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Deciding to bring family with you to grad school: Question on your though process


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I just got accepted to a one year program and would have to travel across an ocean and then some if I were to take the course.  Obviously I would prefer to bring my family with me, but now that I got accepted it is time to stop daydreaming and start thinking concretely, especially since I did not get any funding.  Many people have brought their families over and to those people I would like to ask how they decided on that financially.  The cost of tuition alone is substantive in addition to a year without income, but to add to that no income from your spouse as well (my spouse earns about 50% of our income), it just seems like an insurmountable challenge.  Let alone that I have 3 kids as well (they get free schooling now).

For those similarly situated (i.e. no funding, working spouse, lots of kids but brought everyone over) I would like to know your thought process on how you reached that decision. 

It seems the financially sound thing to do is to go by myself, but I am not sure a year away from my kids is something I am prepared to do.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I guess the first question I would ask is whether you need the degree in the first place. If there's no funding, and you have to be away from your family for a year, it seems like there would have to be a really compelling reason to get the degree. Will it get you a better job? A slightly better income? Are any of those guaranteed or are you getting the degree in the hopes of it? 

Of course, you should do what you think is best and what works for your family. I would not do that unless I really could see a path toward some substantial benefits from the degree program. I was accepted to a great program with great funding that I declined so I didn't have to leave my family. But, that's just me. On the other hand, my husband's work takes him away frequently for long periods of time and that's just what has to be done for him to keep his job so it doesn't seem like an option.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Somehow I missed to be notified of your reply. Thanks.  The idea of course is for the degree to improve my job options and income in the future, but nothing is ever certain.  Its not an MD or JD  or MBA that would massively bump my earning potential, but it would probably improve my chances in a competitive job market.    I don't know if I should just suck it up for one year or give up.  If I were to separate all the other issues (i.e. financial, professional, etc.) the latter is based only on emotions.  Of course that doesn't make it invalid.  Another option of course is to try again next year where there MAY be a better chance we can be together, but that is an even bigger if.

How long ago did you give up on the program you got accepted for?  Do you sometimes regret it?

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Funding for professional master's programs is rare, funding that covers living expenses is rarer, and funding that will be enough to support a wife and 3 children is infeasible. Maybe if your country has a program that sends students to America, you can see if they'd give you that volume of funding, but it's not something you can expect from a university. If you need a visa, keep in mind that an F2 spouse would not be eligible to work and, while a J2 spouse can work, right now it takes about 6 months to get a work permit and since you'll be in the country for two semesters, your spouse will probably have barely any time to use it. So it's going to be a completely wasted year career-wise for her. 

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7 hours ago, escondido41 said:

Yes I am aware about funding limits.  In fact my question is how people still manage to bring their whole family over despite this limitation or the challenges of being away from them. 

They're rich and can afford to.

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On 4/23/2021 at 6:47 AM, ExponentialDecay said:

They're rich and can afford to.

At best, this is  anecdotal, and at worse, unsubstantiated and just flippant.

I have been a visiting faculty at one of the premier schools several times in my career, and that is is just not true. While there are certainly some individuals that have significant resources, it’s an outlier, and moreover, most of the students I have observed with families in tow, have fairly limited resources.

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On 4/25/2021 at 4:15 AM, Boolakanaka said:

At best, this is  anecdotal, and at worse, unsubstantiated and just flippant.

I have been a visiting faculty at one of the premier schools several times in my career, and that is is just not true. While there are certainly some individuals that have significant resources, it’s an outlier, and moreover, most of the students I have observed with families in tow, have fairly limited resources.

Thanks for the input. Among those you have observed, were there a significant number of those whose partner stopped working to be together with the student spouse?  I am very curious how they were able to decide on foregoing both their income (plus the expense of grad school) so they can be together.

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