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Advice please


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I am trying to decide between the University of Chicago and the University of Boulder Co for my MA in English. With the hopes of teaching at a community college after receiving my degree. I’m having trouble deciding between two programs and would love to hear advice.





Boulder-

Two year program

16,000 in tuition

one semester TA

Close to family



VS



Chicago

One year program

higher ranked school

45,000 in tuition

better classes

harder work load
 

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There are many here who will sing the praises of the Chicago MAPH, and it does have an impressive track record of getting students into phenomenal schools for PhD programs.  It is certainly the more prestigious program.  With that said, the difference between $16,000 in debt and $45,000 in debt is absolutely huge - possibly in the realm of 15-20 more years of paying it off huge.  UC Boulder is also an excellent program and you have the additional benefits of being closer to your support system, you'll get to TA for a semester to alleviate the costs of your tuition, and (most importantly) since your goal is to teach at a community college, you won't be paying through the nose and taking on an immense amount of debt.  All other things being equal, and if you don't want to reapply to try and get a funded MA offer somewhere, go with Boulder.

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There are many here who will sing the praises of the Chicago MAPH, and it does have an impressive track record of getting students into phenomenal schools for PhD programs.  It is certainly the more prestigious program.  With that said, the difference between $16,000 in debt and $45,000 in debt is absolutely huge - possibly in the realm of 15-20 more years of paying it off huge.  UC Boulder is also an excellent program and you have the additional benefits of being closer to your support system, you'll get to TA for a semester to alleviate the costs of your tuition, and (most importantly) since your goal is to teach at a community college, you won't be paying through the nose and taking on an immense amount of debt.  All other things being equal, and if you don't want to reapply to try and get a funded MA offer somewhere, go with Boulder.

 

This. Boulder for sure.

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There are many here who will sing the praises of the Chicago MAPH, and it does have an impressive track record of getting students into phenomenal schools for PhD programs.  It is certainly the more prestigious program.  With that said, the difference between $16,000 in debt and $45,000 in debt is absolutely huge - possibly in the realm of 15-20 more years of paying it off huge.  UC Boulder is also an excellent program and you have the additional benefits of being closer to your support system, you'll get to TA for a semester to alleviate the costs of your tuition, and (most importantly) since your goal is to teach at a community college, you won't be paying through the nose and taking on an immense amount of debt.  All other things being equal, and if you don't want to reapply to try and get a funded MA offer somewhere, go with Boulder.

 

I agree with this, but I do want to point out that the Boulder program is two years, so it's a total of $32,000 in tuition (although there is the one semester TA, so that would make things a bit cheaper). Still significantly less than $45,000, so I don't think it contradicts your point at all. 

 

Although, if your end goal is to teach at a community college and if you don't mind going through another application season, I think attempting to get into some funded MAs might be a worthwhile decision as well; somebody who knows more about MAs and community college teaching could probably give you better advice there, though.

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I'm tempted to say that you should re-apply if you can and maybe audit a course or two at the closest university (for much cheaper). There is another similar thread to this about unfunded MA programs. If you go to one of those a year from now, you'll come out with more teaching experience, etc.

 

It is going to be HARD to get a community college job with one semester of teaching experience when there are PhD students who have 5 years (or MFA students with 3 years) of experience applying for those jobs. If you go to a program that has more teaching experience not only will you not be in debt, you'll have that much more on your CV.

 

Several of my friends from my MFA program are applying for community college jobs in various places and they all have 2 semesters of composition experience, experience TAing for an upper division literature course, experience teaching a stand along upper division (3000 level) intermediate course in their genre, and a few other courses under their belt. And there are LOTS of people with similar sets of experience on the market for community college jobs--especially in CO (there are like 3-4 MFA programs that are pretty good there).

 

Chicago MAPH is too expensive. Period.

Edited by bluecheese
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Does Chicago let you teach?  If your goal is to teach community college, you should choose the program that gives you the most teaching experience.  Depending on where you'd like to teach when you're done, the job market (even for community college) is fiercely competitive. 

 

I'm only really familiar with the job markets in Colorado, Kansas, and Texas, but you'll frequently be competing for community college jobs against those who have earned PhDs and often those with the most experience teaching at the university level win.  Typically, the competition tends to be fiercer in the metro areas, but even rural CC jobs (like at Colorado Mountain College) tend to have way too many qualified applicants.  If CC teaching is your goal, most CC's definitely tend to privilege teaching experience over the prestige of your MA program.

 

ETA: What bluecheese said.  (didn't see that until after I'd posted)

Edited by NotGiantsButWindmills
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Hey there. I've been teaching at the CC for three years now, and I consider myself pretty savvy in the world of CC teaching jobs. Since CC is your goal, do either Boulder or Chicago offer classes in teaching composition? Unless you have a PhD, you will most likely be teaching various levels of writing and reading, so any coursework that focuses on comp will help you on the job market. Like others have said, teaching experience is key, way more than prestige. 

 

If both schools are equal in comp class offerings and teaching experience, take the least expensive option. Last year, I worked my ass off to make 50K as an adjunct. That salary is rare, even for a full-time position. Consider that when you take out loans. 

 

Also, CSU Fullerton offers a certificate in postsecondary reading and learning. The classwork is completely online and focuses on intellectual development for adult learners. In California, it is required to teach any reading courses at the college level. Even if the certificate is not required where you want to teach or you have no interest in teaching reading, it can be helpful to show you have taken coursework in college teaching. Having the certificate opened a lot of doors for me in California during my community college teaching career. http://www.csufextension.org/programs/prl/

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I recall that Chicago's MAPH offers some CC-college-specific career guidance and workshops in the Winter (or maybe it is Spring) quarter. In this case, however, Colorado is certainly the better option since it's cheaper.

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