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To Grad School or not to Grad school? That is the ...

To Grad School or not to Grad school? That is the Question.

In an era when a second degree is almost a necessity, but, almost always too expensive, it forces one to think – Do I need this degree in order to make it?

I predict far fewer students will be going to graduate school, because:

1. Grad school Subsidized loans have been taken out of FAFSA in the states since 2013. I had no idea about this until I spoke to a financial aid counselor.  In fact, subsidized loans are becoming less and sometimes not attainable for any degree. Surprise!

2. Take a look at our President’s background. Sorry, but, the irony could not be sharper. He has zero degrees in his field. Yet, he’s the highest elected official in it. What image does this give to kids of parents that support him? How do you explain that to your children?

But, this paper isn’t going to be about Trump, so if that’s what you came for, you can look away. This is going to be about the long and sometimes maddening process of choosing a Grad program. Again, I had no idea but, applying to grad school is only like a quarter of the battle.

Graduate school applications need a disclaimer, at the top. Something like:

“This is just the beginning, think about what happens after you get in. Think about it! The loans. The work. The adjusting to a new environment. The dealing with the bureaucracy all over again. Dealing with teachers who don’t give a shit about you or worse, they like someone else way more than you. And most importantly, there’s the financial downfall. Which, fingers crossed, you’ll be able to pay back in 20 years. But, keep in mind, there’s no guarantee you’ll get a better job or even A job after this. ”

Okay, yes, talking about this is depressing. Why do people even go to grad school again? Being self-taught is becoming more appealing and way more accessible.

I’ve gotten more out of classes at udemy.com and my community college than I have at my Alma Mater.

And yet, I applied to a grad school and got in! The problem? The two programs I got into couldn’t be more different. One is on the East Coast, it’s expensive, has the connections. Needless to say, it’s bigger and better. The other one is on the west coast, is smaller and more personal.

I’ve talked about it to everyone. And that was mistake number one. I’ve told my grandma in Bulgaria, the Buddhist monk I used to meditate with in LA, my part time work-colleagues, Jesus (?). And finally to myself….all the time.

And the answer is there is no perfect answer. No matter where you go there are going to be pros and cons– it’s all about what you put in.

And that’s the cookie cutter version of an answer.

But we all know, prestige matters, reputation matters, connections matter. This is the reason people pick the school with a name and fanciness over the small personal school. This is why people on my MFA draft Facebook group are all losing their shit right about now.

Where to go, where to go, fire, fire, fire, fire…

There isn’t one perfect answer, there never will be, and life will go on. And weighing the pros and cons can leave you crippled. What if they all add up, what if they are perfect, symmetrically balanced? What then, huh?

I am trying to follow my own advice here, and to me, that means, following your gut instinct. After digesting all the facts. And recognizing the fact that this isn’t that big of a deal.

Life will go on, and so will you…and so will I.

mm

About Pam Malinova

I am a writer, truth seeker, and lover of all that is weird. I am most passionate about personal essays, screenwriting, improvisation and cats. I love sharing my work on my website, blog, and occasionally on stage! My publication platforms include The Examiner, Buzzfeed Community, and Medium. To see what I’ve been up to lately, catch up with me on Twitter @pamcakesonfire.

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