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I have several questions concerning the graduate school application process. Rather than post them throughout the forum, I figured I would just place it all here as they all interrelate. I promise though they all pertain to sociology graduate school.

So here goes. I graduated from a small liberal arts college at the end of this past May. I majored in Sociology, as well as history. I also minored in a foreign language. I graduated with a 4.0 in both majors/minor and an overall GPA of 3.9 (I only had two A-). In regard to sociology, I worked as a research assistant for the department and presented papers at several conferences this past year. I also wrote an undergraduate thesis in history and was involved in numerous extracurricular activities/leadership roles over the past two years especially.

Now here’s the tricky part-I am currently enrolled in a Master of Arts in Teaching program for History at the same institution. When applications came around last year I had not taken the GRE, mostly because I was overwhelmed with so many other things. I have always contemplated a career in teaching, like history, did not need the GRE to apply, and received a near full scholarship, so figured, why not? The program is one year long, so I will have a MAT next May. Perhaps this was a mistake on my part, but my real aim is to acquire an academic degree in sociology. I have been looking into programs over the past few months. I would have everything to apply for another round, minus still having to take the GRE and writing a SOP.

Now here are my questions:

-Would it be stupid of me to graduate with a MAT and not actually use it and/or to apply this fall for a program in sociology?

-Would the fact that I am currently in a MAT program work against me if I were to apply?

-Regarding the GRE, how exactly imperative are such scores for a sociology program generally (I know it varies by school/program of course!). I am most concerned with math, as I am definitely rusty in that area. Is it worth taking a course (Kaplan, Princeton Review).

-If I taught for a while, could I always return to sociology?

Sorry for the long post. I just feel so lost, which is odd because everyone keeps telling me how lucky I am to “know” what I am doing, since I am in grad school. Again, I know this is my fault. I panicked and went to a program without fully thinking things through. I should also add, I have had a 4.0 start in the new graduate program.

Any advice is greatly appreciated! Thank you!

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I don't think having a masters would go against you, it just might not really help you either.

It sounds like you already have a strong academic record so I think you could probably get into a PhD program just with your BA work alone. In some situations a Masters is nice because it conveys your seriousness and ability to do research if the program has a thesis attached to it (it can also make up for a less than stellar BA background). I guess one question is how much is the masters going to cost you? You mentioned you got a fellowship for most of it, but I imagine there will still be a portion that you will have to pay out of pocket or take out a loan. In which case what are you plans with this masters? I think if you have interests in teaching for a few years and want to hold off the PhD for a bit, it probably makes sense. You can teach at junior colleges or even some state schools with a masters so if it serves this purpose for you, go for it.

I don't think most PhD programs would hold that against you (personally I'm not a big fan of people who directly go from undergrad to PhD--it's good on many levels to do something else for a bit). But like I said it may not help you in an additive sense to have a masters get into a PhD program itself. I guess you should ask yourself, what kind of training am I getting with this masters? What can I do with it?

In terms of math/GREs:

If you are thinking about taking the GRE I highly recommend giving yourself a few months to go over some basic junior hight math--I think I bought this Kaplan or some other general book on math that had all these lessons going over basic algebra/trig concepts. Take a practice test of course, but i would say it's more important to brush up on some basics first before getting into the strategies of taking the GRE. I did this the summer before I took the GRE's and relearned all this basic stuff related to "FOIL" and general algebra. In the end I got a 740 on the math section which I was surprised with. The test seemed really hard on the actual day but that's because I was answering most of the questions correctly (which increases the difficulty of the subsequent questions). The questions never went beyond trig or pre-calculus I feel, but rather the increasing difficulty tested one's familiarity and comfort with the basic concepts.

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