Jump to content

Accepted by one school, but with no money


bgaesop

Recommended Posts

I've heard back from 4 of the 8 schools I applied to, and been rejected from 3. The fourth, which was intended as my safety school, has not offered me any sort of fellowship or teaching position or anything; they want me to pay them around $9,000 a semester and find my own room and board. I was expecting grad school to support me and, if I was particularly frugal, let me start paying off my student loans. I certainly wasn't expecting to take out more.

If I don't get in anywhere else, should I go? I've been told, mostly by people who haven't interacted with a graduate admissions board in decades, that if they don't offer me money, they don't really want me. I've also heard from some (but not all, nor even a majority, iirc) of my peers that getting into grad school and getting funded is a lot harder than they expected.

So what do you think?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my field for a PhD, that's generally the case - no funding means they don't really want you, or at the very least you were at the bottom of their barrel. That is, of course, unless everyone in the department is unfunded as well.

$18,000 a year + living expenses (which is likely to be around $25K) is a lot of money for a PhD when there's no funding in sight. Assuming it takes you 5 years to finish, you'll be over $200,000 in debt by the end of the program, with no prospects for making enough money to pay that off. I wouldn't do it.

This is assuming that you applied to PhD programs. For MA/MS programs it's often par for the course not to be funded, and the payoff has the potential to be higher, not to mention that your debt load will be lower. It's still roughly $90K over two years, so unless it's a field that yields a high pay-off, I wouldn't do that either.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

IMO, don't go. It's hard enough to find reasonable employment after grad school... if you have to take out loans, it'll just be worse.

Mind if I ask what field you're going into? It's strange: I'm in biology, and I've never heard of anyone having issues with funding. My credentials aren't all that great (GPA: 3.2, average GRE), but I got scholarships and stipend offers of >24k from all the schools I applied to -- given, they aren't typically thought of as top-notch institutions. I have a friend in mathematics, and the only reason he doesn't take out loans is because he got a scholarship and he lives with his parents. I think mathematics PhDs don't have a hard time finding high-paying jobs (if you don't mind doing actuarial work), so it *might* be worth going into a bit of debt. But if you're in biology, or any of the humanities, just DON'T DO IT unless you have funding.

Edited by avhosa
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many masters dont offer funding, so waiting a year wouldnt necessarily help your chances receiving it. Could you work while attending the program or burn through it in a year? If youre interested in a PhD, then you could apply next year for those programs which offer more funding. Think about what you would do next year, if you decline, and if that would actually improve your chances. If your determined to go to grad school sometimes you will have to pay.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mind if I ask what field you're going into?

Mathematics. I have a 3.1 gpa but I only got in the 30th percentile for the subject GRE (I did much better on the general: 650 and 800 and 5.0).

Study again for the GRE and work for a year and reapply. Most programs if you don't wander in with funding then you won't get it as funding is reserved to bring fresh blood into the program.

This is looking like what my plan will be. It's strange, several of the phd programs I've applied to switched me over to the master's application because they want me to get that before the phd.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One thing to think about though is what else are you going to be doing in the next year? Unless you have significantly improved your application with a new research position or another degree, it is unlikely that your chances of admission will be much better next year.

It sounds like since it's a masters program, you'll only be shelling out $18000 which isn't too bad in the bigger picture. That way, you can also add a masters degree to your resume when you reapply which should definitely boost your chances.

On a side note, I definitely agree that its a lot harder to get into grad school than I expected. Especially in my field, the stats are around 10-20% acceptance rate.

Good luck! It's a difficult position to be in!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Hey!

I was in a similar position to you a few years ago and I thought I'd weigh in. I applied to PhD programs and only got into one MA program unfunded. I was crushed. I contacted the program and they said that there was the potential to perform well and earn funding my second year. In the end I decided to go for it. I took out a year's worth of loans, worked really hard, and worked evenings at Borders to pay rent. The next year I got funded and the year after that I got into an amazing PhD program with great funding. I'm positive that I never would have been capable of my current PhD program with the training of my master's program. The admissions committee thought I wasn't ready for doctoral work and they were right. The training in my master's program is the only reason I got into (let alone funded) at a PhD program.

My point is, not all of us are superstars coming into PhD programs, but it is possible to work the system and find alternative ways of funding. Ask about funding for the second year of the MA. Weigh the cost of loans and the odds that a masters could help you get into a funded PhD program. Ask around and see if there are a few assistantships outside of your department (my current school gives a few folks assistantships like activities organizer for student affairs, international studies office assistant and ESL tutors. They can be from any field but they got credits and a stipend like the rest of us.)

Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chiming in kind of late, it does seem like if you think studying more for another round of GREs would improve your score, that might increase your odds of funding. It is also OK to address your scores in an application letter: eg xyz about test, but look at my improvement in grades over the course of my studies, look at these great things I've worked on...

But assuming you want to move forward this year, some funding is better then none, I absolutely agree that you can work hard and hope for future funding, and write fellowship proposals (these depend more on your ideas and not at all on GRE scores). Also, mathematics jobs post-graduation are relatively plentiful compared to someone studying almost any other field. In this case a masters can be a really good investment, because while an employer may look at an undergrad GPA, they tend to take graduate degrees as a statement of ability regardless of grades and other factors. I mean, other than a PhD program you apply to, who will ever look at your grades again if you can say "I have a masters in math!"?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 9 months later...

This is such a late reply but I haven't seen this until now. I have actually turned down two offers for funded graduate programs because the funding and the programs were not the right fit for me! 

The first, was a fully funded assistantship but at my undergraduate institution. Not a great choice if you would like to branch out like myself and not a good idea if you have taken everything your undergrad place has to offer! 

The second, I was accepted by the school, offered grant money but was warned that tuition may not be able to cover all semesters and may run out. 

Who would like to run into a big ol' trap like that while trying to get their graduate thesis work done on time and worry about their money running out? 

 

Decide what kind of graduate program you can deal with. For me, I made my decision by visiting, discussing with the faculty and understanding that all accepted students are fully funded. I left that campus knowing I have met the right fit for me. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.