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Dreamschoolception: The puzzle grows.

Posted by cokohlik, in Waiting 20 March 2012 · 373 views

POI advancements? MA program application status money
Pardon my lame attempt at integrating "Inception" into this title ;)

I bit the bullet and called my dream school POI yesterday. He kind of laughed and was like, the status of your application is... there is no status. (Cue scene from the Matrix: There is no spoon.) Which in turn made me laugh (internally) because I know that this school has sent out acceptances and rejections. I asked him if I was on some sort of wait list and he said no, because it hasn't gotten to that point -- the faculty are still deliberating, and everyone pulls for who they want to work with but the school also wants the best students. It was still a productive call because I got a timeframe: he'll call me either way with a decision a week from yesterday.

When we hung up, I got a call right back, asking if the faculty asked him, "would you be willing to change your application from the PhD to the MA?" to which I said "Well yes, but my only hesitation is that I doubt I could afford the MA" and he said that no, it would come with funding, to which I said "of course." If the MA lacks a stipend, I'm not sure what I'll do for living costs --- loans? Hah! (Not trying to be a downer for people who do this, it can be perfectly justifiable, I just can't see myself making that choice). This is the same conundrum I'm in with the MA offer I already hold, but since family are close by, moving costs would be significantly reduced leaving more money in the savings account... :/ And this whole financial "mess" if I can call it that is a large part of why PhD programs are attractive. (Ending my slightly tangential rant about finances now ;))

Now what I have to obsess over (there will always be something worrying me! I'm sorry GradCafers!) is this: Maybe, since I told him I'd be willing to change to the MA, he'll just go right into the committee meeting and be like "Oh, she's ok with changing her application to the MA so let's deliberate over that," rather than trying to get me into the PhD and using the MA as a last resort (which is what I naturally would prefer since the PhD program is what I'm really after). I don't know how it'll work, I only hope that whatever it is, it's good, and obviously I can dream for the miraculous PhD acceptance.

One more worrying thing: He said he hadn't looked at my application in "a while," so now I'm wondering how many students he's pushing for. Then again, "a while" could mean a day for someone who is forgetful, or it could literally mean... a while. Months. Who knows. *sigh*

Anyway!! I wanted to keep this blog up to date with my latest forays into the muddy waters that is grad school admissions.

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wow...this is the most confusing situation!! I hope you your phd acceptance!!!
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Hey cokoholik,

I don't think his call means that you will only be considered for an MA now. If you're suitable for their PhD program, then they will accept you to their Phd program! And if they feel you'd be better starting off in the MA program, then they will accept you for the MA. I think he just wants to make sure you'd be willing to accept that offer. It's pretty late in the game so I have a feeling they won't be putting out a waitlist for their MA students.

I used to be really against going to an MA program because I didn't like the idea of the financial instability that usually comes with most humanities programs. However, as I later realized, I really wasn't ready for a PhD program and the only way to become ready was to take on some debt. Luckily, I didn't have any undergrad loans, but I also started a partially-funded MA program with no job and only $500 in my bank account. Did I have to take out loans for living expenses? Yes. Did I go seven months without any money to buy cute clothes or movie tickets? Yes. Did I survive? Yes. Was it worth it? Hell yes. I'm not suggesting you take on 40k in debt or anything like that. But I think a little bit of debt for living expenses and working part-time is totally reasonable. Especially if it will bring you that much closer to your dream of getting a PhD :-)

Keeping my fingers crossed for you!
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That is a crappy situation, no doubt. However, you worry/fret waaaay too much, especially about how he will act on your "in principle" agreement to the potential MA offer ...

Still, here is a possible solution: send him an e-mail saying "while I would of course seriously consider an offer to the MA program, I am not overly excited about doing (re-doing??) an MA at this stage and I would have to weigh it against PhD offers (from other schools). Accordingly, I wish to emphasize my primary interest is in the PhD, and I would very much appreciate if the committee first and foremost, considered me for that independently (with the MA only as a fall back option). If, on the other hand, it is to be clearly understood, or better yet explicitly agreed, that my going though the MA would place me in a superior position, if not a guarantee, for future acceptance to your PhD program, then I would of course view a potential MA offer far more favorably" .... or something to that effect ....

