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What would you do?


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Dear All,


I hope that you are all up to a great start for this semester.


I find myself in a bit of a difficult situation and would welcome any advice:


I have been accepted to the MA program of my choice that will start next week, this is such a relief for me after the horrible year I just had. I am very excited about it but it appears that the money I was expecting to cover for my rent + living expenses is diminished by almost half. In other words, the money I now have could cover a very very low rent and living expenses reduced to the strict minimum. I could perhaps find a part-time job to increase my income but nothing is more uncertain. Overall, if I chose this option, it's unlikely that I could afford any extras unless a miracle (well, several actually) happens.


I wonder if I should just postpone my studies, get a full-time job for a year in order to save a good amount of money, than start my MA again next year, in a better financial situation...what would you do?





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I took on a part-time job to make ends meet and lived by a very, very strict budget. I was in a condensed one year MA program so it was really intense and it definitely would have been preferable if I hadn't worked, but I chose to grind through (mental health consequences be damned!). I think it's important to know your limits, what conditions you thrive under, and what conditions are going to get you into a place where you're unable to work well. I know that getting a part-time job during your studies is not unheard of where I am, but that's also in a very expensive city. That said, if you're not going to be able to complete your work because of it, maybe waiting is what's best for you? Apply for other forms of funding inside and outside your department (ask profs if they need an RA, etc.,) and look for external scholarships that you can still apply to whose deadlines have not already passed for the year.

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I agree that this is a pretty personal choice and you have to decide how you prefer to live. I think that in your situation, I would get a small side job to suppliment my income. It might be as easy as tutoring a few times a week in the library or nannying. These are the sort of side jobs that I would be looking for in your situation since the committment is a bit lighter - you can choose to not agree to tutor sessions during midterms and finals weeks.


Other than that, you might look at jobs offered by your department. Ex: TAing, RAing, even admin office work, keeping up the website, etc. You might be able to find something like this. You can also look at internships in your field which could provide some extra money and experience.


If this is a funded MA and you dont have to take out loans then I would consider that these are really hard to find and you are very lucky before passing up such an awesome opportunity! It is normal for grad students to live very minimal lifestyles without extras. You only have to deal with it for a very short time!

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What your describing financially is the economic norm for many grad students, particularly in the humanities (a funded MA, no matter how meager, is still better than no funding, which isn't uncommon for MAs). I'd say do it- learn to be comfortable being poor, and find a good part time gig that won't interfere too much with your studies.  

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