Last-ditch adjustment indecision

Even two weeks ago, I thought that my application list was final. But cue these two emails from Notre Dame; first from the Graduate School, and then from the physics department. At first I was a little skeptical (one of my research-based recommenders disliked Notre Dame, claiming that the quality of the education I would receive there would not be as good as I would at Ohio State or WUSTL) but, after skimming its website, and sending emails to the appropriate people, Notre Dame seemed to have two people that do stuff that interest me to some degree (Grant Mathews and Adam Martin), and they appeared enthusiastic towards my application. But I should add that ND would never heard about me in the first place if not of the GRE Search Service. Usually the GRE-SS is a hit-or-miss kind of thing, but Notre Dame wasn’t one.

Now comes Washington University in St. Louis that was suggested to me through that research-based recommender. People that seemed interesting are Mark Alford and Francesc Ferrer (although the latter never came up in discussions with that recommender) to me, although I dismissed Alford at first before I thought he was doing QCD at the moment (and, more specifically, color superconductivity), but, after looking at the professor’s publication list, he was doing… quite a bit of things, really, and some of it pertaining to particle cosmology.

So I am a little stuck: I cannot afford to apply to more than 11, but, at the same time, I think Ohio State would be a poorer fit than I initially thought. At the same time, my recommenders have connections at WashU and Ohio State, but not at Notre Dame. What should I do, replace Ohio State by WUSTL or Notre Dame, or stay put?

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