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Accepted but no funding


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I applied to one school and was accepted but was not offered funding. I could fund it myself without breaking the bank by keeping my current adjunct job teaching one class a semester. I have also thought of waiting until next year and applying to more schools. But I am not sure that I will be as motivated if I wait, and that would mean moving the family. The one school I applied to is local, so it would be much easier on the family, so I was leaning towards that. But then someone told me it looks very bad if you pay for your doctorate because it means the school doesn't really feel you are a worthwhile student.

Thoughts?

~palla

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palla,

It appears to me that the school thinks you are worthwhile -- they are paying you to teach there as an adjunct. It sounds like it would work for your family for you to attend this school, you can manage the finances and you have the enthusiasm -- all of which are important. You might want to find out from the school what kind of funding opportunities would be open to you in the second and on-going semesters.

Good luck!

StudyMom

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I applied to one school and was accepted but was not offered funding. I could fund it myself without breaking the bank by keeping my current adjunct job teaching one class a semester. I have also thought of waiting until next year and applying to more schools. But I am not sure that I will be as motivated if I wait, and that would mean moving the family. The one school I applied to is local, so it would be much easier on the family, so I was leaning towards that. But then someone told me it looks very bad if you pay for your doctorate because it means the school doesn't really feel you are a worthwhile student.

Thoughts?

~palla

Personally, I wouldn't pay for/work my way through a PhD program... but for the programs I applied for, working was prohibited (since acceptance almost always meant guaranteed funding) so I didn't even have to think about that one. Is the school you're adjuncting at the same school you're thinking of attending? Because if that's so, then that might be why they didn't give you funding -- implying that they probably don't value you less, but are already - in a sense - funding you.

I agree with studymom that you should look into what funding might be available via the program in later years, and also start looking on your own for fellowships, etc. If the school normally does offer funding, then you could ask why you did not receive any and work on those things, and maybe consider re-applying with the hopes of getting funding next year. If they don't... well, what are your career goals? Can you achieve them at the local school? What would look really bad is if you paid to get a PhD from a low-quality/ill-fitting program that could not prepare you for your next step. But if the school fits you, you can afford it, you have the time and resources, and you would be happy there... and you want to do it, then you should.

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I was pretty much universally advised by my professors NOT to accept any offers that came without funding, but it was less about how I would be viewed as a non-funded student and more about the financial bang-to-buck ratio. If you fund your PhD yourself, you're likely to spend lots of money doing it, and you're by no means guaranteed a satisfactory job once you've got your doctorate in hand. Post-secondary jobs in the Humanities are extremely competitive these days, and as one of my professors told me, it's imprudent to wrack up thousands of dollars in debt getting an advanced degree that doesn't at least modestly guarantee a job that pays well upon completion.

However, if you've got the means to comfortably fund your PhD without taking extravagant loans or working yourself to death, I would definitely consider taking the offer that's on the table. It's unusual for a school to accept non-funded PhD candidates, but I think if you got in there and did good, original work for them and made yourself known as a commodity in the department, not only would you NOT be viewed as some sort of sub-grad student, but you could probably find your way into funding situations. As I've been told, it's all about showing the department that you're a committed professional with a passion for and focus within your field.

Finally, if you're reluctant to make a move geographically and you've already got an offer of admission and an academic job locally, it sounds to me like the offer is a pretty good one, given your situation. Ultimately I would consider the positives of what's on the table first and foremost, while examining how much intellectual momentum and growth you would lose by taking a year off and how much you could strengthen your application package between now and the fall.

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Thanks for the replies. I adjunct at a different school, not the school with the doctorate program. When I talked to the director, she said they had only two TAs to offer, so they were very limited with funding. She went on to say that funding is getting very rough right now, which I understand, and she said that it is possible that someone could quit or decide not to go and use the funding later on. Of course, I realize that if I start paying for my program, chances are good that I will pay the entire way.

I could pay for my program fairly easily and not take out loans. I am very fortunate that I can get away without loans, and if that changes, I would probably not return to school. Of course, I would rather get funding, but if I adjunct, I am in the same financial situation. I would make as much by paying for my education through my adjuncting jobs.

The program is not top ranked, but I don't think I could get into a top ranked program. Plus, I really don't want to move. The fact that the program is local is a huge plus. I know you shouldn't base your school decisions on location, but location is important when you have a family. I guess that is the one reason I am considering paying. I don't really want to move my family across the country so I can go to school.

My career goals are to teach. I love teaching, and I want to return to school because I want to continue learning. I love school. I love studying, and I have always wanted to get a doctorate. So that is my reason for returning to school, but I also don't want to spend all that time in school and not end up with a job.

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palla,

You seem very focused and capable with good reasoning for staying where you are. I am moving my family 1800 miles away to do my degree because there was no-where nearby that offered the program and I wanted to go to a school in the top 10 for my field (and I got in!) However, I will be paying for some credits because they offered only partial tuition and I want to finish in a reasonable time-frame. I don't think it will hurt my chances of getting a job because I paid for some of my credits -- the university is having a financial problem, as so many are, and I am grateful for the stipend and partial tuition.

I am in a different field but surely there will be a place for you in the teaching world once you have your degree, as long as you do well at it and have a strong dissertation?

Best,

StudyMom

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First off, why did you only apply to one school? There must be a reason. It seems to me that people who only apply to 1-3 programs near their area are doing so because they don't want to move and be tempted by attractive offers elsewhere. By doing that, you have decided what the most important factor is in your decision--staying where you are. If you are okay with this decision, then I would accept the school and the lack of funding.

However I feel I should say what the problems with this decision are: if you are interested in getting a job as a professor, then you will need to move whereever you get a job, and no graduate school--not even an Ivy--can guarantee you a job nearby. If the program is near the bottom or unranked, it will be difficult to get a job--at least right away. I personally believe that going to grad school and working without funding is almost always not worth it, because it is really hard to get your own school work done if you are also working/teaching a lot, and no one knows whether there is light at the end of the tunnel in the shape of a job.

I think the most important issues to consider are: a) the ranking IN YOUR FIELD (ex. if you were in English: Victorian, Medieval, 18th century) and the professors who you could work with, B) the job placement, c) if they are not offering funding the first year, are they guaranteeing funding for other years, such as a TA position with tuition plus a stipend.

I hope it turns out okay, but if you decide to apply next year, I would consider applying to more schools. :roll:

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