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deciding not to attend graduate school after accepting


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7 replies to this topic

#1 cappa

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Posted 07 May 2010 - 06:07 PM

i am a senior at college and have been accepted to my top choice for mpp program . however, i realized that it may be better for me to take a few years off school to work and find out what i really want.

but i have already accepted the offer of admission. can i tell them i don't want to attend anymore? what if i apply after a few years to the same program, would they still take me in? i can only imagine my profile improving with a few years of relevant work experience. what about my letter writers? will they still be willing to write the letters for me? they helped me get into a whole bunch of schools and now i telling them i am not going to attend grad school....
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#2 grammercie

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Posted 07 May 2010 - 06:21 PM

Unless you have a specific job lined up, go to grad school. You can explore what you want to do just as easily, and you'll come away with a degree at the end of that time. It will be a lot harder to get those references to write the second time around and a few years later, and you have no idea what the pool of applicants will be like or if the programs change or close.

There are a lot of threads on here from people questioning whether they are doing the right thing. I think most of us have cold feet or anxiety about starting in the fall, so you're not alone in that. If you have funding, go for it! If you don't have funding, try it for a year and leave if you don't like it. And you can always seek out internships while in school.

but that's just my two cents. Good luck! :rolleyes:


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#3 gallopinto

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 12:04 AM

Not sure I agree with this. If you're unsure about what you want to do, I think you should take some time in the 'real world' to figure that out.

But, those are all good questions you raised. I would start by contacting the school and asking them about letting you out of your commitment or deferring - they may be supportive. I'm sure your letter writers will still write good things later on - I wouldn't worry about that. I think the toughest thing will be finding a good job right now. But I still think working awhile is invaluable and will help you later on when you are coming out of the grad program.
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#4 Postbib Yeshuist

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 12:26 AM

i can only imagine my profile improving with a few years of relevant work experience.


With all due respect, what makes you think you can get a job? If you don't have one lined up, you are now in line behind hundreds or thousands of other graduates (both current and decades old) who had apps in months ago, some of whom have years if not decades of experience. I don't say that to be rude so much as to make sure you know what you're getting into. This is *the* worst job market in decades. In fact, your grandparents may not even have seen it this bad. I can promise you one thing, flipping burgers at McD's will be no way to figure out what you want to do than grad school. And I would almost put money on you flipping burgers in a month, unless you have something sweet lined up.

Again, sorry to be harsh, but please make sure you know what you're doing and not just that you've got the cold feet we all do right now ;)
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#5 narius

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 07:57 AM

i am a senior at college and have been accepted to my top choice for mpp program . however, i realized that it may be better for me to take a few years off school to work and find out what i really want.

but i have already accepted the offer of admission. can i tell them i don't want to attend anymore? what if i apply after a few years to the same program, would they still take me in? i can only imagine my profile improving with a few years of relevant work experience. what about my letter writers? will they still be willing to write the letters for me? they helped me get into a whole bunch of schools and now i telling them i am not going to attend grad school....



Cappa - lots of good points being made but if you don't feel ready to go to grad school then don't go. It's not unethical and you certainly shouldn't go just because a perfect job isn't waiting for you right now. Admission committees will not look on it unfavorably later - they'll either be indifferent to it or, in some cases, impressed by your discipline of turning down a good school to go get some work experience.

Like others have said, there's nothing inherently wrong with going to graduate school without work experience (obviously, since you just got into your top choice), but a lot of people (like myself) find it instructive to have been in the 'real world' before going to graduate school as it can have a major effect on what you decide you really want to do. The MPP is a fortunately versatile degree (though not as versatile as some), but you may find that in the next few years that you actually want to go into neuroscience or business or physics - who knows?

And being unemployed can be just as instructive as being employed. As many people with social science undergrad degrees have discovered, specialization and specific skillsets are crucial to getting work, especially in today's economy. Many people who might have gone on to getting IR or pub policy degrees have turned to public health or economics - or some other growth industry - because of their time in the job market (or not).

What I'm trying to say is that if you don't feel like you're ready to jump into graduate school, it's ridiculous for anyone to tell you that you're wrong. Go when you're ready - you'll do better and you'll be better set up for employment because you'll be closer to knowing (most likely) where to focus your interests and career path. Feel free to PM me if you want to chat more.


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#6 cappa

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 02:04 PM

wao..thanks everyone for the thoughtful replies...

yes i must admit i am getting cold feet. a large part of this is due to the fact that i'm writing my senior thesis at this point and am really exhausted with academic life. that's why i'm thinking of not gg to grad school immediately after graduation. i'm really confused now whether it is just a phrase and everything will be well after i hand in my paper, or that i do need to get out and experience the real life. right now i am stuck in this intense academic workload and i am scared of having to do it again.

with regards to jobs, i actually do have one lined up already with the public sector. ( i am an international student and my home country's economy is not really affected by the crisis.) that is why i am confident to say that my profile can only improve esp if i am applying to mpp programs again.

the school i have accepted would not allow me to defer so i need to reapply. i'm now afraid i might piss them off by pulling out at this point, esp after they have allocated me some funding....i still like the school very much..
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#7 Postbib Yeshuist

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 06:02 PM

Well, having a job lined up certainly makes the decision not to attend "safer." Real world experience will help you on future apps, for sure. As for academic burnout, that's fairly common at this time in the year, but once August rolls around, we all seem ready to jump right back in, lol.

Sounds like you know what you're doing and it's not "just" cold feet. I agree with the other posts: go in the direction you feel is best for you. Best of luck!
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#8 econhawk

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 02:04 PM

wao..thanks everyone for the thoughtful replies...

yes i must admit i am getting cold feet. a large part of this is due to the fact that i'm writing my senior thesis at this point and am really exhausted with academic life. that's why i'm thinking of not gg to grad school immediately after graduation. i'm really confused now whether it is just a phrase and everything will be well after i hand in my paper, or that i do need to get out and experience the real life. right now i am stuck in this intense academic workload and i am scared of having to do it again.

with regards to jobs, i actually do have one lined up already with the public sector. ( i am an international student and my home country's economy is not really affected by the crisis.) that is why i am confident to say that my profile can only improve esp if i am applying to mpp programs again.

the school i have accepted would not allow me to defer so i need to reapply. i'm now afraid i might piss them off by pulling out at this point, esp after they have allocated me some funding....i still like the school very much..


i can see good points on both sides of the spectrum but man...if i were you, i'd just go to school. You are straight out of undergrad, international, and you got funding at a top program in this economy. can't get any better than that. You must be an impressive candidate. Care to post your profile? I agree with you that getting into another program should be no problem with relevant experience down the road BUT the question is whether or not your current school will accept you then and with funding. If this is the school you'd like to go after you accumulate your experience, make sure that the job you have lined up can show a good fit with this program.
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