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hopingforgradschool

Is HGSE master's worth $60k debt?

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On 11 March 2014 at 8:22 PM, hopingforgradschool said:

Hi everyone, I'm the original poster. I was deciding whether to attend HGSE in spring 2011. I ultimately decided to attend HGSE (HDP...I requested a switch due to the more flexible requirements) over Stanford (POLS), Penn, and Columbia and graduated in 2012. I just want to say that I can't even imagine my life if I had turned HGSE down. It would have been the biggest mistake of my life!

 

I came to HGSE straight from undergrad with no full-time work experience...BUT fast forward to 2014, I've founded my own education-related (and HDP-related) company in Boston and am on-track to making hundreds of thousands per year in profit (and millions in revenue). I'm happy to report that I've paid back my loans 100% as of 2013. This was a most unexpected outcome but the HGSE name truly has opened doors for me. If anything, being at HGSE gave me an unexpected extra boost of confidence to challenge myself and transform my ideas into reality. The HGSE credential is also very useful when it comes to getting $,$$$,$$$ investment from angel investors and VCs. If you get in and are pepared to challenge yourself, DO IT!!!!!! Best decision of my life.

Hi! Wow. I can't thank you enough for sharing your experience. I recently got accepted by HGSE and until I read this thread, I was confused about picking Harvard over CMU as I ultimately want to become an education entrepreneur. Could you please guide me a little? I'll be very grateful. (Over email or grad cafe inbox haha) 

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On 2011年4月10日 at 11:57 PM, HREeducation said:

Hi Hoping,

 

I'm in a similar situation. I was accepted into a Masters program at Stanford, but with zero funding. I visited and loved it. It really was/is my dream school, dream place, dream(ish) faculty! My loan debt will also be close to 100,000 after completing the masters, and I'm having a hard time accepting the decision with that kind of financial stress looming over me. I also got into Penn with 13,500 and a program at U Chicago with half tuition. After talking to a few faculty from my undergrad, I've decided I must take these offers seriously and go visit.

 

I'm wondering, what is your impression of Penn? Fortunately, since I was admitted so late, I have longer to decide and can plan a quick visit there for next week. Did you visit? Have you talked with anyone there?

So many people in my life are saying I'd be crazy NOT to go to Stanford, but they also won't be the ones dealing with this debt after my year in paradise is over ( :) ).

 

Let me know what you're thinking about Penn!

I'm international student who got accepted to one of Stanford's masters programs, and also to several of the PhD programs from second-tier ed schools. Stanford offers $10,000 fellowship and PhDs offer full funding, and I can't decide which to go -- I want to be ultimately a univ professor so I need a PhD, but getting PhD from Stanford would be better than other schools I got accepted into and I dreamed of getting PhD from Stanford. However, if I take Stanford I need to rely on loan ($60,000) and I'm not sure if the masters degree from Stanford is worth that much money. I'm pursuing educational technology research, so Stanford is attractive, but I also have my wife and small child so I care about money issue a lot. Anyone please give me advice?

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1 hour ago, eduphd said:

I'm international student who got accepted to one of Stanford's masters programs, and also to several of the PhD programs from second-tier ed schools. Stanford offers $10,000 fellowship and PhDs offer full funding, and I can't decide which to go -- I want to be ultimately a univ professor so I need a PhD, but getting PhD from Stanford would be better than other schools I got accepted into and I dreamed of getting PhD from Stanford. However, if I take Stanford I need to rely on loan ($60,000) and I'm not sure if the masters degree from Stanford is worth that much money. I'm pursuing educational technology research, so Stanford is attractive, but I also have my wife and small child so I care about money issue a lot. Anyone please give me advice?

Go with the funding.

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1 hour ago, eduphd said:

You mean I should go to Stanford?

I think he means the fully funded Ph.D opportunities. ^_^

Is the masters a terminal degree? The $10k from Stanford may pay a small chunk of tuition, but you're probably looking at roughly $50k debt at least, right? If it is a two year program, that's close to 100k in debt. Student loan repayments would be about $1,000 a month. Do you think you could handle that? 

