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Wait, you mean I have to make a decision eventually...?!


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I thought I'd open up a thread so maybe we could start talking about and asking for advice about moving forward towards making a decision. I thought maybe this could be a smaller English version of the "Decisions, decisions..." forum. :) It's still early, but I know at least for me personally I'm only waiting on one more school and I've seen other people deliberating over different programs. There are so many factors to consider--fit, environment, living situations, placement, etc--that I figured we should have a place to hash out our lives.

 

My situation: I got into two programs (well, sort of--accepted to 1, top of the wait list at 2 but told I was basically guaranteed admittance), waitlisted at a third. One of the programs I got into has been very welcoming and has been e-mailing me and doing kind of a reverse of the application process; rather than me trying to prove my "fit," they are trying to prove their fit to me. It's quite nice! Anyway, this school is mid-level and has an 80% placement rate out of their PhD program with a majority being TT positions. Their stipend is $21k with a 1-1 teaching schedule, medical and dental included. The other is a less-well ranked (below 70), $14k stipend (in a very cheap area), teaching 1-2 or 2-1 and with a pretty large course load on top of it, and a decent-to-okay placement record. Doesn't seem to be as good of a fit, so I am leaning towards program 1.

 

The problem: I have a fiancee who is also applying to programs, but her applications have very late deadlines. We talked about how if places we got into didn't line up, my program would take priority and she would take the year off and try to find a job. Especially because she's applying to MA programs. However, she's applying to a program she has a good shot at that is not far from program 2 and ones she has a good shot near the program I've been wait listed at (program 3), which is ranked pretty highly. I like program 3, also a decent enough fit, but it's in NYC and I really don't feel like living here anymore (a realization I came to after spending an extra few months here after applying and getting into programs in much more "nature-y" areas). Also, the stipend would be $25k, which will be enough to sustain us, but at programs 1 and 2 we could literally rent an entire house for less rent than an apartment in the city. Program 3's placement is very good within the city, so-so outside of it.

 

Basically, I am leaning towards program 1, but I feel really awful because I'm boxing my fiancee out of her education. Also, once she gets her MA, she'll actually be making a good amount of money, so we need her to enter the workforce so we can start preparing for student loan repayments, having a family, etc (of course, we have enough time where she can definitely afford to take a year off). She said she's fine with working for a year and is kind of excited about it, but she went through so much angst to apply and has been so disappointed by not getting into certain programs that I feel bad denying her possible admission and prioritizing my wants when I have multiple options. Program 1 also wants me to get back to them sooner rather than later.

 

I still have a campus visit to complete to 1, so that may change things, who knows. I am also hoping to make a visit to program 3 once it gets further into "decision season." But sometimes I just feel like throwing myself at program 1 immediately. There is very little chance I'll be able to make it out to program 2 for a visit because it's so far. They've said they might be able to help with the cost, but there may just not be enough time in my schedule to do it.

 

If all goes well, I may even have a program 4 to considering in the next week or two. So stressful!

 

Anyone else already experiencing decision angst? Have to worry about an SO? Or is it way too early to be stressing out about decisions?

 

Thanks for reading my drivel!

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now, i'm neither a graduate student nor a fiancee, but bear with me: i've always had the impression that, if you want to be successful in grad school, you should expect to deprioritize your personal life. i mean, you're gonna be living on 20 grand a year for the next 5-10 years, most of which will be spent in the library, working, alone. then, if you graduate, you will most definitely have to move out of your current location, probably across the country, maybe even across the world. if you keep landing postdocs and visiting professorships, you will have to do that several more times. the problem you and your fiancee are having now pales in comparison to what might be down the road, when you are offered a position on the west coast, and she on the east coast, say. will you feel like you are locking her out of a career - or will she resent you for turning down a paying job and instead electing to mope around the house while she becomes the newest and lowest-paid addition to the faculty of Revered University N?

