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About this blog

My journey for acceptance (and funding!) to a dual Master's in Library Science and Public History

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When I was deciding between Maryland and IUPUI, I was weighing the lesser amount of debt versus connections. Or at least, I thought I was. But then someone told me this:

Pick the place that will make you the happiest, but remember that you always have the right to change your mind about what criteria constitute happiness.

I love that quote. It told me that I wasn't choosing Maryland because of the connections. It was telling me I could be the happiest at Maryland. I made the decision to become a Terrapin two weeks ago and I honestly think it's the best decision I've made. I could not, for the life of me, get excited about IUPUI. It is a great school and I refuse to knock it at all. But I just couldn't get excited about going there. Maryland, well, I was calling the director of student services with a huge grin on my face, scoping out apartments even though it's a little early, and just... seriously, you couldn't get the smile off of my face.

I know I will have more debt at Maryland. I know I might be living off of ramen for the next three years. But I also know that I am going to be in my favorite city in the world (it even beats some of my favorites in Europe) and I am going to have so many doors opened to me. I am required to do a field study as part of my program. The list of institutions Maryland does field study with is long and includes places like the Shakespeare Library, the Smithsonians, the National Archives, Library of Congress - the list goes on. My adviser for my Archives Specialization worked at the National Archives for 30 years and loves helping students get there.

Needless to say, I'm over the moon. It has been a long, long journey. What I thought would make me happy has changed throughout this journey. I've thought less debt, a cheaper city, etc. at one point would make me happy. I thought staying in my study abroad city would make me happy. I thought being done in one year would make me happy. In the end, it's Maryland for a number of reasons.

For all those who are still deciding, I wish you all the best! For all that have decided, congrats! For those who are looking to apply next year or reapply next year, take a deep breath. We all will make it!


When I first entered the grad school process I thought I would have decided eons before April 15th. I thought I knew exactly where I wanted to go, why, and had even started scoping out potential places to live. That was October.

I still haven't decided but, I think it's time for my biggest lessons learned list..

Don't get your heart set on one place - or try not to!

When I first started this process I only saw myself at South Carolina. Then when I was rejected there, I moved onto my favorite being in the UK. Now, my favorite is wherever they give me money.

Remember everyone gets rejections

My first rejection I didn't take too hard. It was my second. My entire family was shocked. My advisor, however, reminded me that he got rejections when he applied for his PhD. And he turned out fine. In fact, he turned out brilliantly and exactly where I think he is meant to be. Rejections are not the end of the world. And while the first month or so after being rejected from South Carolina I couldn't figure out why, I came to a realization. It was for the best. It wasn't because I wasn't good enough. It was because it was suppose to happen.

Karma doesn't exist; Fate does

I said that I would get rejected from one program because of a letter of recommendation and how I didn't quite listen to one professor when she suggested how to reform a paper that she would base her letter of recommendation on. Well, I got accepted to that program. I'm not a religious person so I call it fate. If you want to call it divine intervention, then by all means, go for it. But I think there was some sort of plan that said "What's meant to happen will."

Take up a hobby - throw yourself into work

In the tense month of February when we were all waiting for answers, I was like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. But I took up cross-stitching again to relax me. I took long walks on the beach (no joke!). I baked. And I threw myself into my senior thesis that's due at the end of April. The busier I was, the less time I had to freak out. And the more I worked on academic things, the more my mind cleared about what was coming ahead.

My final lesson learns comes from a quote from Harry Potter, said by Hagrid. "What's coming is coming, and we'll meet it when it does."

Any big lessons you guys learned that I missed?


The Citizenship Issue

In the UK, there are two tiers of fees: UK/EU and International. The EU has worked really, really hard to make it so you don't need a visa to live and travel within the EU and you get equal treatment in regards to fees for universities. It's a great, amazing, concept for my friend who is Greek and gets the same fee for Aberystwyth as his friend who is from Leeds. It's not such a great concept for me, an American. I am International according to Aber.

The difference in price is one I can swallow, albeit a little painfully: 6,250 pounds or about $10,000. If there was absolutely nothing I could do about this, I would say "Fine, okay. I knew this coming in." But there is something I can do.

I qualify for dual citizenship with Germany through an odd clause in their citizenship laws provided my Mom got her citizenship as well. I've seriously considered doing this many, many a time, for the fact I could save $10,000. So why don't I?

