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Tams

Prestigious and Expensive vs. Mediocre and Free

Please help decide...  

39 members have voted

  1. 1. Please help decide...

    • San Francisco State University MA
      25
    • University of Chicago MAPSS
      14


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I can't believe how overwhelming a decision between two programs you didn't really want that much can be! Ideally, I want to pursue a PhD but have been rejected as a BA-to-PhD applicant. Now, two of the MA offers (which have almost nothing in common) are duking it out and it is bloody...

Time is ticking...and I am losing my sanity. One is the somewhat controversial-very flexible- expensive (40k)-single year-"Master of Arts in Social Sciences" (MAPSS) program at the prestigious UChicago and the other is a run-of-the-mill-2-year-fully-funded MA in Psychology at San Francisco State University.

The factors are too many to list, but I was wondering if anyone has had experiences in one of these programs that can give me some fresh perspectives...or even reiterate old perspectives. Between my time-cost-prestige-location-curriculum-degreename equations, I have been flip-flopping constantly and cannot come to a decision for the life of me!

I just can't believe I'd be passing up a U of Chicago degree for a Cal State school... I know, I have to stop being so elitist but I finished a prestigious undergrad school and can't get it out of my head that the name matters in the long run...any thoughts? Thanks so much for reading!

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tamara?!? is that you? :) it's melissa - welcome to the place i obsessively check 25-50 times a day in hopes of updates on people hearing from UCLA (as I am STILL waiting).

anyway - i totally feel your pain on this dilemma. i am coming to the conclusion that i will be attending cal state northridge as it's really the only option i can afford - probably even if i do still get into ucla. my top choices were berkeley and texas, but since i was waitlisted to berkeley and i cant seem to figure out how to afford texas... northridge, here i come!

sorry i cant offer more help - but if you dont already have student loan debt (and i dont think you do?) id strongly consider going where your heart desires. IF i had none (i have around 31k from undergrad), i'd be moving to Austin, TX, no doubt about it. it's worth it to go somewhere you feel is a strong fit and that will really help you get to where you want in the realm of your career. good luck.. keep me posted. (and im seeing you saturday night right???) you can private message me or whatever. :)

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It sounds from your post that you would rather go to the University of Chicago. 40k is a lot, but if you don't have loans from undergrad, its not horrible. I have a lot of friends who took out 70K for their MA degrees. Plus, the program is one year, which could be a bonus.

I also don't think SFSU is a bad school. And if its fully funded, you might find yourself with enough time to work on publishing articles and get involved with things that would help prepare you for PhD applications.

If the PhD is your ultimate goal, then go the the program that will best prepare you for doctoral work.

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Your Master's is only a stepping stone, right? Go for the cheaper option. Who cares where your stepping stone degree came from? Is it really going to make or break your PhD apps? No. The point of doing this is to improve your chances of getting into a PhD program, and if the one you can do at SFSU is in your field and not some random unaffiliated field, it'll improve your standing in that field for future applications.

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Your Master's is only a stepping stone, right? Go for the cheaper option. Who cares where your stepping stone degree came from? Is it really going to make or break your PhD apps? No. The point of doing this is to improve your chances of getting into a PhD program, and if the one you can do at SFSU is in your field and not some random unaffiliated field, it'll improve your standing in that field for future applications.

2nd.....why would you take out that much debt for just a masters in psych? you can't even do much (well things that actually pay) with psych until you have a PhD in it....ok if you wanted to be a Marriage and Family Therapist you only need a masters, but that only pays around 37k....will you be able to pay off that much debt on that kind of salary?! go where the money is...that's what i'm doing as well....different program but same gist....

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Thanks so much for the input, guys! I am so glad I stumbled upon this forum, it has really helped calm me down and get better opinions than "Go to San Francisco! It's closer and I can visit you!"

I definitely think I am leaning toward SF, which seems more sensible. I absolutely agree with the stepping stone angle (and the money of course), I think the glamor of U of Chicago and the diverse course offering is just taunting me.

Still welcoming more comments :) thanks again.

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It's not just $40K in loans for MAPSS, right? You'd have to pay for living expenses too? That seems ridiculous to me. If you do great work in a master's program, it will help you get into a good PhD program. So go where you won't have debt hanging over your head, get involved with research, write an amazing thesis, present at conferences, etc.

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hey Tams, I'm in a pretty similar situation as you. I was accepted to a great program at UCSD and also SF State. After a really painful decision making process that ended only this past weekend, I decided to accept the fully funded SF State program in favor of accumulating approx. $50K of debt at UCSD. I had my heart set on UCSD for two years, and even deferred admission last year. I was pretty sad about it, but the more I think about it, the more I realize SF State will probably be just as good an experience. I was concerned that SF State would not provide me with everything I imagined I would get at UCSD (great faculty and classes, internship and career services) but I started talking to some students and got a pretty positive response about the school and program. I think your experience is all of what you make of it, and even if I have to seek out the opportunities that would have been perhaps a little easier to get at UCSD, that itself will be a good experience. Also, the classes will be smaller and I'll get more time interacting with students and professors. Plus the thought of not living like a poor college student again and having to make loan payments for the next 10 years is pretty awesome. A month ago I thought I would be heading into poverty this summer in San Diego- instead I'm planning an otherwise unaffordable vacation!! And San Francisco is a great place to live!

FYI I have friends who completed undergrad Psych degrees at SF State and they generally enjoyed their courses and professors. I don't know about grad, but it seemed like there was a pretty diverse course offering for undergrad (I majored in psych and wished I had been able to take some of the classes they did).

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I'd go with the SF State option - you're likely to get more personalized attention from faculty, and with that some good opportunities to do research and potentially get published, which will help you for PhD applications. Why rack up a ton of debt over a program you didn't really seem to want initially at UChicago?

If you do wind up having your heart set on Chicago, I'd say go for it - but be realistic about the money involved: If it's $40,000 for tuition, figure at least another $20,000 for living expenses for the year. If you can handle that sort of debt load, go for it - but it's enough money that I would think long and hard about whether it really would help you all that much.

All the best in your decision!

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