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International Education/Development decisions, help is hugely appreciated!


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OK, so. I have been going over and over this decision in my head but am having huge amounts of trouble deciding. If anyone can offer some insight, I would appreciate it. This is going to be a long post but if you can offer me help, I can definitely help you in making the decisions you have as well!!

Let me give you a little background and some info on my goals because I think that helps. I have an arts background that was very arts-focused and not terribly academic. After getting my BFA, I lived in N. Africa for a year and worked on various independent development and non-profits projects which really inspired me to pursue an MA in International Education/ Development. My career goal is to work for larger organizations that have education initiatives in the Middle East and North Africa. Ideally, I would like to work for a UN agency, such as the UNHCR or Unicef, or for another governmental organization like USAID.

The programs I applied to and was accepted into are:

Clark University- 2 year program-International Development and Social Change (40% tuition remission)

Columbia University- 1 year program- International Educational Development (zero funding)

NYU- 2 year program-International Education, with a focus on International Education Development (no word on funding)

University of London Institute of Education- 1 year program- Education and Development (cheapest program but with no funding)

I have major concerns with each program:

Clark- it is a less recognizable, unranked (not a real word:) university and since I already come from a background that is not academic or social sciences-related, I fear it would not be a huge helper on my resume

Columbia- I have heard this program is easy and is a 'degree mill'. I would hate to invest the money into it (was offered no funding) just to come out with a degree that is not taken seriously by organizations. I have also read complaints about the faculty but have not spoken to a single graduate to back this up.

NYU- Cost. I haven't heard about scholarships yet but the tuition is insanity. Also, I am not sure if the program is well respected?

University of London Institute of Education- It is well known in the UK but not so much here. Again, I fear, since my target is the larger orgs., that this program would not be well known and would not allow me to stand out to prospective employers.

There you have it! A thorough appraisal of my choices. Any help is appreciated!!!!!

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Is it an option to forego school for now in order to gain more experience? Or are you set on going to one of these programs where you were accepted?

It could be an option but not a likely one, as I have let my job know that I will be leaving and have prepared myself (and my husband) for grad school. I have been working in education for the past 2-3 years and within non-profit programs as well, so I feel like my real world experience is strong enough to pursue an MA. I am lacking in academic experience which is my bigger hang up. Do you think it would be beneficial to wait before going to grad school? Can I ask why? Thanks for your feedback!

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It could be an option but not a likely one, as I have let my job know that I will be leaving and have prepared myself (and my husband) for grad school. I have been working in education for the past 2-3 years and within non-profit programs as well, so I feel like my real world experience is strong enough to pursue an MA. I am lacking in academic experience which is my bigger hang up. Do you think it would be beneficial to wait before going to grad school? Can I ask why? Thanks for your feedback!

Also, just a quick note, after graduation I would like to find a placement abroad so I can get much more experience in the field. The 1 year I had was a huge learning experience but still, 1 year... before I go back abroad for a longer period, I'd really like to have more of a foundation in research, project management, etc. and this is another reason I'd like to get the MA now. OK that's all I've got to add for now!

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