(Closed) Help! Gradbees! or former gradbees I have questions! (and a possible rant)

posted 5 years ago in College
Post # 3
Member
9916 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2013

How many schools can you apply to?  I would just apply to all schools that make sense — any where you can afford the program and your fiance can find a job nearby.  

Also, with the GREs, it’s more important to do well on the verbal/English part than the math — unless you’re applying to a math or science program.

Post # 4
Member
3688 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

My situation may be a little bit different. I was single when I left college/started grad school, so that wasn’t a concern. Also, my program (PhD program in molecular biology) provides a stipend and waives tuition for when we actually take classes, so money wasn’t as much of an issue as it could have been.

My program was competitive, I didn’t have a plan B at the time, I interviewed at three programs and got into two of them. I chose the one I chose because it was within driving distance of my family, the cost of living was lower in that area, and because I liked the people and the work being done there.

I know you didn’t ask this, but be SURE that this is what you want to do. Grad school is the hardest thing I have EVER done, and I’ve never felt more stupid in my life. Really know what you’re getting into before committing to it — if I knew then what I knew now, I don’t think I would have made the same decision.

Post # 6
Member
3688 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

I also wanted to add that I made my decisions really quickly — I took a course the fall semester of my senior year of college, got interested in the subject matter which completely made me rethink my whole life plan, was convinced to apply for grad school, submitted my applications in October/November, interviewed in January/February, decided in February, and moved to my grad program five days after college graduation. I just didn’t know what I was getting into.

I don’t know if the timeframe of your applications is similar, but if it is, don’t stress out about the GRE — you can always retake it.

Post # 8
Member
1856 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: March 2013

So my question is how did you handle looking at grad schools in terms of money and your SO?
– I wasn’t with my SO at the time (I was with someone else who I actually desperately needed a way to get away from) so that didn’t figure into it. Money-wise, I applied to programs that offered partial funding as well as those that didn’t. When my husband was applying for PhD programs, he applied to places that were the best fit for him, regardless of money and distance from our home.

Was your program competitive?
– Yep; my department only accepts between 5 and 10 students per year.

Did you have a backup plan (if so what?)
– My back-up plan was to go back overseas and back into development/NGO work if grad school didn’t pan out. Obviously not an option for most people.

How many of the schools you applied to accepted you? And how did you choose?
– I got into every school I applied to, but this was the second year I had applied to schools (the first year, I was accepted to some and first on a waitlist for another, and chose to go work outside the country instead). I chose based partially on the best fit, in terms of my supervisor, and the program that offered me the most complete funding package.

Post # 9
Member
2299 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

I’m currently in grad school for school counseling, but I waited three years after graduating to start a program.  Is it an option for you to wait a year, maybe try and get some experience in your field?  It wouldn’t be a waste of time because it will make you appear more competetive, you’ll be absolutely 110% sure it’s what you want to do, and not feel like you’ve wasted money on the wrong program.  I got engaged right before starting the program, so my first two years I have substantial loans, but once I get married my FI’s income will be factored in too, and my loan will probably go down.  I applied to one school- I didn’t have a backup plan!  I applied there because it had the program I wanted, we wouldn’t have to move, and I didn’t have to take the GRE!  Smile  Thank goodness I got in!

 

 

 

Grad school is expensive, but if it’s to do something you love it’s totally worth it.  Really hard and really stressful, but worth it!  And this is from someone planning a wedding throughout her first year!

 

Post # 10
Member
2559 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

I’m in grad school but similar to a PP I am in a department that gives full tuition remission and a stipend. They only take 5-10 people a year in my program but that’s cause we cost the department $, lol. So the money wasn’t such a big deal to me.

My Darling Husband did move with me, and while he was very open to moving, I made sure to apply to programs in cities where he had a reasonable chance of obtaining a job. We lucked out and my top choice acceptance was a stronghold for his company and so he was able to transfer, but even had it not worked out that way he was still satisfied that I was taking his needs into account.

