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Hi everyone! I'm new to thegradcafe.com but I desperately need some advice, guidance, ideas, etc. I'm really torn as to what my next move is academically and life-wise. I will be graduating in the spring of 2017 with an overall GPA of 3.2, my degree will be a BA in Political Science with a French minor. I want to go on to get an MA & PhD. The two fields I am leaning towards are History and English/Writing. Clearly I don't have a high enough GPA to get into an upper-level school, so to speak. However, I really want to get my PhD from a top 20 school. My GRE scores were: 148 quant, 162 verbal, 5 writing. I plan to retake the GRE in the spring to see if I can get higher scores. So, what next steps would you recommend? Here is what I've considered. -Go home, work for a year (maybe two) and attend a local university to take one or two graduate courses to make a firm decision on what to get my degrees in. Then apply for an MA/PhD program or just an MA and then my PhD at another school. -Begin an MA program at my state school (a good one) and get that degree, then go on to a top 20 school for my PhD. Basically what I'm wondering is this: -With my current academic standing, would it be beneficial for me to take a few grad courses at my local school, excel in them and then attend a matriculating MA program somewhere that better suits my interests? -Is it frowned upon to get an MA at one university and go to a different one for a PhD? -Would working for a year or two while taking classes (and getting the best grades possible) improve my application package for programs? -Should I take some extra undergrad classes at my local university in history or english since those fields weren't my major field? -Is there any chance, if I excel in an MA program and prove to be a valuable asset, I could be fully funded for a PhD program/get assistantships, etc? -Is there a chance I could go to a lower-ranking school for my MA and potentially get funding if my GRE scores were fantastic? -Is it bad to take a few years away from my undergrad, work and such, and then formally apply for an MA program? I'm dead set on getting a PhD so I know I will go back to school no matter what. I'm leaning towards going home to work, save money, and try a grad class or two to confirm it's what I want to pursue. However, what is realistic for me to pursue after I take those classes and excel? Thank you so much for your time and thoughts! Any and all advice is welcome.