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Please help! BA/MA Fifth year funded or Higher ranked public program unfunded?

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Hi,

So, I've recently finished up undergrad, and have just received word that I've been offered a graduate assistantship in the administrative sector of my undergraduate institution, where I did my BA and some MA credits, as part of a five year program for English lit. It's ranked about 140/150 so its not that high up there, but it would be free. However, I sometimes felt as if I wasn't really being pushed intellectually when I did my undergrad, and sometimes when I was in grad classes.

My other option is a program for Lit. that's ranked in the 70's, its public and local--so its relatively cheap-- and its a completely new atmosphere, which I sort of want, with more classes, new professors and (probably) a more dedicated learning community.

Another complication: I applied for a Fulbright this year and was Alt.'d and am deciding whether I want to apply again for 2013-2014. I think my undergrad. institution would help to better prepare my application because there's more of a focus on Fulbright there. Also, my boss for the GA would have some connections in the country I hope to apply to. But, that's IF I decide if that's what I truly want.

Basically, my question is: do I finish my MA for free at a lower ranked school in a year, with better prospects for Fulbright, or do I do a two year MA at a better ranked school that will cost 10-15 grand but push me intellectually and (probably) better prepare me for a career (whether in academia or higher ed.)? Please help!

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Go with funding. If you think your funded MA program won't push you intellectually as you presume the unfunded MA would, it's your responsibility to set the stakes higher for yourself. Sure rankings matter to an extent, but at the end of the day, it's you who determine how much you grow as an individual, not your program. If you make the effort to challenge yourself, you'll be better off.

Edited by Gauche

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In order to answer your question, allow me to reenact an actual phone conversation that took place yesterday:

"No, ma'am, you never enrolled in KwikPay."

"Yes, I did. Three months ago. That's what the website told me."

"That is not what the system is telling me."

"But I promise! I swear! I enrolled in KwikPay."

"Ma'am, you are three months behind on your student loan payments. Would you like to settle that now?"

"But... but... but... I ENROLLED IN KWIKPAY!"

Fortunately, I had the money to pay it and they hadn't reported my delinquency to the credit bureau. Still, I can only imagine how liberating life can be without the burden of student debt. So, I say, go with the funding.

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+1 to the replies so far, and an additional thought: if the other unfunded program is near where you'll be for the funded, can you audit any classes? Does your school participate in any consortia that would allow you to work with professors/resources outside the institution? This might also help with rec letter time - if you can work with an outside prof who may be better known/or from a better known program, then build that relationship for an LOR.

And a third thought: if a thesis is part of your MA, can you get an outside faculty person to be on the committee? Same reasoning as above.

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