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Accept a (mostly) unfunded MA offer?

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Hi all. I was accepted to two MA programs, Boston College and NYU.

NYU offered no funding, but Boston College offered a TA position/stipend of 18k. My POI at Boston College was enthusiastic when I applied and I would love to work with him.

If you were me, would you wait to apply again next year to secure full funding or should I cut my losses and accept the offer from Boston? The program is incredibly expensive and I would most definitely have to find outside employment. I really, really don't want to take on anymore student loans.

I have a plan on how to improve my application for next year if I wait to try again. It includes trying to get something published, attending (2) conferences related to my field, and also taking a year long course in an additional language (already have French.) I currently work for a university, so I get to take advantage of free classes.

My gut feeling is to wait and apply again next year, but I am open to insight. My field is modern British history.

Thank you!

 

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I would go with your gut. NYU's offer is a cash cow. I've never heard anything positive about that program. Boston College's offer may have strings that prevent outside work or make outside work very difficult.

From my perspective, your off year plan is very solid. If possible, I would incorporate sources in that language into your writing sample. It would definitely show off your abilities.

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15 minutes ago, psstein said:

I would go with your gut. NYU's offer is a cash cow. I've never heard anything positive about that program. Boston College's offer may have strings that prevent outside work or make outside work very difficult.

From my perspective, your off year plan is very solid. If possible, I would incorporate sources in that language into your writing sample. It would definitely show off your abilities.

Thank you for your candid answer. I really think I can get better funding offers if I improve on a few things. 

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Seconded. I think taking time off is a better plan than throwing money into one of these cash cows which may or may not end up helping you. 

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I (somewhat) disagree. 

While revising your personal finances is, of course, urgently important, a MA can help you build more academic capital than taking the year off, especially since you were admitted to two excellent programs. 

Together with your finances, make sure to weigh in your professional goals with each school’s resources beyond your potential POIs. Do they offer the possibility of working elsewhere? Do students typically stay for the PhD? What resources do they offer to support graduate students? Eg, both are in expensive cities, who do MAs deal with expenses? Do you need/would have access to language training that you would otherwise be unable to complete? What internships do they offer? Etc. 

I’m all for not mortgaging your future if you can avoid it. I’m also all for getting a job before doing a PhD. But as faculty, and with colleagues in both programs, I’m also convinced that sometimes the MA prepares you for the doctoral program in ways that only you can discern. All I’m saying is weigh in everything. 

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Posted (edited)

Academia is a ticking time bomb, and COVID-19 erased most of the time left on the clock. If you have any ambitions to work in academe, go with the cheapest option. Or don’t go at all.

Edited by AfricanusCrowther

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, AfricanusCrowther said:

Academia is a ticking time bomb, and COVID-19 erased most of the time left on the clock. If you have any ambitions to work in academe, go with the cheapest option. Or don’t go at all.

One of the several reasons I got out is that I saw the writing on the wall. It's not a popular opinion, but working 7-9+ years (longer, if you include post-docs) to take a job in an undesirable location for relatively low pay wasn't for me. Yes, yes, I know "nobody does it for the money," but at the end of the day, most of us want to eat and have some modest standard of living.

I've a strong feeling that administrators will use this crisis to push remote instruction, just like they used 2008 to push part-time/adjunct faculty.

As I've said before, NOT GOING is a choice. It's arguably the wisest one.

Edited by psstein

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6 hours ago, psstein said:

One of the several reasons I got out is that I saw the writing on the wall. It's not a popular opinion, but working 7-9+ years (longer, if you include post-docs) to take a job in an undesirable location for relatively low pay wasn't for me. Yes, yes, I know "nobody does it for the money," but at the end of the day, most of us want to eat and have some modest standard of living.

I've a strong feeling that administrators will use this crisis to push remote instruction, just like they used 2008 to push part-time/adjunct faculty.

As I've said before, NOT GOING is a choice. It's arguably the wisest one.

What's been discussed is that so much depends on how the undergrads feel.  If most come back in the fall when the in-person option is available, then it's a signal that undergrads WANT that brick-and-mortar.  If undergrads come back in the fall when campuses are still shut down, then it's a signal to the admin that online education is preferable.  In an ideal world, we'd like for campuses to re-open for in-person interactions so undergrads can demonstrate that they prefer that over online.  Apparently student evaluations will still be used this semester so the admins will definitely see a poor showing there. Personally, I'm not the kind of person who would go for online education myself.... if I was 18 all over again, I'd just defer my admission/take a leave of absence.

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