There's a little thing called "divided loyalties" in the US Government. It's a huge thing in getting security clearance for government jobs. Heck, even for internships. When I interned (no pay) at the Smithsonian, I had to go through a background check. They are looking for risk and your loyalty to the United States. Fair enough. But if they question my loyalty because of a foreign exchange student living in our house when I was thirteen, what would they say to my voluntarily taking on German citizenship (even if the US doesn't recognize it)?

I don't know if I'll end up in the US Government but I know I don't want to rule it out. And so, I shall cough up the extra $10,000. Such is the problem of being International and not EU, or more specifically, being American.

Economically, the UK still makes the most sense for me. I hate that economics have to be such a big factor in my decision - they certainly weren't in my undergrad decision - but they will. So any money I can save, I'll try.

In other news, writing my senior thesis (diss), quoting Doctor Who in it, and waiting for the inevitable rejections to a few more schools.


Transitions v. Parents

First off, congrats to everyone who has gotten an acceptance! Second, hugs and much tea and choice of wallowing food for those who have had nothing but rejections or have been rejected to their top choice.

I am sitting with two acceptances right now. And i'm ready to make a decision. I'm ready to start looking at housing for my new program and figuring out if I can get a job in that city. I don't have to officially decide until April 15th for a US program or actually, August, for my other program. So why am I ready to decide now, when all the options aren't in? And what does this have to do with my parents?

Right, so, little back story. I am a DoD brat (sounds a bit nicer than Army brat) and I've moved three times in my life, five if you count undergraduate and study abroad. I'm used to living in a place for 5-7 years and then moving again. In fact, since my parents have been married, they haven't lived in one place longer than 7 years. Needless to say, the transitioning constantly has put a bit of wear on me emotionally.

I know for a fact that wherever I got to graduate school (with the exception of Maryland, perhaps), I will move shortly after graduation for a job. So, in my mind I'm going "Okay, I move from study abroad to either home/DC for the summer, then move to who knows where for three years of graduate school, finally get comfortable and then move again for a job." And to me, that doesn't add up. It's too much transitioning for me. Too much uncertainty, and this feeling that I'll never really get comfortable anywhere because I'm so used to just picking myself up and plopping down in another place.

The UK Master's I'm looking at is a one year program. It's at my study abroad institution so I don't have to move cities (housing, yes). Almost all of my friends at said institution are second year undergrads so they'll be around for the one year I would stay there for. I know the city, and as infuriating as Welsh trains are, it's a nice place to live. A wee bit expensive, but nice.

And then there's tuition. If I got absolutely no funding at my top US choice, it would be double the price of a degree at Aber. So yes, the UK is looking pretty good. I've gotten over the ALA/CILIP accredidation kerfluffle and I'm ready to get my dissertation done and graduate from undergrad and move onto the next step.

But... my parents do have a point. I'm guaranteed housing at Aber so I technically don't have to sign a rent contract if I don't want to. I am probably going to get funding at least one university, despite my being MA and the other degree being Library Science which rarely funds. And maybe that will make the cost comparison at least equal, if not tipped in the US's favor.

But three years for two master's, versus 1 year for one when I'm pretty sure I'll be getting either a second Master's, PhD, or law degree at some point after the first/second masters? I love school but not *that* much.

Everything seems to be pointing in one direction but I shall wait. In the meantime, if any of the MLIS's or Public History/Public Humanities MAs want to send out decisions, I'll be happy to consider them!


Where We Read to Forget

I have gotten two acceptances so far - Indiana University's SLIS program and Aberystwyth University's MSEcon in Archives Administration. To those of you who are still waiting, I promise you, the email/letter/phone call you get with your first acceptance (or second) will make the work and the wait worth it.

While I've pretty much decided where I am going, I am waiting for those other decisions. I have to weigh costs of a one year program with a crappy exchange rate (seriously, dollar-pound can you be closer to 1-1 like NOW?) versus a 3 year out-of-state program where I might get half-funding and in-state for the rest. Not entirely sure how that is going to pan out but... I am in a better situation than most. I am graduating from undergrad with absolutely no debt and I have somewhere between $10k and $20k in my college savings leftover for graduate school. So I really can't complain.

What I can complain about is the constant on-my-mind-ness of decisions. And this comes at absolutely THE worst time in the year. I'm starting my new semester today with two very reading-intensive classes, the unofficial class where I write my dissertation (senior thesis). I'm representing my school at two international Model United Nations conferences within the next five weeks and still have to prep for those. And naturally, my social life decided to blossom this semester. Funny how that works.