 

i believe this is called the two-body problem. example one: i had a professor whose husband taught at Penn. they were both highly successful career academics at prestigious institutions, but i simply don't know how they did it - it's a five-hour drive from here to Philly. most divorced couples live closer together than they did.

 

i don't think that phrasing your dilemma as "locking her out of her education" will contribute positively to solving it. whether to choose grad school over your relationship is, of course, your decision, and you should make it as you see fit. but i wouldn't make her the victim of your decision. if she chooses to follow you to Program 1, that's her free choice. she is not your indentured servant and is not obliged, like you are not, to choose her relationship over her education. i'm sure you love each other very much, but it is perhaps fortunate that this dilemma came up when it did, because if both of you go to grad school, the going's only going to get tougher. i think you need to assess your priorities and address whatever your girlfriend thinks only once you've done that.

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Well, I'm going to be a lot more positive than the previous poster. I think it definitely can work, and if she can find a job she likes in the area than I don't see why there would be any resentment. Heck, she may not even need to postpone her education significantly if she can register for MA-level classes at the new institution.

 

I hate the idea that you have to put your schooling first at the expense of everything else. I know dozens of PhDs and ABDs who would never have finished if it wasn't for the support of a spouse or loved one. Heck, having that person on your side outside the department probably will help you keep from going insane.

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First, having been in graduate school for two years, I can say that it is entirely possible to balance personal and graduate priorities. Might I be a better scholar if I did whatever the hell I wanted without regard to my SO or the fact that I would rather stay close to her? Maybe. I also don't have any delusions at getting a TT job at an R1 school, so I really don't feel the need to prioritize my career over my relationship when I can balance the two.

I also find it somewhat presumptuous that you somehow drew that I thought of her as an indentured servant. We're both women. I don't have some kind of old school assumption that my decision is the ultimate arbiter of her future, if that's what you thought. But when you are two equal parts in a relationship, you can't make decisions without consuting each other or taking their well being into account. I also said that she agreed (of her own free will) that she would defer to my graduate placement (and I consulted with many others in the same situation and they said this is how they dealt with it too) because her programs are for MAs in a less competitive field. My post was more to express my own conflicted feelings about my decision and ask for advice.

Thank you for providing some, but I was already aware that there are people who choose to split. Most people in these situations are both in academia. That is not our position--hers is a professional degree. We did the long distance thing and worked very hard to not have to do that anymore.

Edited by shortstack51
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sorry, i tend to assume cisgender heterosexuality unless otherwise indicated. but i wasn't being all stepford wife on you. what i thought was that you somehow feel that her voice in your life choices can veto yours. idk. would you resent this down the road?

 

but anyway, couldn't you live separately for the 1-2 years it takes her to do her degree? absence makes the heart &etc &etc

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sorry, i tend to assume cisgender heterosexuality unless otherwise indicated. but i wasn't being all stepford wife on you. what i thought was that you somehow feel that her voice in your life choices can veto yours. idk. would you resent this down the road?

 

but anyway, couldn't you live separately for the 1-2 years it takes her to do her degree? absence makes the heart &etc &etc

 

In most (read: all) areas, LGBT individuals are in the extreme minority. We do much worse in long distance relationships because not only is our partner far away, but sometimes we're the only non-hetero/cis-gendered person we know at all, and so we're faced with two separate kinds of isolation. Not to go all gloom and doom, but an LDR is never great advice in the first place. My ex picked his MA institution for me, because I was already in. To be honest, it wasn't a great decision, but he ended up liking it in the end. That's a bit of a different situation, though.

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I have lots to say on this topic. First, though, I want to stress that grad school does not require a complete neglect on one's personal life. In fact, I'd argue, a full personal life can make one's academic work more fulfilling. I have a husband I'm deeply commited to, I volunteer, and I am an avid baseball, concert, and TV fan. I did not give up these parts of my life when I signed up, nor do I plan to in the future. Grad school is a job, and like any job, balance is essential.