 

I think a fully funded Ph.D opportunity > any unpaid master degree opportunity from a prestigious university. 

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12 minutes ago, Dracos said:

I think he means the fully funded Ph.D opportunities. ^_^

Is the masters a terminal degree? The $10k from Stanford may pay a small chunk of tuition, but you're probably looking at roughly $50k debt at least, right? If it is a two year program, that's close to 100k in debt. Student loan repayments would be about $1,000 a month. Do you think you could handle that? 

 

I think a fully funded Ph.D opportunity > any unpaid master degree opportunity from a prestigious university. 

Thanks for the clarification! Yes it is a terminal degree and it's a one-year program. I need $50k debt from Japanese bank and the repayments would be $3-400 per month. And, I have my wife and newborn baby.. Is it common to give up unpaid program at prestigious universities and choose one from second-tier university?

Edited by eduphd

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A lot of people on this board seem to be doing precisely that.  I would assume that it's not atypical of how it's handled in the real world.

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6 hours ago, eduphd said:

Is it common to give up unpaid program at prestigious universities and choose one from second-tier university?

Yes, it is common. I don't know what your career goals are, but prestige isn't everything. What you do with a PhD can be more important. 

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It's still very competitive to get into a PhD program at Stanford, even with a masters from there. Getting your masters will be no guarantee of doctoral admission, and since your ultimate goal is to get a PhD, you have to consider that you'd have $50 in debt accruing interest while you don't make much money for FIVE MORE YEARS in a PhD program. That will be quite a pile by the time you graduate. 

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Just wanted to chime in. I'm one of those people who decided to attend a top-tier masters program at a private university vs. much cheaper public universities. I did it for the prestige and because I truly believed that my higher-ranked institution would open more doors for me. Halfway through the program, I  realized it was a terrible choice. I could not afford to live in the Boston area anymore. I had a small scholarship, but it barely made a dent in the tuition. Coupled with high cost of living (even in the cheaper areas of town), the cost of parking (!!!), some prior student loan debt that was due (private loans, so no forbearance/postponement), and just the stress of grad school in general.... I had to drop out of the program. 

I was doing well - 4.0 GPA, multiple research commitments and conferences, making great connections. But for someone like me, who absolutely hates debt and has seen how destructive it can be (one of my cousins is still paying off student loans 30 years after she graduated and struggles to make ends meet, one friend committed suicide because he just couldn't make any more payments, etc.)...... well, I realized that in the end, it's not just the program but what you do with it. If I had taken the less-prestigious institution, I wouldn't have had to work 2 jobs to pay my tuition and would have had more time to network and attend conferences. I would have been able to live closer to campus, so I could be more involved in research and student organizations. The worst thing is, that one year at Private Institution cost me $90k in student loans, all of which I still need to repay. Had I chosen my in-state public institution, that $90k would have been more like $20k, which is much more manageable.

I'm not a Dave Ramsey addict who believes that all debt is bad, but everyone has a line that they are uncomfortable crossing. For some people, that line may be as high as $200k (looking at you, lawyer/b-school/med school friends). For others, anything above $50k all-in is a no-go. For yet others, $10k is already a big red number. For me, I was not comfortable taking out the amount of debt that I did, and if I were to go back, I'd gladly trade some prestige for the peace of mind that comes with not having so much debt.

tl;dr -- think about your own values and what you're comfortable with paying. Don't let other people's perceptions of prestige or ranking sway your own gut feelings.

Edited by dancedementia

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34 minutes ago, dancedementia said:

Just wanted to chime in. I'm one of those people who decided to attend a top-tier masters program at a private university vs. much cheaper public universities. I did it for the prestige and because I truly believed that my higher-ranked institution would open more doors for me. Halfway through the program, I  realized it was a terrible choice. I could not afford to live in the Boston area anymore. I had a small scholarship, but it barely made a dent in the tuition. Coupled with high cost of living (even in the cheaper areas of town), the cost of parking (!!!), some prior student loan debt that was due (private loans, so no forbearance/postponement), and just the stress of grad school in general.... I had to drop out of the program. 