Anyway, the last thing I want on my mind is graduate school decisions. It just takes up too much time, takes away too much focus and generally makes me a cranky person. I believe my flat can attest to that when in a span of less than 15 minutes I managed to insult all five of them.

So what am I doing? I'm throwing myself into my reading. I may be the weirdest person in the world to throw myself into readings about genocide, mass killings and oral history along with dissertation readings on Slovakia but it helps. It honestly does.

For those of you working, throw yourself into a project. For those with time off: throw yourself into SOMETHING. And for us still in academia - throw ourselves into that. It helps. Trust me. The first half hour of reading is hard but then your focus returns.

Don't worry everyone! We can do this!


First Acceptance!!!

I got my first acceptance in the mail today!

I was going through the mail today and there was a letter from Indiana University. It was an acceptance letter!

Words cannot express how happy I am that I got accepted. Not that I got accepted to Indiana, per se, but that I got accepted. Huzzah! I was so worried that nobody would accept me, especially after a fiasco with one of my recommenders.

For you non-History majors, I had the lovely experience of getting to read one of my letters that had gotten sent to all of my US applications. In the letter, the recommender said I was good at cleaning and not good at original historical research. It was definitely a blow to my confidence.

So to get a letter from Indiana saying "We want you." (Well, I have no idea how much they want me because financial aid is a separate process) made me feel more confident in what I am doing and that the one letter didn't damn me.

Also, I'm happy that I got my first acceptance over with. It makes me less anxious about the other schools knowing I have at least one school I can go to.

Definitely, definitely happy about this! For everyone still waiting, keep hope! And don't obsessively check your email. But make sure to check your snail mail!


Applications are now mostly in. Some schools lost some things and I need to resend them what they need. And then, on a whim, I decided to apply to St. Andrew's. For a Master's of Literature in Peace and Conflict Studies.

Yes, I'm the History major who has applied to six schools with Archives or Public History programs. Yes, Peace and Conflict Studies leads me to an entirely new direction that I'm not sure how it would end.

And I'm okay with that.

My research has always been focused on the people side of events, not the politics, not the military and certainly not the economics. I knew I was doing social history long before I knew it was called social history. But then I started narrowing my focus. I ended up with the people's reaction to the transition from Communism to democracy in Eastern Europe, specifically Czechoslovakia. When I told my sister this (finishing up her own Master's in International Politics), she said "That's not social history. That's network theory."

Poli Sci term for a History idea. Okay, I could live with that.

Except it kept being brought up. I joined a politically-minded club on campus (Model United Nations) and everyone just assumed I was an InterPol student. In fact, someone told me I should really really consider doing a master's in International Politics of some sort. It was another person who said, "Hey, you would be great at looking at either social contention or ethnic law."

St. Andrew's had always been in the back of my mind since my best friend in Wales told me about it. But now I'm going for it.

So the final message is this:

Don't be afraid to chase two completely different dreams. If you are torn between two dreams, it's not because you're flighty. It's because there is more than one option and you're not a one option person.

Cheers and Happy Holidays to all!


Hi all!

I'm a senior history major from a small, liberal arts college in the Midwest. However, my last year I'm here in Wales, doing my senior honors thesis (dissertation in the UK) and travelling about. I'm applying to one school in the UK and 5 in the U.S. With the exception of Brown and Aberystwyth University, all of the programs are two master's - one in Library Science, another in Public History. My dream is to become an archivist and this is my path. Any questions - ask! I'm bad at the whole "talk about yourself" bit.

With the exception of my Aberystwyth application, all my applications are submitted, paid for (Thank you universities for charging between $50 and $75 a piece!) and are waiting.

This is the part I hate. My job is done. I have written the best SOP I can, I've polished my writing sample until I was sick of it. I've done everything I can do. And now, it's up to my three recommenders to make sure they get their letters in on time.

It's nerve-wracking I tell you! I'm 2000 miles away from my home university, less for one of my recommenders, and there's a 5-6 hour time difference. Yes, the time change works in my favor for deadlines. Still - all I can do is email my recommenders (or Facebook) until their inboxes are flooded and then the university email system shuts down. That's all I can do. I could call, but that's also not cost productive being in Wales.

I know that my recommenders are busy people. And I trust them to get everything in on time. But no matter how many times I tell myself, "The first deadline isn't until the 15th, they've got time," I want to run screaming, swim the Atlantic ocean and show up at their door saying, "Why haven't you submitted the letter yet?!" Common sense is stopping me. That, and I won't even put a toe in Ceredigion Bay which I live on. Can't imagine putting my whole body in the ocean at this time of year!