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Lower Amount of Debt v. Connections


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So, here's the deal. There's two offers of admission I'm seriously considering but I cannot decide between the two.


School A: In a smaller city in the Midwest; Rent would be somewhere around $500 a month (1 bed) and tuition around $16,000 a year. It would be one Master's in Public History, taking 2 years. I would be required to do an internship (almost always paid) for one semester, though this often takes place in the summer. 


School B: In a large metropolitan area on the East Coast. Rent would be upwards of $900 (studio) and tuition around $22,000 a year. It would be one Master's, but there's two "majors" - Archives Administration and Public History taking 2.5-3 years. Have the chance to work with some national archival institutions, some for money, others not. 


Neither are funded. School B allows you to apply to assistanceships in any department but this year does not offer any assistanceships in the department. School A is still getting back to me on financial aid but it sounds like it's just that one internship.


My heart and my head are telling me two different things. I'm going the first year unfunded no matter what but there's an iffy chance of funding for second and third year. There's also the question of whether I can get a job at an Archives without a ALA-degree (Public History is run out of the History department at School A).


Ultimately, it comes down to whether I want less debt or more connections within the archival world.


Any thoughts?

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That is a dilemma - debt versus connections! Good luck with what you choose!


The following is some quick thoughts that I had from reading your post  -- I'm not advocating for one school over another, but just offering things for you to consider:


School A - Midwest

  • Is it possible at the Midwest institution to do a summer internship in the archives? You'll want that for your resume if you can get find an opportunity.
  • Would the east coast institution also generally have higher living expenses (than the midwest place)? If you visit either school, check out the nearby grocery store, etc, for comparisons. In other words, it's more than rent that you'll have to factor in, probably making the school in the midwest more attractive in the long-term.
  • Did you say this is a Public History option? Did you say you wanted to go into archival work? I'd research where grads got jobs, and doing what kinds of jobs, and whether or not that is generally because of their own hard work, or because the area or the school offered connections?

School B - East Coast

  • Archives AND Public History -- to me, that would offer you more opportunities to apply, as you could market to employers one, or the other, or both.
  • Can someone from the department shed any light on future funding opportunities (for the subsequent years)? Getting funding eventually would make this more attractive than totally paying out of pocket in the midwest.
  • Connections are always helpful in landing jobs -- I'd weigh it very highly, being able to get a "foot in the door" with national archives.
  • Also, could you see if you can definitely get out in 2.5 years versus 3 -- otherwise, my thought is that these two programs are not financially on par; you'll be paying a lot more for a degree out of this place than the 2 year program. On the other hand, having 2.5-3 years of making connections, maybe you'll find a job quicker as you'll be theoretically making more connections.
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Thanks for the questions! Definitely helped me think things through.


I've decided but I'm waiting to make it official until closer to the official reply date.

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