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ay761

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    2013 Fall

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  1. I have returned to grad school after many (5+) years away. I came back because although I have worked a lot of jobs and had a lot of experience I realized that going down the academic path was what I really wanted to do, despite the fact I was making good money elsewhere. I came to a 2 year masters program to try and make myself a more competitive PhD applicant. I took a lot on straight from the beginning, working 20-30 hours per week this past first semester - including starting one high pressure job this past month that covers my full tuition but requires me to live under the constant fear of being fired (the manager always threatens everyone, myself included, and often does actually fire people). Now my grades are in, and they have suffered. I got a B, B+ and an A- ... 3.3 GPA. I was planning on applying next fall for PhD programs... should I even bother considering that now, given those grades? My GRE scores were also not high when I took them... 159 verbal (85%), 149 math(40%). I can retake them and get them up but I'm not sure by how much. I could quit my RA job that is paying all my tuition yet making my life a living hell (it's not very related to my field of interest anyway), pay tuition with savings and be completely broke when I graduate at the age of 30+ (it's probably worth noting that my family is broke as well). I know I didn't put my full effort into the class I got a B in (plus the professor and I disagree ideologically and everyone knows he takes that into consideration when grading), but the A- class... I really felt I produced my best work, I truly enjoyed writing the final paper, and put 150% effort into it, lost many nights of sleep. If that's the best I can do... maybe I should consider a career change... even though I have already experimented with other things, and know that I love writing and research. I don't know what I should do, and feel that I am quickly slipping into a state of depression...
  2. I have a question in regards to this. I am in the field of education and came to this masters program specifically in part because I thought we had the option of completing a thesis (it's a two year program and all the rest I was considering were one year). As it turns out, our two options are taking comprehensive exams or completing something called a "capstone" project that is about 40-50 pages long and doesn't involve original research. I have been told that the department feels that original research is something done for a dissertation and not to be done at the masters level... in part because there is no time. I can understand why they think there is no time now that I am here and realize how busy my schedule will be, even during the summer, but it still worries me. I really want to apply for PhD programs... is this going to hurt me? I guess I can potentially get a writing sample out of it or another paper I complete, but will it hurt if it doesn't involve original research? If I do a lot of internships, RA / TA positions etc. will it help make up for this? Thanks.
  3. Good question. I am moving on July 26th from overseas, but the apartments I am finding that I'm interested in seem to have lease start-dates around the beginning of July... so I am considering paying in advance, and trying to secure an apartment from overseas just by using googlemaps, skype, photos etc. Not sure if that will work out. Otherwise I guess I'll be living out of a hotel for a few days while I apartment search like crazy. What is everyone else doing?
  4. This is a good question and I wish someone had asked it (or I had asked it) before I applied this season. For what it's worth, I just applied to a mixture of PhD programs and masters programs (in the field of comparative education). I am sure I want to pursue a PhD, but decided to apply to masters programs as back-up options. I had a focused application and did well in a well-ranked undergrad institution (3.5 overall GPA, 3.8 major GPA, won various awards etc., did not major in education), good letters of rec, and have 4 years of overseas teaching experience + various volunteer experience (however your GRE scores are significantly higher than mine - I had 159 v and 149 m, 4.5 writing). In the end, I was rejected from all the PhD programs I applied to and accepted to all the masters programs I applied to. Furthermore, all the people I have spoken to on this forum who got into the PhD programs I was rejected from already had a masters degree (also every doctoral student I talked to in these programs had masters degrees before applying). Then again, that could be due to chance, and my rejection could be based on something else entirely, such as the not so great GRE scores. So I am attending a masters program, and in the end have decided to go with the one that gave me the best scholarship + graduate assistantship. In you case, since it sounds like you won't be losing much money, I would go!
  5. Thank you for this excellent response! You have really helped me think about the issue a lot more clearly. To respond to your question, though: "I'm assuming there is several people who think your work is useful/important otherwise why would you have applied there?" Actually to be honest, I applied to a mixture of both PhD programs and some masters programs as back-up options. The PhD applications took all of my energy / program researching time so I didn't research the masters programs nearly as thoroughly. In the end I got accepted to all the masters programs and rejected from all the PhD programs. The director of this program is actually the person who started the program at his school, and he has been the director for many, many years. It seems like maybe everyone in the department shares this particular professor's opinions - but I am not 100% sure on that. I guess I am a little worried about whether or not I will find it dispiriting if everyone in the department - and maybe even the other masters students - share these opinions about social theory being irrelevant to the field. From the course descriptions, it does seem that the program really and truly manages to avoid theory. At School B, I know hands down my advisor is amazing and students have even told me they have fought to work with her, so I am really lucky. At School A I just can't seem to get any direct feedback one way or the other about the quality of the faculty in my particular department - though I heard from a PhD student at school B who did her masters at school A (in a different department in my same field) that although on the whole it was much less engaged with theory than school B, she really appreciated her time there and the focus on policy issues from a practitioner's point of view. I have been out of school for about 8 years now so I am unfortunately not as close to my undergrad advisors anymore, though they all wrote me good recommendation letters, I think that is about the extent of their helping in this process. I haven't been able to visit any departments - I live far away, overseas, so it has been difficult communicating with people about these things. Anyway, at the end of the day, and taking money issues in consideration, and since I already have a strong background in theory from undergrad, I think I will take a risk and just hope this experience contributes to my intellectual growth. Maybe having conflicting opinions with people in the department will inspire me to work even harder. My undergrad experience was probably just 'too easy' in the sense that everyone agreed with everyone else and it was all perfectly harmonious. Here's hoping it works out! Thanks a lot for the great advice