Second, my partner and I have had tons of conversations about this very issue. Early in our relationship, I put my career on hold while he was working on some projects he enjoyed. Then, he was 100% supportive of moving anywhere with me. I was fortunate to have several options, including one that allowed him to keep his former job, just relocate offices. He did have to give up any chances of promotion, however.

Now that we've been together for a while, some truths have emered: we have different priorities for our respective careers. Fortunately, our differences are complementary. He values stable yet interesting work, and as a software engineer, he has more options for him. He doesn't have the same need for constant change and creativity that I do. What this means is that, given my field, where we live will be based on my career, with the knowledge that he has a greater chance of finding the kind of work he enjoys and values in various locations.

My story, unfortunately, doesn't map onto yours. What I learned is that constant communication and honest introspection are crucial for any making life decisions with a partner. I guess that's a "no duh" statement, but as a child of parents who were more fond of divorce than marriage, divorces, I had to figure that out on my own. ;)

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So, here's my conundrum. First of all, I have two schools left to hear from (and both are not incredibly out of my league [like Rutgers, Northwestern, Ohio State were], but I still could easily get rejected from both of them).  I have one acceptance, but so far I'm not assured funding.

 

The school is in a location that my boyfriend "approved" when I was compiling a list of schools/location; he even said he was interested in the same school to apply for a Ph.D. himself in the coming year. That being said, it was our last choice location.  Not so much last choice school, but last choice location. 

 

He wanted a bigger city because he's heavily into politics and activism, and he wants a place where there's a lively, vibrant scene in that regard.  I think he approved that location because he just felt so sure that I was going to get into more than one.  But nope.  Not so far.

 

Anyway, we don't get the sense that the location at which I have a chance (if funding comes through) will work for him in that way (the lively political scene).  He's very much committed to me and our relationship (I've never had a guy be as in love with me as he is, and for that I am very thankful).  And he does not want to be without me, but he's just in a hard place because the location is not what he had in mind.  He and I talked about it for no less than three hours last night, and he kept flip-flopping.  "I'll go"..."I can't go."  He also just has anxieties about finding work easily. 

 

It's just a mess.  And it might not even matter, because if funding doesn't come through, it's like I have no offer.

 

Suffice it to say that the two remaining schools are in cities he would love. And so I have to hope one of them does come through.  But I am not counting on it.  And a part of me is a little disturbed that he is balking about moving after he told me he was fine with that location (the one in question.)

 

Realistically, though, I don't blame him.  Last night when we were talking, I tempered the conversation by saying that what we were going through was not unusual.  I said that grad applicants all over the country -- and not even just grad applicants but people who are in a relationship in which one gets an opportunity in another city and the other doesn't know if he/she can be happy in that other city -- or whatever variations of this type of thing -- ....well, lots of people are going through this.

 

My boyfriend is a great guy -- very giving, sweet, sensitive, and just....loving.  But I understand his reservations.  I suggested we do long distance, and he said "absolutely not."  At the end of the night, he said "I'm going with you.  It'll be hard for me, but I want us to stay together."

 

But suffice it to say that I anticipate more conversations, reservations, flip-flops, anxieties, etc. from now until the summer, etc.  Like I said, it may not matter if I don't get funding.  But for now...it's causing tension and anxiety.   Tears were shed last night. 

 

I remember a friend of mine having the same situation in the spring of 2011 when she got into her MFA / Creative Writing program.  She'd been with a guy for six months at the time she got accepted, and he was crazy in love with her.  They had the same deal.  Tears shed....anxiety over what to do.  Relocate together or not. 

Edited by purpleperson
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I mostly lurk on these forums, but I just wanted to say that I'm really pulling for you. I hope things work out with the rest of your schools.
 
My partner is in a PhD program in Indiana, and we've had the same heated discussions about relocating. He thinks I'm silly for sympathizing with anonymous internet users, but I can't help but root for the ones that 1) know how to spell (yes, it's pedantic to judge random misspellings by users who are probably typing from their phones, but whatevs...) 2) share similar problems.
 
