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I'm totally torn...


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Today I've been swinging from one extreme to the other in terms of deciding what to do about grad school.

I applied to 2 "dream" schools and one safety. Only got into the safety. I didn't know much about their program since I spent all my time looking at the two dream schools, and ignoring the safety, so my first reaction was to want to defer there for a year (I don't have to make any deposits or commitments to do that) and re-apply to the two dream schools, plus more for a wider range.

I got to the point where I listed all the pros and cons of deferring and not deferring, but ultimately it hasn't helped and I'm still torn. I need some objectivity.

My safe option is a good public school that is still building up its reputation. My dream schools are private institutions that already have great reputations, but I would spend all year preparing to reapply, and they are vastly more expensive. I think I can be a stronger candidate for their programs next year, but that would also require finding a job that would look good on my resume and have something to do with my major, and that is looking like a slim chance.

Should I take what I can get and not worry about reputation? Or should I hold out and try to do "better?"

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As long as it's a *good* program - as in it would meet your needs and you would get more out of it than you would not going to school at all, I think you should take it. Maybe you would get into your dream schools next year, maybe not. Is it really worth the gamble? Have you visited this school - maybe you'll end up liking it a lot more than you had anticipated.

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I am sort of in a similar situation but for MFA Fine Art - I think you have to ask yourself what would make you happy in the next 17 months not being in school and learning. To me, that is sooooo far away. Yes, my art will get better if I work at it. But as of today, I rather go to school then wait. Not sure if your craft will be better if you are not in an architecture program though. Could you do an internship and work part-time at a non-related job? Or will you feel deflated.

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Have you tried calling or emailing the two "dream" schools to find out what you can do to make your application more competitive?

Because it would suck to defer a year, just to have the same results next year.

I think a big question is what exactly would you do during your deferral year, if you'll do something that either makes you some money so that you can defray some of the costs of grad school, or that makes you a more compelling candidate, I think deferring may be a reasonable idea. If you're not doing anything substantive, it's probably better to go to school.

Good luck with your decision!

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Thanks for the advice.

In a better economy, I think the suggestion of getting an internship and a part-time job, or a full-time job that's somewhat related, would be great ideas. Unfortunately architecture is being hit hard, and there are no paying internships. I live in NYC, so supporting myself on part-time pay with an unpaid internship is pretty much out of the question.

I know that in order to make myself a more compelling candidate, I would have to take a portfolio prep course either in the summer or fall. Most of them are pretty expensive and I'm lucky that I was offered a chance by my advisor to sit in on one for free. I can't ignore, though, that a better portfolio would just lead to a much more expensive school. I would have been happy to burden myself down with loans had I gotten in to those schools the first time around, but now I've had too much time to think about it, and I'm loving the price of the public school.

So far two professors have recommended that I attend this school, so I'm 90% sure that I'm going in the fall.

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