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...into selecting a school that's close to home rather than one in a city 2 hours away. This is really stressing me out and it's the main reason why I haven't officially chosen a school, even though I know I want to go to the one 2 hours away.

 

In their eyes it's all the same, and they're much more familiar with the school nearby and think it's more prestigious than the other one. So they can't understand why I'm being difficult. I feel terrible because I have a small family (just my sister and my single mother) and I don't want to leave them alone here or "abandon" them... -_- 

 

This is the only place where I can really bent.

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I can relate. I ended up making the choice I did in part because my parents are older, and both my sister and mother in law have disabilities.

It is frustrating. If you are only going to be 2 hours away, you should make whatever choice is best for you.

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I totally relate. One of my family members has mental health issues and relapsed shortly before I moved out to California (from the East coast) so the guilt tripping was massive for me (mostly in my own head, though).

 

At least you're only two hours away... that's definitely close enough to make recurrent weekend trips! 

 

I was talking to one of my professors about this, who fled the mid-West and mostly refuses to go home for the holidays despite her mother's guilt trips, and she said that one way of looking at it is that I'm out here "doing me" so that I can eventually contribute back to the family. It's hard to take that longview, but it's true I think.

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My family is very close so I can understand (though I have never been guilt tripped thankfully). I can honestly say that 2 hours is really not that far. I'm still able to visit at least one weekend out of the month and have my folks out to my place once in a while too. I'm sorry that they are putting emotional pressure on you when you should be able to be excited about your decision. My fiancee's mother threw a fit when she moved even an hour away because her mother had never left the hometown and couldn't understand wanting to. But she got used to it eventually and realized that it was for the best for my fiancee's education (even though she thinks we'll move there eventually...). This is all to say---if you decide to go to the farther school, it might suck with your folks for the short term, but eventually they will see how happy you are with your decision and come around. Or at minimum get used to it. If you are unhappy at the place closer by, that will probably create more strain in the end than going to the school you like more

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I went through something similar with my dad, to whom academe is a mystery. When I moved 12 hours away for work, he was heartbroken and didn't understand why I couldn't get a job as a secretary or teaching highschool with my MA in English Composition. I'm the first one in my family to go to college, and they don't always understand. I'm sorry you're going through this; I know how it feels.

 

Let's be pragmatic for a minute. Our field is absurdly competitive. You may not find a job when you graduate, and if you do find a job, it may not be one that pays a livable wage. This means that you'll want to go to school that gives you the best chance of finding work after graduate school. That also means that if you earn a PhD in English, it helps to be okay with the idea of moving far away to get a job. Sometimes people luck out and find a job, and if they're incredibly lucky, it's close to home, but that's rare. No matter what, your family's may want to adjust to the idea of you living somewhere far away if they want you to be (a) self-sufficient, and ( B) equipped with resources to allow you to help them out in the future. It sounds like they just don't entirely understand that; I'm sure they want the best for you.

 

For what it's worth, three years' after I moved away, my dad has forgiven me, and I've been able to help my little brother and mom out of a few financial scrapes because I took this job, so he's come around. It's not awesome being far away, but working here has opened doors and made options available that will allow me to some day live closer to my family again. Good luck making the decision that works best for you.

Edited by Academicat
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I feel you. Part of why I ultimately didn't apply to schools across the country is because several members of my close family have had serious medical issues over the course of the last year. Particularly, my mom has had two major surgeries within a 6 month span. So I ultimately stuck with schools that would only be a reasonable car drive away. As it turns out, I'm going to be about 5 hours away from home. I try and rationalize it by accepting that there's little difference between what I could do in most situations if I was there as opposed to being a few hours away. I know my family would love it if I was closer to home (I'm currently about 3 hours away), but I ultimately have to do what's right for my future and so I can be in a better position to help the family out if needed in the future.

 

I think you can try to explain to your family why the other school is better for you in some way that they understand, but if they still don't get it, maybe just reassure them that 2 hours really isn't that far? I mean, if you have a car, 2 hours can go by pretty quickly.

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Loooong time lurker, but this topic really hit home (get it? ah internet humor)

 

I'm sorry that you're struggling with this Lisa. I really urge you to go with your first choice though. Echoing the other posters, graduate school is too long and the job market too depressing to not go where you think you'll be the happiest. Your family will understand, I promise. And it is not a difficult trip from Philly to NYC (trains/buses/driving). I know lots of people who are in long distance relationships who make the trip often. Best of luck with everything though --I remember your choices and it seems you can't go wrong :)

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Thank you all so much for sharing your stories and for your great advise!! You've really made me feel better, and like I'm not the only one going through this. 

 

I officially accepted my first choice (UPenn) today, but have yet to tell my mother about it... I am definitely sure that I've made the right choice, but I still can't help feeling guilty and a bit down about my decision. Guess this is what someone on another thread referred to as "post-decision blues." It does suck though, because this should be a truly exciting time but it's kind of bittersweet now. 

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Hi ReadingLisa! Sorry you're being made to feel split between family obligations and academic goals. I had a similar situation. I am my mom's only child; she's single and her parents are gone. She really struggled (and eventually succeeded) in being supportive of my decision to go to a school across the country. My biggest suggestion is to drive her to UPenn. First, she'll see that the drive isn't so bad. Second, she'll see where are you going. When my mom flew out last month, I took her to campus; something just clicked for her. She said she could totally picture me on my campus, in my building, at my desk. Now, when I tell her I'm at school, she can imagine where I'm sitting. But most of all, it seemed to all come together for her: why I was doing this, what it meant to me, and why this was the best place for me and my goals. It's still hard for both of us to be this far away from each other, but I swear it's been easier for her since she saw my new world. 

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Hi ReadingLisa! Sorry you're being made to feel split between family obligations and academic goals. I had a similar situation. I am my mom's only child; she's single and her parents are gone. She really struggled (and eventually succeeded) in being supportive of my decision to go to a school across the country. My biggest suggestion is to drive her to UPenn. First, she'll see that the drive isn't so bad. Second, she'll see where are you going. When my mom flew out last month, I took her to campus; something just clicked for her. She said she could totally picture me on my campus, in my building, at my desk. Now, when I tell her I'm at school, she can imagine where I'm sitting. But most of all, it seemed to all come together for her: why I was doing this, what it meant to me, and why this was the best place for me and my goals. It's still hard for both of us to be this far away from each other, but I swear it's been easier for her since she saw my new world. 

 

Hi proflorax! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am so glad that your mother learned to support your decision. I definitely want to take my mother out to Penn, but if I do it will have to be in the summer when I'm done with school (I'm too busy now). I believe eventually my mom will cave in too. 

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Hi proflorax! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am so glad that your mother learned to support your decision. I definitely want to take my mother out to Penn, but if I do it will have to be in the summer when I'm done with school (I'm too busy now). I believe eventually my mom will cave in too. 

 

You know, you could always move to NY after finishing coursework at UPenn, and/or you can always do an exchange year or two at Columbia (the ivies, in add. to some other highly ranked schools, have an exchange program for up to 2 years). And, of course, congrats on coming out live out of the application and decision throes!

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