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Criteria that Constitutes Happiness



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!


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I found this advice to be very useful. I'm also torn between two schools, and when I think of which makes me happiest, it's a no brainer. Gracias!

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Thanks for the great advice. I'm going through the same situation right now and spending sleepless nights thinking over and over, and though I do know which of them makes me happy and excited, it now feels like a decision between compromise or persevere, and still unable to decide as my one decision is going to affect a lot more people than just me.

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Thanks for this post. I'm struggling right now myself between continuing in academia and entering my PhD or switching into physiotherapy. My external funding didn't come through, which is depressing because this is the first year I havn't held a scholarship since 2008. I'm also unsure if I'm "cut out" for academia. This isn't suggesting I'm not capable, but have the mental strength to deal with the ups and downs that come along with being an academic.


I'm so scared of choosing the option that I'll regret, this posts has given me insight that I need to trust my gut instincts!

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Hey there, I've been following most of your comments on this site and others because I seem to be in a very similar boat. I'm just now beginning the long and arduous process of applying to MLIS/MA programs, looking at Spring 2014 or Fall 2014 admission (I've been taking time off since graduating from undergrad in 2012). UMD is at the top of my list and I see that's what you've chosen. I've got a couple of questions for you regarding it.


1. Are you doing the dual MLIS/MA in History program? If so, what is your focus going to be? If not, what program are you doing?


2. In looking for dual MLIS/MA in Public History programs, were you able to find many? All I've found so far is Dominican & Loyola University, University of South Carolina, and University of North Carolina. I've read that Long Island University and NYU have a dual degree, but I'm not sure if it's history or public history.


3. How did you Statement of Purpose wind up going? I think I'm most terrified about that. I saw on another forum you posted about yours when you were in the early stages of applying. I'd be eternally grateful for any guidance.


4. I also saw you post in another forum about the anxiety and self-loathing associated with graduate applications. One of my biggest fears is that I'm not 'worthy' of these programs. Although I graduated with a 3.47 from a public ivy and interned for a year with a local museum, I've never written a solid research paper or been published in any journals. I worry that I'll run headlong into these applications proclaiming, "I want to attend X because I love libraries and books and museums and history and can't imagine doing anything else!" rather than focusing on my 'unique' set of skills and why I stand out among a horde of other applicants who may have similar (or more qualified) backgrounds. Am I crazy to be so worked up about that?


Anyway, congratulations on your admission and thanks in advance for any guidance!

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It is hard to be happy it is even harder to know what would make you happy when you have so many dreams and very little options or doors open you feel desperate and never fullfillied 

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Haifa, that is just one outlook on life. Many others exist, however, you need to dare to dream. Most everyone has felt desperate and unfulfilled at some point in their lives but that need not be permanent.

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