  6. Without being too specific, I am deciding between two masters programs (and intend on later pursing a PhD). Program A is a 2 year program and has offered me a nice scholarship and when combined with an RA or TA position (which are readily available even at the masters level) tuition would be basically free, and I may even possibly receive a living stipend (and living expenses in this location are very cheap, anyway). In a 2 year program, I would have time to write a quality thesis and would have time to complete a summer practicum - things that may prepare me quite nicely for a PhD program. Overall, I think the max I would spend is $30,000 for this two year program, assuming that I won't be receiving a stipend for living expenses (which apparently at least half the students do). Program B is a 1 year program and has offered me no financial aid (they say they don't for any MA students) and has no RA or TA positions available for masters students, so when combined with living expenses I can expect to pay about $55,000. One plus of Program B is that (according to my potential advisor) acceptance to their masters program virtually guarantees admission to their PhD program (although - students in the PhD program are struggling with funding as well and barely making enough to cover living expenses). In terms of fit, it is clear to me that I am better suited towards Program B. In addition to working with an advisor (a Marxist) whose work (in critical social theory) I have admired for a long time, I recently read a paper written by the director of Program A which basically said critical social theory is irrelevant to the discipline and the focus (of this emerging discipline) should be entirely on economics and policy, and wherein he established himself as a firm proponent of neoliberalism. I come from a very theoretical liberal arts background (undergrad) so - although I strongly disagree with him and find the course list at Program B much more appealing - there is still something appealing to me about developing a firm foundation in policy and economics in Program A (and saving a ton of money in the process). So my question is.... Is it a bad idea to go to a department where I'm fairly certain I disagree politically and even on things like what problems my field should address, and how they should go about addressing them? Or could it potentially be a positive thing.... expanding my intellectual horizons? Since the director of Program A has spoken (very loudly) about his disapproval of critical social theory, theories of marginalization etc. in the discipline, do you think that will hurt my application to PhD programs later on which see critical theory a necessary component (both in terms of recommendations and program reputation)? Am I making a big mistake by considering this option?
  7. Yeah great deal unless you are in a 1 year program! haha
  8. Lbessmer - the organizer of my cohort said that you can (and everyone in fact does) become a resident after 1 year. I think what you say is true for undergraduate students, but not independent graduate students. Undergraduate / dependent students are required to have their parents move to the state of california before they will be considered a resident. You can show that you "intend to make california your home" by getting a CA drivers license, filing for state taxes in CA, filing out a voter's registration form, etc. Although I can't find anything specifically that states this on UCLA's website, it does say this on Berkeley's website: "If you are not a resident of California, you will need to know the current requirements for establishing legal residency. In most cases, graduate students can qualify for legal residency by their second year of graduate school, thereby significantly reducing their tuition and fees (by approximately $15,000* for academic programs or approximately $12,200* for professional programs)."
  9. Thanks again Psychgirl, I really like the idea of exposure therapy and I'd never heard of it before, so I will definitely be looking into that as soon as I arrive on campus. I doubt web based would help me... for some reason Skype doesn't seem nearly as scary as being physically present. Maybe because I feel very distant from it. arnds - thanks for the advice. I think though I'd rather try and work through it without medicine first because, after all, speaking is something I'll have to do in every class all through grad school and later in my professional career. However that might be a good suggestion for really big things like my first conference presentation.
  10. I think that's good advice, HigherEd - thank you. I don't have any plans for anything immediate like children or marriage etc. I think I just worry about money more than most because my parents are on the verge of bankruptcy / unemployed / no retirement fund etc.. so I have literally saved every extra penny I could, from the time I graduated. But actually I originally thought the SSCE program was 2 years (one of the professors even told me that...?)... but it turns out it is only 1 year! I guess that's kind of good news financially (but not really since I would be saving tons on in-state-residency tuition during the second year anyway). Therefore, I wouldn't have the time to complete a thesis (I have been told that 90% of students choose to go the comprehensive exam route because there is simply no time). I guess I'll see what my options are for sticking around longer, and doing a thesis. Otherwise, I wonder how valuable an MA really is (in terms of applying for PhDs)... if there is no thesis? I think it might be fairly easy to move into the PhD program at UCLA afterwards (so I've been told), but even PhD students there are saying they often don't make enough to cover living expenses...
  11. ay761

