music, a great down town, biking, a lake and living in a small town. Not being sarcastic at all, it's a great small town that is gay friendly. I could be squewed by where I live but, other then reputation, I would not be afraid of Mississippi.
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    May 12, 2012 1:23 PM GMT
    An old post. But for the record, I have spent time in all 3 locations. And I wouldn't recommend any of them for a PhD. Or for any gay, or even for any human being, for that matter.

    I wonder where the OP eventually went, and how he's doing?