Now, back to my lurking.
Edited by JSTORPolka
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It's not the same situation as those posting above, I realize, but I figure I'll add my voice in support and to emphasize that those above are definitely not alone in experiencing such predicaments.

 

I have lived in a different part of the country than my boyfriend for the last six years due to school. We see each other for about eight weeks each year. We have been talking for years about finally living in, you know, the same state, but I'm planning currently planning to pursue my PhD, which means I'll spend another 4-5 years away from him--again. So I can sympathize with those who are torn, feel guilty, or just wish they could resolve things favorably for all involved.

 

I mean, it would be really wonderful to be two guys sharing a house rather than two guys separated by a half a country and a dodgy internet connection. Still, I've found that, despite some difficult times, a few years in a less-than-ideal situation isn't forever; we choose to change our lives when we enter a program, and we can choose to change them again when those programs end. All choices feel bigger, messier, and more intimidating when you're trying to make them. Pay attention to your feelings, have candid conversations, and try to not make big choices over the phone. At least use a video screen. It makes a difference when you can see the people with whom you're making the choice, I think.

 

I certainly can't give advice about making those choices, but I can say that I totally sympathize and I sincerely hope it works out in a way that helps your relationships prosper.

 

Seriously, my thoughts go out to anyone in this or a related situation. :)

Edited by driftlake
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"Have to"?

You mean "get to".

Certainly you mean "get to".

I don't mean to insult your anxiety/stress/hesitation. I understand - the stuff is difficult and I'm very appreciative that I can eavesdrop on the advice.  But, at least you're left with agency. Some folks may not get to make a choice... perhaps that's better? But I dunno. I'd rather hold the steering wheel.

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I never said that agency was better than having to decide. "Get to" suggests a purely positive connotation. And while having options is certainly an opportunity, "get to" does not, in any way, convey the stress of having to juggle 80 different pros and cons at once. this thread was intended to help those who are having a hard time deciding between schools, and I'm not sure I should have to preface it with an acknowledgment that I'm lucky. I recognize that, but there was another thread about how there can be a sort of depression, even if you get into your top school. I don't see how this is different. This is my second time applying- last time, I only got into one unfunded MA program. I understand it stinks.

Anyway, I come here for support, and this forum sometimes indicates to me that the internet will unfortunately be the internet no matter who's on it. I was willing to my presence in he thread die, but it's nice to know it was resurrected to nitpick its title.

Edited by shortstack51
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I never said that agency was better than having to decide. "Get to" suggests a purely positive connotation. And while having options is certainly an opportunity, "get to" does not, in any way, convey the stress of having to juggle 80 different pros and cons at once. this thread was intended to help those who are having a hard time deciding between schools, and I'm not sure I should have to preface it with an acknowledgment that I'm lucky. I recognize that, but there was another thread about how there can be a sort of depression, even if you get into your top school. I don't see how this is different. This is my second time applying- last time, I only got into one unfunded MA program. I understand it stinks.

Anyway, I come here for support, and this thread has indicated to me that the internet will unfortunately be the internet no matter who's on it. I was willing to my presence in he thread die, but it's nice to know it was resurrected to nitpick its title.

Woah.

I have no intention of insulting you or nitpicking your title. It comes down to perspective. I'm not certain the phrase "get to" implies any sort of universal connotation.

I get to do my taxes every year... I have to but I get to too.

We're all stressed and a lot of us are in really shitty situations. Your shitty situation is that you have to weigh personal, professional, and romatic (obligations? feelings? doubts? etc). Others are dealing with rejection. Others are dealing with waiting still.  The immediacy of our own issues certainly makes them sting more. On top of that - it's a big decision. Perhaps the biggest decision you'll make - or perhaps on a short list of big decisions.

I'm not hijacking this for a pity party for me.. I have plenty of pity parties for myself. Did you see my post with that entire tub of ice cream?