Either way, good luck!! It'll all work out in the end ...
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wow...this is the most confusing situation!! I hope you your phd acceptance!!!


Thank you! :D Me too!
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Hey cokoholik, I don't think his call means that you will only be considered for an MA now. If you're suitable for their PhD program, then they will accept you to their Phd program! And if they feel you'd be better starting off in the MA program, then they will accept you for the MA. I think he just wants to make sure you'd be willing to accept that offer. It's pretty late in the game so I have a feeling they won't be putting out a waitlist for their MA students. I used to be really against going to an MA program because I didn't like the idea of the financial instability that usually comes with most humanities programs. However, as I later realized, I really wasn't ready for a PhD program and the only way to become ready was to take on some debt. Luckily, I didn't have any undergrad loans, but I also started a partially-funded MA program with no job and only $500 in my bank account. Did I have to take out loans for living expenses? Yes. Did I go seven months without any money to buy cute clothes or movie tickets? Yes. Did I survive? Yes. Was it worth it? Hell yes. I'm not suggesting you take on 40k in debt or anything like that. But I think a little bit of debt for living expenses and working part-time is totally reasonable. Especially if it will bring you that much closer to your dream of getting a PhD :-)Keeping my fingers crossed for you!


Thank you!! :D I appreciate the well wishes! This week is like torture. I bet he won't get back to me a week from Monday... hah. I wouldn't be adverse to taking out living expenses loans if I was single, but that isn't something I can see myself doing married. That's just me. I know it's a perfectly viable option for people, and I would say that I'm someone who doesn't need a lot. I already have clothes, a computer, etc., so I can't see myself needing to buy these types of things in school... Working in school is something I'm considering, too, though I know with my current MA offer, I'd only be allowed to work 10 hours a week for the first year (which is nice because money is money, but you know. Ten hours.) We'll see how this all plays out. I definitely agree with you and others that the MA has intrinsic value and is no doubt an amazing experience academically and in other ways!
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That is a crappy situation, no doubt. However, you worry/fret waaaay too much, especially about how he will act on your "in principle" agreement to the potential MA offer ...Still, here is a possible solution: send him an e-mail saying "while I would of course seriously consider an offer to the MA program, I am not overly excited about doing (re-doing??) an MA at this stage and I would have to weigh it against PhD offers (from other schools). Accordingly, I wish to emphasize my primary interest is in the PhD, and I would very much appreciate if the committee first and foremost, considered me for that independently (with the MA only as a fall back option). If, on the other hand, it is to be clearly understood, or better yet explicitly agreed, that my going though the MA would place me in a superior position, if not a guarantee, for future acceptance to your PhD program, then I would of course view a potential MA offer far more favorably" .... or something to that effect ....Either way, good luck!! It'll all work out in the end ...


Thank you! You're right, it will work out. It's so easy to lose sight of that fact...

I wish I had PhD offers from other schools to leverage against Dream School's possibly pending offer. I told him that I definitely prefer the PhD. It's in writing, too. Whether he remembers or not is another story. I really like the idea of emailing him and reminding him of this, but I feel like I've harassed him enough in the past couple weeks. :/ I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that he'll be as "street smart" as he is "book smart" and only use the MA as a last resort. I hope I don't sound selfish. I'm definitely grateful for my current offer and any offer this school might make me! Maybe I will email him a little reminder... Thanks again CityZen :D!!
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Thank you! You're right, it will work out. It's so easy to lose sight of that fact... I wish I had PhD offers from other schools to leverage against Dream School's possibly pending offer. I told him that I definitely prefer the PhD. It's in writing, too. Whether he remembers or not is another story. I really like the idea of emailing him and reminding him of this, but I feel like I've harassed him enough in the past couple weeks. :/ I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that he'll be as "street smart" as he is "book smart" and only use the MA as a last resort. I hope I don't sound selfish. I'm definitely grateful for my current offer and any offer this school might make me! Maybe I will email him a little reminder... Thanks again CityZen :D!!


Ah, in that case, i.e., if you don't have PhD offers from other places to leverage, then go for the "if you will only offer me an MA, then at least give me an assurance that it will more than likely lead to the PhD" angle ... that would be my little angle there, if it helps. Good luck and Cheers!
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