I am agonizing over my decision of which masters program to attend. I have been accepted to the Univeristy of Chicago, George Washington U and Georgia St. U. I’m studying anthropology and intend to pursue a PhD with the goal of becoming a professor at a research institution. I’m in my mid 30s and changing career paths
I have partial funding offers from UofC and GWU and a no tuition with Grad Assitant position offer at Georgia St. I could probably attend either UofC or GWU without taking on debt, but I would be taking substantial amounts from personal savings that could obviously continue to grow or be used for other life things down the road like a house, traveling, emergencies, etc. I’m also married with four children. I’m really struggling with what to prioritize the most in my decision making.
UofC was my first choice coming into the application process and ideally would be where I receive a PhD from. Part of the reason for that though, is I have a strong desire to live in Chicago in the long run. I went to DePaul for undergrad for two years and had to leave because I had a child at age 20 and have been dreaming of getting back there ever since. I have returned a few times and still love it like the first time I set foot there. I haven’t seen the whole world, but a decent portion of it and Chicago is by far my favorite place. One of my good friends that lives there thinks I’m obsessing and there is probably merit to that.
While my stated goal is to be a research professor it is probably almost equally to be in Chicago. When the time comes I would take positions at pretty much any institution in Chicago over opportunities elsewhere no matter the prestige, from UofC, to UIC to Northwestern to Loyola, to good positions at the Field museum or the Chicago history museum or virtually any cultural institution in Chicago as long as it allowed me to support my family. I just want to do something I am passionate about, ie research/teach culture/history etc. That said, there’s no guarantee that positions at any of these places is available when I’m ready and I would be a fool not to go where the opportunity presents itself.
GWU is intriguing because it would give me an anthropology masters as well as a certification in museum studies, thus giving me opportunity to pursue a PhD as well as bolstering my resume for museum positions like those I listed. Georgia State is the least prestigious option, but I would spend the least money. Also there are three professors there closely aligned with my research interests including one that has Chicago ties. Her PhD is from UofC and her ongoing research is in conjunction with the Field Museum, which could prove beneficial in my pursuit of building a life in Chicago down the road.
As I write this I feel even more merit to my friends comment about my obsession lol. But it really is just a strong preference. I won’t limit my PhD applications to Chicago, nor my job search when the time comes. With that in mind, I’m struggling to decide what is the best path to take. Go to the best school possible (UofC), get to Chicago now and make my future PhD and job applications as appealing as possible as well as the ability to network in the city and see where I end up, go to GWU and have a path to a PhD as well as museum training giving me a wider path to finding a job I am happy with, or go to Georgia State, spend the least money, I presume get to work very closely with some faculty as a grad assistant, kick ass at a “lesser” institution and see where it takes me.
reading over this before I post I feel maybe I am going crazy but it is such a big decision and will have such a big impact on my future I am just feeling very anxious. I don’t want to make the wrong decision based on emotions or some long held desire to be in a specific place. I am struggling to prioritize the factors such as prestige, cost, and location. Ultimately, achieving my goals (a PhD and a job as a professor or within an institution such as a museum that could lead to a position such as a curator) and being able to provide for my family are the objectives. I apologize for my long-windedness and hopefully don’t sound like too much of a nut, I just wanted to provide as much info into my thought process as possible. 😏
thanks to any one who takes the time to read all that and respond