I qualified my post plenty. I'm not insulting you. I appreciate the advice other posters have given. and perhaps it really is better to have no choice at all in the matter... I'm not there - so I can't give you my opinion.

We good? Hug it out with some ice cream?

One love.

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I mostly lurk on these forums, but I just wanted to say that I'm really pulling for you. I hope things work out with the rest of your schools.
 
My partner is in a PhD program in Indiana, and we've had the same heated discussions about relocating. He thinks I'm silly for sympathizing with anonymous internet users, but I can't help but root for the ones that 1) know how to spell (yes, it's pedantic to judge random misspellings by users who are probably typing from their phones, but whatevs...) 2) share similar problems.
 
Now, back to my lurking.

 

 

Thanks, JSTOR, I really appreciate it.  Today was actually a good day, as we continued talking about it.  Much was said to alleviate his anxieties.  He is more and more on board.  

 

It's a relief because I need the support.  I wish I could say that I could pick up and move halfway across the country on my own, but I am not that person.  At least not as much so as other people seem to be.  But not just that.  I love him and want to stay with him.  

 

Everything's good.  Now I just need either funding at my place of acceptance or another one or two new acceptances (with funding)!  

 

Thanks again :)

Edited by purpleperson
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Maybe we could talk about tactful ways of gratefully turning down offers—methods (phone? email?), language, absolute no-no's, etc.

 

Do you tell them where you've decided to go? What if you haven't decided where to go but know you won't be going to this certain school? Do you give reasons for not going here, and for going elsewhere?

 

Is it okay or obnoxious to ask them to profess a desire (if it's genuine) to "stay in touch"? Any other suggestions as to how to keep the relationship open and ongoing, so as to not preclude future research opportunities, student exchange programs, post-docs, or a job at the school you're turning down?

 

Is it obnoxious, gratuitious, or kind to say (if that is the case) that the tipping factor was greater funding and a lighter teaching load (which would buy one more time, allow one to be more productive as a scholar, publish more, finisher faster, and have a better stab at the job market)?

 

What are more neutral verbs for "reject" or "refuse" or "turn down" (an offer)? Am I right in finding "to pass up" dismissive, "to let go" melodramatic? One could say "decided to accept an offer elsewhere," but what if (as I mentioned) one's not made that decision yet?

 

I think it would be helpful for everyone if veterans who've been lucky or illustrious enough in the past to get to turn down offers would weigh in. Danke danke danke.

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Maybe we could talk about tactful ways of gratefully turning down offers—methods (phone? email?), language, absolute no-no's, etc.

 

Do you tell them where you've decided to go? What if you haven't decided where to go but know you won't be going to this certain school? Do you give reasons for not going here, and for going elsewhere?

 

Is it okay or obnoxious to ask them to profess a desire (if it's genuine) to "stay in touch"? Any other suggestions as to how to keep the relationship open and ongoing, so as to not preclude future research opportunities, student exchange programs, post-docs, or a job at the school you're turning down?

 

Is it obnoxious, gratuitious, or kind to say (if that is the case) that the tipping factor was greater funding and a lighter teaching load (which would buy one more time, allow one to be more productive as a scholar, publish more, finisher faster, and have a better stab at the job market)?

 

What are more neutral verbs for "reject" or "refuse" or "turn down" (an offer)? Am I right in finding "to pass up" dismissive, "to let go" melodramatic? One could say "decided to accept an offer elsewhere," but what if (as I mentioned) one's not made that decision yet?

 

I think it would be helpful for everyone if veterans who've been lucky or illustrious enough in the past to get to turn down offers would weigh in. Danke danke danke.

 

I personally didn't say "stay in touch" unless it was to a POI that I had been in contact with.  

 

I sometimes told them that I would be declining their offer and that it was a difficult decision and that I was honored to have been accepted.  Often I would describe what I particularly respected about the department.  I normally didn't give a reason unless they asked, which they often do.  

 

Sometimes they will simply ask which school you've decided on, and other times they will ask you about your financial offer.  