I was doing well - 4.0 GPA, multiple research commitments and conferences, making great connections. But for someone like me, who absolutely hates debt and has seen how destructive it can be (one of my cousins is still paying off student loans 30 years after she graduated and struggles to make ends meet, one friend committed suicide because he just couldn't make any more payments, etc.)...... well, I realized that in the end, it's not just the program but what you do with it. If I had taken the less-prestigious institution, I wouldn't have had to work 2 jobs to pay my tuition and would have had more time to network and attend conferences. I would have been able to live closer to campus, so I could be more involved in research and student organizations. The worst thing is, that one year at Private Institution cost me $90k in student loans, all of which I still need to repay. Had I chosen my in-state public institution, that $90k would have been more like $20k, which is much more manageable.

I'm not a Dave Ramsey addict who believes that all debt is bad, but everyone has a line that they are uncomfortable crossing. For some people, that line may be as high as $200k (looking at you, lawyer/b-school/med school friends). For others, anything above $50k all-in is a no-go. For yet others, $10k is already a big red number. For me, I was not comfortable taking out the amount of debt that I did, and if I were to go back, I'd gladly trade some prestige for the peace of mind that comes with not having so much debt.

tl;dr -- think about your own values and what you're comfortable with paying. Don't let other people's perceptions of prestige or ranking sway your own gut feelings.

Thanks for sharing your experience. I wish you so much good fortune in the future!  I agree it's such a personal choice. The only reason I personally know I can opt for the more expensive option is because I have no existing debt and will need to take out less than $15k (hopefully less than 10k) in loans. This allows me to be optimistic about my future finances. While I'd be comfortable with a little more debt, id be so unhappy about it that I would probably opt for a different program. 

I also want to echo the idea that your existing resume and personal ambition can play a big role in your earning potential after Harvard.  For example, I don't expect to earn as much as my classmates coming out of HGSE because I am new to my field whereas many of my peers will already have a background from which to get better jobs than me. Unlike them, I am not getting a masters to raise my future prospects, my masters right now represents only a springboard into an entry level carrier, so I have to be honest with myself about that. 

Edited by Heather1011

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First of all, I have nothing but positive things to say about the OP, that's awesome!!  But I think it's important to know that for those entering HGSE (or any other school), you are not guaranteed a six figure job when you get out.  Sure we all hope for it, but please be realistic and definitely don't bank on it happening.

My opinion (with numbers!):

I paid for my grad degree with my entire salary for two years, but I have ~$90k debt from undergrad.  I think it's important to have some concrete numbers for others to see, especially after reading the comment about making $50k and thinking you'll have $50k.  From my experience, you take home about 70% of your salary after taxes, insurance, retirement, etc are all taken out. 

I make $44k/year, which I think is on par with a lot of education jobs.  My paychecks are $1,250 and I get 24 of them a year (take home pay = $30k/yr).

So each month you have $2,500.  Student loan payments tend to be 1% of the total per month, so $100k in loans = $1k payment per month.

You're down to $1,500.  If you live in any city in the northeast your rent will most likely be anywhere from $700-$1200.

Now you have $800 or $300 left.  On average, you'll spend $50/week on food ($200/month).  Now you're down to $600 or $100.  Do you have a cell phone? That's another ~$50/month.  Do you like heat and hot water and other utilities? Another $100/month. Down to $500 and $0.  Uh oh.

It's doable if everything you pick is at the low end of the spectrum, but don't think "oh $1k a month is easy to give up" when you make ~$50k/yr.  Also keep in mind this goes on for 15 years, unless you get a big pay bump.

Everyone's situation is a little bit different but I think it's important to put a real budget out there for people to see just to get a feel for what your life might look like post graduation.

Basically with that amount of debt, it's like paying another rent payment on top of your normal rent payment per month.  Also I deferred by loans while I was in school for 2 years and it added $10k in interest, so keep that in mind if you ever need to defer.