    Los Angeles, CA

    Hey thanks a lot for the neighborhood advice, as well as that website suggestion! But.. yeah, I won't be taking a car. If I go, and I haven't even decided for sure yet, I will be paying out of state tuition for a 1 years masters program and I will be COMPLETELY BROKE at the end. And if I have a car, I'll be in debt, too! My whole purpose is to THROW myself into my studies, LOCK myself into a room and not join ANY sort of SCENE or otherwise SOCIAL ACTIVITY.... so that I can do damn good work and get into a funded PhD program at the end of it all. THEN I will reward myself with a car ... or if I fail I'll move back to NYC, or out of the country all together, to a place where cars are unnecessary
  12. ay761

    Los Angeles, CA

    Ghanada - thanks for this helpful post. The area that you mention - West LA. You say it is a long walk / shot bike ride / short bus ride. I'm going to be moving there without a car and looking for the absolute best price available (under $1000) for a studio or possibly a roommate, if I can find one (I also have a cat). When I'm searching on craigslist, what do you recommend I search for? Up until now I have only been looking for 'Westwood'. Should I include 'West LA' in my search, or is there a specific neighborhood name I should be looking for (to remain within walking distance)? Any names of areas you can recommend that I should search for, that are within walking distance would be really helpful. Thanks!
  13. That's an excellent suggestion (and yeah that does sound awesome but also terrifying!). Unfortunately I'm living and working on a rural island in Japan until the beginning of August so it isn't really an option ... :\ However there seem to be adult extended learning programs that offer public speaking classes once a week in the evenings on the campus.. so I'll look into getting into that as soon as possible.
  14. I haven't made a final decision yet, but I'm really leaning towards UCLA's masters program in education (SSCE). With out of state tuition + rent, you can imagine that I am terrified, and my bank account will be empty at the end. Sure hope I do well enough to get into a quality PhD program! I will also be moving from Japan and bringing a cat. If anyone is looking for a laid-back upper-20s female roommate (who has a cat) for a place somewhere near campus (won't have a car), please don't hesitate to contact me!
  15. Haha I misread this too and thought, 'hmmm maybe THAT would be an option if I can't find funding', haha.
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