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Thread: What Are The Odds of Being Able to Pay for a Private Grad School?

  1. #1
    No Array Thalassa's Avatar
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    Default What Are The Odds of Being Able to Pay for a Private Grad School?

    I withdrew from school, despite the fact that I nearly knocked myself out to maintain a 3.9 GPA, at 90+ hours because I realized with dawning horror that I had no life except for grade grubbing and working part-time, and that I was no longer enjoying school, that it had robbed me of my love of pleasure reading, and that I have zero desire to teach. WHY THE HELL AM I DOING THIS? I AM WASTING MY YOUTH!! ARGH!! *runs away to the West coast*

    Of course there were complex reasons for this, including feeling isolated in West Virginia because of the smaller population after residing in a major city like Las Vegas for much of my adult life before college (although I also lived in Orange County for a year before moving to Vegas, this still added up to a seven year experience of West coast urban living incompatible with small town ways).

    At any rate I have used the last two years of my life to work and hang out and contemplate what I want to do, and I have come to the conclusion that I have two options:

    1) Attend culinary or massage school for certification in a more "hands on" trade, which will only take approximately two semesters.


    2) Return to university, switch my major to history, and go to grad school at SCAD in Georgia to get an MA in historic preservation.

    I had already considered going to the Savannah College of Art and Design for grad school at least a year prior to withdrawing from WVSU, because I had already begun my disillusionment with the teaching profession, and know that very little can be done with a B.A. in English unless I plan to get a certification in teaching, or attend grad school for journalism or library science (no and no), or go to law school (NO).

    I really do think historic preservation may be the way for me to go, because what if I tire of culinary or massage in a few years, and want to pursue something else? I want to hold on to my ability to retrieve a certain amount of money as an undergraduate so I CAN GET A DEGREE IN THE RIGHT THING.

    So if I do return to university as a history major, what are the odds that I could pay for a private school like SCAD for grad school with loans and scholarships? Is this a ridiculous idea?

    People have told me that you are awarded more money as a grad student than as an undergraduate, so I thought this may not be an issue...but on the other hand, perhaps it's still not enough to cover a private school.

    Historic Preservation program at SCAD
    "Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul." - Edward Abbey

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  2. #2
    On a mission Array Usehername's Avatar
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    FYIs that I would make use of if I were in your position:

    I was in downtown Savannah two weeks ago for an academic conference and heard a lot about SCAD, I know it's good. But I guarantee you you will be paying to get an MA there. Alternatively, you are likely to be able to get paid to do grad school if you do a PhD program and bail with an MA in passing, because it's cheaper to have grad students do the work of professors than to pay someone qualified. Consider widening your net to reach your target goal.

    My friend did Wisconsin-Madison's PhD program in history but bailed, claiming the MA after deciding she didn't want a career in academia. She now works as an archivist. She had full funding, a stipend, and medical insurance just like I have; my program also has a "MA in passing" option that I could use. Skip the MA. It's a money maker for your school. You're taking the same classes as PhD students, you just pay instead of getting paid.

    Your undergrad degree doesn't have to be in the same field as the graduate degree you wish to pursue. In fact, it might make you more appealing as a candidate if you can narrate yourself as uniquely different from other applicants, because you bring something new that usually isn't there in their program (though every discipline has its quirks and you should always double check general information against someone who specializes in your field of interest--I'm giving you general information). I have seen biology undergrads enter into philosophy programs and English undergrads enter into life sciences graduate programs. Take a look at the entrance requirements for the programs you're interested in--most will say "degree in x or related field," and that's your cue to narrate a compelling trajectory on your grad school statement of purpose. It's more open-ended than you think; there are some academics who entirely switch their fields even after their PhD. The divisions between disciplines are imaginary and human-invented. Don't waste a lot of money redoing credit hours when all you need to show is evidence of competence, which could be shown in one writing sample! They get a lot of young carbon copies applying for things; being different is not always bad.

    Concentrate more on going to office hours and building a rapport with Associate or Full professors in your field of interest who can craft you personalized, strong letters of recommendation--it's likely that this will matter more than the major on your diploma. Let them know your grad school intentions early on, and ask for specific benchmarks on meeting your goal. Draft your application materials early and revise them 7 or 8 times with the guidance of your profs. These letters matter more than grades or what you majored in.

    Your profs are going to be flattered that you want their advice on their career and they're going to want to mould you into them. If you really want to do grad school with funding, I would let them assume your goal is a PhD and a career in academia. The reason is that TA funding goes to PhDs, not MAs nearly as much, so apply to PhD programs. Most straight-to-PhD programs have a fallback MA that you can earn, and this would be my secret target if I had your goals. Talk like you care about academia, but be savvy and work the system for your needs.

    Also: I would start following this blog, which demystifies the power dynamics of academia and gives excellent survivalist grad student advice.
    *You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
    *Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted, despite your changing moods.
    C.S. Lewis

  3. #3
    i love Array skylights's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Usehername View Post
    Alternatively, you are likely to be able to get paid to do grad school if you do a PhD program and bail with an MA in passing, because it's cheaper to have grad students do the work of professors than to pay someone qualified. Consider widening your net to reach your target goal.

  4. #4
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    Sep 2010


    I think grants, loans, scholarships and grad school work pretty much covers everything. Many people in my family have gone to grad school and none of them are especially well off.

    You're supposed to be poor in grad school, so don't expect anything else.

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