 

 

Also to the person with the working in Asia comment, I laughed at that because I assumed you were referring to the barrage of emails we Ivy students get every week that say "come work in Asia!!!".

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I am currently trying to decide between two schools, both of which I am going to have to take out loans to pay for the entirety of the program (looking at between 70k-80k for either school).  If I felt like I was going to have to pay 80k + interest back in loans, I would have an extremely tough time going through with that.

However, we're all planning on working in education here...are people taking advantage of Public Service Loan Forgiveness?  From my understanding, if you qualify for an income-based repayment plan, you could just be paying 10-15% of your discretionary income every month towards your loans.  Then, if you work in public service for 120 months while making a loan payment each month, the remainder of your loans gets forgiven.

I don't often see people talking about this and I'm wondering why?  It seems like a no-brainer to me, so I'm worried that there must be a catch somewhere!

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4 minutes ago, travelgirl125 said:

I don't often see people talking about this and I'm wondering why?  It seems like a no-brainer to me, so I'm worried that there must be a catch somewhere!

It is a no-brainer if you are sure you'll work in qualifying circumstances for 10 years. I couldn't guarantee that, and didn't want the loans hanging over my head for 10 years anyway. I personally feel that that's a long time to be burdened.

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8 hours ago, travelgirl125 said:

I am currently trying to decide between two schools, both of which I am going to have to take out loans to pay for the entirety of the program (looking at between 70k-80k for either school).  If I felt like I was going to have to pay 80k + interest back in loans, I would have an extremely tough time going through with that.

However, we're all planning on working in education here...are people taking advantage of Public Service Loan Forgiveness?  From my understanding, if you qualify for an income-based repayment plan, you could just be paying 10-15% of your discretionary income every month towards your loans.  Then, if you work in public service for 120 months while making a loan payment each month, the remainder of your loans gets forgiven.

I don't often see people talking about this and I'm wondering why?  It seems like a no-brainer to me, so I'm worried that there must be a catch somewhere!

A lot of us, I think, are moving out of public service, or more often, the unknown.  We can't guarantee we won't pursue a PhD or work for a private charity or God knows what.  Those of us who know we probably won't be in schools on a daily basis, at least.

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I think also, depending on the terms of your loans over the years, you're still going to be paying a TON in compounding interest....

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19 hours ago, Levon3 said:

It is a no-brainer if you are sure you'll work in qualifying circumstances for 10 years. I couldn't guarantee that, and didn't want the loans hanging over my head for 10 years anyway. I personally feel that that's a long time to be burdened.

 

10 hours ago, Heather1011 said:

A lot of us, I think, are moving out of public service, or more often, the unknown.  We can't guarantee we won't pursue a PhD or work for a private charity or God knows what.  Those of us who know we probably won't be in schools on a daily basis, at least.

True! I already have some debt for undergrad that I figured I'd be paying for 10 years, and I can't really see myself not working in education in some capacity.  But I can definitely agree with the fact that you never know what your life will be like 10 years down the road, much less 1 or 2 years!

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23 minutes ago, travelgirl125 said:

 

True! I already have some debt for undergrad that I figured I'd be paying for 10 years, and I can't really see myself not working in education in some capacity.  But I can definitely agree with the fact that you never know what your life will be like 10 years down the road, much less 1 or 2 years!

At this point I'm just relieved I know where I'll be for the next 12 months! :D 

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On 4/8/2016 at 10:23 PM, travelgirl125 said:

I don't often see people talking about this and I'm wondering why?  It seems like a no-brainer to me, so I'm worried that there must be a catch somewhere!

The program started in 2007 so no one has had their loans forgiven yet under PSLF.  The earliest will be October 2017.  My guess is that once that happens  -  we will start to see reforms given the high predicted cost to the govt for forgiving those loans.  There is already talk of capping forgiveness at $57,500 (max undergrads are allowed to borrow from the govt) or eliminating PSLF altogether so we shall have to see how it all plays out.