 

I also do not think it's bad form to say you chose based on the fellowship offered to you by another school.  I know for a fact that sometimes schools use these reasons as evidence that they need to allocate more money to graduate students. 

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Maybe we could talk about tactful ways of gratefully turning down offers—methods (phone? email?), language, absolute no-no's, etc.

 

Do you tell them where you've decided to go? What if you haven't decided where to go but know you won't be going to this certain school? Do you give reasons for not going here, and for going elsewhere?

 

Is it okay or obnoxious to ask them to profess a desire (if it's genuine) to "stay in touch"? Any other suggestions as to how to keep the relationship open and ongoing, so as to not preclude future research opportunities, student exchange programs, post-docs, or a job at the school you're turning down?

 

Is it obnoxious, gratuitious, or kind to say (if that is the case) that the tipping factor was greater funding and a lighter teaching load (which would buy one more time, allow one to be more productive as a scholar, publish more, finisher faster, and have a better stab at the job market)?

 

What are more neutral verbs for "reject" or "refuse" or "turn down" (an offer)? Am I right in finding "to pass up" dismissive, "to let go" melodramatic? One could say "decided to accept an offer elsewhere," but what if (as I mentioned) one's not made that decision yet?

 

I think it would be helpful for everyone if veterans who've been lucky or illustrious enough in the past to get to turn down offers would weigh in. Danke danke danke.

Yes, yes, yes!  THIS.

Please start a new thread asking this question, so that I'm not forced to plagiarize it and post it myself. :-)

I'm so nervous about this, and so determined not to misstep. I have two schools to decline before I actually decide between the other three. So if they ask where I accepted, I won't have an answer. I hate to say, "well, I haven't decided yet except that it's not going to be you." On the other hand, I don't want to wait until I decide (which might be as late as 4/1) to decline offers that I already know I won't accept.

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I just emailed either the DGS or professors I'd been in touch with to tell them I was considering other offers and wouldn't be going there in the fall. If you're sure you won't go somewhere, then I'd just tell them. I felt kinda bad doing it for some schools, but frankly, they'd rather know now and it's better for anyone waitlisted. Of course, if there's even the slightest chance you might change your mind, you're well within your rights to hold on to the offer.

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I think it's pretty easy to turn schools down. Something like "I'm honored that you would consider me for admission into your program, but I have to do what's best for me right now, and that is to go to...." 

 

Personally, I think you should volunteer the other option. If they want you bad enough they may want to make a competitive offer (fellowships, money, travel funds), but it's also true that departments want to know who they are competing (and losing people) against.

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Don't stress about turning down programs. Seriously, it's not personal. Everyone knows it's not personal. Do you realize how many people turn down programs every year? And how many applicants these programs turn down? In two months they won't even remember your name. That's not to say that you couldn't try to keep in touch with a professor at your rejected program, but you have to realize that these professors have their own work and their own graduate students, so they probably won't keep in touch. And again, that's not personal.

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Love, Friendship, and Family.  These are the three demons you must slay to succeed in graduate school.

Uh. I know/hope this is sarcasm, but please don't buy into this. If grad school is such misery, don't do it. It's not like it's going to set up a solid future or anything.

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Uh. I know/hope this is sarcasm, but please don't buy into this. If grad school is such misery, don't do it. It's not like it's going to set up a solid future or anything.

Yeah, my wife is my best friend and I've been successful to date (I've just completed my MA this semester). If you have a SO that is willing to work with/alongside you in all aspects of the marriage/relationship and they understand that you are often under great stress, life will be just fine. Some of the posters on this forum have kids and families etc and are very successful (from their acceptances in their signatures, at least!). 

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Uh. I know/hope this is sarcasm, but please don't buy into this. If grad school is such misery, don't do it. It's not like it's going to set up a solid future or anything.

 

I guess nobody remembers old Simpsons.  I adapted that quote from Mr. Burns except I switched a few words around.  

 

And I was kidding.  

Edited by NowMoreSerious
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