Anyway, you’ve gotten some great advice but I just wanted to add that to be more competitive and also to ensure that I liked what I did, I took a two year postbac position in a research lab. At this point in my field, that’s pretty standard anyway. Is there a similar position in occupational therapy, maybe some sort of assistant job you can do for a year or two? Others in my program took on tech positions in hospitals or clinics before coming to graduate school. “Wasting” one year as a tech is way better than wasting 2-3 years in school that you discover you hate.

 

Post # 11
Member
945 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

I want to second and third pp’s advice, I didn’t wait before going into grad school. I’ve never done anything more humbling than go through my first semester of the program. I wasn’t able to find a job after 6 months out and had no idea how I was going to pay school loans, I knew I’d get my masters degree at some point down the road, I ended up deciding that I’d just jump right in again to hold off on those loans I already had (I know, not the best choice but I felt very stuck) and I kind of wish I had found a job and had some work experience first. I know this is what I want to do, but I’ve learned more this one semester than I ever did in my 3 years undergrad. 

Really think about grad school and if you’re ready. If you are then go for it! Otherwise my advice is to wait a year or two. 🙂 
Good luck!  

Post # 12
Member
3688 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

@prettyinpink11:  I’m not exactly sure how the progam you’re looking at works. My program goes like this: we join a lab and do research and need to publish at least one first-author publication in a peer-reviewed journal before graduation. The first two years we also take some classes, but the majority of our work is independent research. My main problem is that I joined the wrong lab — my boss is a nightmare.

Your program doesn’t sound research based, but for anyone who may stumble upon this thread in the future, this is the advice that this fifth-year graduate student would give: it doesn’t matter what you work on. Even if you initially think it’s boring, you’ll eventually grow to like it once you start to get some data. And everyone ends up hating their shit near the end anyway, so that’s normal. It doesn’t matter if you like the people you work with. It’s a perk, but most of those people will graduate/leave in a few years, and you may not get along with the new people. The most important thing by far is to pick a research mentor who you respect, can work with, and who can help you network and find a good job after graduation. Everything else is fairly trivial (at least in graduate school).

Post # 14
Member
2299 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

@prettyinpink11:  Ah, I see.  That makes a lot of sense, and it’s too bad there aren’t more “pre grad school jobs” you could go for.  Well, I think that if you’re confident in what you want to do and have  a supportive SO, you just have to go for it!  And worse comes to worse, if you don’t get into a program this year, find something working with kids and apply again next year!  At least it will be related in some way.  But it sounds like you’ve got a pretty good foundation going on for grad school. As for the money part….it will never not be expensive.  Again though, in the long run the master’s degree will be worth it (and you’ll likely make more money over time in your career too!)

Post # 15
Member
2559 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

@prettyinpink11:  Maybe try for a hospital job then and see if you even like the general environment? My postbac was by no means glamorous, I did the research but I also answered the phones, scheduled appointments, did the mail runs, etc. It just gave me enough exposure to the environment to know that’s where I wanted to be. Maybe you could even get a flexible job where you could shadow once a week or something, or attend clinic meetings, or something?

ETA: I have no idea if that’s reasonable for you, just throwing out ideas!

 

Post # 16
Member
7901 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: March 2012 - Pelican Grand Beach Resort

I have to be the one to step in and make a really sobering point. You need to put your concerns about your SO behind you. I know you love him and cannot imagine life without him, but I chose my grad school based on my FI’s needs as well and then we got married and divorced and I had missed a lot of opportunities because of that choice I made to accommodate his needs before my own. Go to grad school at the best place you can get into. Either your SO will find a job there or you will live apart for a few years. If your relationship is strong, it will stand the test of the distance. One of my dearest friends went to grad school in TX while her fiance went to grad school in Arkansas. Then after he got his MA and she was still in her PhD program, he went to law school in Texas, but 4 hours from where she was. Now he has his JD and works about 5 hours from where she is still working on her PhD. They love each other and they know they will live together full time soon, but for now, they get weekends, vacations, and the summer.

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