Another related problem is information about the program is not equally disseminated so people who may need it the most are not aware of the program.  And as others have said they may not want to take 10 years to pay off their loans and/or work in an eligible job for PSLF.

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17 hours ago, ZeChocMoose said:

The program started in 2007 so no one has had their loans forgiven yet under PSLF.  The earliest will be October 2017.  My guess is that once that happens  -  we will start to see reforms given the high predicted cost to the govt for forgiving those loans.  There is already talk of capping forgiveness at $57,500 (max undergrads are allowed to borrow from the govt) or eliminating PSLF altogether so we shall have to see how it all plays out.

Another related problem is information about the program is not equally disseminated so people who may need it the most are not aware of the program.  And as others have said they may not want to take 10 years to pay off their loans and/or work in an eligible job for PSLF.

Oh dear...that definitely seems like it could be a problem.  I would hope that once you were in the program, though, you'd be grandfathered in, even if they decided to discontinue it =\

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On 4/9/2016 at 7:17 PM, travelgirl125 said:

Oh dear...that definitely seems like it could be a problem.  I would hope that once you were in the program, though, you'd be grandfathered in, even if they decided to discontinue it =\

Yes - most likely the people in PSLF will be allowed to continue in the program but they won't enroll any new people.  The students who will caught in this policy change will be the ones who are in grad school when PSLF is changed/eliminated and who made decisions based on where to go and/or the amount of loans to take out under the assumption that they will get PSLF and their debt will be forgiven after 10 years of eligible employment.  (Or the ones who can't find an eligible job before PSLF changes/is eliminated.)  That could be a really challenging financial situation for them as they will have to wait another 10-15 years to get their loans forgiven under the regular student loan forgiveness assuming they qualify for income contingent, income based, or pay as you earn repayment plans. 

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I am really enjoying (probably not the right word, but you get my drift) this thread.

My story is that I attended a small liberal arts college and graduated in '97 with about $55k in debt (translates to roughly $80k in current dollars). I got a relatively well-paying job out of undergrad...except for the fact that it was located in Manhattan (amazing place but obviously v high cost of living). Those first few years were just really, really hard. I made it work (commuted from Jersey, had multiple roommates, rarely ate out, never took cabs)...but the need to make those monthly payments PROFOUNDLY limited my career options. Basically I had to focus on salary almost exclusively as opposed to fit, culture, work-life balance, personal interest, location etc. And it effectively took grad school off the table for the entire time I was paying the loans back.

Flash forward to deciding about grad school for my master's; I was choosing between two distinguished private institutions (big names, high cost, little aid) or a really inexpensive in-state public. For me the choice was clear: the in-state public. I won a fellowship and a cash award at graduation, and because of the more flexible structure of the program (common at many public universities) I was able to continue working part-time while in school. When all was said and done I paid about $10,000 (all in: tuition, fees, books, commuting to campus) out of pocket during the two year program. I have not once regretted the choice.

The biggest mistake I see students, mentees, advisees make is underestimating the impact of loan debt on your life, your choices and very much on your psychology. You'll be living with the choices you make now for a very long time where debt is concerned. It's a personal choice, of course, but I think some times people are ill-equipped to understand what's really at stake when they are relatively early in life/careers.

Best of luck to everyone navigating this!

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2 hours ago, hesadork said:

I am really enjoying (probably not the right word, but you get my drift) this thread.

My story is that I attended a small liberal arts college and graduated in '97 with about $55k in debt (translates to roughly $80k in current dollars). I got a relatively well-paying job out of undergrad...except for the fact that it was located in Manhattan (amazing place but obviously v high cost of living). Those first few years were just really, really hard. I made it work (commuted from Jersey, had multiple roommates, rarely ate out, never took cabs)...but the need to make those monthly payments PROFOUNDLY limited my career options. Basically I had to focus on salary almost exclusively as opposed to fit, culture, work-life balance, personal interest, location etc. And it effectively took grad school off the table for the entire time I was paying the loans back.

