After two very sobering days, the Risk family has revised their outlook for the future. Although the timeline for the future is not what we had originally planned, our new plans seem to make things a little brighter and hopefully a lot easier. In retrospect, we have discovered many errors and oversights in our original graduate school application process and have decided to remedy the problem with a new perspective.
In our original plan, we applied to several MA/PhD combined programs and were not admitted to a single one. We quickly backtracked and applied to three MA programs and were accepted to all three - lesson number #1.
After being accepted to three MA programs, we then proceeded to the next step of selling our house and finding jobs in the the area of our school of choice. To our surprise, the house received an offer within 9 days, and we were no where near landing a job. - lesson #2.
With that we backtracked again, pulled the house off the market and "settled" for what was suppose to be the last resort for school. This created a very sobering dilemna because the school did not actually have the program we were seeking, but would have been acceptable to at least get through the next step. It was also the most expensive choice, even with a tuition waiver/graduate assistantship because of the cost of living. This choice made us very unhappy and had begun tearing us apart. - lesson #3.
So our revised plan incorporates all of the lessons we learned and hopefully allows us to proceed with greater success, but at a different pace. Instead of applying to schools first and then hoping all of the other puzzle pieces fall into place, we have decided to put the pieces of the puzzle together and then apply to schools. We will apply for jobs in one or two geographic locations (Baltimore, MD or Richmond, VA). These two areas offer us the best potential for success. Lori and I will find a job, we will THEN put the house on the market to make the move. Once moved, we will get settled and then apply to the area schools. Each area has three to four schools that will be great possibilities (some of them were my original schools). Lesson #2 learned.
How does this make things better? How do we know that we will be accepted the second time around? First, things will be better, because we will already be settled and that will result in less stress. Second, we will have a greater chance of acceptance because we will apply to these schools differently. Originally, we had applied to MA/PhD combined programs and did not get accepted to a single one. Shame on us for not realizing the natural progression of the academic world and thinking we were "exceptional" enough to bypass certain necessary steps. Each of these combined MA/PhD programs offer a terminal MA degree. I was accepted to three terminal MA programs. Duh! The combined MA/PhD programs will accept "exceptional" undergraduates, but realistically that just doesn't happen. By applying to the terminal MA program at each of these schools, I will have a better chance of acceptance. A terminal MA does not close the door on a PhD as the term "terminal" might imply. In fact, the opposite is true. If one does well enough in the terminal MA program, they are usually recommended and welcomed to the PhD program with open arms. Thus, we could ultimately achieve our original goal and land somewhere for several years, simply by applying ourselves differently. Lesson #1 learned.
So what if this still doens't work out? There are no guarantees. That is lesson #3. Do what makes you happy. By being in a larger metropolitan area, there will be more opportunities for both of us, before and after enrollment in graduate school. Lori's opportunities in healthcare and goverment program management go without saying. For me, history jobs, even with only a BA, will be more plentiful. If I do not get accepted to an MA program where we move, I will at least be working in my field and that will make me very happy. The same thing holds true if I am accepted into an MA program, but I am unable to get into a PhD program. In either case, I can find a job that is much more interesting. In the interim to starting a program at one of the schools in either of these areas, I will have access to the research materials I need for my thesis and dissertation. I will be able to get a jump start on my research.
So that is our revised plan. We don't know how long it will take to implement. It likely will not result in time for the fall semester, meaning, I will sit out at least one academic year. It may be possible for me to attend one semester at WVU and transfer two classes (6 credit hours) to another program. This would allow me to keep my job and defer my undergraduate student loans for another six months. Most programs will not allow you to transfer more than six credits.
Maybe God will smile a little brighter upon us this time.
8 years ago