Flash forward to deciding about grad school for my master's; I was choosing between two distinguished private institutions (big names, high cost, little aid) or a really inexpensive in-state public. For me the choice was clear: the in-state public. I won a fellowship and a cash award at graduation, and because of the more flexible structure of the program (common at many public universities) I was able to continue working part-time while in school. When all was said and done I paid about $10,000 (all in: tuition, fees, books, commuting to campus) out of pocket during the two year program. I have not once regretted the choice.

The biggest mistake I see students, mentees, advisees make is underestimating the impact of loan debt on your life, your choices and very much on your psychology. You'll be living with the choices you make now for a very long time where debt is concerned. It's a personal choice, of course, but I think some times people are ill-equipped to understand what's really at stake when they are relatively early in life/careers.

Best of luck to everyone navigating this!

Thanks for sharing :) .  I connect with this because I also went for an in-state public masters that also cost me about $10K out of pocket over 2 years (while working full time).  It was the wrong degree for me, but I do not have to regret it at all.

My mother, age 63, recently completed an online masters degree in Psychology.  She cannot get any kind of clinical position with this, and is now some $40K in debt (I don't know for sure how much, we avoid discussing it).  She's still working in her old, 30K salary bookkeeping job she's had the same incarnation of for the last 20 years.  She was passionate about doing the degree at the time, and I was really proud of her, but she sees it as the biggest mistake of her life.  Now, obviously, not the case for most people here (who will actually get a job from their degrees and be much younger), but it's really sad what student debt can do to you, psychologically, like you said.  Knowing that it will take 10+, or 20+ years to pay is quite painful to think about.  I'm already bothered that I will probably need to take 2-3 years to pay off my future HGSE loans, which is a very short turnaround time by most standards, but irritating by my own because of how frugal and budgetary I am by nature.

Edited by Heather1011

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On 4/4/2011 at 9:11 AM, Airwick said:

I hope to meet motivated, like-minded people who are interested in starting an education initiative, so I am more than willing to take out a loan in pursuit of this dream... :)

I know it’s been a whil, but did 

 

On 8/31/2011 at 10:56 PM, hopingforgradschool said:

Hey guys, so I ultimately chose Harvard over Columbia, Stanford, and Penn. I've been here just over a week and I already feel I made the right decision. In just my first week, I've already made fantastic connections with people (students, faculty, staff) who have such rich experiences and connections to the education world (and beyond) that I'm not worried at all about finding a job afterwards. I know there will always be something out there, even if it might take me a few weeks to land a gig. Worst case scenario, you can always teach in Asia :) My professors are amazing and topnotch in their fields. Being in their classes motivates me to push myself harder than ever, and it's really inspiring.

 

Everybody is so approachable and genuinely friendly here it's like grad school heaven. People literally are not afraid to introduce themselves to people they haven't met, and the well-funded social events don't hurt in facilitating such connections. People also organize their own parties and the members of different programs are not cliquey at all. At HGSE, I truly feel anything is possible. It's easy to tell money flows through this place. Programs are well-funded, the classrooms are world-class (though the exterior of some buildings at HGSE might not be so aesthetically pleasing), grants are very accessible to students who have a compelling idea and want to go with it. Just this first week, people have already formed groups around various issues like Autism Research and the Philosophy of Education. That's the great thing about HGSE- it's the perfect size. It's not too small like Stanford's or too big like Columbia's. It's great for forming a lot of connections that are actually sustainable because you will be seeing some of these same people everyday on campus. HGSE students also have a lot of pride in the institution and the Graduate School of Education is seen as very prestigious and noble in the university all around.

 

After all I've experienced so far (and like I said, it's only been about a week), I don't even want to think back about how things would've been different for me had I decided not to come. I know this experience will transform me in ways I can't even imagine right now. If you get into HGSE, just go! But if you're still ambivalent, I'm pretty sure a visit will convince you.

It’s been a while, but I am considering HGSE EPM and was wondering what you’re doing now and if you still believe it was the right decision.  just trying to figure out if the cost is worth it down the road...

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